Aug 17, 2007

Aaaand.... We're Back!

Whew! What a great time we had on vacation.

We both took off Wednesday morning, and after getting coffee we headed east on I-90 to Missoula.
We stopped briefly just outside of Vantage, WA to eat a sandwich and take some pictures.
Here's a view from the rest stop:

As I mentioned before we left, it was Hotness' 20th High School Reunion. I was there for the the 10th reunion, so I got to see a lot of the same people I met last time and also met a bunch of new friends this time around.
If you've ever gone to a High School reunion with a spouse or 'significant other', it can be a very boring time. Luckily, having visited Missoula during the years since the last one, I was able to leave and walk around town whenever I got bored.
One night I left and had dinner at Tipu's Tiger. Wonderful Indian food and tucked away in an alley just off Higgins Ave.
On another evening I went and had Mexican at El Cazador.
In the meantime, I walked around downtown and took pictures.
The XXXX's / Brennan's Wave

On Thursday, we went to the Western Montana Fair and had some fun.
Hotness and her best friend from high school / some piggie lovin'

Me posing like an idiot.... as usual

"Hmmm... I wonder where I can get some lemonade around here?"

Friday through Sunday were taken up with reunion get-togethers, but on Sunday evening we were able to attend a free concert by the Missoula Symphony Orchestra at Caras Park.
Hotness' 4th-grade teacher was one of the violinists for the orchestra and introduced us to her chair partner, Valerie Sim. She hails from Canada and can kick some serious ass on the violin!
When we were introduced, Valerie played a little Irish tune and proceeded to: Play the violin behind her back...

...then on top of her head...

... and lastly, she held the bow between her legs and moved the violin back and forth to play it.
She never missed a beat! It was incredible!
We also got to meet the new symphony director, Darko Butorak.

Many fires were burning away across the Montana landscape. While we weren't in any direct danger, the smoke made breathing difficult at times and was thick enough to make visibilty very difficult throughout the valley.
Normally, you can see the surrounding mountains from ANYWHERE in Missuola, but this year even being just a short walking distance from the "M" made it hard to see.

My plans to climb the "M" trail were cancelled until another time, as trying to climb it with all that smoke didn't seem like such a good idea.
However, the smoke did provide a nice sunset picture:

I mentioned that Hotness' 4th-grade teacher was a violinist in the symphony. We met up with her again on Monday to have dinner at her house, but unfortunately her husband had been called to help fight some of the fires, so he wan't able to join us.
While we were there, we caught up on what each of us had been doing.
She told us about her trip to Africa with her husband and their summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro last year. She gave me a piece of obsidian from the top of the mountain to add to my collection of dirt and rocks from around the world! (Something which I'll have to post about at another time)
Tuesday and Wednesday we spent shopping for gifts to bring back and visiting with friends.
I went to Muse Comics to say "hi" to Amanda (the store owner) and browse the shelves.
She always comes out to see the Emerald City Comic Con, and I load her up with all kinds of free goodies to take back for her customers.

Her store has been very succcessful in such a small town, and she has been able to open up a second store in the Downtown shopping district. Congratulations!

We also stopped and shopped at local Missoula mainstays, Rockin' Rudy's and Butterfly Herbs.

We were invited to stay with some friends in St. Ignatius, but another wildfire broke out that closed the highway temporarily and kept us from getting there until Wednesday evening.
When the freeway was safe enought to open and travel on again, we finally were able to get there and we could see the fire hadn't been contained.

We stopped at the St. Ignatius Mission to meet the priest, Father Drew Maddock, but he wasn't around. I took a couple of pictures of the inside of the mission and left.

It was too bad he wasn't there, I'd have really enjoyed hearing about the history of the mission. Well... maybe next time.

We stayed with friends that Hotness knew through her work, and had a great evening relaxing before we took off on our trip home the next day.
I got some nice sunset pictures while we were there:

Our trip home seemed to take F-O-R-E-V-E-R, but we actually did it in the same amount of time it took to get to Missoula. We were just more tired coming back, I guess.
We did a lot of fun things, too many to mention all here, and took a bunch more pictures.
I'll post more of them later, but for now I wanted to let everyone know how our trip went and show you some of what we experienced.
I hope you missed us and that you enjoyed hearing about our trip now that we're back.
More fun adventures coming soon, so stayed tuned!

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