First I went to Missoula to visit my friend Ali, who moved from Chicago last year. (I'll blog about the second trip in a later post.) Every Saturday there are three farmer's markets, which we hit up to buy food for an overnight camping trip.
We got some onions, garlic, squash, carrots, chard, cheese, and potatoes to make a veggie stir fry over the campfire and what Ali calls a "tinfoil surprise" (put chopped up potatoes with whatever veggies you have in tinfoil, throw it into the fire for awhile, unwrap, and eat).
But our planned meals almost didn't happen.
We set out for a campground later that day, a spot a little over an hour away on the Bitterroot River.
We were car camping so we didn't bring a container or rope to sling the food up in a tree, but we did have some bear spray just in case.
But bears turned out to be the least of our problems.
We hadn't made a reservation and that campsite was full. So were the next 8 campsites that we tried.
We had driven around for about four hours and it was starting to get late when we pulled into Holland Lake. Apparently there are a lot of unmarked campsites in Montana where you just have to know where to go. Ali had been to the lodge at the lake before and knew there was camping. But from the road, we never would have known.
We pulled in, and there was one open site! So what if it was right next to the bathrooms with no view of the lake?
Then we realized that the site was reserved. It was also 7:30pm and would get dark in about an hour, so we decided to stay. The camp manager said that if the group came and kicked us out, we could set up our tent in the "day use" area.
We were hungry, so we took our chances and started to build a fire. Our wood was a little wet and moldy, so it didn't quite roar. We made our tinfoil surprises but since it was late, we decided to eat the veggie stir fry with eggs for breakfast the next day.
Even though it was practically dark, we held our breath every time a car went by on the road - hoping it wasn't the people who reserved our site.
By this point we were starving. Throwing in the surprises had just about killed the fire, but we kept them in the embers. One of them cooked a little more than the other, but they weren't bad with some added seasonings. And we didn't have to worry about putting out the fire, which took care of itself!
We tucked in the tent for some uninterrupted sleep (for me anyway, Ali thought she heard an animal in the middle of the night and couldn't fall back asleep).
The next morning, we walked down to the lake. It was spectacular!
We made our eggs and veggie stir fry (over her camp stove - no more fire), packed up, and headed home, thanking the Marsenichs on our way out for not showing up.