We planned on taking back roads, maybe 141 to 200 so we could pass through Avon and Ovando, or maybe 1 to 38 to 93 to find road drinks in Porters Corner or Victor. But by the time we got out the door, we had just enough time to race on the interstate unfreeway, straight to our hotel in Missoula, a block away from the reading at Fact & Fiction.
We arrived with a few minutes to spare: enough to run across the street to grab two bottles of wine to share with the small but friendly crowd. One of the wines was named “Duct Tape” and tasted as bad as it sounds, but I had to get it anyway in honor of the line from my poem “M-46, October”:
Clyde’s old diesel rolls to a wary stop
& I hop from the cab
onto a protest of gravel
beneath my duct-taped boots
The store is a good reminder of how fantastic and vital our local, independent bookshops are. The shelves are packed with books that go much deeper than the generic quick reads of box stores or malls. “Local author” tags protrude from everywhere. Barbara and Mara are more than welcoming and, as with indie shops across the country, I feel at home. All those local author signs represent the important bond between writers and bookstores; both help make a town vibrant, both need each other to thrive. As a writer, I can’t say enough about booksellers who support writers. As a bookseller, I can’t say enough about the authors who support my store, Elk River Books.
We finished the night at a downtown bar, ringing in my birthday with $6 pitchers of PBR and an unbelievably delicious shot of Jameson compliments of my stepson and his friends who took turns rocking the karaoke machine and commanding the dance floor. I successfully avoided the former, but have a vague memory of visiting the latter.
In the morning, or rather afternoon, I packed by road case and we headed north.