Road Trippin’ to Missoula


I’ll be taking off for Missoula soon. As a frequent visitor I know that flights from our area run a couple of times a day, but my favorite way to travel……and the way I travel most often…… is via blacktop. Seven-ish hours and four-hundred something miles and I’m there.

I love a good road trip. The kind where a cooler packed with sandwiches, fruit, cookies and drinks waits on the back seat. One, where if I’m with a companion, we become engaged in lengthy conversations about things we haven’t had much time to chat about. The ones where I find that I have been lulled to sleep for a much needed nap in the passenger’s seat while someone else does the driving.

What I look for in an auto-excursion is simple: a little history, local culture, and good food. An opportunity to see familiar faces or meet interesting new ones. A few pleasant surprises along the way. It gives me perspective, teaches me something and encourages me to visualize life in a way that I normally may not. There is nothing like taking a look around……spending an afternoon or a couple of days away from the typical routine and setting.

Growing up, our family traveled miles around the western states by car. I learned to appreciate road trips long before the days of portable screens or ipods, and realized young that there is entertainment value in watching terrain streaming live past my window. When license plate or road sign games grew tiring, I could press my face to the glass and take in the show. Mom Nature: her lighting and props are always perfect, her timing impeccable, and the cast of characters changes with the season, day, hour or minute. Like a great series, each installment is guaranteed to be thought provoking and infused with a story line that travels just far enough from predictable to hold your attention.

My geologist father taught me about rock formations and other natural wonders that the family car jostled past. Whether mountain, canyon or butte, I just naturally daydreamed about how they came to be. The face of a cliff worn bare by wind or water or a peak punched high due to an ancient set of events, encouraged a view of planet earth as an ever-changing multilayered exhibit. A work in progress sculpted throughout the millennia.

Barely a year into our relationship Marc and I took our first Washington to Montana road trip. I wonder what he really thought, having not been raised where things revolved around and about rocks, when I pulled out a copy of Roadside Geology of The Northern Rockies.  If he thought me a bit nerdy, he didn’t let on.

In a few days we’ll head east on I-90. I’m looking forward to driving through the farmland, rangeland, desert, forests and cities that it will take to get us where we’re going. We’ll roll past old mining towns and ski resorts and climb three mountain passes and cross over two state lines. We’ll take in the burnished trees of October, farm stands, autumn fields and roadside gardens. Maybe we’ll check out a back road if we have time. If you can road trip it to Missoula, no matter what the season or which direction you’re coming from, I guarantee that part of the fun will be the journey.

Enjoy this Visit Missoula Blog?  Chances are you’ll like some of Margaret’s other blogs: Loopy for Loopy Knit/Crochet in Missoula,  Big Dipper Ice Cream – Great Cones Oh Boy!,   This Time Last Year, So Why Missoula?, Visit Missoula, and My Top Ten Things about Missoula. And, if you’re visiting Missoula, be sure to check in with Destination Missoula for more information about making your Missoula Visit GREAT!

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Margaret is a writer, photographer and mom who lives in the rainy but green Pacific Northwest. She has been a frequent visitor to Missoula and the surrounding landscape for many years and knows that a part of her lives there as well. Please stop in to find out about her visits and why she looks forward to coming back each time. Hopefully it will make you want to visit as well. You can find out what else she’s been up to, thinking about and take a look at more of her photos on her website at