Just five days ago I was sitting in rainy Missoula and an opportunity landed in my inbox, virtually beckoning me to hop on over to the bustling Big Apple. What could that be, you wonder? An 8-week intensive writing program. Knowing all too well that NYC is the place for a writer/editor to be, I submitted my application and clips, and re-routed myself to NYC, via Salt Lake City.
My M.O. since leaving Los Angeles has become “Follow the wind,” and sometimes the wind changes directions! As it was, my journey to Glacier National Park had been put on hold due to unusual weather conditions for the season: Throughout the Northwest the entire spring had been particularly wet, marked by flooded rivers, trails and campgrounds, as well as heavy and late snowfalls. As my Missoula hostess and new friend Heather speculated, perhaps the trains hadn’t sold out but been cancelled, as many of the roads in Glacier were still under heavy snow, with rumors circulating that they may not be opened at all this year. So Glacier, you are on my list…
I spent my days in Missoula exploring the city’s eclectic shops (herbalists, record stores reminiscent of days past, and fair-trade boutiques and numerous thrift stores), as well as their city bike lines, park trails, single track trails, brewhouses, pizza shops, farmer’s market, and local landmarks–such as the city’s beloved “Carousel for Missoula,” which just begged to be ridden. I dropped by Adventure Cycling’s office almost every day, for a chance to get new tips and maps, meet new cyclists, and free ice cream. I drank lots of good beer and ate almost entirely cream cheese-and-jelly sandwiches and cheese crackers. I happened upon a car show, where serendipitously I ran into a polo player and his wife who had traveled up from Salt Lake City, my next destination. We shared some Moose Drool (brown ale) and chatted about the polo clubs in each city, and then I put him in touch with the Missoula club and rode off to get in some more polo (and beer) before heading out of town.
I had a full last day in town, so full in fact that I had to scramble to make it to the bus on time, and borrow tape from the station to get my bike haphazardly packed up. At 11 p.m. I boarded the bus and slept until our arrival in Butte, where my six-hour layover was occupied with reading, wanting more sleep, chatting with travelers, wandering the block in early morning twilight to get a small glimpse of the town, and joining in the fun when several bored men began to gather around the “Claw” machine to pass the time and lighten their wallets in many rounds of attempting to free the cheap stuffed animals from their cage with various strategies and techniques. Seventeen hours, and one lively conversation with a young cowboy from El Cajon later, I arrived in Salt Lake City–but only after passing through the flat, desolate rural American towns of Lima, MT; Idaho Falls, ID; and Ogden, UT. More on Salt Lake later, it’s time for Brooklyn Bike Polo!