Probably the top question everyone asks us when traveling, even more than where have you been, is where are you going?
I think Char and I, and how we balance each other out so wonderfully, have established a good harmony between planning and spontaneity.
The truth is, some of the places we stop are just a place we read another traveler raving about or maybe even saw one unforgettable picture. And just like that, it goes on the map. I don’t quite even remember how Missoula made it on the map but it did.
We were a little less pioneering-like (or maybe more depending on your bear-imagination) and decided to stay with Yogi Bear at Jellystone Park. Sometimes a playground, mini-golf and $1 ice cream cone nights are a welcome change of pace. Except for Nomsies who was both fascinated and terrified of Yogi Bear. I think Yogi’s stoic smile and oversized head were a bit too much for her. Maybe next time.
Our two weeks in Missoula went fast. Montana was not as wild as we had imagined, at least the general area we were staying (compared to the Tetons). But at the end of the time we are full of memories. Just a few highlights:
+ An afternoon at Missoula’s Out-To-Lunch: A weekly event with live music and food trucks. The kids fell in love with a local community carrousel with $1 ‘something rides. One of the most unique things about downtown Missoula is there is white water river running right through it! We even saw surfers riding one of the swells.
+ An unforgettable day trip to Glacier National Park. We saw these glacial (is that the right word?) lakes with rainbow color rocks. I thought from the online pics I saw it was all photoshopped. But it is real. And amazing. Plus we got to connect with a couple other awesome full-timers Adam, Jen and their little girl (glad you got to see your bear Adam!)
+ Bella becomes a bike rider! In Heber City she met a friend who gave her lessons. We bought a new bike (at Target of course) and here in Missoula she officially became a rider!
+ We were blessed to visit 2 amazing churches in Missoula. We spent our Sunday’s at Zootown Church (Zootown, much to my disappointment was only the name of the area – there were no animals at the services.). The people were wonderful. And the kiddo’s loved it. Bella also got to join the VBS at Clark Fork City Church. Thank you so much Pastor Josh and Renee for putting on an extraordinary program. Bella can’t stop raving about the science experiments and water balloon fights!
+ BISON HERD ATTACK! Ok so we get this tip from our super kind and helpful host, Jackie, at Jellystone. To checkout the Bison Reservation. It was a little 45 minute drive. Once inside we saw Bison, Pronghorn (a little fast deer with cool curvy horns), our first Elk siting and also a dead Bison (no clue the cause of death and nobody seems to be talking). It starts getting dark. The park is empty (human-wise). We head to the exit. There is a huge herd (50-100 bison) on the right-side of the road. We need to pass by to exit. Just as we are heading to leave ONE bison decides to cross the road. Turns out he is the Moses Buffalo. Once he crosses the road, the whole tribe decides it’s time to cross.
With the sun setting. No humans in site. A herd of 1500+ lb plus Bison begin to cross in front of us. We can’t go back. We can’t go forward. And there is a ditch on both sides. And… they have babies with them. We are slowly learning about nature. And the one thing everyone says is you don’t mess with an animal and it’s young.
As these Bison cross in front they eye us up, protectively put their own bodies in front of their young. We have no idea where the herd will go. Or if they will surround our car. The thing is, there is nothing we can do. We are at the mercy of these massive creatures deciding we are not a threat. At one point the Grandpa Bison (think bigger than the rest and crazy wild hair) broke away from herd and started to come up behind us. I started to plan my escape. Which in my mind looked like ramming our truck into 1 or 2 Bison before it would break down and we would be left screaming in the car at the Bison turned our F250 into swiss cheese. Thankfully the Bison decided we were all cool. They made their way to another passage. And we escaped before sunset.
BELOW is a TIME LAPSE video of the episode. Keep a close eye on right side of screen at 27 seconds and you will see the Grandpa Buffalo make a bee-line to come up behind us.
+ Saygray got to meet the local Missoula EMT’s. She had a fever for a day. It spiked. And she started to shake like she was having a seizure. So at 3 AM in the morning, our tiny house on wheels became a buzz of activity as the EMT’s stormed in. Saygray got her first ride in an ambulance. Thankfully everything checked out just fine. And by time we were home, her fever had broken and she was back to her being her usual little chatter-box self.
I can’t end this post about Missoula without talking about Huckleberries. I once though Huckleberries were a mythical fruit, only existing in animated cartoons and the imaginations of very tiny children. Turns out, yes, they are real.
Couple things you may want to know about Huckleberries:
Yes, they are real.
Huckleberries cannot be grown. They are only harvested wild.
Thus Huckleberries by definition are all organic.
A bear’s diet is made up of about 1/3 huckleberries.
Huckleberry hunters are very protective of their patches and you can run into a serious conflict for picking another man’s berries. (My conviction is you should never pick another man’s berries, huckleberry or not).
Here are a couple phrases you might like to use in Montana. I made them up myself.
BOB Hey, lets go swimming. It’s 50 degrees out today!
JOE: Are you out of your huckleberry mind!?
BOB: I heard you started seeing your ex again. Is that true Joe?
JOE: It’s none of your huckleberry-business.
Ok, those both sounded a lot funnier after I was sugar-drunk on huckleberry pie.
Good times in Missoula. Nothing too epic. Just an all around nice family time. Which is always a treat.