Day 55: Glacier to Missoula and Beyond

The drive from Glacier to Missoula passes through some nice rolling farmland before reaching flathead lake which is a HUGE lake in the middle of very arid rolling hills. It was very pretty, but like Glacier, the smoke was clouding the view. But I passed through a ton of cherry orchards that all had stands. I kept watching for one that I could see far enough in advance and that had a big enough pull out for the bus, but never found one. After a couple of hours I arrived in Missoula. It was pushing 85 degrees and it was really warm in the bus. I wanted to hike the hill behind the university like my dad and I had done in 1993 when I was looking at colleges, but didn’t want to leave Pepper in a hot bus. So I just did some quick grocery shopping and then headed back on the road toward Bozeman. One of the buses that inspired this crazy trip was owned by a couple who lived there and we’ve been emailing and I’m hoping to meet up with them. They’ve since sold the bus, but it would be cool to meet them none the less. I plan to spend the night somewhere near Butte, or maybe go the Walmart free parking route in Butte.

As I’m driving down the road I see a billboard for a campground with a lake and paddleboarders on it. It’s been too long since I’ve been on the board so I decide I’ll check it out as a potential camping spot. When I pull in I see that the “lake” from the photo is a small stream (maybe it was spring flow in the photo?) and the campground is pretty basic. But it looks nice enough and it’s just for one night. It’s also shaded and by this point Pepper is panting like mad and I want to get her cooled off. So I decide to stay. And I’m really glad I did. The campground host is super friendly and basically lets me pick any spot I want (I pick the one with the most shade) and they offer water and electric hookups (and a dump station nearby). Since I just left Glacier I don’t need the hook-ups. I park, crank up the fans, and try to cool Pepper off with a walk in the shaded grass. Warm weather is really the only thing that really gets to her and she’s panting like crazy, but after a while (and a lot of water) she cools off and relaxes next to the picnic table while I’m making diiner. After dinner I curl up on the couch for some much needed reading time. One thing that has really surprised me about this trip is how little downtime I’ve had. It seems like every campground or road pull off, or other overnight spot has kept me totally busy with outdoor activities. I brought like 10 books with me and have only read two and a half. As a side note, I think today is the day that I’m ready to be home. I’ve finished all the new stuff on my route and I’m tired of my eyes and nose burning from the smoke. I’m ready to have water when I turn on the faucet. I’m ready to have a stationary home each night and not have to worry about where I’m going to park. I still love the bus, but I’m ready to be home for a bit.