Sunday, June 24, 2012

Missoula

I have always had a love for Missoula.  I think it started when Amy and I used to go there when we were in high school to visit her sister who went to college there.  We felt so cool, staying in an apartment without our parents and running around a town that wasn't our own.  I may have started loving it more at that same time just because my Dad didn't and at that age defying your parents was the cool thing to do.  I considered going to college there, even going and checking it out (again just another road trip with my best friend excuse)  When I was there for that trip, actually thinking about moving there, I got a weird feeling in my gut and opted to stay in Bozeman for college  (Much to my Dad's happiness...he thought going to U of M would turn me too liberal...sorry Dad, happened anyway!)  I like to think now that the reason behind that feeling was because I needed to go to MSU in order to meet Matt and I am so happy I did.  But, my love of Missoula has not changed and maybe has just grown stronger over the years.  I like their vibrant downtown, the river flowing right down the middle of the city, the big green trees and the total hippie vibe that you feel the instant you get there.  In Missoula anything goes and I dig it.  It reminds both Matt and I a lot of Portland, but with better weather, and we love spending a weekend away there.  Which is why I choose there to celebrate Matt's birthday.  It's the perfect place to get away, enjoy good food and night life and some relaxing together.  This is exactly what we spent our weekend doing.

I spent a lot of time trying to plan a fun birthday weekend away for Matt.  He does so much for me and the girls and I always feel like such a lucky girl...I wanted to make it special.  We go to Missoula a lot, and I wanted to do things we hadn't done there before.  We started by going to this adorable Italian deli for lunch...a little off the beaten path, but totally worth it.  We had  sandwiches that were full of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and the best olive oil.  It just melted in your mouth (Just a heads-up...I did no cooking this weekend, but there will be lots of food mentioned!!!)  After we stuffed ourselves there I took Matt out to the Big Sky Brewing Company.  We drink a lot of their beer and I thought it would be fun to see where it's brewed.  (The best was Matt trying to figure out where the heck we were going as we headed back out of town, towards the airport...I think I almost had him believing we were getting on a plane for somewhere)  We have a brewery here in Bozeman that we love going to, The Bozone Brewing Company, that is just a local, divey place with great beer.  This one we went to is a much bigger deal and had a much more touristy feel to it...not as much our thing, but still fun to see and try their different beers.  After such a big lunch and a couple beers on top of that it was time to go check in to our room for an afternoon nap.  (I'm not a napper, but this was Matt's weekend, not mine!)  

We are not usually bed & breakfast type people...however, I was trying to find someplace unique to stay this trip and I found an adorable little one right on the river by downtown.  It seemed really perfect so I thought we'd give it a try.  It did not disappoint.  Here was the view from our private patio...

You could hear the rushing river and see the mountains and old bridge in the background...very peaceful and relaxing.  We spent a good chunk of time just sitting out on the patio enjoying.  The perfect place to catch up from the whirl wind that life has become lately.  Inside our room was a little dated (the house was built in 1911).  The decor was part vintage funky, part felt like I was at my Grandma's house.

A little later, rejuvenated, we headed on to the next part of the day.  Again, it was so funny to have Matt try to guess where we were going as I headed up into the mountains, got lost (thanks to a road that was closed from my directions!) and finally got to our destination.  

For our ten year wedding anniversary a few years ago we went to Sonoma California and did a lot of wine tasting...it was a fantastic trip.  When I found out there was a vineyard in Missoula, I knew we had to go check it out.  We've had their wine before, but this was the first time we visited the place.  It was splendid.

Sipping wine while overlooking the growing grapes, nestled between the mountains...not too bad at all.  Add to that, live music and an occasional rain shower, well it just doesn't get much better then that.  It was just so beautiful and calm...I think both of us felt more relaxed then we had in a long time.  (The wine may have helped with that as well, you never know)  We left there after a couple hours because we had dinner reservations.  Last time we were in Missoula Matt had found this restaurant, Red Bird, which became one of my favorite restaurants ever...but I wanted to only do new things so I somewhat reluctantly passed on going there.  I did find another place that was great...kind of a tapas type place with food inspired from all over the world.  We tried coconut tuna ceviche from Peru, fried lemon ravioli from Italy, aracini in sunchoke sauce from Milan, truffle fries (don't remember where those were from) and washed it all down with some Lebanese wine.  It was like a party for your taste buds all these vibrant, unique flavors.  It definitely gave me some inspiration for some new dishes to try.  For dessert we decided to do good old American and headed to the best local ice cream place in Missoula...The Big Dipper.
I have had friends tell me we had to try it here and I can't believe in all my trips I hadn't discovered it earlier.  It was delicious...even though Matt teased me for my love of ice cream (he says I'm kinda like a 8 year old girl when it comes to dessert...coming from the guy who loves strawberry cupcakes).  This place will be on the agenda on all future trips.  

At this point we were sufficiently full and a little tired.  Sometimes when we are in Missoula we take advantage of no kiddos and stay out late, dancing or something like that.  I think this time we were just not in that mood, so we stopped in the store on our way back to our room, picked up some bubbly and took it back to enjoy on the patio while listening to the river and watching the stars...
The next morning we got to sleep in (if you consider 8 am sleeping in...with our early risers, we do!), eat a homemade breakfast of blueberry pancakes, and then went to catch the Farmer's Market and Art Fair that was going on in their downtown.  Now, Bozeman is great for having Farmer's Markets and art festivals and all that good stuff...but  for some reason Missoula just rocks it better.  There is so much, yet never feels overly crowded...just lots of happy people out just doing there thing.  I love it.  Then it was time to say good bye and head home to get our babies.  It is so wonderful to be able to leave them for the night and know they are in good hands, getting lots of love and having a good time.  I honestly don't think they miss us and know this because when I told Ava I missed her she said "I missed you too, but not really cuz I was having too much fun"  I didn't want to tell her that I felt the same way.  We aren't doing a big family trip this summer since we already did a vacation with Florida, but we did decide that we need a mini-family vacation and our going to take the girls to our favorite get away city in a few weeks so they can enjoy it as well.  In the mean time, I'm gonna try to slow things down a bit and try to get into a summer pace.  I think I've been rushing life a little, which is weird because I don't even have work to deal with right now.  It's like we are trying to cram everything into such a short time and every year I do this and end up just exhausting everyone.  This weekend reminded me that it is better to just slow down, enjoy what is happening at that moment and stop thinking about trying to get everything done. 
Have a happy week...it's supposed to be a hot one.  This means lots of water fun and ice cream.  In fact I think I'll have a little ice cream right now.  (Too bad it's not Big Dipper)

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