The mountains are calling and I must go~John Muir

Well…it wasn’t necessarily the mountains calling…we didn’t see Sean at Christmas so we thought a roadtrip to Bozeman would be fun and the mountains and the scenic beauty would be a bonus. In addition, after several long weeks in Bend with trips to the St. Charles Spa for Shannon we needed to get out of dodge.

Would there be any swimming on this trip? I wasn’t sure. So along with skis, boots and poles I threw in a speedo and goggles. When I looked in the back of the car with the winter jackets and ski gear it was quite evident that swimming is a minimalist sport versus skiing.

We headed north on highway 97, hit the Columbia River and the wide open wheat fields of Eastern Washington. Eventually, we hit Couer d’ Alene in the Idaho panhandle and crossed the mountain pass into Montana in a snow storm at night-fun! After 9.5+ hours we made it Missoula.

Missoula is a charming college town. A short walk after breakfast I was presented with the first omen (swimmer graffiti on a electric box) that a swim and new pool could possibly be in the cards on this trip.

Missoula, MT

It was then a fairly quick 3 hour drive to Bozeman with a couple of stops along the way. First stop was Butte one of the largest mining operations in the world, providing 26% of the world supply of copper in the mid 1800’s. Kinda crazy.

Butte mining facts

Second stop was the headwaters of the Missouri River. The river is the longest river in the United States stretching 2300+ miles. It was here that Lewis & Clark accomplished one of the major objectives of their expedition-to explore the Missouri River to its source. More water another good omen.

Headwaters of the Missouri River

Arrived in Bozeman for lunch at the infamous Dave’s Sushi and checked into our hotel The Lark on Main Street. Sean told us he would find us on Main Street after he finished up a few things at work. Well…we aren’t sure if we “saw”or “heard”him first as he rumbled up to us in his big red truck.

Truck with Sled (more expensive than truck)

We had nice night with drinks at the Armory looking out at the 3 or 4 mountain ranges that surround Bozeman and then dinner at Plonk on Main Street. It was a fairly early night as Sean was going get to work early with the hope of squeezing in a few hours of skiing in at Bridger Bowl at some point during the day.

The Armory

In the morning at the hotel coffee shop I spied another omen of a possible swim in the refrigerator~Night Swim sake. Would I really swim in a new pool? The first new pool of the year. After a relaxing cup o’ joe, Shannon and I went for a walk in park that hat great views of town and the mountains.

The freezer @ Tree Line Coffee Roasters

Late morning I finally got the call from Sean that he was ready to take a few laps (ski laps not swim laps) With some really, really good sandwich’s from Fink’s Deli in tow we headed the 16 miles up to Bridger Bowl. Bridger is a non-profit resort with a real local and low key vibe. Driving up what stood out most to me was the long ridge-line and the steepness.

With two quick lift rides we at the top of the mountain looking at the vastness of the mountain ranges surrounding us; the Absorkas, the Madisons and the Crazys.

The Crazy Mountains from the top of the Bridger lift

Speaking of the Crazy’s I was skiing with the “crazy”. Sean knows the mountain very well and as expected he pushed me to go down some runs that likely I wouldn’t have done (or found) on my own.

The Crazy

Thankfully, he forgot a beacon for me so we couldn’t go up to the top lift that is “beacon only” (maybe next time). I was also thankful that he didn’t suggest I go down “the chute” with him (not even next time or the next time after that 😳)

The Chute

A session at Bridger is capped off by a beer at the Grizz at the base of the mountain. The Grizz is ski bar with vintage ski memorabilia decor. You can buy your mug for the season and Sean was very happy that he named his mug “Daddy’s Little Girl” and that I was there for the inaugural foisting of the mug. A pic was definitely in order.

The Grizz

It was back to work for Sean and for me to make that final phone call to see if a swim and a new pool were in my future. When we were in Bozeman last fall the Bozeman Swim Center was closed as the ceiling had collapsed and there was a community fundraising drive to save the pool.

The pool was saved!

With the positive swimming omens aligning nicely my chances were good. I called the swim center and apparently the pool was saved-phew-and as luck would have it was open for lap swimming!

It’s a nice enough pool. It is 50 meters long however it is only 20 yards wide-that’s odd. I did a lazy 2000 yards and that was enough. At this point I have done many Pool2Peaks days (see blog-Pool2Peaks) however this was my first Peaks2Pool effort. I kinda liked finishing the day that way with an easy swim.

We were then off to drinks at the Crystal Bar with Sean and his friends followed by dinner at Blackbird. Despite the 45 minute wait to get a table we kinda felt like celebrities as the boys were hugging the wait staff-I guess they go there a lot.


The swimming omens lined up to make a swim possible on this quick roadtrip. The Bozeman Swim Center was my 133rd pool since I started counting new pools 10 years ago and my first pool in Montana.

I pulled into the garage back in Bend and the mileage on my car for this trip was 1650. If that isn’t a good luck swimming omen…I don’t what is. There are more pools in the future!!!

For the non-swimmers 1650 is the mile race in a swim meet

PS-With Valentines Day only a few days away we thought we should pose for this pic.

The Modern Hotel-Boise, Idaho


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