More Montana 2016

The rest of the week was jam packed. Did I mention that the Dehaven’s came to visit? They always bring the fun. And Jeff shared his pictures too!

 

We rodeo’d in Livingston…

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We creeked…

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Which lead to a lot of this….

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Do you see the fish right in front of Baylor?!

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And after taking a year off from our last Yellowstone Park visit, we again braved the winding roads with all 7 of us. This trip went far better and we even made it all the way to Old Faithful without murdering each other and only one person vomiting. Success!

Stephanie studying the warnings carefully…

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The amazing Grand Prismaticsimg_4923

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I’m so bummed – the colors of the pools are amazing – but it was barely 32 degrees and so the steam made it hard to see.img_4962img_4987

Old Faithfulimg_5027

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A tourist died earlier this year jumping into one of these pools. It’s so hot, by the next morning, they could only find a few bones….img_5086

We also got to see the Beehive Geyser. It’s less predictable than Old Faithful, erupts for a shorter period of time but is as intense. Plus you can get a lot closer!

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And the Old Faithful Lodge was fantastic. At 112 years old, it’s seen some amazing history. Also I’m sure it’s haunted.

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And it wouldn’t be Montana without visiting the Long’s for some horseback riding lessons. The girl’s favorite, Duke, was donated to a school to be a therapy horse. They get reports once in awhile about how happy he is to be ridden every day! Thankfully the ladies were happy to give Heidi a try – and they now have a new favorite.

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Auggie is still not sure he’s a fan

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Auggie with the safety checkimg_9918

And we drove kids and a dog around in a gater. While taking selfies. This looks safe, right?

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Wild Montana Skies

The summer vacations continue! We landed safely (and on time thankyouverymuch Allegiant)last night and as I loaded up the pictures today, I realized how bummed I am to be back in the desert. MT has a little piece of our hearts and it gets harder and harder to leave.

This marked Auggie’s first real trip and plane ride. It went….ok. Not amazing but not horrible either. There was a fair amount of crying before and after takeoff but I think the temperature was to blame. Temperature you ask? Yes, it was 117 degrees while walking across and standing in line on the tarmac and then at least 102 on the plane. Peter bought a little battery operated fan and I totally made fun of him…until we were sitting on the plane. Yes PW, you were right. The fan was a fantastic idea. Pun intended.

Someone did really like taking off.

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Eventually we got to this. I got to eat my Mike and Ikes AND read my book. The return flight? Not picture worthy…

plane auggThis girl? Is amazing.

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The worst part about traveling to the ranch is that once you land after the 2 hour flight, you have a two hour drive. It’s rough when you’re an adult. It’s murder when you’re a baby and just. want. to. crawl. We finally pulled in and turned the banshees loose in the grass. After a little unpacking when the sun was finally setting around 11pm, we sat on the deck in rocking chairs. I was holding Auggie and my brain was buzzing. And much like a loud noise stops you in your tracks, the dead silence hit me like a train. I suddenly was able to take a breath and realize that we had made it. We were in one piece and not in too bad of shape. So there we sat, breathing in the cool air listening to the soft squeak of the rocking chairs and letting vacation begin.

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Buyer Beware

Last Sunday we headed out for our annual trip to Montana. We go to the (step) family’s ranch, Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge to ride horses, fly fish, hike, row a boat, eat, drink, watch B run around with her cousins and spend lots of time with my mom. It’s not a relaxing read a book on the beach vacation, it’s an action packed, fun filled whirlwind of a trip. And it is awesome.

For the second time, we flew out of William’s Gateway Airport on Allegiant Air. It’s a relatively new airline at an airport that has only recently become commercial. It’s much further than the main Phoenix airport, but we can fly direct to Bozeman and it’s a much better price than the major airlines. On this trip, we learned that discount airlines means more than limited flight times, paying for bags and seat choices, but it also means that when there’s a problem, you’re shit of luck.

Here’s a timeline of the events of last Sunday:

3:30pm – we get three bags checked, three carry ons, a car seat and a three year old through security with only one bathroom break and one change of clothes. Yes, 5 minutes into the trip, B has a minor accident. I should have recognized it as an omen.

4:00pm – flight to Colorado Springs is moved to our gate. Plane is loaded and takes off.

4:30pm – our scheduled departure time. However we are not on a plane because there is no plane.

4:45pm – a person who looks like they work for the airline cruises through the terminal. 25 passengers tackle him and ask why the board is still reading “on time”.

4:50pm – announcement is made that the flight is delayed until 8:30pm. Airline / airport employee promptly disappears.

8:20pm – no plane.

8:30pm – no plane and no personal.

8:45pm – I march to the other terminal, nab a counter agent and demand answers at our gate. Snivley little weasel waltzes to our gate where he informs everyone that he doesn’t know what’s going on. Why? Because he doesn’t work for Allegiant. In fact, no one works for Allegiant  in the airport. Allegiant employees work on the plans only, not in the airport. If we want answers, we have to go on line or call the customer service number.

8:50pm – security is called due to the amount of irate travelers.

9:00pm – announcement is made that the flight is now delayed until 10pm. Oh, and there was no plane coming at 8:30. They just told us that (seriously. That’s what they said).

9:15pm – another mom hosts a dance party for all the kids at the gate. I start crying at the thought that we might miss our vacation.

10:00pm – no plane.

10:15pm – delay moved to 10:30pm.

10:20pm – announcement that a flight has arrived and they are giving us the plane. 100 people rush to pack up and run to the neighboring terminal where we stand and wait.

10:45pm – plane is finally boarded and we are headed out.

2:00am – we arrive in Bozeman and the lovely, lovely people at Hertz rent a car are there waiting with our car.

*4:00am* – our tires hit the familiar dirt of Tom Miner Creek Road.

Lessons learned:

– we have a really, really, amazing kiddo. She never once cried, melted down or acted out. She was sweet, cooperative and a trooper. She smiled until she fell asleep on the plane, the car and finally in her pack n’play.

– check the incoming flight arrival time. If the plane you are supposed to take is late, you are going to be late too.

– over packing is essential when traveling with a munchkin. I wouldn’t let her play with her Minnie Mouse backpack leading up to the trip because I was loading it with new goodies. Little figurines, markers, coloring books, magnet boards, fun headphones, Goldfish, fruit snacks, suckers…a thousand things that might entertain her and every one of them came in handy!

– humanity is not all bad. I was shocked at how nice the other passengers were, especially to two wheelchair bound older ladies. I thought they were traveling with a group, but it turns out the people helping them were just kind strangers who offered to buy them dinner, a soda, walk to the bathroom or stretch their legs. Parents shared toys, snacks and entertainment with other kiddos. The same mom that hosted the dance party also set up their Ipad with a movie for all who wanted to watch. When the gate attendant announced that priority boarders would go first and then passengers with medical needs and parents, the crowd of exhausted passengers unanimously yelled back to take the two older ladies and the parents first.

– The entire time we waited I was drafting a scathing post in my head. I am decidedly NOT thrilled with how the situation was handled by Allegiant . But I can say that at least they did fly (they only fly twice a week to each destination – if we missed our Sunday flight, the next one wouldn’t have been until Thursday) even though it was horribly late.

– Allegiant has a lot of work to do to handle their customer service better (two phone calls later and there is no compensation offered. No discount, no free ticket, no nothing) including having gate agents who know what the hell is going on. So if you are going to be flying with them, check the flight info, have the customer service number in your phone and bring lots of entertainment!

Despite our freakishly late arrival, we had a great trip! And I have the nearly 200 pictures to prove it.

Girls (mini) Weekend

This past weekend, I joined my friend Kristin and two of her friend (who I would now like to think of as our friends!) for a little mini weekend in Sedona.

Kristin found a great deal on TravelZoo.com back in January. It was for two people, two massages and breakfast for a ridiculously good rate. Kristin, Jen , Cheryl and myself headed out first thing Saturday morning. We arrived at the beautiful Sedona Rouge resort with plenty of time before our spa appointments to sneak in our Skinny Girl Margaritas and lay by the pool. We enjoyed the 90 degrees, sun, chilly pool and ice-cold drinks while catching up and chit chatting. It was lovely to just have the time to relax.

We gathered up our cocktails and gear and headed over to the spa for massages. An hour later, we all met up in the whirl pool to discuss everyone’s treatment and laugh about the conversations we had. My masseuse was a total hippie and very nice so we chatted the entire time. Cheryl fell asleep to the point where the masseuse had to wake her up and Kristin was rubbed down by every part of the masseuse’s arm and part of her hair as well. The consensus? Great massages and that we had to find out where they get their oils from – which when we finally found the store that supplies the oils to the spa, they couldn’t give us a straight answer on which brand they sold and which scents were most popular. But we did find the fudge store and got milkshakes for the drive home so our excursion goes down in the win column.

We capped off the day with Blood Orange Margaritas at a new restaurant called Elote. It’s kind of modern mexican food and was quite enjoyable. The remainder of the evening was spent answering salacious questions from a bachelorette party game left over from Kristin’s wedding. Despite the content, it felt very much like a teenage sleep over, complete with animal crackers and M&M’s – but with wine!

The thing that struck me more than once was that this group of ladies was the ideal group to travel with. First off, everyone brought snacks, wine AND an opener. All the ladies were easy-going, up for whatever and had  no qualms about when and what we ate. The easy going-ness of the group made it so relaxing and fun.

The icing on the cake of the trip was the drive home. We were having a deep discussion about the chicks from Teen Mom and drew a blank on the name of Jayce’s mom. When Kristin looked it up we all heaved a collective “JANELLE!!”. This was followed by “Samsonite! I was way off” which opened up a stream of Dumb and Dumber quotes despite the fact that no one had mentioned the movie. Pure genius.

Thanks to Kristin for being our cruise director and to Jen and Cheryl for making the weekend so fun!

A Plane, A 2-Year-Old and an Iphone

Last week we set out for vacation in Montana. We visited my family at the guest lodge they run in Emigrant (http://www.hubya.com/).

I had great intentions of blogging beautiful pictures all week. But I pulled a major blonde moment by packing my camera without the battery. Also entertaining a 2-year-old on vacation is a full-time gig. So instead of keeping readers updated, I’ll now attempt to fill you in.

The first part of our trip is a 1.5 hour flight to Salt Lake, then a connection into Bozeman that’s about 55 minutes. Last year we had a direct flight and the kid slept like a rock. This year, not so lucky. She did awesome, really. But traveling with a 2-year-old is not without its fun. We had her favorite cartoons and games on the Iphone, toys and other entertainment (straws are my go to). However, the only way she would play or watch was sitting on my lap. Here’s a picture Peter caught:

The kiddo on my lap, book in one hand, Iphone in the other. Trying to keep her headphones on and the drinks from spilling. This is what it looks like when you look up “mom” in the dictionary.

We arrived in Bozeman with our friends and we headed out for the hour drive to Livingston for the annual 4th of July parade. The Livingston parade is the definition of small town, super hokey and oh so fun way to spend the afternoon. My favorite float? The Costco entry that consists of someone’s truck with a sign that says “Costco” followed by 6 employees pushing grocery carts full of Kirkland brand toilet paper which they throw out to the crowds. A.Ma.Zing.

Bryn and Baylor headed to the parade:

If we had only known that there was an imminent and nasty melt down to be had by both children and adults alike was on the near horizon, I would have taken more pictures. By the time the parade made it down the street, we were packing up and headed on the hour-long drive to the ranch.

Thankfully all the kids and family woke up happy and ready to roll. We spent our first day petting horses, looking for elk and deer, mooing like cows, hiking and riding in Pop’s tractor (Baylor’s favorite). Pop (my step father Jim) brought the same tractor out of the barn a few days later and both Baylor and Bryn got to drive and honk the horn. To say they were thrilled was an understatment.

As soon as I locate pictures from our friend Karin, my step sister Nancy, and Peter’s phone, I will get them up with commentary. Stay tuned for the recap of the 4th of July, the Livingston Rodeo and some amazing landscape shots.