We were in Montana two weekends ago Friday - Monday; we had the best time! First of all, thank you to a reader, Andee, who is a Missoula local and sent me great recommendations for Missoula restaurants and for our trip to Glacier. Thanks, Andee, we loved your town!
We stayed in Missoula Friday and Saturday night and then on Sunday drove a rental car about 4 hours north to Glacier National Park. We stayed in Glacier for a night and then drove back to Missoula and flew back home. We packed a lot in but it felt like a very relaxing trip since we didn't have any obligations while we were there. Chris and I realized it was the first trip that we had taken just the two of us where we didn't have plans to see family or friends and had no wedding to attend, etc. since we went to Portugal in 2010! Much too long.
From the first step off the plane on Friday evening Chris and I simultaneously let out big "AHHHHHHHHs", the cooler air felt so wonderful. We stayed at a great bed and breakfast right on the river and had our own private porch where we could sit and look at the river with our morning coffee or with a good book. We loved that we were able to walk into downtown Missoula from our b&b; it was so nice not to depend on a car for a change!
While we were in Missoula we ate fabulous pizza at Biga Pizza (our fave was the broccoli raab white pizza with sweet chili oil), had lunch and got road trip meals at The Good Food Store, went to Big Dipper ice cream (twice), had beer and sweet potato fries at Iron Horse Brew Pub, and had breakfast at Catalyst. When we ate breakfast at our b&b one morning it was cinnamon almond pancakes with triple berry sauce. Get out. It felt wonderful to indulge in all the amazing food we had; including vegan donuts at the farmer's market. Wrist vizslas!
Missoula is clearly a laid back place and reminded me of Austin in that way. The mornings were cool enough for jeans and a long-sleeve shirt and the days warmed up enough to be comfortable in shorts. We took long walks along the river and through campus.
The women who ran the b&b had suggested taking an eastern route up to Glacier instead of the highway on the west side which is more popular. It took a bit longer on the eastern route but was worth it for all the tiny towns with lots of personality that we drove through. One featured what seemed to be a town-wide estate sale that could not be passed up. There were tables and tables and a few trailers of stuff, everything from old nails to 1930s Life magazines. We stopped for a picnic lunch with some huge dinos in Choteau before finishing the final leg into Glacier.
Glacier National Park is truly incredible and I love seeing so many people out visiting a national treasure (nearly all the hotels and campsites were booked!). We rented a cozy cabin at Rising Sun Motor Inn and once we were settled went for a hike that lead us to two amazing waterfalls. When I stopped at a stream crossing to feel the water it was (can you guess?): glacial! I could only hold my hand in for a few seconds!
That evening we ate the dinner we'd packed from The Good Food Store and went to a ranger-led talk about the geologic history of Glacier. We even learned a song to help us remember what we'd learned. Are you ready? It's sung to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat:
That was definitely stuck in my head for the rest of the trip. After the ranger talk we drove to Logan's Pass where heard that there would be a fabulous view of the night sky and that there was a meteor shower. Chris was so excited to see the night sky without any light pollution and it did not disappoint. I wish I could share a picture! It was perfectly clear and I've never seen the Milky Way so distinctly. And we saw big shooting stars with long tails, it was quite a show!
On Monday we drove Going to the Sun Road, which crosses Glacier east-west. Along the way we hopped out for a hike when we saw an interesting sign for Trail of the Cedars. An elevated wood plank trail led us through giant cedar trees; it was so dark and cool and mossy. Forests like that always feel a bit magical to me. At the end of the trail was a narrow gorge gushing with icy water. Living in the desert has made me appreciate natural water and forests of tall trees a lot.
On our way out of Glacier to queued up several Spilled Milk podcasts and those entertained us all the way back to Missoula. We had enough time for a second cone at Big Dipper and a walk along the river before heading back to the airport. We were sad to leave but left feeling rejuventated from an escape into cooler weather and away from all obligations for four days. Thanks, Montana!
All pics taken with Chris's iPhone 4S; panorama taken using the DMD app.