I opened my Blogger tab so I feel like I HAVE to write something here. As usual it's been way too long since I blogged. But I have a (sort of) good excuse!
We went on a vacation to Montana. The awesome thing about this trip was that it was pretty much a REAL vacation and it was a whole week long which is extremely rare for us as a family. Ok, so one day Jeff did his volunteer thing with the American Chemical Society at the University of Montana in Missoula. But even that day was fun because Arlie and Harrison hiked the "M" on the hill while Hannah and I watched from the safety and comfort of the minivan (and I might have taken an hour-long nap. Ahem. It's VACATION!).
But we also went to Glacier National Park and - oh wow. I cannot even come up with the words to describe this place. It is the very essence of natural beauty and everywhere you turn there is something amazing. We hiked up to Avalanche Lake. The sign said it was four miles round trip. The brochure said it was five miles. Whatever - it was freaking LONG and exhausting but totally worth the view at the top. Breathtaking. Literally. There was a moment when I seriously considered turning back - we had failed to bring food or water because our original plan was just to walk the short "Trail of the Cedars" but then we saw this sign and people telling us it was an incredible hike so.......we just went, completely forgetting the ten essential items every hiker should have. I'm not sure what all ten of them are, but I know food and water are numbers 1 and 2. Anyway, I started to feel a little hungry and every so often I have this weird low blood sugar thing where I get all shaky and sweaty and really, really hungry and I was afraid that would happen along the trail because it went on FOREVER. But I decided to push on and I'm so glad I did because, WOW! I did almost ask a complete stranger for an apple slice, but I restrained myself. The water was so cold it actually hurt to step in. But we stepped anyway. We drove for miles around the park and ended with magical sunset.
Then, we went to the National Bison Range which sounds kind of boring, but was totally NOT boring at ALL. For one thing, BISON! We saw several, although none up close (well, not REALLY close), but we also saw a mama bear and two cubs, several deer, antelope, a mama deer nursing her baby, a huge buck and two baby deer, and a lot of really pretty birds. Plus the drive was spectacular - you just wind up and up this mountain side filled with prairie grasses and views that stretch for miles.
Also, I FINALLY saw an elk in the wild! I had begun to think they didn't exist but I know they do now, because I saw one on the side of the road, up on a hill, just standing there. I was too surprised to even grab my camera (that, plus Jeff was driving almost 80, so...). Still, I SAW AN ELK!
Then, we spent a whole day in Helena being treated by one of Jeff's contractors from work who has become a friend to us. He lives in Helena and took us out on his boat for a tour of Gates of the Mountains on the Missouri River. Again, it was unbelievably beautiful. The weather was perfect and the boat was well-stocked with all manner of food and drink. We got sunburned, took a ton of pictures, and ended the day at a BBQ at Shane's house. There was even a little fireworks action involving coffee cans.
We almost went to the Lewis and Clark caverns but opted instead to just drive to Coeur d' Alene where the "baby" cousins were visiting. They're not babies anymore - almost 7, two almost 4 year olds and a 2 yr old, but they're still a popular attraction. We made it in time for dinner and a visit, then headed to Spokane to stay overnight with Jeff's parents. In the morning we took the Spokane cousins to breakfast and then made the long trek home.
It was a GREAT vacation. I took almost 400 pictures and countless memories. And while it's great to be home and sleeping in our own beds, I'm looking forward to the next road trip which starts in......a few more days!