Missoula Montana

I was off early last night, very unusual for me on a Friday night, since I typically work evenings at UPS. But with someone on vacation I have been working afternoons this week. Thor was still working on the web site when I got back to the studio so I decided we would go out for dinner. We found a table on the street at an Italian restaurant, on what’s called the Hip Strip; a block of restaurants, specialty shops and a small theater district near the bank of the Clark Fork River, just off the Higgins Ave. Bridge. Missoula is such an interesting city, though most would consider it just a step up from a town. It is nestled in the mountains at a spot where about five valleys come together. It is completely surrounded by large, steep mountains on the eastern side that become soft rolling and barren as they rise above the city. There is a narrow Canyon between these mountains called the Hellgate, where the Indians slaughtered their enemies, entering the valley where the interstate now runs from east to west. To the north is a vast wilderness area known as the Rattlesnake. I live on the edge of this. This is also home to winter skiing which is just minutes from the heart of the city. To the south are the Bitterroots, once a fertile farm valley. It is becoming overgrown by rich California types, who seem to throw money at the land and make it stick in the form of extravagant, not well-thought-out homes. These constructions detract from the natural rugged beauty of the land. To the west, the valley opens to a sort of twenty mile vista containing the airport and several smaller out-lying towns, heading back toward a less populated area. My family ranch lies about twenty minutes in this direction. After another thirty minutes comes Superior, the town where I was born and in which I grew up.

The city of Missoula itself is built on the banks of a river that flows east to west. It meanders though the valley, eventually passing Superior as it heads to the Pacific Coast. It supports a rather large university, which is fairly renowned for its academic achievements and scholars. It educates about 20,000 students annually. But the thing I love about Missoula the most is its simplistic honesty. People here are genuine and sincere. It seems everywhere I go I know lots of people. Last night, as we were sitting on the street having dinner, about six people I had not seen in a while stopped to chat. After dinner, with my cowboy boots and an old rugged Carhart jacket on, I walked the banks of the river with Thor in the semi darkness of the city light. I realized how much I miss this simple pleasure. We talked about drugs and sex and life issues as we heard a band playing in a park across the river. The water gurgled off the pathways near our feet and again we encountered people I knew and so we chatted along the wayside.

Missoula is home to a very creative culture. It supports many renowned artist, musicians, writers, painters and sculptors. This is what the University brings to it. It is a very open community that seems accepting, nurturing and caring for others. Creativity abounds here with freedom and flexibility. It used to be the cheapest place in the world to live, but the California developers have again driven the prices up. I guess that is happening everywhere. Unfortunately, the cost of living has not risen to match it, so if you really want to be in Missoula, it becomes a struggle. It’s not uncommon to work several jobs to sustain yourself. All in all, in the heart of the city, wandering the river last night I felt a peacefulness I have not felt in some time. I realized that although I am beginning to live in my head on the web quite a bit, Missoula is a physical place where I have always belonged and still feel at home.

My vision for today’s image is from the mountain top over looking the city with a naked man looking out over the valley, but I did not have time to pull it together, will work on this week and replace, check back late.

2 thoughts on “Missoula Montana

  1. Kevin McCollum-Blair

    >I left Missoula at the beginning of 1980, when I was just 15 years old. although I have moved back there a couple of times, the winters always seem to drive me back to living in the Puget Sound area. I am 47 now and have lived the majority of my life in the Seattle area, but to me "home" and "Missoula" will ALWAYS be synonymous. Missoula and Western Montana are something that once have been embedded in your heart are there permanently. Thank you, Terry, for taking me 'home' for a few moments this morning!

  2. Elizabeth Lister

    >I meant to tell you that editing this post was an absolute pleasure, Terry. The imagery and sense of place that you evoke is wonderful. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help you with your magical writing 🙂

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