Day -3: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 Getting Ready for Another Trip

Well, it’s been a while. We didn’t go on a fall trip last year, and we can’t wait till spring, so we’re doing a little mini-trip at the end of this month. We debated keeping it down to long weekend proportions and just going to Fargo or Grand Forks or something, but in the end we settled on taking a week off and going as far as Missoula, MO. We will be celebrating Caroline’s birthday and our anniversary. We got married on leap day, 1988, so this will be our twenty fourth anniversary. On the other hand, there have only been six February 29ths since we tied the knot, so I say we’re only up to gifts of iron or wood.

Now I’ll admit right away that the whole Missoula thing perplexes everyone I have mentioned it to. Sometimes, after a pause, people ask if we’re going skiing. Let’s be up front here, I’m a mouse potato. My idea of a winter activity is drinking hot chocolate because the thermometer says it’s cold outside. I have no desire to experience this cold first hand; I’ve tried it and I don’t like it. So, no, we are not going skiing.

The thing is, we like Missoula. We first stopped there a few years ago, on the way home from one of our trips to Oregon or Washington. It was just an overnight stop and it had more to do with splitting the distance evenly than any real desire to visit the place, but we found a splendid hotel and a delightful restaurant: The Pearl. So the next time, we made a deliberate choice to stay there again and the last time we went through, we had an extra day to fill on our schedule and we took a full day layover in Missoula and found good shopping and another great restaurant: The Red Bird.

So now we’re going there as a destination, and we plan to spend three nights there. We have our eye on a third restaurant: The Silk Road. Caroline has chosen this tapas place for her birthday, and I’m leaning toward the Pearl for our Anniversary. We might hit the Bird for lunch on the day in between if we spend the day downtown.

How’s it going so far, you ask. Well, our trusty 2005 Honda CRV is up for another trip, but we invested in new winter tires for this run into the mountains. We bought this vehicle with a set of Michelin X-ice tires, and by switching them off with summer tires as soon as Daylight Savings Time begins, we have been able to run them for six winters. If we had planned no long trips, we would have squeezed one more season out of them, but they were feeling decidedly greasy, so we bought a new set a week or two ago. Much better, and the weather at home has already made this worthwhile.

If you’re a regular here, you already know Dingbat, our Garmin GPS. I gave him a lifetime map subscription for Christmas and promptly learned that the maps have been growing. For a while now, I have had to cut out Mexico and this winter it became impossible to fit all of Canada and the USA on his two gig memory. A very nice lady at Garmin tech support walked me through integrating his micro SD card so that he now has ten gigs of seamless memory. He knows the speed limit on the Trans-Canada Highway now, but he still doesn’t know that Winnipeg has a new airport terminal, so sometimes I cheat and look out through the windshield.

By the way, I got talking Garmins at a dinner party a little while ago and was delighted to hear that Dingbat is not alone. I met a guy with a Garmin called Bonkers, and another one in his family circle is called Boggle. For anyone who just read that sentence and recalled the old joke ‘I met a man with one leg called John’ ‘Really? What was his other leg called?’ it was an accident, okay?

The routing. As usual, we will drive as far as Bismarck, ND on the first day and Bozeman, MO on the second. That gives us an easy third day – we’ll probably be in Missoula in time for lunch.

Last year we perfected our run home from Missoula, making it home in two fairly long days by stopping overnight in Swift Current, SK. Nonetheless, we plan to drive only from Missoula to Great Falls this time. This makes more allowance for winter driving conditions in the mountains, and we’ve always wanted to visit Great Falls. Okay, if you bought into that last statement, you aren’t being very analytical. We have driven past Great Falls on the Interstate a few times without slowing down and thought it might make an okay stop. That will make the leg to Swift Current a little easier, and hey, I got a hot tip on where to eat in Speedy Creek last week.

I think that’s about if for now. This year I will be writing this journal on a netbook as a Word document and pasting it onto the blog in one swell foop. This should prevent any more entries from vanishing into cyberspace when I try to upload them, plus I get to keep a copy of the whole thing on my own computers in case Google’s privacy policy gets any more ‘helpful’.

Talk to you soon. Three more sleeps!

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