Harpster to Missoula, Monday, 3-Jul

We continued along the Idaho panhandle, having lunch at Lolo pass. Then on to Missoula for dinner with a group of my Montana family.

The morning was pretty uneventful. We did our usual travel breakfast, so it was quick to prepare and quick to clean. Since we were only spending one night, we were quick to pack and load the car.

The owner came out to chat a bit, and he's an extremely interesting person. He used to be in the Forest Service, working with incident response (for forest fires, etc.). He said the most interesting incident was after the Columbia Space Shuttle crashed. Forest Service responders were called from all over the country to help search for debris. He had fascinating conversations with the NASA engineer who was with their group. He also said he's enjoyed meeting people from all over the world who had stayed with him.

We said our goodbyes and were off. A quick stop in Kooskia to fill up, and we were turned onto Route 12.

Route 12

The Idaho section of U.S. Route 12 extends between Lewiston, WA and Lolo at the Montana border. It roughly follows Lewis and Clark's route, and the scenery is just short of breathtaking. You wind along the Middle Fork Clearwater River along the north end of the Nez Perce National Forest, then head north to go through the Bitterroot National Forest.

We saw that there was a nice rest stop and visitor center at Lolo Pass, so we planned to stop there for lunch. We arrived right at noon, which was perfect. We found a bench in the shade with a view of the trails behind the visitor center. After that, it was time to walk around a bit.

There was a short loop around the wetlands which we did first. It was pretty mesmerizing watching the grass flow with the wind. Once the loop was finished, we followed the signs to the glade loop.

After following the trail for a while, there was a map by where the trail crossed a road and it ended up we were on a different trail than we thought, which was odd since there didn't seem to be any options once we passed the trailhead sign. We continued on, and when we got back to the trailhead, the sign showed the original trail. Guess the names don't match between map and the actual trail.

We were ready to continue. It didn't take long to hit Lolo, where Route 12 makes a left towards Missoula. It also meant we were in Montana and back on Mountain Time.


Our car was extremely dirty from all the dirt roads, so we went to a car wash as soon as we pulled into the city. Felt nice to not worry about things scratching the paint.

Next stop was our hostel. We found it with no trouble, and the person on duty walked up to us as we parked the car, guitar in hand. We wanted to make sure we were parking in the right place, and he confirmed that we were (we ended up renting the private suite at the hostel, and the off-street parking spot comes with the suite). He let us in through our private entrance and showed us around. We got our bags from the car, relaxed a bit, then were ready to head out for dinner.

We had arranged to have dinner with my cousins, so we found our way to the restaurant. They were already seated, so we got to the table and were greeted by Tomi, Ken, and Karen from Missoula, and, Leah, Josh, Emma, and Adelyn from Bozeman. It was fantastic to see all of them and chat/catch up. It doesn't seem like it's been over a year since Leah and Josh moved away from Seattle, and the girls have grown so much. It's been even longer since we'd seen Tomi, about four years.

On the way back to the car, we made plans to meet up with Ken and Karen in the morning for breakfast. As we got to the car, I noticed that there was a small trim piece missing from the car; I'm guessing it came off in the car wash. The Subaru dealer was already closed for the day, so we'd have to hope they'll be open on July 4th so we can get a replacement.

We stopped by a grocery store to get a few items, then back to the hostel. We then went for a short walk down by the Clark Fork River, seeing several people floating down the river, in addition to people trying to surf in Brennan's Wave, which was made to produce a sudden drop which causes a recirculating wave which pushes things in the wave upstream. In addition to surfers, people use it with kayaks.

Returning to the hostel, we were ready for settle in for the night.