Traveled on down to the "Lower 48" for the first time since the move to Fairbanks and set foot "out west" for the first time. I love flying over the mountains and glaciers between here and Seattle.
Had an awfully long layover in Seattle, so went out and wandered around the city a little bit and got lunch. I remembered why I don't like big cities.. I hate putting on my "city face", you know, walking with a purpose and not making eye contact with people.. having to really watch out for yourself.
Got into Missoula in the late evening. I imagined something very different, but it was a nice place. The college town part was frighteningly like State College, but much smaller. When I walked around campus, I felt like I knew exactly where I was going.. they had something very similar to Old Main, the Old Main lawn, and the layout was just similar in so many ways. Located in a much bigger town though.
There are a ton of rivers and creeks that run through town. Some rapids, some calm. If I were a big kayaker/rafter it would be heaven.Mmm lilacs!! I miss these.. I wonder if they would survive in Fairbanks if I tried to plant them?The hiking in Missoula was awesome. Even though the peaks weren't very big, the trails were RIGHT there. It took me 2 mins to bike to the trailhead. This particular hill had an "M" on it for University of Montana, there was one next to it that had an "L" for whatever high school is in town. I learned that the Montanans like to put big letters on their mountainsides. Totally random, but I saw it several other places the next day when we drove to Great Falls and back.
Look!! It's a Johnny Jetta.. this was pretty much the exact car my sister and I used to own. I saw two or three of these in Missoula.
Here is an arrow-leafed balsamroot, which is very common on open slopes at low elevations. (thanks to Don for the addition!)On Thursday the professor I am working with drove us out to Great Falls the long way (through Helena) to test our equipment with NWS's radiosonde. We stopped a lot along the way to take his dog on short hikes. Cocoa (the dog) made it into a lot of pictures!She loved the snow patches that were still left over.
We passed the continental divide there and back. Now I've passed it in AK and MT. Of course I had to pee on it, so I could contaminate the Missouri River down to the Mississippi River which would eventually make its way to the Gulf of Mexico and wherever the other side goes. Sorry New Orleans...
This was a riot.. we were on the highway and suddenly a herd of cattle was walking towards us.Check out the video of them! It's pretty entertaining.. turn up your volume!
The drive back to Missoula was better than the drive there... finally felt like we were actually in Montana. This is what I imagined it to look like. .. farms and wide open spaces!After the work portion of my field work was over, I had most of Friday to play before heading back to FAI. I met up with a friend who I met at the AMS conference in 2006. He was a STEP student in Juneau the summer before I had my internship in Anchorage. Small meteorological world.. at both the Great Falls and Missoula offices, there was some sort of connection to people I knew from my undergrad too. Matt and I headed up to Rattlesnake National Recreation Area for some mountain biking. There are a ton of places to ride around Missoula, I could probably just bike for several weeks and find new trails. Good place to be a cyclist, that's for sure!On the way back to the airport stopped by the Big Sky Brewery (Moose Drool! I just like the name) with Don to sample their brews. Then it was back home, where the sun shines all the time. It was neat boarding the airplane in Seattle in darkness and the light gradually increasing until the landing at 1am in daylight!