Saturday, September 24, 2011

9/21/11: city mouse, country mouse

1. rush hour with bears

Last night we ate dinner at a place called the Silk Road—and in case you’re wondering where Missoula keeps its fusion restaurants and funk stores, it’s on The Hip Strip. It’s actually called that.

The Silk Road’s schtick is international tapas. It’s a pretty new restaurant and when we walked in, the host/possible manager or owner asked where we were from and proceeded to explain how tapas worked, then sort of half apologized, like, Oh, you’re from L.A., you must be cosmopolitan. (Other people just said, “Is there any time of day that isn’t rush hour?”)

But the trying-so-hard vibe was friendly and the food would hold up to or surpass any place in L.A. For $26 plus tip, we had fried goat cheese ravioli, seared shrimp with grilled peaches, an amazing pile of savory French-ish mushrooms and a dessert appropriately named “The Bombe”—chocolate-covered sea salt-flavored ice cream cake.

Then we walked along the river and watched the multigenerational skaters at the skate park, which looked like a lunar landscape at night. I might have had second thoughts about that walk if I’d known that bears lingered nearby: On the way back to our motel, I shouted at AK to stop the car.

“It’s a baby bear!”

A black bear with a loping gait crossed in front of our headlights before disappearing into a patch of landscaping outside the neighboring hotel, the C’mon Inn. (It’s actually called that.)

I’ve been camping in bear country dozens of times and received all kinds of conflicting advice about what to do if I encounter one, but this was the first time I actually saw one. What we did: kept driving until we got to our hotel, where we proceeded to talk a lot about how cute he was.

2. we’ll be comin’ round the mountain about two hours late

This morning after a run by the river, we hit the road and headed up to Glacier National Park. And except for a lunch at a cute café run by nuns, all we did was drive. It should have taken us about four and a half hours, but instead it took almost six and a half. The main road through the very big park was closed, so we basically had to sail around Cape Horn instead of cutting through Panama.

It was a pretty drive—hills of evergreen forests broken up by wide yellow plains. We got to see a little bit of the Blackfeet reservation and listen to most of Nora Epron’s I Remember Nothing on CD. But when these amazing vistas opened in front of us—huge craggy mountains that cast shadows across blue-gray lakes—we were too exhausted to appreciate it.

What I did appreciate—what made me want to fall down and kiss the ground—was the sight of the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, with cars and humans clustered around it, a garlicky smell coming from the Italian restaurant and dumb tchotchkes for sale. I am a city girl at heart.


Claire said...

Baby bears are awesome! I saw one with its mom in the backyard a couple years ago.

Cheryl said...

I remember that! I don't think Team Gato would like living in bear country.