Day 16 (Part 2): Missoula

We reached Missoula around 4 p.m., and I needed a nap. (Tako graciously joined me.) So I didn’t get out of the AirBnB until 6:30 p.m.

Too much fun in Idaho!

The night was so lovely that I decided to walk into downtown rather than drive. I also wanted to stop by one of the dog-friendly bars on the list I’d made, so driving wasn’t that appealing in general.

We’re staying on the Northside of Missoula, which is across the train tracks.


The walk into town is only about fifteen minutes, and you get to use the foot/bike bridge that was built over the tracks. On our walk, I came across a man who had pulled his bike over and was watching them switch the cars on the freight trains.

Our AirBnB is a few blocks away, so at first I didn’t know we were right by the tracks, and we kept hearing this booming noise. As we walked over the bridge, and it happened again, I realized what was happening. When they add a new car to the train, the impact sends the force traveling through all of the cars, slamming each into the car behind it.

It sounds exactly like a fighter jet taking off. But physics is super weird and fascinating and the train barely moves at all. You can watch it go down on the foot/bike bridge over the tracks.

Foot and Bike Bridge

The views of the city are spectacular from that bridge. I took a picture of the eastern view, which showcases the L on Mt Jumbo and the M on Mt Sentinel. I appear to have erased it? It has vanished. Oh well. I’ll try to get another one before I leave.

Unfortunately, the bridge itself is wooden, so Tako met his (new) nemesis in very unexpectedly. I had to carry him over the entirety of it while he held all for paws ramrod straight out to the sides like a cartoon character.

We wandered around for a while, just taking in the sights, getting some of Tako’s energy out before I went to get some dinner.

Missoula is beautiful in every direction.

I had built a list of dog-friendly bars and restaurants in the downtown area. Some I had heard about from friends, others I found on Yelp. When I go to a new place, I always tie Tako up outside and run in to ask if they allow dogs on their patio before I get comfortable. It’s polite, for one thing, and sometimes the information online is wrong, which can be really embarrassing if you don’t ask first.

Each and every place I went last night told me they couldn’t take dogs on their patios.

It got really discouraging. I thought we were going to have to go back to the AirBnB and figure something else out, and then I saw a woman with her dog at a sidewalk café. The café was about to close, but I told myself to ask just one more place before I gave up. So I went into the next place I saw that had tables outside.


And that’s how I wound up at Iron Horse! A couple of King Charles Spaniels showed up after we did, and Tako tried to introduce himself with that barking trick he’s coming up with. It didn’t work, and it pissed the owners off who did not believe my explanation. Cue sad pug and irritated human.

They were having a $5 special for all of their signature cocktails, so I got something called Sweet & Vicious. I know it has apple and whiskey and some spices in there. It was delicious. And my order of cheese fries (don’t judge me) have fed me for three separate meals so far. (And, yes, that means I ate them for breakfast. Stop judging me.)

Iron Horse

I attempted to write.


It didn’t happen. But the sky was beautiful from our table.


On our way home, we came across an actual troubadour with a ukulele. I was trying to be surreptitious when I took the photo, and man was he moving fast!


He danced around that guy in the gray shirt, and the guy acted like this sort of thing happens to him all the time in Missoula. He just looked up, nodded with a half-smile, and went about his business.

I wrote a bit about my ex here as part of my explanation for why I decided to do something so extreme, and I had a bit of a thing happen in Missoula that reminded me of my mindset just before I launched this trip. .

The last time I was in Missoula, I was here with my now-ex. I didn’t expect that to make me as sad as it did when I first arrived. It’s not that I regret our breakup, and I don’t miss him. But all night I would come across these places we went together, and it made me sad. Or maybe melancholy?

I tried to explain it to my best friend, but it’s sort of an impossible feeling to explain.

Finally I told her it’s a bit like stumbling across a memory of someone who died, but a few years after they passed. And you miss them because they were really important to you, but it’s not a sharp ache anymore. The memories are vaguer now and remembering the good times you had together doesn’t really hurt. You have this feeling like “It’s really sad that this person I really cared about died. It would have been so nice if that didn’t happen.”

It’s sad that our relationship died. It would have been really nice if it hadn’t.

But nothing happens in a vacuum, and I really like my life. If that relationship hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have what I have now, and I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. And the idea of that, of missing out on the life I’ve built for myself, makes me far sadder than being reminded of my ex.

Which was an interesting realization for me, so I thought I would share it.



Driven: 2685mi

Hiked: 35mi

Written: 3k

Listening to: “The Passenger” Iggy Pop

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