By car, Missoula, Montana is eight hours from Portland. It’s a nice drive, full of mountain ranges, vast open spaces, and desert tumbleweeds. In March, my mom and I made the eight-hour trip to visit uncle Geno, and his wife, Pam.
I’ve always loved a good country bar. They were a dime a dozen in Wisconsin, but in Portland it’s harder than you’d think to find a casual, no frills, down-and-dirty, bar. Or saloon, as they apparently call them in Montana.
The Oxford Saloon is place where you could spend all night heavily drinking cheap beer AND where you want to find yourself after said night. We came for breakfast. The countertop seating, canned corned beef, and ornery employees worked in perfect harmony.
They ended up losing our order, but that allowed us just enough time to have one more bloody.
Saloon stop #2 was just outside of Missoula, in Lolo, MT. If you look up “country bar” in the dictionary, you’ll likely see a photo of The Jack Saloon.
To get there you drive down an unmarked dirt road for nearly fifteen minutes. Everything in the bar, including the bar itself, is constructed from a massive log. The drinks were cheap, the bartenders were country girls to the core, and they had shake-a-day. Enough said.
If you find yourself in Missoula, I’d recommend a saloon stop or two. A local bar is always a great way to navigate a new city. And Missoula is no exception.