Tonight, I stepped off the plane into the chilly night air and noticed a small sign posted outside the terminal: "Welcome to Missoula - We like it here." I have been here only two hours (11 p.m.-1 a.m.) and I like it so far, too. For starters, there were three surefire ways of knowing I was no longer in Santa Cruz:
1. An 8-foot grizzly bear in the airport terminal. Ferocious-looking even stuffed and in a glass case. The grizzly is the mascot of University of Montana.
2. The full moon perched above snow-capped mountains. Thankfully, I missed the mid-June snowfall by a week. Now temperatures in Missoula are about 45F at night, 81F during the day.
3. Many signs remind people where they can (and can't) smoke. Here in the Big Sky Country, cigarettes are more common than in Santa Cruz.
I have the next two days to explore Missoula before I start my Adventure Cycling Association road bike tour Saturday.