A dream of a solo journey through Montana was born while driving down a highway in the summer of 2017, passing cities I thought might be fun. I hadn’t even unpacked my bag from that trip before I started looking up bus routes to make this next trip happen.
Four months later, I’ve waffled almost constantly between excitement, ambivalence, and apprehension. The first thing I booked was my train ticket from Seattle to Whitefish, Montana, splurging on a sleeper car; it seemed like an appropriate celebratory purchase when my work position went from a term contract to a permanent position. Any time I had some extra spending money, I put it into bus tickets – as of this writing, five of them had been booked. My wonderful husband gave me an Alaska Airlines gift card for Christmas, so I’m just waiting for my flight from Edmonton to Seattle to possibly decrease in price; and I’d have no money at all if I booked my flight right now from Denver back home. But that will come.
As for accommodation, my goal is to meet people, which pretty much rules out the segregation and sterility of hotels. An accommodating AirBNB host in Cheyenne put up no resistance regarding Jenny, though he did express concern regarding me navigating his basement steps (and lest anyone think it’s a blind thing, he posted about it in his listing itself, so I doubt it). A friend in Denver has offered to put me up for a weekend (though I won’t identify them at this point). I snapped up pet-friendly accommodations within my (admittedly cheap) budget in Seattle, Helena and Great Falls, with hosts who appear to be more than welcoming. Just this morning, I booked my one night in a hostel in Whitefish – who can go wrong staying in a spot with storage for bags and a vegetarian restaurant and smoothie bar?
And then there’s Missoula.
I’ve had service dog refusals before, but I’ve had two notable AirBNB hosts in Missoula who have been incredibly unwelcoming and rude (not to mention discriminatory and in violation of AirBNB’s inclusion policy regarding assistance animals). Correspondence with AirBNB on this issue has given me little more than reiterations of the policies I already know.
So I promised myself – both as a way to save my pennies for now and a way to preserve my own mental well-being – to put my 25-AirBNB-listing Missoula wish list (and my smaller ones for Bozeman and Billings) on hold temporarily.
And it’s a darn good thing I did!
I got a call from Greyhound this afternoon, telling me that my scheduled trip from Missoula to Great Falls had been canceled outright, and my revised trips from Helena to Bozeman and Bozeman to Billings (thanks to cancellations of my purchased daytime routes) would involve arriving at the bus station in Bozeman in the middle of the night. I had hoped to avoid overnight travel altogether as much as possible, and I found myself standing in my bedroom, laughing uproariously at the absurdity of all this; if I didn’t laugh, I guarantee I would’ve been crying. The Greyhound representative refunded those tickets that had been impacted by the route cancelations, and I’m in contact with Jefferson Lines (the partner company) to see if there are plans for revised daytime schedules in the near future.
My sister-in-law, Sarah – who many readers got to know through my Epic Road Trip of Awesome series – recently described me (and this journey) as “intrepid”. I am resolute and dauntless about this trip, even though I have no idea how it’s all going to pan out. Never has it felt more true – or more freeing or more scary – at this moment.
So, I’ll be putting bookings on hold for the time being, just to wait and see how the stars align in the next few months.
But, hey, I’ve got some extra cash thanks to those refunds, and can start saving more. Maybe I should book those flights!