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Glacier National Park, MT to Darby, MT   07/24-28/06 (Day 90-94)

Park It

Sadly, it’s time for Karen’s mom and dad to begin their drive back to California after joining the Trans-Americas Journey for the past week, so our two vehicle convoy heads down the Going to the Sun Road through Glacier National Park from the northern, St. Mary’s side and out the south entrance. Whereas the past couple of days in the top section of the park has been largely un-crowded, we find the more accessible southern half to be another story with most pull-outs full of parked cars and folks walking along and across the road in droves.

After leaving Glacier National Park we stop in Whitefish, Montana for one last lunch together, then reluctantly say our goodbyes as they head West and we head South. But we have planned this day well and we are distracted from our sadness by the anticipation of our next destination.

But first, some huckleberries! With our OnStar signal coming in strong, we call our friend Nicole in New York City to see what’s up. As we’re talking about Montana, Nikki confesses a huge affection for huckleberries which only grow in specific parts of the US (including Montana) and only for a short season (including now).

Just as Nikki finishes her Ode to the Huckleberry, we spot a big huckleberry products store by the side of the road.  This is clearly more than a coincidence so we pull in and find ourselves purchasing jars of yummy huckleberry jam and indulging in lilac colored swirls of huckleberry soft serve ice cream.

But huckleberries are not the only great reason to visit Montana. A few hours later we arrive at our much-anticipated destination where body, soul, palette and brand new cowboy boots (see previous Cowboy Up! Travel Journal entry) will all be put to good use.

Now, we have stayed at way more than our share of extremely fabulous hotels, resorts, lodges, and B&Bs along the way in order to write about them for a great web site called iTraveliShop. But we nearly met our match in Triple Creek Ranch.

A herd of elk greet us as we approach the main lodge at Triple Creek Ranch. Our secluded luxury log cabin is flawlessly designed for comfort and style. The food and wine is unforgettable and the service is impeccable. Not to mention the fact that Karen can go horseback riding three times a day if she wants to (and she does).  

However tempted we are, we know that moving into Triple Creek Ranch would put a real damper on the Trans-Americas Journey (read Karen's full review of Triple Creek Ranch for iTraveliShop.com). So we tear ourselves away (there is an actual ripping noise as we drive off) and head back north to Missoula, Montana which we hear is a pretty cool town.

Speaking of pretty cool towns, we haven’t seen live music—which was a huge part of our lives and circle of friends in NYC—since we were in New Orleans for the Jazz & Heritage Festival in April at the very beginning of the Journey. Granted, we got heaping, hot portions at that time, but now we’re a bit music starved. So it’s good news when we read that the Dirty Dozen Brass Band is playing at a local Missoula club called The Other Room while we’re in town.

We’re also feeling a bit friend starved so, all through the show, we keep involuntarily glancing at the door expecting (and hoping) to see Weize and Greg or Aaron or Nikki D or Bronko or Brett and Joyce or any of the other lovely folks we miss so much come walking in to hear a little music with us. It never happens.

Eric is in dire need of a haircut so, the next day, he pays a visit to a barber he spotted in funky downtown Missoula. But when he gets there, the blinds are down and the sign in the window says closed. Since this seems unlikely at 2:00 in the afternoon, Eric pushes on the door and finds Steve the barber relaxing inside his sports autograph and memorabilia filled shop. Yes, he’s open Steve confirms. He just likes to use the blinds and the sign to deter anyone who’s not serious about getting a haircut.

Even once you’re inside, there’s no guarantee that Steve the Barber will cut your hair, especially if you’re a scruffy college kid who hasn’t bothered with a trim all year but is now suddenly desperate to get  cleaned up before heading home for the holidays (you know who you are).

Luckily, Eric is absolutely serious about getting a haircut and is absolutely not a scruffy college student (at least not recently), so he emerges with his first haircut of the trip.

Oh, and don’t worry too much about parking laws in Missoula. Eric spends so long chatting with Steve that the meter runs out where he parked the Chevy. But all the meter maid leaves him is cheery yellow note card from the Missoula Parking Commission that proclaims “You Have Been Forgiven For Overparking (sic)! Missoula downtown welcomes its out of town visitors.”  That is a cool town.
Missoula really is a cool town and we can prove it: here's what the Meter Maid left us when our meter ran out....
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