Many towns out West label themselves “outdoor” towns—suggesting a populace eager to bike, run, ski, paddle, hunt, fish, hike, backpack, float and camp. Missoula, is one of these places, but it has a spirit that distinguishes it from the rest. It's reputation as a haven for seething, crazed liberals is evident on the streets. Hippies chortle on acoustic guitars, fanzine flyers cover telephone poles and head shops and trendy cafes abound. This is, after all, a university town that exudes tolerance for everyone.
It seems too cold for me, but children and adults are already floating the rushing Clark Fork River on inner tubes. A white-water pool was constructed right beneath the downtown bridge, where one can stop and watch kayakers and surfers practice in the standing wave. Pretty cool to see surfers in the middle of Montana.
Spent time putting on a new seat and configuring my bike without rear panniers. My bungee hobo setup experiment is about to begin. Then I hung out with the Adventure Cycling folks. Justin, whom works there, grabbed me and took me to the Iowa "shrine" in the office. He's a native of Iowa City and really dug my Hawkeye Jersey.
I had some fitful sleep after listening to this earth mother carry on and on about grizzly bears eating out the guts of her friend a few years ago. She went on and on with one gory story after another. Bears are a threat, but the locals told me that this woman was a bit off the plot. So, now I have to decide if I want to lug around a heavy can of bear spray. Damn.
Just finished lunch at Five on Black, a rice bowl joint, to fuel up on my trek out of here. One of the employees, a young Grizzly Adams dude, asked if I needed a place to stay and took genuine interest in my tour. He's setting out on one this weekend around Glacier.
Overall, Missoula gets a thumbs way up! I'll be back again, soon.