Views from the 406

Note: Started on Monday in Missoula, finished this morning somewhere else


Today is Monday and currently I am pairing a cup of English Breakfast tea with relaxing at a Missoula, Montana based coffee shop called The Break. Somewhere a stereo is serenading the the faded brick room of casual coffee drinkers with piano and saxophone laced jazz music. During the height of my college career you could find me cramming for a test or thinking about what classes I’d be taking the following semester. A few years older, I’m now cramming through a local newspaper and thinking about what I’ll be doing with the rest of my life. 

This might be my last Monday in Montana for quite a long time. Tomorrow at 11am I’ll be boarding a flight destined for Seattle, where a handful of really good friends (Alvin, Holly, Vanessa) have recently migrated. Inside I want to say that I’ll be back in Missoula again within a couple months, but the reality is that who really knows. After six nights at my families’ cabin in Trout Creek, Montana followed by a week here in Missoula I feel nothing short of great.

This trip to the North was very necessary, not only for my mind but also for my soul. On September 28th, my Mom and I arrived at the cabin that my grandfather George built over 50 years ago. We flew into Spokane, Washington then drove a rental car through Sandpoint, Idaho (a great small town) towards Trout Creek, Montana. It was six days of just us. This was probably the first time since I was a child that we had stayed in the same place together for that length of time. Hiking to the Kootenai Falls, burgers at The Wayside, dinner with our neighbors the Dunns, and merciless games of checkers consumed our stay in Trout Creek. Luckily after six days of sharing a cabin together we still decided to be friends, so that is something to be happy about.

On October 4th, my Mom drove me to Missoula and after eating lunch at Tamarack Brewery she dropped me off at The Shady Spruce hostel. She would then head back to Trout Creek and I would be staying here for the next seven nights. This is the best and only hostel in Missoula, quite possibly in all of Western Montana. Located a block from the downtown strip, this sixteen bed resting place has been a quiet yet joyful home base.  After a couple nights of staying here it started to feel like a “ghost” hostel because each night my dorm room would be full with mostly non-social travelers and by the time I woke up in the morning they would have already checked out, making it hard to believe that they were even there. This ended up being a good thing because I was able to spend more time revisiting town.

Besides getting pleasantly caffeinated in various coffee making establishments such as The Break, Bernices’ Bakery, Le Petit, Butterfly Herbs, Zoo Town Brew, and Black Coffee, the majority of time spent in Missoula was focused towards reconnecting with close friends. In no particular order it was truly special to be able to catch up with Ryan, Hannah, Chris, Brian, Shane, Jessica, Tracy, Z, Megan, Lauren, the Doubletree crew, Toni, David, Emma, Brigdet, Sarah, while also making some new friends in Dylan and Liz. These are all really great, and also quite cool, people.  Simply listing these names reminds me of how lucky I am to know them. 

Sitting here at The Break, I feel very satisfied from this trip back to Missoula. It had been two years since being here for more than a weekend, and despite feeling excited for the next leg of being fun-employed (Seattle/Portland) a big part of me wants to stay here. Nostalgia from of prior chapters of semi-adulthood keeps bringing me back here to Western Montana, however the desire to make new memories with people who matter is what makes me want to stay. In the past I wanted to relive moments from before, to keep old traditions going. However, being back here after two years, it’s evident that my friends and myself are following different paths and I know that those moments in time have passed. What’s important is that despite changes in life, we still are good friends. Coming together to simply hang out, get a beer, or go for a quick bite are all that matters. 

This morning while walking for coffee it started to snow in Missoula. The last time I saw snow in Montana was back in 2012 and back then I thought that I’d never want spend another winter there. During the groggy stroll with fresh flakes of frozen water landing on my face something inside was ready to welcome winter back into my life. Perhaps a return to Missoula will be happening a lot sooner than later. 

Maybe I was getting teary eyed on that walk or maybe there was just a lot of moisture in the air.

Either way, it was glorious.

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