I think I’m starting to get the hang of this Montana thing. Yesterday, before pushing off for Glacier National Park, my friend and I headed for South Higgins Avenue; a strip in downtown Missoula we’ve affectionately coined “hipster row.” Yes, there are hipsters here or at least aspiring ones.
But after ordering a green smoothie in the city’s sole juice bar sporting a scarf and prayer beads, it dawned on me I had no right to judge the gentlemen nibbling on avocado toast.
“I could do Missoula for a year,” I heard Tonya say as she scanned the hillside for hypothetical abodes.
“This would be like $12 back in L.A.,” she added, while holding up a mocha and bagel she managed to secure for under $6.
It was my turn to drive as I tried to remember the last time I’d navigated the world in an SUV. I nearly forgot how much I missed the view from above as we weaved between and around breathtaking mountainsides. Rounding each corner was like stumbling upon some lost Ansel Adams photograph as a sturdy wind reminded us 4WD or not, mother nature ran these parts.
When the two of us finally reached Glacier National Park we pretty much had the run of the place to ourselves. Packed snow and crisp cold air were not
high selling points for most, but it made hiking through the woods profoundly peaceful, poetic even.
We spent most of the day pulling limbs from 3-foot ditches where the sun had gradually mined through the packed snow. When we weren’t laughing or bemoaning our incompetence, we relished the moments of solitude among company.
Montana feels like one of the few places where such a contradiction feels possible, if not a rite of passage.
A few hours later, we journeyed to a little town called, White Fish. You’d be hard-pressed to find it on a map or remember why you went, but it’s an adorable little ski town. Alberta license plates give local ones a run for their money when the hills are paved in white in this movie set of a town. The streets are lined with trendy restaurants and bars that make you wish walls could talk.
We ended the night staring at a “Do Not Serve” sign posted conspicuously behind the bar at a local watering hole called, The Palace. We traded theories on how one got banned without managing to escape with their first and last names a secret.
“And stay out! By the way, what was your full name again?”
I sat beside Tonya as she calmly sipped a glass of Bulleit Whiskey, while feigning interest in a college 3-point shooting contest playing on the TV high above.
A slow night in an occasionally lively town.