Oh, Missoula!

We arrived in Missoula, Montana for the summer awakening this year. Flying in at midnight, the girls and I felt a chill in the air and a barely perceptible mist, rare for the dry climate. By the time our man arrived a few days later the thermostat had risen to 90. I quickly caught up with my friends’ sandal-tanned feet as we baptized ourselves in the Clark Fork River.

Splashing in the Clark Fork River, Missoula

Staying hydrated on the Clark Fork River in Missoula, MT

I love him!

My birthday came and went without too much fanfare this year. There were the fireworks of course… but 41 is not a big celebration year. 40 was good, thanks for asking. Better than I thought it would be.

Biking on the pedestrian overpass in Missoula, Montana

One thing that has struck me on this trip is how upscale Missoula has become. You can’t find a natural deer shed for under $15 in town!

Berry picking at Red Hen farm

But you can pick your own strawberries for three bucks a pound.

Ants in Montana

The critters are super-sized here.

Montana pink flower

Missoula has also been in the national news this past year—From the Time article about the University of Montana being America’s Rape Capital (though it’s no more rapey than any other university IMO) to the story about a Missoula man “setting a trap” in his garage and then shooting a foreign exchange student when he took the bait, killing him. I’m not sure what all this is about… maybe history will reveal more.

Missoula sky at dusk

After living in Missoula for six years and now visiting for two summers, I have honed my list of must-dos while in town.

Top ten summertime things to do in Missoula:

1. Dig through the piles of bikes and get geared up at Free Cycles. Bikes are free for kids 10 and under. Advice is free to everyone. Elbow grease not included.

2. Escape the afternoon heat at the not-so-secret spot on Rattlesnake Creek.

3. Shop for fresh, local veggies, fruits and meat at the Clark Fork River Market on Saturday mornings. Be sure to eat a tasty breakfast sandwich at Ninja Mike’s and bring home some hand-picked huckleberries starting in late July.

4. Get lost in four floors of vintage treasures at the Montana Antique Mall.

5. Feel the burn on one of the many amazing mountain bike trails, which offer varying degrees of strenuousness from mellow to hardcore.

6. Eat a lamb burger at Caffe Dolce. The wine selection is pretty good, too. Ask Jared for a recommendation.

7. Shop for locally-made, funky wares at the twice-yearly Missoula Made Fair. From hand-made clothing and jewelry to art and home goods, it’s a great place to find treasures and unique gifts.
(The holiday Made Fair is held indoors in December.)

8. Float the Blackfoot River.

9. Take an evening stroll to the Big Dipper for some ice cream. It’s worth the wait.

10. Share the fun with friends. The best part of being in Missoula is hanging with our familiars, who feel just as excited about the long, hot days as we are. The season is short in Missoula, and people take advantage of as much play time as possible.

Erin Vito takes a selfie on the bike trail

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