As promised, I'm back with Part 2 of our recent trip to Montana. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here. The day after graduation, the husband and I decided to go exploring. Hiking the "M" (which you can see in the distance in some of the pictures here) has always been on my Missoula bucket list, but I've never gotten around to it.

That, my friends, has been remedied.

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We stopped a lot to take in the view (and to breathe...we're flat-landers, okay?) and were rewarded for our efforts. The view just got better and better as we headed up the mountain:

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University Hall on the University of Montana campus:

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The Loyola "L" on nearby Mount Jumbo:

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Going up?

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Eventually, we made it to the "M" along with many other morning hikers...and their dogs:

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After hiking the "M," we had planned on checking out a ghost town just east of Missoula, but it was...well...closed. I know there's irony in there somewhere.

The website for the ghost town stated that it was open year-round. We actually drove most of the way there, following signs that were a bit confusing. Some implied that the attraction was in some sort of 'visit at your own risk' state, some looked as though we were on the right track and others were completely covered in black plastic. Once we started seeing the covered signs and noticed the road conditions getting worse (ungraded dirt roads = bad for my car), we decided to turn around.

Luckily we were only a couple of hours from the banks of Flathead Lake. I've been hearing about the lake ever since Jamie moved to Montana and I had yet to see it.

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So, Flathead Lake it was. And let me tell you, it was beautiful. We ended up driving almost all the way around the lake, but stopped at several state parks and turn out areas to check it out up-close.

Here are a few views from Finley Point State Park:

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Bonus: Montana weather was about 15° above normal while we were there. That means it was warm enough to stick my feet in the water!

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We also stopped at Wayfarers State Park. The water actually sparkled:

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This serene view was captured at the entrance to a campground on Blue Bay:

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On the way to Flathead Lake, we turned a corner and the Mission Mountains came into view. They are stunners. On the way back to Missoula from Flathead Lake, we decided to stop at a rest area to get a better look:

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Absolutely beautiful.

After a day of exploring, we spent a little more time with Jamie and her family and headed back to the hotel to get ready to leave the next day.

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We decided to take a different route on the way home and headed out of Missoula on U.S Highway 12. The drive home looked like this:

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We followed the Clearwater River for quite some time and decided it was too beautiful not to stop and explore. We even managed to get a bridge in the mix.

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These footbridges were all along the river and I'm sure make for great fishing access. I guess that's just one more reason to return, right?

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The husband loves to fly fish, so I'm guessing we'll see this river again.

On the way home, we traveled through parts of Idaho we had never seen before. The towns were small and the scenery was beautiful. Then we went through the most boring corner of Oregon, hit Nevada and just kept going. We thought we might stop for the night in Winnemucca, but we were still feeling pretty good at that point. We made it home in just over 16 hours and were so glad to sleep in our own bed that night. Traveling is fabulous, but there's something pretty great about coming home too.

You can check out more of our travel photos on Flickr.

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How was everyone's weekend? Any road trip action?

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

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