Since we moved to Washington, we’ve always taken a motorcycle trip to celebrate my birthday. This year, Brian had mapped an epic itinerary through British Columbia that included taking the bikes on a 10-hour ferry ride from Vancouver Island to Bella Coola followed by amazing days hiking and winding our way through B.C. to Whistler and back home.
Then COVID-19 and the U.S./Canada border closure happened.
We quickly canceled the trip and then slowly deliberated for months about whether we could responsibly go on a different adventure. We had already requested the time off, we’d been working from home for months, and we thought it would be possible to take an old-school road trip where we minimized our interactions with others and spent time in our favorite place — the great outdoors.
We decided to spend a week exploring Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and Craters of the Moon National Monument with a couple stops along the way. We booked contactless AirBnBs and private cabins, loaded up a giant cooler with groceries and snacks, grabbed our hiking gear, and set off with masks and hand sanitizer on my re-imagined birthday roadtrip!
Our first day we drove from Seattle, Washington, to Missoula, Montana, arriving in the middle of the afternoon. It was just enough time to drop our things off at our (purple!) AirBnB and spend a few hours stretching our legs and moseying around downtown.
This was my first time in Missoula, and I was struck by how walkable and approachable it seemed.
We wandered by city hall toward the river, passing an interesting mix of historical buildings and eclectic sights along the way.
There was moderate traffic and a fair number of people on the streets. While some businesses had signs about wearing masks to enter, we didn’t see many people masking.
Our masks drew some strange looks as did our efforts to cross streets and take other precautions to maintain our distance from others. This was less of an issue along the river where there were walking paths through the parks on either side of the water.
Missoula has a bit of a college town feel, and we saw lots of younger people out and about, but it was a calm energy. There were so many restaurants and shops I would love to check out under different circumstances, but we did pick up some amazing dinner from SakeTome Sushi (including a locally-sourced wagyu beef nigiri!) and some delicious dessert from Mary’s Mountain Cookies that we enjoyed back at our AirBnB (we devoured the huckleberry/lemon glazed cookie before I could even snap a photo!).
It was a fun afternoon in Missoula, and I look forward to exploring the city again post-COVID-19!