Day 2 and I’m already behind on posting! Day 2 was Wednesday and we woke up in Moses Lake, Washington. The weather was gorgeous and we could see Mt. Rainier and either Mt. Adams or Mt. St. Helens from the hotel parking lot. We stretched our legs with a little walk down the street to Starbucks and then hopped in the car for the 4.75 hour and 300 mile drive out I-90 to Missoula, Montana.
About 90 minutes into the drive, we made a stop in Spokane, Washington to explore their downtown riverfront area. I have to admit that I feel pretty bad for all the shade I’ve thrown Spokane’s way over the last seven years. I’ve traveled through it a few times and always remembered it as… underwhelming at best. But, I admit I was wrong! I’d never been to their downtown before and Riverfront Park was beautiful and had so much fun stuff. We spent a few hours there but could have stayed the rest of the afternoon.
The park is 100 acres and includes a pavilion, clock tower, carousel, IMAX theater, waterfall, bridges, and the Spokane River Centennial Trail. We enjoyed walking around and taking in the beautiful views of the city and river. The highlight for Zoe was definitely her ride on a tiger on the historic Looff Carousel. It was built in 1909 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The drive from Coeur d’Alene to Missoula is a road tripper’s dream. It’s almost entirely through national forests (Coeur d’Alene National Forest and Lolo National Forest) and is one stunning view after another. The skies really do look bigger in Montana and the 80 mph speed limit lets you bask in them while covering ground quickly. We crossed from the Pacific Time Zone into the Mountain Time Zone at the Idaho/Montana border, which was an oversight in our planning and meant we got to Missoula about an hour later than expected.
Thankfully, we still had a few hours of daylight to explore Missoula, because it’s one of my favorite cities to visit. It’s home to the University of Montana and is the perfect mix of college/western/hipster/cowboy. Surrounded by mountains with a river running through it, the outdoor activities are endless. While Zoe and Chris played at Dragon Hollow playground by the river, Laney and I walked upstream and found a viewing platform on the riverbank.
People gather on the platform to watch white water kayaking and river surfing, which is apparently a big thing in Missoula. Brennan’s Wave is a man-made whitewater feature that allows endless surfing just a short distance from shore. Zoe literally shrieked with delight and we nearly had a scene dragging her away for dinner. We grabbed the best dinner I’ve had in a long time at Tamarack Brewing Company and had a sunset picnic on a hill overlooking the river.
All in all, a pretty perfect day! Oh, and maybe the best part – the sale of our Seattle house closed! We are now officially without a home until June 8.
Highlights: Riverfront Park in Spokane, Missoula river surfing, Seattle house sale
Lowlights: Toddler bedtime in another strange place after advancing an hour in the Mountain Time Zone
Next up, the drive to Billings, Montana…