20220809 – Missoula to Gardiner

Here the path diverged

I had done some small bit of research on a particular feature of Missoula, Montana. Brennan’s wave is a man-made whitewater attraction on the Clark’s Fork River. The last time we were here, there were people on surfboards riding the wave.


I had packed everything I needed for a whitewater trip except a boat and a buddy. Ace Hardware of Missoula had a fine selection of inner tubes for rafting. I scouted both sides of the river carefully. There were no paddling buddies to be found. There were several witnesses. I sent Mrs. JonTheBruce a text message on where to find the Highlander, if I didn’t report back in an hour and half.

Bad Omens

I was about to dip a toe in the water and my Teva broke. I went back and changed shoes.

Good Omens

I went down river left first. No problems except that my tube was leaking. I paddled over to river right, blew some more air into my tube and walk above the right side. It is a much faster trip. The water is crystal clear and pumping. The wave was glassy. It was awesome.

Spinning lazily below the wave, having survived my adventure, looking up at the sky was magic. I kicked over to river left and hiked back to the car. Checked in with my accountability buddy and got moving.

Earlier today, I was spinning circles in the Clark’s Fork River in Missoula and received total consciousness. So I got that go for me. Gunga… gunga, galunga


The Sports Exchange Missoula

This place is full of fun and interesting outdoor gear. Much of it for sale. I bought a ginormous camera backpack for way too much money and a carbon fiber paddle for $15.

The Rest of Missoula

I dilly dallied for a bit too long around Missoula. It is literally the best town ever. 80,000 people. REI, Costco, Bass Pro/Cabelas, Walmart. So much fun stuff. and this doesn’t include the year round outdoor activities. I was also trying to make up my mind about next steps of this trip. I thought about grabbing a tent so I had more housing options. I decided not too.

Back on the Road

I-90 is many things, fast, curvy, scenic. It is not a good place to plan an adventure by yourself even with a cruise control. My broad plan was to go swimming at Yellowstone at the Firehole River Swimming Area. Then exit Yellowstone into Grand Teton and go rafting or paddling or swimming in Wyoming. I was using Travelocity to find a hotel near West Yellowstone. Travelocity was also showing me really great rates in Gardiner, Montana. The travel time and distances were very similar. I booked the room in Gardiner.
I should have stopped and done more research.

It Turns Out

Life is what happens while you are making other plans. The drive to Gardiner was uneventful. Pretty. I saw Sandhill Cranes in the fields. I pulled into Yellowstone Basin Inn in the golden hour. The time between getting dinner in a small town restaurant and not. The Front Desk person was very helpful.

Sandhill Cranes

This summer the flood damage at Yellowstone that resulted in the closure of the north gate at Gardiner and north-east gate at Silver Gate has been national news. National News! I should have known better. I really booked a room and adjusted the GPS without a moments thought to how this was going to affect the rest of my week. I blame Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment for not co-piloting.

Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Yellowstone Basin Inn

My room at Yellowstone Basin Inn, Gardiner, Montana was spectacular. The staff was amazing. The advice and maps and suggestions made my stay one of the best of the trip. I rarely stay in places Mrs. JonTheBruce would approve of if she isn’t with me. I can safely say that Yellowstone Basin Inn is Mrs. JonTheBruce approved. One of the very best. Literally, my host gave me dinner options, a rafting trip for the next day, and put me on elk and antelope before I went to bed.

It was an almost full moon. The Yellowstone Basin Inn is gorgeous. The room was clean and nicely appointed with a kitchen and internet and a great breakfast. I would go back to visit Yellowstone Basin Inn if Yellowstone National Park blew up or tumbled into the ground.

Gardiner has a lot to offer even if you can’t get into Yellowstone.

I slept well.

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