Sunday, October 28, 2012

That time I went to Montana, part one.


This past summer, my sister Taite and I embarked on a week-long journey from Seattle, to Montana, and back again. We went, ostensibly, to attend our cousin Camden's nuptials. Camden is about my age (mid-20s) and although we'd grown up in different states and under very different circumstances, we have a bond with the guy. So we went.


We also went because road trips are our favorite thing.

Our father grew up in Montana, so Taite and I had visited the state several times throughout our young lives, but we hadn't been for some time and never just the two of us.

I planned for our trip all summer long, calculating driving time and routes and budgets. I also used CouchSurfing.com for the first time ever to source crash pads along our journey. CouchSurfing.com connects travelers and people who are willing to host them on their couches, for free! I was feeling adventurous and thrifty, so I gave it a shot, and it paid off beautifully.

Taite had an inauspicious start. She went to bed sick the night before we were supposed to leave, but rallied like a champ, getting up early the next day to help pack the car. I elected to drive so she could nap, which meant that I got to pull over whenever I wanted, so it was all right with me.

I pulled over for EVERY "Historic Site" sign I saw, no matter how unpromising. My first touristy stop was Treaty Rock in Idaho.

Treaty rock is not as tactile as I would have liked, but I guess that makes sense.
Eventually Taite woke up, just in time for the Sunshine Disaster memorial.

"That miner has a tight butt," observed Taite.

She didn't give it quite the respect that the death of 91 miners might deserve.

But she had a point.

We idled in and around Wallace, a quirky little town in northern Idaho.

Perched on some drill heads in a park.

I made her trespass a little to get this picture.


Finally, we made it to Montana, and promptly split a huckleberry shake and a buffalo burger at the Frosty joint right across the border in St. Regis. We had to do this immediately, or our taste buds wouldn't have known that we were in Montana. Then we had to go peruse a wall of huckleberry paraphernalia in the nearest gift store.





We spent the night in Missoula in a college student's apartment. She had a beautiful, big black dog named River; he ended up being the main attraction. Taite and I stayed up chatting with our hostess and her friend for a while, and then we slept (somewhat fitfully) on her two couches.

Taite and River.

At the edge of downtown.

The next day we drove to downtown Missoula and had breakfast, then explored some shops, then had lunch with our hostess and her friend before continuing down the road.

I wanted to see at least one good ghost town while in Montana, so Taite and I visited Garnet, Montana's best-preserved ghost town.



We'd been there before, with our dad, but not for a long time. It was exactly as I remembered it, though, except without the people in old timey reenactment-type clothing...but maybe those were just ghosts!

There's one now!


After that, we went to Helena, which I quite liked despite there being nothing open - except for a little ice cream shop with unexpectedly unique flavors. I had cardamom, because it is my favorite spice, and it was wonderful.



Helena's pretty, historic Reeder's Alley had this nice thing to say:




That night we stayed in Bozeman, on some college girls' living room floor. Our cousin Elsa hooked us up. In the morning we explored downtown Bozeman, where we had breakfast at a horrible cafe filled with cat-themed junk.


But the rest of Bozeman was great, albeit small. It made a particularly good impression on me because of a thunderstorm that rolled in while we were shopping. Taite wasn't a huge fan of the "fat rain" that came with it, but I was ecstatic.

Our next stop was Billings, where we were meant to meet up with our father and his girlfriend and check into our hotel room. However, Taite had let me try one of her "focus and energize" pills to see what I would do under its influence, and as a result I was feeling anxious, antsy, and highly motivated. I was uncharacteristically chatty and manically cheerful; paranoid that our father would suspect something, we decided to channel that energy into a quick Target spree. Four flannel shirts, a bag of Goldfish, and a pair of moccasins later, we were ready to face our kin.

That night we met up with our whole clan, minus the groom-to-be, for dinner. After dinner, Taite and our cousin Mike and I were invited to come out to Cam's bachelor party, which was just karaoke at a bar. I had had two cups of coffee, the energy pill, and guzzled an Rockstar by then, so I was very disappointed when things wrapped up around 11 pm. When Taite and I got back to our hotel room, I tossed and turned until five in the morning, unable to sleep with all that caffeine and sugar coursing through my veins.

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