Missoula, Montana

I took route 24, the Lewis and Clarke Trail, all the way out through Yakima and Walla Walla, Washington. I thought Yakima would be a great, chic little town based solely on the image of the rooftop car rack company of the same name. In fact the town is a pit. Walla Walla, on the other hand, was fantastic. A small, quaint college town in the middle of the prairie. And what a prairie it is. Must be millions of acres of amber grain all shorn down to marine haircut length by gargantuan green machines that look more like insects from Mars.

If I learned one thing about America it is too many roads, not enough healthcare. The photo above is of a detour road north of Walla Walla. Prettiest road I've ever seen. Like it had been paved that morning and the stripes painted that afternoon. Who needs a road like that in the middle of nowhere? Meanwhile the people there are as poor as dirt, doubtless without any coverage.

I came in to Missoula from the south. The sign says it all.

As I cruised through lightening struck all around causing fires we would see the next evening from my friends' balcony.

Our first hike, up to Pearl Lake in the Northern Bitteroot was smoke free and wonderful. Madison, their dog, would have fetched the stick as many times as this animation will loop.

Julie, Brian and Madison

By the next Brian and I tried a bike ride on Monday up the trail from his house. It was like riding around a campfire made with wet wood. The coolest thing thought was seeing a bear take a liesurely stroll right down the large open space land behind their house.

On to Lake Louise.