This year’s destination: Missoula, Montana.
“What’s in Missoula?” a few people have asked. The answer? Simple pleasures. A hotel with five hot tubs, continental breakfast, and people who are paid to make your bed and pick up your wet towels. Restaurants with ambience and candlelight and steak that comes just exactly the way you ordered it, juicy and perfectly seasoned and slightly pink in the middle. Shops full of Montana sweatshirts and funny farting pens, just right for that saintly guy who’s back at home guarding the fort. Girlfriends and good conversation, on topics ranging from the silly and obscure to the deeply personal and profound utterings of the heart.
A better question might be, “What’s not in Missoula?” No husbands. No kids. No laundry or dishes or dusting. No mailbox full of bills. No phone calls asking for help with the PTA fundraiser. No Dora the Explorer. No rushing anywhere. No calorie-counting. None of the usual streaming chaos of our treasured but turbulent lives.
Chick Trip is, at its heart, an oasis of quiet delight from which we can take a deep breath, look around, and count our blessings.
Well, that and…we laugh. We laugh a lot.
Allow me to pass on some snippets of the weekend’s shared wisdom:
“Nothing gets out the smell of buffalo pee.” –Marci
“Everyone’s husband is greener on the other side.” –Jen
“You never know what to expect when you get a rubber chicken in a hot tub.” –Kathy
“My purse isn’t made to hold melted butter.” –Kim
And I learned a few things myself this weekend. For example, a 35 year old woman can still hurl a hotel pillow with deadly force and accuracy, even in the dark. I found that one out on my way to the bathroom one morning. Kathy’s lucky I didn’t wet my pants.
Also, I learned that any business at all can apparently be improved by pairing it with a casino. As in: Sunshine Payday Loans and Casino (“Why wait till the weekend?”), Jerry’s Car Wash and Casino (“We launder your money while you play!”), Carruthers Family Mortuary and Casino (“Make your inheritance work for you!”) As for us, we didn’t gamble, unless you count eating leftovers that have been in the car all afternoon.
Another pleasant surprise was how many diversions the Missoula area does have to offer, if one is blessed with time to spend and willing friends.
We drove north a bit to the National Bison Range, where we rode around the grassy hills with our van doors open, safari-style, the better to encounter wild animals in their natural habitats. Not only did a buffalo apparently mark our van tire as his territory, but a charging bull elk nearly gored* Jennifer, who, along with Kathy and Marci, was blatantly disregarding signs warning visitors to stay with their vehicles. All in an effort to capture that perfect wildlife photo. We call that Extreme Scrapbooking.
We rode the famous Missoula Carousel, a beautiful hand-carved and painted affair billed as North America’s fastest carousel. I can well believe it; I had a bit of trouble staying on my horse. But you have to reach for the brass ring, right?
We also spent a breezy, sunlit afternoon at the Fort Missoula Historical Museum, immersing ourselves for a while in the swirling pool of American history. There were several striking photo galleries, including a series of pictures taken during the Great Depression and an exhibit in one of the last standing barracks from the internment camps of WWII, where Japanese, Italian, and German Americans were imprisoned. We walked back and forth through the years as easily as we meandered across the quiet, lovely grounds. A wedding was starting in the gazebo there just as we were leaving. It was a perfect day.
Three sun-drenched, carb-loaded, laughter-filled days after piling into Kathy’s van with our matched red cosmetic bags, we are back. Rested, relaxed, renewed–and ready to be better wives and mothers because of this time we took for ourselves and our friendships.
I just have one thing to add:
Conversations in the hot tub stay in the hot tub.
*By “nearly gored”, I mean “came within eighty yards of goring”, which isn’t that alarming, really—although Jen claims that you had to be looking at him and see the murderous rage in his eyes to understand why she bolted back to the van like her pants were on fire.