Montana – Day 8

Let me start with the end of Day Seven, the night sky and meteors. It’s chilly, so requires a little bundling up. We have a picnic table in a field which strikes as the perfect spot to try to catch the show. We make our way along the narrow path with the aid of cell phone flashlights.

It’s really dark—no moon which will only help.

Meteors aside, the sky is just breathtaking. Crisp, clear, loaded with stars. A huge black canvas studded with lights. We settle down, and whoosh—a streak of light with a shimmering tail. I’ve never seen a meteor that big, bright. Here and gone in a blink, but it made itself known.

I’m thrilled.

We can spot satellites, and far below, the red blink of a plane or two. Not sure I’d want to up there with all the traffic!

We see another, another, quick blinks and streaks of light. It’s pretty damn cool to sit in a field in Montana and watch a meteor shower, and one that adds those snaps and slips of light in a star-bright sky where you can pick out constellations like a drawing in a book.

We end it with another big one, like a celestial bookend.

A spectacular end to the day.

In the morning, I squeeze in a short workout as we’re heading to the airport to rent a car. We’ve got lists, and our walking shoes.

Mike drives us to the airport, and fills the time entertaining us with stories (he thinks the clack-click-cluck we heard might have been a woodchuck.) He has anecdotes and stories (annoyed raccoons, sneaky bears, huckleberry picking), answers questions and makes the ride go smooth.

And it turns out he was once a smokejumper, a Zullie. I’m fascinated, so more stories. Kat actually found a copy of Chasing Fire in the airport gift shop, so I’m going to sign it and get it to him.

We get the car—and prep for Missoula shopping with that hit on the airport gift shop.

Downtown Missoula/BW

Once we get into town, we hunt for a parking garage, and end up finding the same one we used when we visited before. There’s a stone statue of a cat—a big one. We’d taken a picture there before, so do again.

In Missoula, on a cat, with a Kat (please note the disparity in outerwear)
Commentary by Laura/Photo by Kat

Then we’re off.

Kat and I are very pleased to find the same shop where I scooped up lots of Christmas gifts (and an amazing bag for me) last time. It only takes a minute to see I’m going to have some fine luck again this trip.

I love having Kat so I can ask: Do these earrings or pendant or whatever look like Girl Pal? If not, maybe someone else, or a bull’s eye right off.

A good long time in the store, but before I’m done I’ve got every single Girl Pal a Christmas gift from Montana. The shopkeeper seemed both impressed and a little anxious. LOL. He boxed them all up—I love buying baubles as they don’t take up much luggage space. Plus, shiny!

Gifts (I think mine is the third from the top, middle stack)
Guess by Laura/Photo by NR

And I, of course, bought myself a pair of earrings for being such a good pal! Plus!! They had gorgeous wooden spoons. I can’t resist a good, attractive wooden spoon. Now I have two from Missoula.

Onto another shop with more fun to find. A tea shop where Kat finds gifts for family. In another BW and I both spot this metal happy sun face. We’ll find a tree branch to hang it on at home.


We find another jigsaw puzzle—so there’s future fun. Souvenirs, A pair of adorable baby booties—and a tiny little pair of blue moccasins. Nana can’t resist.

A nana can’t help herself.
(Please note I wrote this caption four hours before the blog arrived.)
Caption & commentary by Laura/Photo by NR

We head over to Biga Pizza, get on the wait list as they’re slammed. There’s a thrift/free trade/rock/jewelry shop next door.

We should be able to pass our wait time in there.

Kat digs through tumbling stones for candidates for jewelry making, and finds herself a little treasure trove—and a very knowledgeable sales woman.

Rock notes/Kat

I find a cool rock for Colt—who shares my interesting in stones—and another pair of earrings.

The weather’s perfect, I think. Warm, but not hot (for me), a little breezy. And Missoula’s a fun town with interesting buildings, fun shops, lots of restaurants. And some interesting people watching.

I see a woman—probably in her 20s—parking a bike. I have never—seriously never—see anyone that skinny still alive. She’s a pretty girl but her body’s a skeleton with skin. She looks perfectly happy, but I want to tell her to eat something.

Lots of people in town as Pearl Jam’s got a concert. I see lots of PJ tee-shirts. And Kat and I watch a woman pull a decent-sized black poodle from a backpack. Not a tea-cup, but maybe a miniature. In a backpack.

Then we spot a gorgeous Great Dane who ignores the challenging barks of a much smaller mop-headed dog. The Dane has far too much dignity to react.

Now it’s pizza time. Jason and I split the House Pizza—tomato sauce, garlic oil, basil, sauce. Kat and BW get something loaded—called the Vesuvius.

We’re all very happy pizza eaters. The place is busy throughout, so lots of other happy pizza eaters around us. We can’t quite finish two 16” pizzas, so we have a little to bring home.

Pizza/j a-b

Since I’d mentioned this wonderful pizza shop in Come Sundown BW wanted to bring a copy to them. We’re lucky enough the owner’s in, so we have a little chat, give him the book.

We’d hoped to hit—after a walk—an ice cream place called The Big Dipper. Jason and I head out on foot, but the heat and the hours on feet have BW and Kat driving to meet us.

Then, when we come to the end of the road—before we hit the expected address—we realize we’ve walked the wrong way. Even ice cream can’t persuade us to head all the way back across town.

Getting out of Missoula proved a little problematic. Wrong turns, stops and starts, a lot of jerking. Unlike the smooth ride in where I hadn’t had a problem in the back seat, this kills me. I’m car sick before we’re out of town.

We need to stop for a few grocery items so I tell BW that I need to take the wheel once we stop. Driving should help.

We find a travel stop right off the highway that has everything we need—except a watermelon—and I’m already feeling a bit steadier before I slide back in. And fight to bring the seat up for someone without a yard of leg.

It takes about five minutes for me to decide I don’t like this car. Loose steering—and some feature that pops out alerts, even tugs the wheel if you touch the line on the road. Driving on a curvy road, occasionally narrow, means your wheel might brush the stupid line on the side of that road.

The car and I have a simmering battle most of the way. I like to think I won.

Back home to unload all our goodies, have a rest—we’ve been gone nearly 8 hours.

It’s cooled off, so I change sandals for boots, put on a jacket for dinner. Jason takes himself on the walk—and to return a ring found in our drive. It must be from the guy who returned our resort car (for some reason they picked it up while we were in Missoula.)

We drive over and stop for BW to takes pictures of our favorite steer—with a companion. They’ve decided to lie down in the grass. And there’s a sweet pony, gorgeous horses in the opposite field.

Flowing locks/BW

I need to add I saw Kat’s horse painting in progress. Fabulous!

We have a nice, leisurely dinner on the porch, good food, good wine, good company before winding our way home again.

It’s pretty much time to turn in as we’re weary travelers tonight. And BW and Jason have to make an early start in the morning.

Crescent moon/BW

The guys are headed to Glacier National Park—Kat and I demurred—and left around 7. They’re driving in, then taking a four-hour tour. Kat and I will have our day at home.

I got my workout in, will likely write a couple hours. Since I finished the Spencer, I’ll pluck another book out of the pile. Or there’s that new puzzle.

It’s still cool as I write this—low 60s. I expect that will climb considerably before the day’s done.

Oh, and the resort kindly provided us with a watermelon. We have plans for that tomorrow or the next day.


#Food-a-rama is back!

In today’s #randomkatness:

Fruit + fork, a still life/Kat


Update from Maryland Control Center:  Second surgery went off without a hitch yesterday.  I’m typing while wearing a pair of cheaters, but when I look over the top of my monitor I can see the other side of the room clear as a bell.  As my husband marveled, it’s the first time in 50 years I can say that.  Thanks again for all the good wishes.

25 thoughts on “Montana – Day 8”

  1. I’ve only been to Montana on a 2-day business trip and through books. Your postings really make me want to visit. I don’t think my son-in-law will be agreeable, as you haven’t mentioned a swimming pool. No pool, no JT!
    I too discovered, once I started driving, that I don’t get car sick when I drive. I think it’s partially because you’re concentrating on driving, plus the vibrations are different in the front of the car. I’ve found over the years, just sitting in the front helps. I also carry candied ginger. They help the nausea, have no chemicals, and taste good! I make myself. Started when I was pregnant with my daughter 54 years ago and couldn’t afford medicine the doctor prescribed. A very old neighbor, from the Caribbean , told me about ginger helping. As I had morning sickness 24/7 for the entire 9 months, it was a godsend! My daughter’s a Kat (Kathleen), so make sure your Kat knows about ginger. She may get queasy as Braxton-Hicks kick in.

  2. What a full day! I laughed at the driving woes. I swear that was Eve driving! Pizza sounds great. With all the detail I feel I’ve already visited Missoula. I believe the steers were waiting for you. Your travelogues are such fun. Thanks.

    Laura, so glad to hear the good news. Take care.

  3. Nora, I love all your books! My hubby was born in Missoula-we went back there a few years ago so he could see it. He didn’t live there long…..his family moved to Texas when he was 3 or 4. Can’t wait for your next book!

  4. Laura,
    I am glad your surgery (both) went well and you are recovering nicely.

  5. Thanks for the update on your vacay, I’ve spent some time in Montana and have good memories that are brought to like in your daily accounts. So happy you share them with us. Thanks again and to you Laura, glad all went well for you, thanks for the job you do for Nora.

  6. I love that you met and talked with a Zulli. Chasing Fire is one of my all time favorites. I rarely reread any book, but I’ve read Chasing Fire at least once a year since it was originally published.

  7. Glad you’re doing well from the surgery! Gosh that Huckleberry Italian Ice looks good! Glad you all are having a good time!

  8. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such colorful and delightful daily posts! I feel like I’m there…lovely! 🙂

  9. It sounds like you are having a great time in Montana. I was just reading about the fires in Glacier National Park. I hope that the guys stay safe.

    Enjoy the trip and recharge your creative batteries!

  10. Is your pile of books a stash that you brought with you from home or a trove of books at the resort? I used to pack a bag (think large tote) of books whenever I traveled. Then I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas one year. That totally enabled my reading habit. Funny thing – it never gets any heavier no matter how many books I add, well over 1,000 by this point. My bookshelves are already groaning with all the hard cover books I used to buy. Problem solved!

  11. My sister just spent a week in Glacier National Park. She fell in love and didn’t want to leave. The pictures – ooooh the pictures!!
    Someday, I will make it there. Someday.
    Glad you are on the mend Laura!! It will be exciting to see you without glasses! Do you feel like you forgot something (like when a person forgets their watch)??
    Love reading your stories (both of you!!). Keep up the good work all the way around!

  12. When I read Come Sundown, I pictured this Resort in my mind because I have been there! How fun to find out it may have been inspired by it! Such a beautiful place!

  13. My husband and I traveled in, about and through Montana several times during our motorhome days and enjoyed finding little out of the way places. One little EC Park in the middle of nowhere had a swimming pool, hot tub and free ice cream cones every night. Lovely.

  14. Msla is horrible to drive in. It’s not just you! Some of our locals have problems.

  15. YAY!!! Great news re: surgery!!!

    Vaca and shopping what could be better! Thank you Nora for making me feel like I am right there with the four of you!!! I think it is wonderful that you have something positive to say about whatever place you are in!

  16. I have Menier’s Disease which means I can get carsick standing on the beach watching the waves come in. Driving usually helps me avoid carsickness but my medicine bag contains Dramamine just in case.
    I still have the earrings my then 2 year old nephew picked out for me in Laramie, Wyoming when we visited in 1992.

  17. I agree that Missoula is a fun place to shop. My husband grew up in a very small town 60 minutes west called Superior. All the photos are fabulous, as usual. #randomkatness is perfect. I adore the picture of the four of you on the cat statue – reminds me of when I first moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. I would look out my window at work to see what the weather was like so I’d know whether to wear a sweater at lunch or not – I would see people in jackets, sweaters and just t-shirts so that didn’t give me a clue! I look forward to pictures from Glacier National Park.

  18. That huckleberry italian ice looks divine. I’ve never seen a meteor shower, & its going on my bucket list. I’m also wondering, do you travel w/ an empty suitcase, to carry all those gifts home?

  19. Beautiful scenery pictures, more Random Katness, and good news from Laura – what a blog! How cool, that you brought the pizza parlour owner a book – neat! Glad you’re all having a nice, relaxing vacation. BTW, Laura, I think your box was in the first column, 4th one down.

  20. Hopefully the fires in Glacier did not distract from their travels. Sounds like a full day.

  21. So happy for you Laura. Don’t overdo and build in some rest time.
    Looking forward to seeing Kat’s Paintings. Nothing is better than creative Mom! You will be a wonderful mother Kat!

  22. Thanks for your posts, Nora. I hope BW and Jason were able to see Glacier National Park; it truly is beautiful and one of my favorite parks. However, I understand it has been closed due to raging forest fires. ?
    So glad to hear your cataract surgery went well, Laura.

  23. Your night viewing the meteor shower sounds wonderful. Never thought to search out the planets tho. Have to do that. There’s nothing quite like a meteor shower in the mountains, unless it’s the northern lights in the mountains. The sky is just so clear. I had the chance to catch both fresh out of college on the east side of the country, so the mountains weren’t quite the amazing Rockies, but the skies were great none the less. Grew up in the country so I remember many summers when we saw both. Sadly that area is now overdeveloped. Glad here are still places to have that experience.
    Look forward to the travelogues when they’re posted.
    Shopping sounds fun. Good to know there’s another bag addict out there.

  24. I so enjoy the virtual tag along on Nora’s family trips, and the photos are fabulous. Montana’s been a dream destination of mine for a long time. Thanks!
    P.S. Glad to hear all went well with your eye procedure, Laura.

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