Back in Montana, It’s Birthdays and Bicycles

Back in Missoula after 10 days in Minnesota, we are delighted that long time friends Steve and Marlene decided to join us in celebrating two important family birthdays – Bill’s 70th and Owen’s 1st.

Bill celebrated his special day with a 40 year port wine from Quinta do Noval from Portugal and locally made chocolate truffles from Missoula. He shared, and both were delicious. He also received a gift certificate for a cider house in Portland that we will check out later on Road Trip 2019.

Owen celebrated his birthday all week. First there was homemade cake on his actual birthday, which turned out to be a hit.

Steve liked Owen’s birthday cake also.

After birthday cake, Owen played with new toys.

And had fun with another birthday present a couple days later.

A party in the park with a few friends on Saturday capped off the birthday festivities.

In the midst of the various birthday activities, Bill and I headed for the hills with Steve and Marlene to experience the Hiawatha Trail. It’s the coolest bike ride I’ve ever done!

This 15-mile ride is a rail-to-trail adventure that starts essentially at the Montana-Idaho border and heads west – downhill all the way – on the former Milwaukee Road train route. Along the way, you ride through ten train tunnels (the longest is 1.66 miles of cold, dripping, muddy, pitch black darkness) and over seven trestles (the largest is 850 feet long and 230 feet high). At the bottom, you can either ride your bike back up the hill (we did not) or take a shuttle to the point where you ride through the long tunnel again to get back to your vehicle.

The views are stunning – countless photo ops from the trail. Plus there are 47 interpretive exhibits that provide historical context and interesting anecdotes about the area’s history, including the railroad (you can read them all at The stories are interesting, especially the information about the epic Big Burn fire that swept through in 1910. It was, in fact, so compelling that I read the excellent book by Timothy Egan afterwards to learn more.

Between stopping to soak up the scenery and to read the signboards, the ride itself took four hours. Including the drive to and from Missoula, the queue for the shuttle at the bottom, and the logistics of picking up and returning rental bikes, it was an 11 hour trek. And well worth it for this 5-star experience!

What a fun week we’ve had with a few of our favorite people!

The next installment of our Road Trip 2019 adventure takes us north of the border to the Canadian Rockies. Stay tuned!

Categories: Idaho, Montana


  1. There’s a similar Rails to Trail path, but only 1 2 mile tunnel, a few miles east of Seattle. Suitable for gravel bikes. Did it with Dave and Melissa. If interested, I can get you details. (20 miles each way – uphill (gradual) out, downhill back.)

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  2. Happy Birthday to Bill and Owen. Do they share the same date? Owen sure is a cute little guy. I love his smile! It looks familiar to me – what family member do you think it’s from? And the Hiawatha trail looks like a great adventure. You 2 sure know how to live the fun life!!

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    • Birthdays are close but not the same date – 3 days apart. So far, I don’t see that Owen resembles anyone on our side of the family, but some of his mannerisms remind me of Philip.


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