Clark Fork Organics

Missoula

Note from 2015: This was originally a page about Missoula on the 12 Cities, 1 Year website, which no longer exists. All the pages and posts from 12 Cities, 1 Year, can be found on this site or on Todd Bradley’s Galaxy. See the main 12 Cities post for more information. You can also search for Missoula posts.

Things We Did in Missoula:

  • Visited three different outdoor markets: the Missoula Farmers Market at Circle Square (the X’s at the end of downtown), held on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings; the Clark Fork River Market under the Higgins Street bridge, held on Saturdays; and the Sunday market, which is small and includes crafts and clothing, as well as the People’s Market, or art market, also on Saturday mornings
  • Attended three different events in Caras Park: Out to Lunch on Wednesdays, Downtown ToNight on Thursdays, and the second annual Celtic Festival on July 30
  • Toured the Forest Service smokejumper base
  • Walked around the University of Montana and took pictures
  • Walked around our mixed-use neighborhood (Lewis and Clark, according to Mayor John Engen) and took pictures
  • Interviewed the mayor
  • Learned about Garden City Harvest, a nonprofit dedicated to building community through agriculture, especially for low-income people, and its largest farm, PEAS Farm. We interviewed PEAS Farm director Josh Slotnick and GCH executive director Jean Zosel.
  • Explored UM FLAT house, the University of Montana Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology
  • Took side trips to Glacier National Park, the Standing Arrow powwow in Elmo, and the People’s Center in Polson
  • Went to the Missoula Art Museum, which had a cool exhibit of ceramics by Montana artists but wouldn’t let me publish pictures of any art in the museum
  • Walked nearly everywhere, but especially to Bernice’s Bakery for the awesome cupcakes
  • Ate at Dinosaur Cafe, Sushi Hana, Buttercup Cafe, El Cazador, the Old Post, Paul’s Pancake Parlor, etc.
  • Occasionally enjoyed our $25 bus passes, where every bus has WiFi on board
  • Got a $2 parking ticket
  • Bought a book of poetry by Henry Real Bird, former poet laureate of Montana
  • Went to see a movie at the Wilma historic theater
  • Visited our landlady and landlord’s house off-the-grid in the mountains, near “Way Back Road” and “Bill’s Road” (my father’s name)
  • I missed most of First Friday art night because it shuts down at 8 pm. I enjoyed walking around anyway, and there was music everywhere on the streets. It was festive.

Things we didn’t do:

  • Go to the Testicle Festival (Testy Festy)
  • Go to the Western Montana Fair, which was just blocks from our house but didn’t keep us awake
  • Float down one of the rivers (our landlady had a bruising experience tubing the river this year)
  • Interview Chris George of Snakes Alive, who relocates problem snakes
  • Interview female photographers
  • Take a long walk along the Clark Fork River trail
  • Jump into the swimming hole on the Bitterroot
  • Figure out exactly where the Bitterroot Valley begins and ends
  • Figure out the exact meaning of “Hellgate” and how it pertains to the city
  • Meet Bob Giordano of the Missoula Institute for Sustainable Transportation (bikes)
  • Visit the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, although we often saw students around town taking pictures
  • Visit the International Wildlife Media Center.

What we learned, about Missoula and how to achieve our goals for 12 Cities, 1 Year:

  • Some people here have an accent that reminded us of Sarah Palin.
  • Some people looked a little more outback, a little more country, a little more something than people in Boulder. Maybe just a little rougher. People in Boulder are awfully polished these days. When I moved there in 1987, there were probably more types like the ones I saw in Missoula.
  • Boulder and Missoula definitely have their similarities, but you shouldn’t make too much of it.
  • There is an aquifer right under Missoula. Our landlady said that the soil is rocky, and when you water the grass the water goes right through.
  • There are coffeehouses you can sit in and coffee shacks you can drive up to—just about everywhere. You can also walk up to the coffee shacks, which we weren’t supposed to do at Scooter’s coffee shack in Broomfield, Colorado.
  • The sun is very, very, very bright. The mornings are cool, but it still gets up to 90 in the summer.
  • The winter isn’t that bad, but the spring is a muddy mess.
  • Missoula still has a small-town vibe. It’s not a cheap place to live (median housing cost is above $250,000), but the pace is calm.
  • People are very friendly there.
  • Drivers are sometimes TOO nice. One day I was trying to switch lanes. I started wondering why the driver to my right hadn’t passed me yet. He was waiting for me, and here I was getting impatient, saying, “Come on and pass me already!”
  • Missoula is nice for a small city, but it’s a little too small for us as a permanent location, and there aren’t any really big cities within, say, an hour’s drive.
  • There’s a lot more to do in Missoula than we thought. (Yes, that contradicts the last statement. Both are true.)
  • We need to learn how to pace ourselves with regard to the number of activities we schedule and the number of photos and videos we take. Beth spent the last week in Missoula just trying to catch up on editing pictures. She didn’t manage it, and it wasn’t much fun. A lot more pictures are going on Flickr from now on, and she won’t worry so much about getting lots of pictures in blog posts.
  • Walking around the city needs to be one of the highest priorities; tourist activities don’t matter as much because they’re covered on other sites.

Comments from the original page on 12 Cities, 1 Year:

Todd Bradley: Some other suggestions that friends have already made: