Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Eastward through the Wild West.

Spokane is the first place thus far where we find a host via Couchsurfing — a young married couple that invites us into their home and shares a tasty BBQ dinner with us. We play bocce ball with them and chat over strawberry rhubarb cobbler. It’s interesting to talk to Joe and Sarah about home because the two of them are actually from the same town in Wyoming and have some differing experiences with their hometown and with making Spokane a home, plus they’re about to sell their house and embark on an adventure together teaching English in France for a year. The next day after a delicious breakfast and coffee routine with our wonderful hosts, we each explore Spokane in our own ways and find it to be quite a friendly place.

Next, we head to the Idaho Panhandle, to go see Kelsey’s stepmom’s aunt Donna (whew, what a title!) Donna lives down a rural gravel driveway with one of her daughters, who has her grandchildren, two adorable little girls about 5 and 10 years of age, visiting. By dinnertime, there’s a full house, 9 of us sitting down to eat together. It’s definitely a different lifestyle, but everyone is incredibly kind and hospitable. After dinner, we watch a sheep get sheared and show the girls our van. They speculate on various ways to stowaway and travel with us.

The next day we head to Coeur D’Alene and spend some time sitting in a grassy park, working on a little crafts projects together before visiting a farmers market and getting some tasty snap peas for the road.

It’s getting dark as we cross the Montana border and cruise through more and more rural stretches of highway, glimpsing snatches of water and mountainous shapes in the darkness. The next day is gloomy and rainy. We drive to Whitefish, a cute little town near Glacier National Park. We have a bit of the rainy day blues, so we spend some time sitting in a cute café, sipping mochas and working on plans, before driving to the park.

Due to what we’ll call an “accidental scenic detour,” we arrive at Glacier a bit later than intended, so we get a camping site and spend some time cleaning and organizing the van before having a cozy dinner and conking out. In the morning, the gloom is beginning to burn off a bit, so we take a hike along McDonald Creek, which is awfully big and fast moving for a creek. The scenery is beautiful, the water is this icy blue green, rushing past and dark craggy mountains loom up ahead, shrouded in theatrical mist. We get drizzled on a bit, but don’t mind much in our raincoats. We even come across this gorgeous and nonchalant buck, zigzagging his way lazily across the trail and nibbling at the lush moss. He paws at it with one hoof and looks at us warily for a moment before bending to his knees to resume his vigorous snacking.
After this hike we still feel like we’ve got a little energy left, so we decide to hit one more little mile loop nearby, but after walking a half a mile or so, it begins POURING, and I mean POURING. Our legs are soaked through and we’re worried about the contents of our backpacks, so we decide to turn back and promptly get lost-ish and end up wandering around in the rain for longer than we’d like.

Our next stop is Missoula, a town that’s come highly recommended to us and where Weyaka, a family friend and basically Tressa's fairy Godmother, lives. The weather is still weird and gloomy, so we’re glad to have a cozy place where we feel incredibly at home to hang out and pet three quirky kitties In Missoula we visit a farmers market, spend some time shopping with Weyaka, her man, and his daughter at an adorable boutique, do our usual wandering, coffee shop and jogging routine, check out the space where Weyaka is setting up her own fabulous bohemian boutique and chat with her about what’s it’s like to be a Californian creative living in Montana for love. We feel like our batteries have been recharged when we leave Missoula on Monday, headed for Billings.

Billings is the biggest “city” in Montana, but it’s hazy, small and kind of meth-y We see a band called Geographer play at a cool little venue that has some alternative looking people in it and really enjoy the music. It’s fun to go out and try and pretend we’re real youths and not just old ladies in disguise. In the morning, we have breakfast at McCormick’s Café, “where locals eat” and walk around a bit. It’s kind of a weird place, and we wonder if there’s a better part of town we should be in. We make the mistake of trying to get Mexican food in Montana, the first place where someone responds to Tressa's request for a vegetarian burrito by saying, “What?” They concede to give her a burrito with everything but the meat and somehow she ends up eating "an $8 bean and cheese burrito that tastes like bitter, bitter disappointment."

Anyway, instead of heading to North Dakota, we’ve decided to dip down into Wyoming first before heading further East. Wish us luck seeing some dope wildlife.

Tressa & Kelsey

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