I awoke early — around 5:30 and did some work before going down to the fake riverside restaurant for breakfast. I’d checked the route and saw that we had an easy day — only 6 hours drive and no planned stops. I did want to stop in Bozeman, having been there 26 years ago for a wedding in nearby Red Lodge.
I called Dean while waiting for my breakfast, then called my mom after eating. When I returned to the room, Clare was awake and we left soon after.
When we got to the car the bees were still there — fewer, but definitely still there. Some seemed to be moving out to other cars. Clare was worried that the bees were the cause of her allergies — they carried pollen into the engine area and when we had the heat or air conditioning on the pollen entered the car. Although I was the first to suggest it, I realized later that was not what was going on. And these guys were not even really bees — more like yellow-jackets.
The drive across Eastern Montana was uneventful. Clare drove first. It is quite flat and almost desert-like, although we did eventually see mountains in the distance. Actually we’d see mountains in the distance and a little while later I’d try to find the mountains again — thinking they must be behind us. It wasn’t until much later when I checked the altitude that I realized we were in the mountains.
We decided to stop for lunch in Bozeman for a couple of reasons. 1) we were hungry 2) I’d been there before. We searched for a nice local diner, but came up empty so turned around and ate at a place near the University with new construction and that “old town” or “Disneyland Main Street” sort of feel — you probably have one in your town. The first place we tried was closed, so we ate at a place that offered vegetarian options.
As we left Bozeman we experienced another violent rainstorm — see the video after the break.
I’d never been west of Bozeman in Montana, so the rest of the journey through Montana was new to me. It is lovely country. We tried listening to “A River Runs Through It” as we drove to Missoula, but it didn’t keep our interest — although now, having been in Missoula — I want to read/listen to/re-watch it.
We rolled into Missoula when there was plenty of daylight left. Clare was trying to arrange a meet-up with friends of a friend. We found the river and thought it beautiful. For lodging, we tried to get a room at a B&B on the river, but no one answered the door, even though the sign said it had a vacancy. I called a couple of hotels in the area and found one with rooms which was a block and a half from where we were parked.
The Doubletree Hotel in Missoula is right on the river. We were offered a room with a view of the river for a substantial amount more than the room without a view, but having seen the river, I chose the room with a view. Clare’d finally talked to the friend of a friend and made plans to meet him later that evening. We admired the river from our balcony, but wanted to get closer, so we went outside and tried to find river access. At first we didn’t think it was possible, but a hotel employee showed us how to get to the river by going around the hotel near the lobby.
As we passed the lobby Clare remarked on the black lab that was tied up to a bench by the lobby door. She said it was there when I was checking in. Now it was howling mournfully.
We spent the last of the daylight on the riverbank. Clare, ever her father’s daughter, took off her shoes and waded into the river before we headed back to our room. On the way back to the room, Clare noticed a man of about 65 – 70 sitting next to the dog and remarked that the dog found its owner. The man looked up and Clare called out, “Is that your dog?”. He replied, “Angel?” Clare called back, “Angel? That’s her name?” He stood up and held out his hand and Clare walked over to him and shook it. He replied that he was pleased to meet her. She asked again if the dog was his and he said that it wasn’t. I realized this was a case of mistaken identity and told him that Clare was not Angel. He didn’t hear me or ignored me. He then said something to Clare about buying her cowboy boots (she was still barefooted) and followed us into the lobby. When we passed the gift store he stopped and said, “Oh it’s closed.” We headed towards our room and he asked where we were going. I said, “she’s not who you think she is,” before we turned again to go. He said again, “Where you goin'”? I shouted, “She is not Angel! She is not who you are looking for.” He finally understood, and mumbled that he had the wrong person.
We returned to our room feeling alternately embarrassed and amused. We figured he’d either hired a prostitute named Angel, met someone online named Angel or had a long-lost granddaughter named Angel whom he’d never met. We figured that the first guess was probably right — that he was waiting for a prostitute named Angel and the mix-up with the dog and Clare’s friendliness and his state of inebriation made him think Clare was the Angel for whom he was waiting. The only question I had was who thought I was. Angel’s pimp?
About a half hour later Clare and I left the room to get a bite to eat at the bar and as we rounded the corner to the elevator we saw the same man, this time accompanied by two young women, one had pink hair and one had blue hair. We heard him say “I hope there is time for music.”
For a brief moment, everyone froze. Clare said the young women looked at her. I don’t know who looked at whom because I immediately looked at the ground. Once out of earshot we broke out in laughter. It looked like he found his Angel. And Angel’s friend. Now I knew who he thought I was.
After thinking about it, it was really sad that these two young women — probably even younger than Clare — had to make money by entertaining this man. If indeed that was the situation. We may have been wrong in our conclusions — but probably not.
Clare went out with the friend of a friend later that night and had a great time. She saw a band called Baby & Bukowski and said the show was the best live performance she’d ever seen. Their music is good — click the link and check them out yourself.
Photos and video on page 2.