Summer Better Than Others


Whoo! Summer’s over already? Summer’s finally over! This year that schizo three-month stretch of Montana heaven between Memorial Day and Labor Day was full of high points, low points, and some points that just plain got rounded off by the abrasion of a few out-of-control events.

My summer started off with some news that led to an addiction. It’s taken me three months to get that monkey off my back, but I’ve finally watched all four seasons of Arrested Development. I discovered the funniest, most inspired, most off-the-hook TV comedy series ever. Gave me something to look at while I was lying on the floor each morning, doing these stupid post-surgery back exercises. The floor got really clean in that one spot.

Of course, when it’s raining so much that they’re issuing flood warnings for the trail to the M, it’s easier to stay inside and watch TV. The exception was Memorial Day Weekend, which for once sprung some great weather on us. After that, though, Missoula was wetter than Burning Man on Free Kombucha Day.

The first Saturday in June marked high school graduation, so we drove around town to various grad parties, making small talk and distributing checks. At least I didn’t have to cook dinner that night.

I picked up a paper in early June and realized that baseball had started some time in April. Call me a late adopter, but I don’t really start following baseball until Game 7 of the World Series. Same with NBA—I mean, come on! When their season is 16 months long, it’s hard to sustain interest.

I emerged from my back brace and painkiller haze to start spending time at the bark park, folf course, and hiking trails that circle Missoula. Walking was a big part of my recovery, and things started to dry out just in time to get out and dig Missoula in its full-juice, bloom-a-rama, popped-leaf summer peak. I replaced the propane tank in the grill. I sharpened the blade on the mower. Then I showed my boy Rusty how to grill meat and mow the yard. Hey, those episodes of Arrested Development weren’t just going to watch themselves.

My almost-15-year-old daughter attended her first rock concert at the Wilma, and she loved it. They had lasers, pyro, all the standard trappings designed to distract you from the brevity of the band’s thin catalog. “They saved their big hit for the very end,” she told me. Yeah, kid, welcome to the business of show. It brought back memories of my very first concert in 1978, an intimate gathering of 400,000 stoners called Cal Jam II. That’s like losing your virginity to Scarlett Johansonn.


Okay, okay! She can have the $14 back! Just don’t put my picture on Facebook!”

Speaking of losing your virginity, I watched two of my friends get married, and for me it was refreshing to witness a reception as a guest, not as the band leader who refuses to play the Chicken Dance. I wonder why I don’t get invited to more weddings. Maybe it’s because during the dollar dance I pinned a twenty to the bride’s hip, and then removed $14 in change from the rest of her.

By Independence Day the skies had cleared, the thermometer cracked 100, and we were into full-on, horseshoes-till-10:30, jumping-from-a-bridge-and-landing-on-a-tuber, mosquito-bite, sorry-we’re-sold-out-of-air-conditioners, 18-otter-pops-a-day SUMMER. The kids slept in, goofed off, screwed around, and generally made sure each precious moment of glorious summer vacation was completely wasted doing nothing. Exactly as it should be.

Yard sales sprouted like mushrooms in the shady part of the yard. Saturday mornings were spent driving around Missoula, helping to redistribute tons of unwanted crap into new households where it will stay for a couple of years before moving on via the next yard sale. My theory is that it is the same collection of junk that just swirls around town like that giant island of plastic trash in the Pacific. I swear I’ve seen the same hopelessly outdated triptych of Patrick Nagel prints at three different yard sales in five years. Sorry, but that dude is trapped in 1980s amber forever.

July came to a close at the Wire compound with a flurry of events including two birthdays and an anniversary in a ten-day span. As usual, I responded to each event by grilling something.


This is about the point when my underwear starts making its own gravy.

Speaker and Rusty attended a couple of summer camps in August, affording Barb and me the opportunity for some adult time together. She spurned my offer of an Arrested Development marathon, suggesting we go camping instead. We hadn’t camped without the kids in, well, ever. There were no s’mores. No Spaghetti-O’s. There was actually room to change clothes in the tent. There was more reading. Fewer electronics  and bored sighs. Hikes were sprinkled with observations and deep thoughts, not narrated with streams of patter about teen minutiae.

We also left the dog with a friend. Don’t get me wrong, my kids are a blast to camp with, and we love Houdini. But when it’s just you and your spouse, well, things just flow a lot smoother. Fewer decisions to make, less mess to clean up, only two sets of desires to fulfill. And how about that—our desires mostly overlapped.

Barb and I took a tour of Yellowstone Park in one of their iconic yellow buses, and I learned more in four hours than I did in seven years of college. She and I drifted through the park for five days and reconnected in a way that just isn’t possible without time alone together. I fell in love all over again.



A solo day trip to Glacier came on the heels of our second honeymoon. I rode shotgun in a red tour bus along Going To the Sun Road, researching a story I’m writing for a magazine. Some guy from New Jersey asked why they didn’t build Glacier Park closer to I-15. Once again, on the drive home I had to pull over and let some of the newly acquired knowledge pour out of my head.

Fire season arrived right on schedule, and the apprehension and fear that poured in with the smoke from the Lolo Complex blaze tightened a lot of pucker strings around Missoula. In just a few days, that fire blew up until you could see the flames from the south end of town. I quickly cased up my guitars and tried to decide which ones would come with us if we had to make a run for it. I got it down to three. I promised my family I’d come back for them the moment the guitars were safe.

Fortunately firefighters were able to eventually turn the fire away, and for that we are sincerely grateful. I like to keep all out-of-control blazes confined to the grill, thank you very much.

As August reached its end, University students started to trickle into town, replacing the receding crowds of cigar-chomping fly-fishermen who pumped millions of dollars into the local economy, mostly through the James Bar and Hooters.


This, I believe, is a flower. It was growing on some kind of plant. Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a botanist.

The leaves are starting to color, and I’m wondering which mow job will be the last of the season. The hills surrounding the valley are brown and quiet, seemingly braced for that first dusting of snow that will have skiers and boarders licking their lips and compulsively checking their weather apps. Griz football is in full swing, the sports bars are hopping with NFL games, and after a recent spate of cold and wet weather, any nice days are now called Indian Summer.

The wheel continues to turn. This very moment, somebody somewhere in Missoula is working the phones and the internet, sowing the seeds for next summer’s first beer/ethnic/music/hippie/arts festival at Caras Park. Elsewhere, people are making the switch from clear liquors to ambers, from cargo shorts to long-sleeved pants. Sprinkler systems are being blown out, hunting gear is being dusted off.

As for me, I’m in the early planning stages of a huge musical event in December. Meanwhile, I’ll be right here straddling the fringe, keeping my finger on the pulse and my thumb in your eye. Now git!

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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