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Movin' to Montana Soon

October 2002: Beautiful Bitterroot

posted October 2002
page:    montana 2002    recommend
Bob & I couldn't wait to go back to Montana for our yearly October trip, especially with our crazy loveable puppy along for the first time.
Even more than the first time, on this trip our eyes scanned every hillside & local newspaper for that perfect piece of property within our reach. It's a wonderful place... big sky country, just like they say.
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Iverson likes to be where the action is
Iverson wants to kiss the rainbow trout on the Bitterroot River, Montana
leftie Iverson in his 'jacket of shame' which keeps him warm and also makes him very visible
Iverson's hated "jacket of shame" keeps him warm in the cold river water
On our 2001 trip we had gone looking for a place to get a burger & watch the baseball game in Missoula, but there was a college football game that day so the few likely places were packed with victorious fans who couldn't have cared less about the M's. All we could find were a row of vegan places & all the big chain fast food joints we could imagine. We drove for miles but couldn't even find a tavern so we ended up going home to our camp stove (so as not to offend our vegan friends with our sausages) & couldn't even find the game on the radio. Needless to say we sports fanatics were not impressed -- this was a playoff game & Seattle hadn't blown it yet!
In 2002 we learned to love Missoula. Maybe not the town (but hey, Oly's not all that either), but the area. It's in just the right place. It's warmer than the rest of Montana, it's got all the necessities of life &, most important, it's surrounded by gorgeous rivers.
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We took a quick trip down to visit Jeremy again in Big Sky & as we drove back through the middle of nowhere we kept looking for the right place to stop & never found it. Maybe it was just that it was so cold. We found a campground on the Big Hole but we had our hearts set on a real bed so we kept on... on & on, until we were only 20 minutes from Missoula.
rainbow trout caught by Bob on the Bitterroot River in Montana
Bob shows off a rainbow trout on the Bitterroot River
leftie Iverson is curious about every little thing
We kept returning to Missoula, playing musical beds until we found the right room, with a microwave, a fridge & just the right shelf out in the hall where Bob cooked our dinner on the camp stove. We decided to stay while we continued to explore the exquisite Bitterroot Valley. Yep, I could move there.
Since Bob wanted to float the Clark Fork, we had decided to get a guide & see what he could show us from a boat. Now, Bob says river guides are like pimps (well, they are), but he's just jel. We got a great guide, caught plenty of fish & had a fantastic day.
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leftie  -- photo by Bob
Fish on!
Eric "does his job" & gets me into the fish.
Clark Fork River lunker
 -- photo by Bob
"Yeh baby!"

photos by Bob Benck
I had never been on a guided trip before & thought it was a little strange to have everything done for me, from tying on a fly (or two) to untangling my line. Bob always helps me out a lot but to think that some people only go out with guides & don't even really know how to fish! I did have to pinch quite a few barbs off of Eric's flies. I know there is a mortality rate in catch-and-release fishing, but there are things you can do to minimize it. Seems to me a guide ought to be especially careful about those things, but I know most people think a guide should get his customers fish, so...
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I think all 3 of us (well, 4, but Iverson always has a good day on the river) had a memorable day out on the river. Eric was probably happy to get some folks that were close to him in age, interest & fishing style -- especially when we got to the take-out & he talked to the guide who had done the same float with another couple (worth 3 of us in weight). He'd had constant smoke in his face, no luck at all & then, to top it off, the guy tripped over his rod & broke it! Hee. Eric told us some stories of his own while Bob drilled him about being a guide & we laughed the whole way home.
I took this self-portrait photo on the boat: my shadow on Iverson's shoulders as he leans as far out of the boat as he can
self-portrait
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beautiful Bitterroot River...
fishing on the Bitterroot River, Montana
The next day we were back out on the Bitterroot.
beautiful brown trout on the Bitterroot River
...beautiful brown trout
We reluctantly left Missoula, knowing our trip was almost over, wishing for another week (at least!).
In a lucky twist just before we had left Olympia, our friend Greg, who we had visited before in Missoula, happened to call. He had moved here & there with his girlfriend Rachel so we had lost track of him. They were back in Montana for a few months living in Columbia Falls, between Kalispell & Glacier National Park.
We drove up past the Flathead Lake, picking out little orchards & berry farms, wondering what kind of money that kind of thing brings in. Greg & Rachel were just getting settled into their new house but they are always gracious hosts, filling us with delicious vegan (no, really!) food & coming out to play on the river with us.
We couldn't go to the park because of the dog (who had endless fun trying to stare down their cat Wednesday -- of course she won every contest), but we found a couple of good spots on the Flathead River. Talk about gorgeous... in one spot we wandered a wide rocky beach full of reds & greens, blues & oranges (the rocks themselves had all these colors & more), then up around the bend a ways it was a canyon full of the same colors (but this time they were in the plants).
We'll be back.
path to the Clark Fork River in Montana
a trail through a colorful meadow to the Clark Fork River
page:    montana 2002    recommend

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leftie intricately decorated mushroom growing on a log on the Bitterroot River
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