Adventures in Missoula, Montana, part 1

By: Tom Rupp
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It doesn’t seem real that since last week’s column, we have driven to Missoula, Montana and back.  Yes, I said “driven,” as in the car, for 1,900 miles.

Bradley and Alissa got married last weekend, and she hails from Big Sky country. I had never been to Oregon, Idaho or Montana before, and in one seven-day trip, I took care of all three.

Flying may seem to be quicker, more convenient and more restful. But we had all sorts of room in the Outback for packing extras, with sorts of legroom. We bought gas instead of plane tickets and no rental car needed. We could stop whenever we wanted to.

We didn’t want to. When you know you have eight hours of driving ahead, you don’t want to dilly dally much.  We had two full days of driving. Rather, I did. By choice, I wanted to be the pilot the entire way, which suited Carol just fine.

Most of the towns between here and there were the small, sparsely populated type (besides maybe Winnemucca and Ontario). And with some forethought and planning, the stops were evenly divided between Winnemucca, Ontario, Grangeville and Missoula.

For more than two hours, we drove more than 100 miles through the Nez Perce –Clearwater and Payette National Forests. It was what I called “monotonous beauty.” In other words, as we drove along the Lochsa River on Route 12, beautiful forests on the opposite side, I was hypnotized by the constant sight. That’s not a bad thing, just a thing, for me at least.

Missoula impressed me. Like Folsom, the college town’s population is 73,000 while the metropolitan area is 117,000. We stayed near old town, by the University of Montana, where we could walk around.

Walking in a city can help give you more of a feel for a place, its moods, spirit and attitude. For us, it can also remind you that you under packed as the gusty winds and temperatures in the 30s chill you to the bone.

As we chattered our way through the streets, I thought, “I wonder what visitors to Folsom think as they walk Sutter Street or the Johnny Cash Trail, the Palladio or Harris Center? What mood, spirit and attitude do we exude?” Speaking of food for thought – the restaurants.

Uh, oh, out of space. If you will indulge me, I will continue and conclude this trip summary next week.

Tom Rupp is a resident of Folsom and a weekly columnist in the Folsom Telegraph. You can reach him at