Question: is it really a road trip when the destination is way more important than the journey? Probably not.

Oh well. I'm still calling our recent jaunt to Montana a road trip. So there.

You see, we hopped in the car a few weeks ago to drive to Missoula with one goal in mind: to watch my best friend Jamie graduate from the University of Montana.

Our route looked a little like this:

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It also looked a lot like this (Note: if you follow me - @jensnyder - on Instagram, you've probably seen these before):

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{Nevada}

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{Nevada}

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{Nevada}

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{Nevada}

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{Budweiser plant - Idaho Falls, Idaho}

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{Just after entering Montana}

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{Things started to green up a bit as we got closer to Missoula, Montana}

To be fair, we didn't drive the full distance in one day. We stopped and stayed one night in Idaho Falls, Idaho. It's a small town surrounded by farm land, but they did have a an incredibly clean (and fairly new) Holiday Inn Express. We couldn't have asked for a better spot to rest up for the night. Did I mention that everyone was super nice there. Well, it's true.

While we didn't stop much to enjoy the scenery along the way, we did see a lot from the car. Nevada is so.......brown. It's still sort of beautiful in its own way, though. My favorite part was passing through the correctional facility area where signs are posted warning people not to stop or pick up hitchhikers. The facility is literally in the middle of nowhere. Let's just say they didn't have to tell us twice. We were happy to keep on trucking.

Southern Idaho looks fairly industrious. They grow good food there, much in the same way we grow good food here in California. I respect that. I may not want to live in the towns we journeyed through, but I'm always glad to have mental images of different parts of the country tucked away in my memory bank.

When we got to Missoula (if you're new here, you can see how much I adore Missoula here and here), we got an early check in at the Holiday Inn Downtown Missoula. The hotel was sufficient, but not as updated as I had hoped. It was, however, right on the river and super close to the university. Sometimes location wins.

See what I mean?

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This cute little park was right in front of our hotel and connected to a river walk along the Clark Fork River. The hotel is also located right in Missoula's downtown business district, so we were able to check out a few spots during our trip like Caras Park (GREAT farmers market on Saturdays), The Mercantile Deli (loved their breakfast panini), Tamarack Brewing Company (Yard Sale Amber...learn about it) and Noteworthy Paper & Press (cutest stationary & print store ever). We also had time to visit my all-time favorite: Taco del Sol. I can't even put into words how much I love their food. If you're ever in Montana, go there. You'll be glad you did.

Anyway, back to the waterfront. I've also always been intrigued by this:

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It's a man-made water feature right in the middle of downtown Missoula called Brennan's Wave. People (and dogs, apparently) flock to it.

You can learn more about Brennan's Wave here.

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The morning after we arrived, we geared up for a full day of graduation festivities.

And by festivities, I mean cheering like nobody's business when they called Jamie's name, BBQing with her friends and family and, yes, posing for silly pictures.

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{Post-graduation at the university. So proud of you, Jamie!}

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{Taking a break from the difficult task of enjoying BBQ and Summer Honey to pose for pictures. Tough life, right? -- Photo courtesy of Jamie's friend Jon.}

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{Things got silly when someone started talking super heroes. This is our best Spiderman, right here. Don't judge. -- Photo courtesy of Jamie's friend Jon.}

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Stay tuned for Montana road trip: Part 2 next week (updated with the link!). I've got more to share, people. Have any of you been to Montana before? What did you think? Anyone planning a road trip this summer? I want to hear about it! Just be sure to link up in the comments.

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