Yesterday we made the drive from West Yellowstone, WY to Missoula, MT. It was a 5 hour drive surrounded by mountains and brilliant colors. What we didn't see were people and houses. Montana is the 4th largest state in the country by size, yet only 1 million people live here - fewer than all but 6 other states. At one stretch in our drive Katie told me she had to go to the bathroom. Exit after exit there were signs that said "no services." Katie asked out loud what people did out here who had to go to the bathroom. I couldn't help but ask her - what people?
We eventually found her a place to take care of business in Deer Lodge. Coincidentally, Katie and I lived in Deer Lodge, TN when we got married. There were plenty of similarities, mainly both were mountain communities nestled away from the rest of the world. I shared this thought with Katie as we drove away. She pointed out all the beer signs. Deer Lodge, TN was a dry town, so yes, maybe they weren't all that similar after all.
We were grateful to arrive in Missoula in one piece after a long day of driving:
Yesterday we ventured into Missoula. Our first stop was to visit where Travis (my cousin Becky's husband) works. Travis is in forensics with the state of Montana, so his office is home to lots of crime related trinkets that little boys love, like gun walls of fame and bullets and a soundproof firing booth. Elliott was brave enough to take a turn at the trigger, Ian said maybe another day.
Elliott watches closely as cousin Travis readies the ammunition.
After each shot, the cousins race to see how close they came to the target. Sharpshooters!
From there it was off to the Missoula farmer's market. My highlight of that trip was discovering the rhubarb slushy. It brought back memories of my great-grandmother making rhubarb which she taught me to eat over cottage cheese. Today, I substitute apple sauce since I don't often have rhubarb on hand, so it was nice to get reacquainted with an old friend and a great memory. Elliott and Ian were both brave enough to give the slushy a try. You might guess which one came grabbing for a second taste and beyond.
I promise you pal, you'll love that poured over cottage cheese.
As usual, couldn't talk the boys into any of these delights.
The farmer's market also had a carousel and a large playground. It might be easier going forward to talk our boys into trips to the farmer's market back home. At least until they discover the only carousel there is the one they create locking arms and spinning each other around in the adjacent parking lot. It will be one more reason to dream of a return trip to Missoula.
It was heart warming to watch out boys become fast and best friends with cousins they'd never met. They had a sleep over with them last night, so here's hoping all went well. And here's hoping we have success on our sapphire mining trip today. After all, Ian currently lists gem miner as a future occupation. Today could fast forward or completely derail that pursuit.