We woke up in the morning and we were headed to Bozeman, Montana. Today was a day to rejuvenate. At this point in the trip a day to just chill was exactly what I needed. The drive was about 3 hours and that's basically nothing to us now. We stopped in West Yellowstone which was right outside the park. Turned out to be a cute little city full of tourist shops but still, I love that. I always get suckered into that vibe. We had a quick snack at Bear Country Bakery and I ordered their famous cinnamon roll. It was the size of my head and delicioussss. *Big recommendation*
As much as I mentally needed to rejuvenate, we also needed to shower and restock our food. There is a real emphasis on the whole shower thing because as you can probably gather, we haven’t had a proper shower since South Dakota. Plus, you also know it’s a critical time to restock food when you are out of coffee.. So we restocked on all our groceries. Our diets lack variety but we got the necessities.. coffee, cookies, tortillas, PB, and more snackssss.
We Couchsurfed for the 2nd time on our trip. We stayed with Stoney and but you can put air quote around "we stayed with him" because really we just stayed at his house while he was gone one a road trip of his own. PEOPLE ARE SO FRICKEN AWESOME. We opened the (unlocked) door and met a girl and her dog. (Shame on me for not remembering her name) They had been traveling for 3 years. Trying to see all 50 states. And I thought my 2 week road trip was intense. After some small talk I SHOWERED. Thank you Jesus. One of the best showers to date. We then enjoyed a dinner that didn’t only require adding water to a bag of air dried ingredients. The chefs we are, cooked up the biggest tastiest omelettes.
We chilled enjoying our cute little apartment and finally decided to go for a walk and explore. Bozeman felt like it had a lot of personality to it. The streets were full with people out and about enjoying the perfect weather of the night. We headed back for an early night and before we called it a night we saw that one of Stoney’s neighbor had a Huckleberry plant in the window. Huckleberries are a Montana specialty so when in Montana do as the Montanans do. I figured we’d be making a new friend within the next couple days. I was excited to finally have a real bed to sleep in tonight. Stoney apparently has kids because I crawled up to the top bunk and went to sleep.
Today was a good day. No other way around it. We woke up completely rejuvenated. Eggs for breakfast (again.. we are still minimalist remember) and we were off. We walked downtown Bozeman with coffee in our hands. We saw the rest of the city and then headed to our hike, Sacajawea Peak. If I’ve said it once, I'll say it again.. poor Rhonda. This road might have been the worst one yet and it was SIX miles. After about 4.5 miles I pulled into a campsite and made us hike the rest of the way to the trailhead. I sacrificed myself for Rhonda.
Man. Seriously, like man oh man. This hike was SO hard. I love a nice, challenging hike but I couldn’t breathe for the majority of this one. Mid hike I was CERTAIN I had COVID (I had an antibody test a month after this trip.. No COVID for me) I was just getting my ass kicked by elevation and a diet of coffee, cookies and peanut butter. This was Trent's first summit and it was beautiful. About 10,000 feet in the air and overlooking at all the mountains and hills in the distance. We took in the views and I found my breath.. Finally.. For whatever reason, the hike down was sponsored by the Lion King soundtrack mostly The Circle of Life and trying every combinations of letters and sounds trying to figure how the intro sounded (IYKYK). We shuffled our feet through the uneven rocks and brought out our inner Disney loving hearts as we hiked down the mountain.
Next: Three words Rockin R Bar. This arguably the best decision of the trip. We ordered our flights of beer. Yes beer. Feeling like a true Wisconsinite (typically hate beer) But we didn't come for the beer we came for the sports trivia. Insert a mean mug face with black paint under the eyes. Roamin’ Rhonda was the name of our team, of course, and we were in it to win it. Round 1 was surfing. Wasn’t our best round, wasn’t our worst. We then went to round 2, NBA teams. CMON. It was too easy.
Round 3 was going to be the deciding round. We finished with Euro league futbol. Thankful for Trent because I knew none. But drum roll pleaseeeeee……. ROAMIN RHONDA FOR 2ND PLACE! $20 gift card and just like that we basically drank for free.
Got some ice cream and coupled it up with some FREE Huckleberries from our new neighbor friend. The Huckleberries were the icing on the cake to a perfect day. Life is full of highs and lows and today was a high. When I stop and reflect back on this day it just makes me so appreciative.. There were so many dimensions to the day that will make it one of my favorite memories. I stayed in someone’s home that I have never met before and he was trustworthy beyond measure. I conquered a tough hike. I fell in love with a cute city. We won a gift card playing sports trivia. We made friends with a stranger because he had a huckleberry plant in his window. The day was spontaneous and was filled with so much joy and happiness. I know that not everyday can be this way but doesn’t make me appreciate it any less.
We packed up and were ready to leave. When someone knocked on the door. It was a house cleaner for Stoney. Since he was gone and knew Couchsurfers would be coming in and out he wanted to make sure his place stayed clean for their stays. Cmon. He has the kindest heart!! This girl however FULL of energy. She is a traveler and does odd end jobs and bounces around from place to place. Another person who puts emphasis on manifesting your wants in life. I talked to her for 10 minutes and quickly felt like I knew her whole life. Her energy was flowing throughout the whole house.
We said goodbye to Stoney's home and we were off to the next place. Wild Crumb first of course, which was another recommendation. We had a short GSD hour this morning and planned our the next few days. One day at a time. Seriously contemplating staying for longer. We (I) didn't want to go home. I know I have responsibilities but I felt like I could do this forever. Okay, not forever but a least a week longer hehe
We drove to our campsite and ate lunch by the river.. decided after last night a chill would be perfect
and it was just that. We found the perfect campsite right on the river. Had a beach and I pitched my chair up and wrote. I wrote all afternoon. I think writing is one of those things that bring me peace. This whole trip was filled with moments like this and the best part is taking the time to write them down and be able to reflect on them before the pure memory of the moment is gone. We took in the rays all afternoon and when it became too hot we took a swim. It was another perfect day. We ended with dinner and some more cribbage. I can’t say for sure who is in the lead at this point but we can assume it is me.
This was one of the first nights where we camped at normal elevation, therefore the night temperature was warm. We decided to set up camp without the rain cover on the tent, which gave us a perfect view of the night sky. We counted seventeen, yes SEVENTEEN shooting stars this night. Sometimes the world just works in your favor and this was the case because we lucked out and discovered later that we were laying under a meteor shower this night.
Getting on a bit of a travel routine. Wake up, coffee, oatmeal, clean up camp, and move on to the next spot. Hour drive meant hour of lion kind soundtrack.. yet again. We stopped in Helena to hike 1906. It was 3.2 miles and a nice little climb and a view of the whole city. Helena was a cute city but resembled a ghost town. I know that we are in the middle of a pandemic but really I don't think anyone was outside of their homes. The downtown was empty but even so it looked like it had some potential.
The drive to Missoula was beautiful. The mountains filled with trees and where there weren't trees there was rock leaking through, giving it the most beautiful look.
Missoula is where we started the next adventure with Dane. Another Couchsurfer. He was from Wisconsin too and was full of good energy and life. He has hitched hiked across the country so you could say he’s also a free spirit. You know when someone just looks kind? That was him. He was always smiling and kindness radiated off of him. I enjoyed his energy and was so curious about his story. We wandered the city and we all began to get to know one another. We then continued to Marsala for dinner, an Indian restaurant that Dane loves. He is vegan and it has the best menu
for him. It was delicious. Dane is interesting because he has experienced some crazy things in life but now he is at the point in life where he no longer puts anything into his body that would alter his mind. No sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol, no nothing basically. All feasible I suppose but no caffeine?? That means no coffee and well that part is unfathomable but yet inspiring.
He was a NBA fanatic like Trent so they vibed. We were able to met his roommate, who was also full of life and personality as well. We all sat up and soon it was like we have know each other for years. It’s experiences like this that make me fall more in love with Couchsurfing and the people it connects you with.
We decided to go hiking for the day. Dane, Trent, and I. Dane being the local brought us to one of the best hiking areas in Missoula. It was fun not having to plan the day and just be a follower for a change. We found the perfect spot along the trail after taking random turns and weaving throughout the forest and of course crossing a river.. that let me note the water was up to my waist but I was unbothered. The sun was shining and I really felt connected with nature. Maybe, it was the happiness of the past few days flourishing but I remember thinking in this moment how beautiful life is and how simple it can be if we allow it to be. I’m notorious for making things wayyy more complicated or stressful than they need to be. I’m always thinking about what I’m not doing or what I need to do or what I failed to do in the past. I’m a tough critic on myself and there are obvious pros and cons to this. Never being complacent projects growth but can also be a negative trait if you are always searching for more. That’s the biggest thing I remember reflecting in this moment. It was a, "I’m exactly where I’m suppose to be" moment.
We had Marsala again and we chatted the night away. It was a chill night, playing chess and just asking question after question. There was no point in being shy around these people because they just dove right into what they wanted to learn and know about you.
The adventure gets crazier. I know, you’re wondering HOW?! But it does. Trent and I agreed to a weekend get away with Dane and his new lady friend. To Glacier National Park we go!
We hadn’t planned on going to Glacier but decided a fun little road trip with new friends would be quite the adventure. We packed up and headed to Glacier. With a late start we didn't really do much this day. We stopped along the drive to fill up our water from a natural spring and then followed it up with a short little hike to overlook the area.
Guess the next adventure.. yup nice you guessed it. Finding a place to sleep. Probably the most important detail of planning but yet we never set anything up until the last minute. We drove around the park for more than an hour and finally found ourselves on a typical car demolishing road. BUT we got ourselves another perfect little camping site. It was free so cheers cheers. We cooked up one of Lauren's extravagant meals but wow was it delicious. Fajitas. We bought some firewood from a neighbor and we sat in the Montana dark night sky and enjoyed the stars.