Missoula Meanderings

We spent a week in Missoula visiting our daughter, a senior at the University of Montana. It was a busy week as we were on the go every day.

We enjoyed lunch in Caras Park on the river. There were lots of food trucks to choose from (the mini donuts were delicious!) as well as some live music. Afterwards we walked the downtown area, stopping at my favorite, Butterfly Herbs, to look at all the jars of teas and spices. It made me think of my teacher friend, Leslee, who first told me about this shop. Her daughter lives here and I kept hoping I would bump into her. 🙂

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We took a drive to the National Bison Reserve about 45 minutes north of town. After a nice picnic lunch (the picnic area is a huge green grassy area with tables and fire rings among the shady trees—we wished we could camp right there) we started the loop drive through the park. At first we were worried we wouldn’t see any wildlife since it was mid-day. But soon we found a couple of lone bison and a few deer. We were keeping track of who had spotted the most animals, but then Chandler spotted a whole herd of bison in the distance and the competition was over. There were great views of the surrounding valleys and mountains from the higher points, as well as big horn sheep right in the road.

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Back down in the valley we saw pronghorn antelope and more bison right out the car window. They are a bit scary up close, especially when they start snorting at you! The two hour loop ended up taking us closer to three because we stopped so much to look through the binoculars, but it was neat to see all the wildlife.

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Chandler and I enjoyed wandering through the Saturday farmer’s market. We could walk there from her apartment, crossing one of the bridges over the river. We got lots of great stuff: pea pods, carrots, raspberries, strawberries, gluten free donuts from Tandem, the best gluten free scones I’ve had yet (from Lake Missoula Tea Company—a restaurant I’m going to have to try when we return next May for her graduation), cinnamon bread and bison patties for Chuck. Even though it started to sprinkle that didn’t dampen our outing. In fact our weather since leaving Bothell has not been as hot and dry as we expected. We’ve had rain in Lake Roosevelt, Glacier and here and it hasn’t been sweltering hot.

Of course we took advantage of being in a large town to do laundry and shopping. We bought more hiking clothes at REI and Bob Ward’s. We’re finding that lightweight, moisture-wicking items are what we wear the most. They are comfortable in the warm temps and easy to rinse out and hang dry too. They have an awesome local Whole Foods like store call The Good Food Store. All kinds of great bulk foods, gluten free options in the bakery, and salads in the deli. I got my first haircut on the road. That in itself is going to be an adventure, each time a new stylist and I don’t speak “hairdresser” very well. It came out a bit fluffy, but I’ll make due. I wear hats most of the time anyway because I’m out in the sun.

Before coming here, I read on glutenfreegirl.com about some gluten free bakeries in Missoula so we had to search those out. One, Black Cat, is owned by a former White House Chef. I had a fancy looking donut topped with white and dark chocolate, german chocolate cake topping (brown sugar, coconut, pecans) in the middle and flags of vanilla creme up the sides. A strange combination but not bad. Another bakery, Bernice’s, had the best cupcakes! Red Velvet Ding Dong for Chuck, Vegan Chocolate for Chandler, and Gluten Free Carrot Cake for me. Yum!!! Too bad we found that one on the last day. Another stop to look forward to in May…

With full hook-ups for the first time since leaving Bothell we didn’t need to conserve water so we enjoyed long showers. 🙂 We also had great reception on our HD Antenna so we enjoyed watching live TV for the first time since leaving. Chandler was our first “guest” in the trailer. She came over for dinner most nights. We made some awesome Chicken & Veggie Tacos and watched the Olympics. Go Team USA!

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