5:35 P.M. Missoula, Montana
We pulled up to the DoubleTree by Hilton — Edgewater in Missoula, Montana at about 5 p.m. It looked more motel than hotel, like it was built in the drug-addled ‘60s, or ‘70s, like it could have been one of the locations Vacation was filmed on.
Is this it?
Apple Maps and the sign said yes.
We shrugged. It’d be good to be off the road.
It’s night two of our longest road trip: North Vancouver, British Columbia to Levis, Quebec. We’ll be making a side trip to the Bahamas with some family midway through.
Chris went into the lobby to check us in and see where he could store his bike. He returned with Doubletree Chocolate Chip Cookies. They serve the cookies warm. Chris loves them and I do agree that they’re tasty. He bit into his before bringing in his bike. I’ve yet to have a bite of mine, because I want to save it for dessert.
We pulled our overnight essentials from the truck: our overnight bags, yoga mat, snacks, and dirty laundry bag. I bought the dirty laundry bag before we went on our London and Paris honeymoon. It comes in handy on these long road trips to the next house we’ll stay in. I tucked my cookie and what remained of his into our yellow and white snack bag, then sat with our stuff while Chris parked.
Inside, we climbed a set of stairs to the second story. We opened the door to a charming room with refined mountain town touches.
The room has a balcony that overlooks Clark Fork River. What appears to be the season’s last snow clings to its edges. A few men stand in it, wearing waders, fishing, casting, and recasting, overhand. Clouds loll through the sky, hanging low. Grays and browns dominate the landscape evoking a moody sepia look. There’s a meditative quality to watching the water move and the men fish.
Beyond the river is a trail. Bicyclists go by on it now and again. There are trees on either side and mountains beyond. It’s forty-five degrees out. Our drive from Ellensburg, Washington was a little rough through a stretch in Idaho. There were moments when we couldn’t tell if it was sleet, snow, or hail pelting the truck’s window as Chris drove us through the Bitterroot Range of the Rocky Mountains. Signs warned us to watch for icy spots, falling rocks, and wildlife crossing. Thirty-seven was the lowest temperature we encountered. I kept my camera rolling through much of it. Videotaping experiences makes me feel less threatened somehow, perhaps a sense of separation, or a false knowing that if we’re making a video about this drive, we’ll make it to our destination. My logic has its flaws.
We are going to head out and walk that trail across the river. Then, we are going to dine at the restaurant in the hotel. I took a peek at its menu and it looks like mostly upscale American fare. French Onion soup is on the menu and I’ve been loving that lately. To be continued…
8:05 P.M. A WAlk + Finn Restaurant
The sun honored us with his presence for a bit during our walk on the trail. Now and again a brisk breeze would chill us, but on the whole it was a pleasant walk along the river. As I looked over at the DoubleTree we’re staying in, it looked more like a resort, like maybe when it was built the architect wanted it to harmonize with the landscape rather than dominate it. Isn’t perspective a funny thing?
FINN is the restaurant in our hotel and we’d return to it even if we weren’t staying here. The place was classy, the food was tasty, and the service was solid. Yes, we ate the French Onion soup. Then we split a small Supreme pizza (sausage, pepperoni, peppers, onion, mushrooms, black olives, and marinara). For drinks, Chris had a Shady New England IPA by Kettlehouse Brewing and I drank a Poor Farmer Cider by Western Cider. Both are brewed in Missoula and both tasted great. I loved how crisp, dry, and light my cider was.
We’re at one of the most ideal places we could be for the long road trip we’re on.
Neither of us would change a thing. Apple Maps steered us just right.
Being able to park the truck, have some outdoors to enjoy, a great place to dine, and a comfortable place to sleep without having to go anywhere else is such a relaxing treat.
Until next time friends.
There was a somewhat melancholy coincidence during dinner. A family was celebrating the birthday of a boy, maybe three-years-old. They appeared to be having a delightful time. It is our granddaughter’s 5th birthday today and we are unable to celebrate it with her. We sent presents and all of that, but I’m missing hugs and candles and all of that joyfulness.
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