Awesome Weekend

This weekend was really fantastic. It started off great on friday night with a party at a friend’s house. It was close enough that my friend Josh and I could walk over there. I knew a lot of the people there, and had no problem talking to people. It was nice to be around people who were all my age. At one point two girls walked in and recognized me as the dancer from a month ago when I had owned a dance floor at a bar and was treated to some free shots for my efforts. I had danced with one of them and the other claimed to be responsible for me getting the drinks. It was cool that they remembered me after all that time.

During the party, I mentioned to Josh that I was going to Montana the next day. That piqued his interest, and he asked if he could come with me. I was a little hesitant because it was supposed to be a trip to see my family, but I said yes anyway. Around 1:30 we got back to our apartments and I fell into bed.

The reason for the trip to Montana was to see my sister before she took off for France to study art for a year. It was the last opportunity for our whole family to get together for a year, so they invited me up to Great Falls for the weekend, and miraculously I hadn’t scheduled anything for the weekend yet. Only my youngest sister and Mike knew, so it was going to be a surprise for the other sister and my mom.

I had intended to get up at 7 and be out the door by 8. I turned off my alarm clock at 7 and managed to get in the shower by 8. I was hurting in a bad way. Josh was equally incapacitated. But I had no choice. I had to leave ASAP. We finally managed to get out the door by 9:40. It is an 8 hour drive from Richland to Great Falls. We had reservations at a restaurant in Great Falls at 7. There is a 1 hour time difference. So if everything went absolutely perfectly, we would make it right on time to the restaurant.

The drive was pleasant, but rushed. Josh and I had no problem talking for 8 hours about all kinds of things, so the drive was not just a marathon but was instead a fun part of the trip. For the first couple hours I drove with a bowl on my lap in case things got hairy, but fortunately I didn’t need it.

When I drive, I drive at a speed that is comfortable for me. Often this is above the speed limit. I drove roughly 10 miles an hour over the speed limit the whole time. In Washington, this was 80-85. In Montana, everything is far from everything, and there are lots of flat stretches that make driving fast particularly easy, so I was doing 85-90 effortlessly. A couple times on the downhill I broke triple digits, but I was never in a position where I felt uncomfortable or out of control. The trip was just a nice drive, and the company was good.

We arrived in Great Falls at 6:30; slightly early. I called Mike at home to see if he had left yet. He had not, so I decided to stop by there first and then we could carpool over to the restaurant. When I got there, mom was there, too. I walked in the door, and a few seconds later she turned and saw me. She screamed and cried and gave me hugs and kisses and was happy to see me. A few minutes later, my sisters showed up, and came running through the door to hug me. It was a good surprise for them.

We took some pictures and headed out to the restaurant. We had a good meal and laughed and talked and had a good time. After we left, we showed Josh around the city a little, showing him the falls and the vast stretches of casinos. At home, we all talked more and ate ice cream. I spent a bunch of time trying to fix Mike’s computer and getting frustrated. Finally I gave up and decided to try again in the morning. I went back upstairs and played Phase 10 with my sisters, Josh, and a sister’s boyfriend. Then we went to bed.

In the morning, I spent half an hour again working on the computer. This time I made progress and came up with a solution that worked. I showed Mike, and he was happy again. We had some breakfast and talked some more. By 10:30, we were out of the house and back on the road.

A few miles outside of Great Falls, we stopped at a scenic overlook. At this particular overlook a scene from the Untouchables was filmed, and a scene from the TV show Treasure Hunters, too. It’s also beautiful independently. While we were there, we saw a bear and a few deer. We also watched a deer jump onto the highway and barely avoid getting nailed by a car.

Back on the road, we stopped in Helena to see if we could go to a particular candy store called The Parrot that I love. Unfortunately, Last Chance Gulch was all closed up on Sundays, which was a disappointment. We got back in the car and headed to Missoula, where it was time for lunch. We stopped at a place called Finnegan’s, which is uniquely situated over a creek. It is really freely hanging over the creek, attached to both banks. Unfortunately, the food was terrible.

The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful. It was two 8 hour drives over two days, which is a lot, but it was totally worth it. I had fun and was happy to see the family.

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