Zootown Brew

Missoula, Montana

tableaux'd by: and


Somewhat after dawn, fortified with a couple of cuppas from Cupz (née Pony Espresso), the two set out from Eugene with the destination of Idaho’s panhandle, via I-5, I-84, US-395, and I-90. Thos has had a hard-on for Coeur d’Alene since the early planning stages of the trip, and he has been teasing it incessantly by reminding everyone within earreach that it appears in “every crossword puzzle that I do.” Most of the drive is through landscape bleaker than the surface of the moon. It is nice to see The Dalles again; with Mount Hood in the rearview, it is the only opportunity to safely fill up on dark chocolate-dipped sesame blocks.

Disappointed that Washington is not as green as he had envisioned, Thos gets mildly torqued as they approach Kennewick for, as with Coeur d’Alene, he imagines a relationship with the name due to the famous Kennewick Man; it is a less intimate relationship than he has via his bike rack with nearby Yakima, but nonetheless he dutifully scans the ‘city’ as they pass through at top speed so he will be able to one day tell his children about ‘the time I visited Kennewick’. There is no hint of the Kennewick Man connection on the roadside; there is only a horrid ‘9/11 memorial’ situated between some sports fields and the highway. Thos begins to text “peep this insulting shit” to the lead truck, but he is distracted moments later by Burlesque Brew, an erotic coffee hut advertising lingerie-clad baristas. Fists are thrown in the air out the truck windows but no stops are made.

There comes a town called Connell, WA. It would have passed and faded beneath the tableauxists’ notice, had Thos not placed it on the map necessarily by purchasing some Fuji apples from Lep-Re-Kon Harvest Foods. In all honesty, is there really any other reason for its existence?

Sesame Snaps

After Thos cleaned the shelves of the chocolate edition

Beleaguered and road weary, CT are turned away from every motel, hotel, B&B, flophouse, and SRO in Coeur d’Alene, and eventually every rooming house in the entire Idaho panhandle. In response to why on Earth there was no vacancy in this afterthought of a geographic delineation, CT is told, “It’s summer in the Idaho Panhandle! This is a tourist destination!” This is baffling to the tableauxists, which itself is baffling, considering they have driven 400 miles out of their way to see a town only because Thos once saw its name in a NY Times puzzle. As the sun sets, CT pushes eastward.

Rather than risk traversing the Bitterroots to Missoula in the dark, they circle their two wagons in the overflow lot of the Silver Mountain Resort, notorious Superfund site and year-round sporting hotbed, whose primary sports appear to be children playing cornhole (poorly), heroic cellphone distraction, and adults drinking light beer and eating fried foods in their bathing suits. By dint of these and other certain traits CT has found to be objective measures of wretchedness, Thos declares the resort to be the most awful place visited or to be visited on the trip, though the debate of whether to return to the Walmart spotted at the possibly previous interstate exit of Smelterville to camp in their parking lot results in an ambivalent ‘nay.’

In twilight, CT makes its way afoot to Yoke’s grocery to score some dinner. Evening lights are rising in the bare windows of dorm-style apartment complexes lining the road. Walking from Yoke’s back toward the trucks where our heroes are to sleep, Thos muses that if the lead-poisoned people enduring life in apartment blocks between two auto storage facilities in Kellogg, ID, can fight the urge to hang themselves from the nearest chairlift tower, then anyone should be able to resist. Not wanting Thos to kill himself over his despair at someone else’s ostensibly woeful existence before delivery of CT’s cargo is made in Kansas, JHT convinces Thos to embrace life by dining on bran cereal and hummus at an outdoor bistro set next to a deactivated gas-operated fire pit behind the resort’s bar and grill.

As he shovels flakes from the cereal carton into his mouth, Thos laments the high sugar-to-fiber ratio in his dinner, “There must be a teenth of corn syrup on each raisin!” JHT follows on with an inspirational weight loss anecdote: “I had to stop playing that DOS lightcycle game with Brian T’Owne because it distracted me into eating a quart of trail mix every midnight. My BMI was pushing 26!” Back at the truck they peep three episodes of Workaholics on the dashboard and agree that Alice is only attractive because she is wearing a suit. They sleep in separate vehicles.

wrk.grp truck

Not Pictured: Thos asleep with a bicycle chain wrapped around his fist

Having survived their campout they set out at dawn, promptly lose an hour crossing into Mountain Time, and another hour tugging their ragged trucks 35mph up Lookout Pass over the Coeur d’Alenes. Thos wonders if they were coming unstuck in time as they cross the Clark Fork fifteen times in one hour or whether ‘Clark Fork’ is simply the Crow term for ‘river’. Before learning why Montana is thus named, struggling over the Rattlesnakes, Garnets, Long Johns, Flint Creeks, Anacondas, Boulders, Bridgers, Bangtails, Gallatins, Absarokas, Beartooths, Crazys, and Wolfs, our boys wonder: will they live to catch their first break and some blackjo in David Lynch’s hometown?


The first stop in Missoula is Zootown Brew, which, from across the street, looks like a brilliant little shop. It turns out they are ‘closed’ on Sunday. Pressing their faces to the glass to peer into the shop, our explorers learn that ‘Closed’ apparently means filled with people singing along to bouncing-ball karaoke hymns projected onto the wall and shaking their bodies in unison. It didn’t looked closed, just closed to our atheistic coffeers.


Audio Track: Christian Karaoke Sing-Along

Excommunicated to the sidewalk, CT uses Zootown’s holy wireless internet to locate another shop in the vicinity. Another undesirable, a sort of teevee caricature of a pedophile, cruises by slowly. “¡Vámonos!” The next place proves to be open, yet just as alienating: a brunchcentric bistro stinking up the block with smoked and cured morning meats. In disgust, JHT kicks a beer bottle down the sidewalk, to which the resurfaced pedophile rhapsodizes, “Ah, the remnants of last night…” “¡Vámonos!” Squatting on the wifi of a nearby Pita Palace, our heroes begrudgingly determine the only remaining option for their mid-morning coffee is a previously shunned Liquid Planet.

Zootown Church

Final Grade: F-

Cafe Tableaux. On The Road. Summer 2012
« Chapter 2: Perk Coffee & Espresso | Chapter 4: Liquid Planet »

Wandering Goat. Eugene, OR Perk Coffee and Espresso. Eugene, OR Java Break.  Lawrence, KS Aimees Coffeehouse.  Lawrence, KS Black Sheep. Sioux Falls, SD The Fix. Buffalo, WY Coffea.  Sioux Falls, SD Liquid Planet. Missoula, MT Zootown Brew.  Missoula, MT
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Zootown Brew

21 West Broadway Street
Missoula, Montana 59802

One Response to “Zootown Brew”

  1. Gray

    My favorite adventure thus far! Onward CT!

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