June 3, 2007
Great Falls, MT to Missoula, MT
Although we drove through some beautiful country, we didn't stop much to enjoy it today. Our first goal was to get the heck out of Great Falls. We didn't see any appealing restaurants for breakfast, and we figured they would be crowded on a Sunday morning anyway.
We stopped in tiny Simms for a breakfast buffet at the Fireside Inn. I thought it was just okay, but my wife really liked it. At least the place had a better vibe than Great Falls.
We drove MT 200 up into the mountains. There was a fair amount of traffic, so I suspect this was where Great Falls residents went to cool off. My wife insisted on buying me a bag of Brach's Malted Milk Balls (the only malted milk balls, as far as I'm concerned) at a mini-mart in Lincoln. She spent the next few days making every effort to keep them from melting in the car. For example, every time we stopped to eat, she tucked the bag into a baseball cap and brought it inside. I guess I appreciated the effort, but she really shouldn't have bought them. Chocolate and summer road trips just don't go together.
I got a bit disoriented in Missoula. The town has an odd layout with several grid patterns oriented differently. For example, U.S. 12 runs diagonally through much of the town, and in a one-mile by half-mile rectangle all the streets are parallel or perpendicular to U.S. 12 (so all are diagonal). The rest of the streets on that side of town are north-south or east-west, but everything is different northeast of the Clark Fork River. Eventually, I got my bearings and found the Missoula Memorial Rose Garden. Unfortunately, we were too early for most of the blooms.
We saw a bookstore that looked interesting, but we were saving ourselves for a big day at Powell's in Portland. Instead, we checked into the Super 8 on the southwest side of town. I wanted to collect Lake County north of town, so we drove up there before dinner. When we got back to town, I just had to take this picture of an altered business name:
It wasn't until I had been home for a month that I figured out a punchline... Notice how it's surrounded by bushes!
I was disappointed with dinner. I had looked up a small chain called Jaker's online, and I was especially interested in their soup/salad bar. Naturally, we walked in fifteen minutes after that had been closed for the night. Instead of sampling a few different soups, I had to settle for only baked potato soup. At least it was excellent. My big mistake was ordering the "Dragon Hawaiian" pizza. It sounded good: "sliced pineapple, Canadian bacon, mozzarella and provolone cheese with a spicy, tangy Pacific rim sauce." Too bad the sauce sucked. It almost made me forget how good the soup had been.
Back at our motel, the air conditioner was spewing stink throughout the room. I remarked that it smelled like air filtered through my underpants after I'd worn them for a few hot days. Then I noticed that my wife had filled out the guest comment card with the inanely trite, "Nice room!" I took her to task, asking how she could say it was a nice room when it smelled like sweaty underpants. She finally added a comment about the air conditioning.
Meanwhile, this freaky cloud appeared to be exploding over the Pizza Hut next door.
Two weeks after we got home, I was shocked to receive a postcard from the Missoula Super 8 thanking us for bringing the air conditioning to their attention and saying they were fixing it now. I really thought those comment cards went into the circular file, so it was more than I expected to get a reply.
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