Revisiting Missoula, Montana

We don’t often retrace our path so when we do, it’s a bit like coming home. You know you have a few favorites you want to retry, and then you also want to make sure you experience a few new things.

View just outside Missoula, MT
View just outside Missoula, MT

Missoula on the surface, looked very similar to us. College town, nestled in the mountains with a cute downtown. A chat with a bartender painted a bit of a different picture. High homeless rate, meth usage on the rise and at the same time, an influx of higher end boutiques.

For our few visits to the downtown area, it was still a very comfortable town to walk around in. Our first stop was to Kettlehouse where I had a Brick and Mortar Porter.  Still a unique and enjoyable brew! We also revisited Biga Pizza and we were happy to discover it is still a delicious pie.

Biga Pizza
Biga Pizza

We also hit a few new spots. The Oxford is a lovely dive bar serving local brews and has a separate counter restaurant dishing out low end bar food. Don’t get me wrong when I say low end however, the bacon burger hit the spot that day. Another stop was a recommendation by fellow travelers Horton’s Travels and we enjoyed a few pints at Great Burn Brewing.

Cajun food at Dinosaur Cafe
Cajun food at Dinosaur Cafe

Our dinner that night was at another fabulous dive bar that was recommended by the bartender at Great Burn. In the back of Charlie B’s, is a cash only creole place called The Dinosaur Cafe. While maybe it didn’t quite meet the NOLA experiences we’ve had, it was a nice, hot, and spicy meal.

Later in the week, we tried another brewery Draught Works and then ate at The Shack Cafe. Don’t let the slightly creepy, antique laden atmosphere scare you too far away from the Shack Cafe – the sandwiches we ordered ended up being spot on delicious.

Brew at Draught Works
Brew at Draught Works

Last time we were in Missoula, I saw on the map Lolo Hot Springs and it sounded like a neat place to check out. We ran out of time 3 years ago, instead visiting places like Philipsburg. This time, in the mood for a short mountain drive, we set the directions in google and took off. Google took us off the paved road and when it stated ‘You’ve arrived’, we were in the middle of nowhere, just after crossing a narrow bridge. It was a perfect spot to let Samantha let off a little energy and breathe in the fresh mountain air.

Lolo Hot Springs according to google
Lolo Hot Springs according to google

So that was our revisit to Missoula, and our brief stop back into one of our favorite states. Good to see the mountains, good to drink some great brews. Time to dive back into the PNW!

Overnight outside Butte, Montana

Since we had a few epic days in the RV, when we left Bismarck I guessed we were going to stop anywhere between Billings and Bozeman. Instead, we made it just outside Butte giving us a shorter hop to Missoula the next day. With that extra time and not needing to get on the road at the crack of dawn, we decided to take a drive into Butte and walk around.

What an interesting town and one that I wish we had more than just a Sunday morning to explore. We hiked up a short, steep path to get a great panoramic of the city and then spent the next few hours walking the downtown area. Great architecture and interesting history in this small town! Enjoy the snaps.

View outside Butte, Montana
View outside Butte, Montana
View of Butte (and our car!) after a steep climb
View of Butte (and our car!) after a steep climb
House turned museum and one of my favorite buildings in Butte
House turned museum and one of my favorite buildings in Butte
Butte, Montana
Butte, Montana
So many great signs in downtown Butte
So many great signs in downtown Butte
Vintage advertisements on a building in Butte
Vintage advertisements on a building in Butte
Butte, Montana
Butte, Montana
Another beautiful house in downtown Butte
Another beautiful house in downtown Butte
Streets of Butte
Streets of Butte

Campground Notes: Bismarck KOA

When I was scoping out places to stay in Bismarck, I quickly realized the options were slim. There was a state park, and a KOA. Usually I would immediately favor a state park over a KOA, and I did look into it. Unfortunately I noticed a train track running right through the park which was strike one. Strike two was no sewer on the site, which is hard for a week. We still own our honey wagon, but since all the other stops this summer, including some state parks, had sewer connections, it seemed like a real PITA to bring it for one stop.

Sunrise from the campground
Sunrise from the campground

So, we decided on the KOA and it actually was a really nice, quiet stop. The sites were nicely treed and while not spacious, had a bit of room around them. There is a new grocery store just down the road and since Bismarck is compact, was an easy trip to get to the downtown center.

Our spot at the KOA
Our spot at the KOA

We’ve also been in many storms and this was the first time we got serious damage from a hail storm. It blew in very early in the morning and the hail was impressive. So impressive, it left a massive spider web crack in our CRV front windshield, which we ended up replacing at our next stop. We were just extremely happy no damage to the RV!

It was hard to get a great picture, but the crack was massive!
It was hard to get a great picture, but the crack was massive!

I’ve been vocal about KOA stays not being my favorite and that is mostly because they are expensive and we don’t take advantage of facilities like the pools or go carts or mini golf. While I may never be a huge KOA fan, this stop worked for us nicely.

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