Given that Missoula is home of the six-month winter, it would be an awful shame if you squandered the other six months—the nice ones—inside somewhere, eating Milk Duds and watching “Antiques Road Show.” Fortunately, recent statistics suggest that Missoulians are, indeed, getting off their duffs now that the sun is out. The benefits of all this exercise to you personally are manifold, of course, but for reasons that remain their own, city officials are calling the recent increase in activity a victory for alternative transportation.
You see, Missoula’s Office of Planning & Grants issued a report this week tracking the use of the city’s many hike and bike trails, and all indicators say that foot traffic is way up. Within the course of a 12-hour period on April 18, the bureaucrats tell us, 1,000 people used the famously dog-friendly Kim Williams Trail. Similarly, some 650 folks strolled by the western junction of the Milwaukee Trail and another 410 were spotted along the Bitterroot Branch Trail near Russell Street.
Not bad numbers for a town of our size. But what’s even more impressive is the fact that these stats reflect an Olympic-sized jump over figures from the last official tally, which was done last October. Foot traffic along the Milwaukee was up a modest 16 percent, it turns out, but passage along the Kim Williams was up a full 150 percent over last fall’s account. The Bitterroot Branch, meanwhile, took the gold, with its transit growing by a whopping 275 percent.
Congratulations, Garden City, you’re lookin’ good. Now step lively. I want to see some hustle out there.
With baseball season picking up, it’s again time to indulge in a little Monday-morning line coaching vis á vis our nearly-new baseball team, the Missoula Osprey. Yes, we poked a little fun at the Osprey last year, but only because we felt that the sports world was already glutted with Raptors, Hawks, Eagles and other avian franchises and that something along the lines of the Minimum Wagers or the Obstructionist Neighbors would have been just as Missoula as the Osprey.
But we’ve come around. Not only because the osprey is an especially handsome bird, but also because the word itself comes to us from Middle English ospraye via Middle French orfraie or offraie, all terms which can be traced back to Latin ossifraga, or “bone-breaker.” How cool is that?
Plus, circumspect types that we are, we recognize that it could have been a lot worse. Whenever the opportunity to name a sports team arises, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Consider these unfortunate team names: Watersmeet High School Nimrods, the Rhode Island School of Design Nads, the Presbyterian College Blue Hose, the Scottsdale Community College Artichokes, the Yuba City Mighty Honkers, the Butternut High School Midgets, the Saint Louis College of Pharmacy Eutectic, the Chillicothe Infants, the Argyle High School Socks, the McAlester Sighs, the Asheville Tourists, the Monroe High School Wooden Shoe Canaries, the North Alberta Technical College Ooks, the Bonham Boogers, the Laguna Beach High School Artists, the Freeport High School Pretzels, the Mayfield Clothiers, the Blooming Prairie High School Awesome Blossoms, the Mt. Clemens Battlin’ Bathers.
We could go on. Just count your blessings.