Luckily, today had no set departure time, so it was impossible for us to be technically late. The rest of the days should be about the same, as they are shorter driving days. We ended up starting the day at about 10 a.m., headed for Missoula, Montana. Our day started off tremendously with what I think was the best hotel breakfast ever (cooked-to-order meals with fresh eggs, pancakes, etc.), but it only got worse from there.
Don't get me wrong -- the drive was beautiful, driving through mountainous terrain: mountains speckled with trees, mountains with jagged stone façades, mountains overwhelmed by pine trees, mountains that looked like they were enormous towers of perfectly balanced stacked rocks. You name it, we saw it.
Though the view was a constant beauty, we eventually had to stop for lunch. We stopped in Bozeman, Montana, and walked around downtown for a bit. It was a very nice area, and it seemed more hopping than Billings. It had several unique eateries, but we decided to get fast food instead, because it was way too hot outside to leave the dog in the car while we sat down to eat. So, we went to an Arby's drive-thru. It was the worst drive-thru experience I've had as far as service. For some reason, there were two women talking through the speaker. They often repeated each other, double-checking the order. My dad repeated at least three times that we wanted a five-piece chicken tender meal and that we wanted ketchup. After the order was finally placed, we pulled up to the window and waited for about five minutes for our order to be ready, only to learn when we received our bag of food that they forgot the french fries.
We eventually got our fries and continued on with the journey, forgetting about the whole debacle as we zipped past gorgeous mountains under blue skies. And then came the low tire pressure warning. We pulled into a rest stop in Butte to find that there was a nail in one of our tires. After more than an hour of unpacking the car to reach the spare tire, getting the spare tire out, jacking the car, and rearranging the U-Haul trailer to fit the flat tire, my dad successfully changed the tire in the 96-degree heat. With our car looking more hipster with its mismatched wheels, we chugged on toward Missoula.
Missoula is home to the University of Montana, and it's definitely a great college town. There's a river right behind our hotel, and all day people have just been floating by in inner tubes and rafts. Almost every person we passed downtown was hauling an inner tube, be it by hand, by bike, or by truck. We ate at a place called Tamarack Brewing Company, which was not that impressive. It was your typical brewhouse, but the service was terribly slow and the food was nothing extravagant.
Though the day was full of bad service and flat tires, it didn't actually feel like a bad day. I guess traveling through such breath-taking areas of the country makes up for it all.