Day 22: Missoula, MT
The speed limit is 75 on the road to Missoula,
and that let's me get my right foot into it a bit more.
I didn't see any police cars for the entire 3+ hour trip.
This is real boondocks territory.
But the road is great, with lots of long sweeping curves
winding through majestic conifer covered mountains
guarding picturesque meandering valley streams.
I could live here if it weren't for the winters.
I planned to hit Missoula early in the afternoon
to deal with a board of directors meeting by phone
and that lasted more than 3 hours.
I checked out the Yellow Pages under Billiards
to find the place I've been planning to play,
but there was no "Cue Ball's" listed.
I checked the story I read about the place online,
and noticed that it was dated 2001, so it seems
that the place went out of business.
The only other place for pool I saw in the book
was called The Palace, so I called and felt lucky
to learn that there was going to be a tournament tonight.
When I got there, The Palace is really a Dungeon.
It's in the basement of an old building.
Narrow stairs off the sidewalk lead down to
a low-ceiling cave that smelled of stale tobacco smoke.
The tables were covered with treadbare cloth, but
I would have played on them anyway, except for the smoke.
I made the commitment a couple of years ago to never
play where they allow smoking.
These people may be suicidal, but not me!
So it was back to the hotel, and I was ready to move on,
but I checked the Yellow Pages one more time,
(the book seemed newer than the last one I checked)
and found an ad for the Univ. of Montana's Game Room
with 15 brand new Gold Crown IV tables (plus ping pong)!
Long story short, I was there...
Played the guy who manages the place,
and out of about a dozen games of 9 and 8 ball,
I won all but two.
It wasn't fair, really, because his girfriend arrived
in the middle of the set and he lost his focus.
She's a hottie, so I missed a shot or two as well,
but then I got back into it.
Tonight was a first.
First time I played on black cloth.
Didn't seem to make any difference.