Missoula, Montana + Columbus, Ohio (Kurt's Wedding)

Jim & Mary's RV Park

August 23, 2020

Even on the way out of town, the Flathead Valley still managed to impress us. Our journey to Missoula took us right along the banks of Flathead Lake as we headed south along Montana Highway 35. This turned out to be another wonderful drive. In addition to the serene lake views around each curve, the road was also lined with colorful fruit orchards (mostly cherries, but other fruits as well) on one side and beautiful waterfront houses on the other. Yet another reason to go back to the Kalispell area!

After Flathead Lake, the route became somewhat forgettable before we arrived at our campsite for the week – Jim and Mary’s RV Park just outside Missoula in Wye, Montana. This place definitely goes down as one of our favorite RV Parks. The staff was pleasant and helpful, the spots were big and spaced out, and the rates were reasonable. But, the attribute that sticks out most about this place was the landscaping. Each row was lined with overflowing flowerpots and not a single blade of grass felt out of place. It made for an enticing spot to just sit and hang out.

Although we enjoyed lounging around the campsite, we eventually grew restless and ventured into Missoula one day after work. We decided to work up a little appetite before dinner by hiking the “M” Trail – a large white letter painted into the hillside overlooking the University of Montana. If this sounds familiar, like something from one of our previous posts, that’s because it is! We hiked the similar “Y” Trail when we were in Provo (home to BYU) the month before. Apparently these mountainous western college towns are addicted to putting big letters up on the surrounding hillsides (Missoula actually has two, there is another “L” on the adjacent mountain – who knows what that one stands for).

Much like the “Y” Trail, this one was another booty buster! Although it wasn’t a very long hike, it made up for it in elevation change. We managed to make it all the way to the top of the “M,” and worked up quite an appetite in the process. After letting our wobbly legs rest and regain some strength, we took off back down the hill and towards downtown Missoula in search of food and drinks.

We would have loved to spend our last weekend in Missoula exploring the area in more detail, however, we had more important things to do – like flying to Columbus, Ohio to see our good friends Kurt and Danielle get married! That being said, our flight didn’t leave until later in the day, so we chose to get up early and check out the nearby National Bison Range.

Sadly, this place turned out to be a bit of a dud. We barely saw any bison – just a few loners here and there. In fact, we looked it up and found that the National Bison Range only had around 400 in the entire herd. To put this into perspective, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma is home to more than 2,500 bison. Disappointed, we made our way back to Missoula to catch our flight.

However, before we could head to the airport, we had to make sure everything was set up for Charlotte while we were gone. This was our first time leaving the little girl behind in the trailer for any extended period of time! She had an automatic feeder, a fresh litter box, and plenty of water but we still felt bad leaving her all on her own. Assured that she would be alright, we gave Charlotte kisses, locked everything up, and left for the airport.

The trip to Columbus was uneventful and upon arrival we grabbed our compact rental car which felt like a toy compared to the big truck we’d been driving for the past few months. Thankfully, we did not have to pay for a hotel while in Columbus because Sam’s friend Megan and her boyfriend, Jake, were gracious enough to host us in their guest bedroom for the weekend. We had a wonderful time just catching up and swapping stories about all the fun stuff to do out west. Megan and Jake had recently traveled through Montana and Wyoming, so it was nice to pick their brains a bit about some of our upcoming destinations.

Before we knew it, wedding day was upon us. This was the first “COVID wedding” that we had attended in 2020 and neither of us knew what to expect. Other than having to wear a mask anytime we weren’t seated, everything about the event felt pleasantly “normal.”

The whole wedding was excellent – from the ceremony, to the reception, to the food and everything in between. After months of craziness and uncertainty, it felt great to just eat, drink, dance, and laugh for a few hours. We had a fantastic time, and we couldn’t be happier for Kurt and Danielle – a true power couple in every sense of the phrase!

Properly hungover that next morning, we thanked Megan and Jake for their hospitality and began the long return trip back out west. Everything went off without a hitch and we touched down in Missoula a little after lunch – just in time to make sure Charlotte was OK before promptly packing up the trailer and hitting the road again (it was a whirlwind of a day).

Next stop, Bozeman!