Category Archives: Travelogues

Montana – Day 9

As the guys left early for Glacier, and Kat’s doing a webinar test, I write for a couple hours after my workout. It’s just the right amount of time, and in synchronicity, Kat peeks in just as I’m finishing up to see if I want to go over for lunch.

Close it down, happily, and off we go. We do the buffet, and have a nice, easy girl lunch on the porch. Not too hot, not too cool.

Girls just wanna do lunch/NR

On the way back we spot one of the big steers right next to the fence. This time I get out to take the shot. As I do, I spot some little ducks swimming by. I tried to get a decent shot of them, but those little guys were fast!

When we come back we work out some details for the baby shower for next month. It’s getting close! We re-send some as yet unveiled e-vites, play with some menu ideas, cake design.

Now this is a fun girl time!

The guys get back. Part of Glacier was closed due to a fire, but they got to see a good chunk and have pictures to prove it.

Jason’s Glacier Album:

Bruce’s Glacier album:

It’s barbecue night! Off we go, and have a serious dinner and show. Tons of food—mmm, pulled pork with bbq sauce on warm tortillas? Yes, I believe I will.

#Food-a-rama!

We have live music to go with it, and are right next to the stage. As the band plays, a kid of about eight runs up on stage and starts flossing. He’s good, and so damn happy. The crowd starts clapping in time, and the band leader calls out: Let’s hear it for the kid!

A couple others go up, and they’re adorable, but this kid is the flossing champ.

By now mama-to-be is tired, but BW wants to stay for the next set. Kat and I start back, Jason heads out on foot, and BW says he’ll find his way when he’s ready.

As we’re leaving Kat and I see something run into high grass. Dog-sized, but it didn’t move like a dog. We slow down, and see two little fawns. So sweet!

Back home, Kat wants to relax in the tub, Jason comes along.

And we spy a gorgeous sunset out the window. Must take pictures. I grab shoes as I want to go down a bit, try for another angle. And we see a bunch of nut shells on the edge of the porch by the steps that weren’t there when we got home.

The squirrels leave little piles on the porches regularly, but this is really big, and had to be made really quick. Jason decides, as we can hear the music from the main resort, there was a squirrel date. Dinner and a show. 

BW finally winds his way back, and it’s time for bed.

Workout done. It’s still pretty cool this morning. I’m thinking about booking a facial, reading a book, taking a walk later. It’s a whatever day. I think tomorrow we’ll head into the nearby ghost town, but we’re sticking close to home today.

Nora

In today’s #randomkatness:

At that point where you bring your own serving tray/j a-b

Montana – Day 8

Let me start with the end of Day Seven, the night sky and meteors. It’s chilly, so requires a little bundling up. We have a picnic table in a field which strikes as the perfect spot to try to catch the show. We make our way along the narrow path with the aid of cell phone flashlights.

It’s really dark—no moon which will only help.

Meteors aside, the sky is just breathtaking. Crisp, clear, loaded with stars. A huge black canvas studded with lights. We settle down, and whoosh—a streak of light with a shimmering tail. I’ve never seen a meteor that big, bright. Here and gone in a blink, but it made itself known.

I’m thrilled.

We can spot satellites, and far below, the red blink of a plane or two. Not sure I’d want to up there with all the traffic!

We see another, another, quick blinks and streaks of light. It’s pretty damn cool to sit in a field in Montana and watch a meteor shower, and one that adds those snaps and slips of light in a star-bright sky where you can pick out constellations like a drawing in a book.

We end it with another big one, like a celestial bookend.

A spectacular end to the day.

In the morning, I squeeze in a short workout as we’re heading to the airport to rent a car. We’ve got lists, and our walking shoes.

Mike drives us to the airport, and fills the time entertaining us with stories (he thinks the clack-click-cluck we heard might have been a woodchuck.) He has anecdotes and stories (annoyed raccoons, sneaky bears, huckleberry picking), answers questions and makes the ride go smooth.

And it turns out he was once a smokejumper, a Zullie. I’m fascinated, so more stories. Kat actually found a copy of Chasing Fire in the airport gift shop, so I’m going to sign it and get it to him.

We get the car—and prep for Missoula shopping with that hit on the airport gift shop.

Downtown Missoula/BW

Once we get into town, we hunt for a parking garage, and end up finding the same one we used when we visited before. There’s a stone statue of a cat—a big one. We’d taken a picture there before, so do again.

In Missoula, on a cat, with a Kat (please note the disparity in outerwear)
Commentary by Laura/Photo by Kat

Then we’re off.

Kat and I are very pleased to find the same shop where I scooped up lots of Christmas gifts (and an amazing bag for me) last time. It only takes a minute to see I’m going to have some fine luck again this trip.

I love having Kat so I can ask: Do these earrings or pendant or whatever look like Girl Pal? If not, maybe someone else, or a bull’s eye right off.

A good long time in the store, but before I’m done I’ve got every single Girl Pal a Christmas gift from Montana. The shopkeeper seemed both impressed and a little anxious. LOL. He boxed them all up—I love buying baubles as they don’t take up much luggage space. Plus, shiny!

Gifts (I think mine is the third from the top, middle stack)
Guess by Laura/Photo by NR

And I, of course, bought myself a pair of earrings for being such a good pal! Plus!! They had gorgeous wooden spoons. I can’t resist a good, attractive wooden spoon. Now I have two from Missoula.

Onto another shop with more fun to find. A tea shop where Kat finds gifts for family. In another BW and I both spot this metal happy sun face. We’ll find a tree branch to hang it on at home.

Pottery/Kat

We find another jigsaw puzzle—so there’s future fun. Souvenirs, A pair of adorable baby booties—and a tiny little pair of blue moccasins. Nana can’t resist.

A nana can’t help herself.
(Please note I wrote this caption four hours before the blog arrived.)
Caption & commentary by Laura/Photo by NR

We head over to Biga Pizza, get on the wait list as they’re slammed. There’s a thrift/free trade/rock/jewelry shop next door.

We should be able to pass our wait time in there.

Kat digs through tumbling stones for candidates for jewelry making, and finds herself a little treasure trove—and a very knowledgeable sales woman.

Rock notes/Kat

I find a cool rock for Colt—who shares my interesting in stones—and another pair of earrings.

The weather’s perfect, I think. Warm, but not hot (for me), a little breezy. And Missoula’s a fun town with interesting buildings, fun shops, lots of restaurants. And some interesting people watching.

I see a woman—probably in her 20s—parking a bike. I have never—seriously never—see anyone that skinny still alive. She’s a pretty girl but her body’s a skeleton with skin. She looks perfectly happy, but I want to tell her to eat something.

Lots of people in town as Pearl Jam’s got a concert. I see lots of PJ tee-shirts. And Kat and I watch a woman pull a decent-sized black poodle from a backpack. Not a tea-cup, but maybe a miniature. In a backpack.

Then we spot a gorgeous Great Dane who ignores the challenging barks of a much smaller mop-headed dog. The Dane has far too much dignity to react.

Now it’s pizza time. Jason and I split the House Pizza—tomato sauce, garlic oil, basil, sauce. Kat and BW get something loaded—called the Vesuvius.

We’re all very happy pizza eaters. The place is busy throughout, so lots of other happy pizza eaters around us. We can’t quite finish two 16” pizzas, so we have a little to bring home.

Pizza/j a-b

Since I’d mentioned this wonderful pizza shop in Come Sundown BW wanted to bring a copy to them. We’re lucky enough the owner’s in, so we have a little chat, give him the book.

We’d hoped to hit—after a walk—an ice cream place called The Big Dipper. Jason and I head out on foot, but the heat and the hours on feet have BW and Kat driving to meet us.

Then, when we come to the end of the road—before we hit the expected address—we realize we’ve walked the wrong way. Even ice cream can’t persuade us to head all the way back across town.

Getting out of Missoula proved a little problematic. Wrong turns, stops and starts, a lot of jerking. Unlike the smooth ride in where I hadn’t had a problem in the back seat, this kills me. I’m car sick before we’re out of town.

We need to stop for a few grocery items so I tell BW that I need to take the wheel once we stop. Driving should help.

We find a travel stop right off the highway that has everything we need—except a watermelon—and I’m already feeling a bit steadier before I slide back in. And fight to bring the seat up for someone without a yard of leg.

It takes about five minutes for me to decide I don’t like this car. Loose steering—and some feature that pops out alerts, even tugs the wheel if you touch the line on the road. Driving on a curvy road, occasionally narrow, means your wheel might brush the stupid line on the side of that road.

The car and I have a simmering battle most of the way. I like to think I won.

Back home to unload all our goodies, have a rest—we’ve been gone nearly 8 hours.

It’s cooled off, so I change sandals for boots, put on a jacket for dinner. Jason takes himself on the walk—and to return a ring found in our drive. It must be from the guy who returned our resort car (for some reason they picked it up while we were in Missoula.)

We drive over and stop for BW to takes pictures of our favorite steer—with a companion. They’ve decided to lie down in the grass. And there’s a sweet pony, gorgeous horses in the opposite field.

Playdate?/BW
Flowing locks/BW

I need to add I saw Kat’s horse painting in progress. Fabulous!

We have a nice, leisurely dinner on the porch, good food, good wine, good company before winding our way home again.

It’s pretty much time to turn in as we’re weary travelers tonight. And BW and Jason have to make an early start in the morning.

Crescent moon/BW

The guys are headed to Glacier National Park—Kat and I demurred—and left around 7. They’re driving in, then taking a four-hour tour. Kat and I will have our day at home.

I got my workout in, will likely write a couple hours. Since I finished the Spencer, I’ll pluck another book out of the pile. Or there’s that new puzzle.

It’s still cool as I write this—low 60s. I expect that will climb considerably before the day’s done.

Oh, and the resort kindly provided us with a watermelon. We have plans for that tomorrow or the next day.

Nora

#Food-a-rama is back!

In today’s #randomkatness:

Fruit + fork, a still life/Kat

_______________________________________________________

Update from Maryland Control Center:  Second surgery went off without a hitch yesterday.  I’m typing while wearing a pair of cheaters, but when I look over the top of my monitor I can see the other side of the room clear as a bell.  As my husband marveled, it’s the first time in 50 years I can say that.  Thanks again for all the good wishes.

Montana – Day 7

Going to try to do this quick and send tonight as tomorrow is so busy for us. And Laura will send this on when she can.

Temps in the high 70s rather than the high 90s or more makes for a very welcome change.

Got some laundry done while I wrote. Outside until the sun got too insistent, then switched to the bedroom desk. Until my Surface went a little wonky. Where’s my IT guy? Why’s he’s right in the other room!

Strange little blip, which after some head scratching the very handy Jason fixed up for me. But enough work anyway. I had a very nice session in 2061 NYC while Kat got a facial, BW fiddled with photos and Jason did foundation work.

Then I deliver some laundry to Kat and discover she’s painting a triple—three images from photos taken here, with the same backdrop of mountains. Our big-ass gorgeous longhorn steer, a lovely horse and a mighty buffalo. This is going to be so cool. She has three canvases going at once. I can’t wait to see the final result.

Jason and I toss a frozen pizza in the oven for lunch—BW’s doing a pb&j and Kat’s clearing up leftovers. It works!

I worked out, did laundry, wrote for a couple hours. Now I can settle in with my book and some champagne on the back porch where the breeze is lovely, the quiet perfect.

After awhile BW comes out to read, too. We hear this weird clicking, clacking—not like an insect—bigger than that. I have no idea what animal we had out there. Not a bird, different than a bird. Then we hear a honk I’d have sworn was a goose, but that doesn’t seem quite right either.

We give up and take a walk. Kat’s painting, Jason’s foundationing. We wander down the road, up a trail. BW’s legs are a LOT longer than mine. I’m eating his dust. Literally.

Trail markers (the paw prints concern me)
Caption & concern from Laura/photo by BW

Still, it’s a good hike, pretty views. And the woods here are so different from mine at home. These tall pines, the dusty ground, the sparse scrub and little purple wildflowers. A lot of what I think of as mini Christmas trees. Desktop size.

Today’s blooms/NR

We meet a woman and her son on the road who’re here for a couple of days, from New York. A long way to come for such a short visit.

Time to get ready for dinner. We give on-foot Jason a head start, then mosey (Kat speed) to the car and drive over. The air has really cleared—the mountains are crystal clear.

Is it a bug or is it a plane?/Kat

Lots of kids and families at the restaurant and yard today. A lot of kids on the stage platform outdoors—so dinner and a show as they play, cavort, climb, jump. I wander while we wait for our order and see these adorable cowgirl boots—kid size—kicked off on the grass. I hear a boy being dressed down for hitting his sister with a beanbag. I try not to snicker.

Waiting for her owner/NR

I get a little pasta from the kid buffet because mid-day pizza has done it for me. Such a pretty sky all spread out before us while we eat.

A long dinner tonight, mostly due to huge families and groups, but there’s that sky.

Day is done/NR

We’re home and taking a break before going back out to see the meteor shower shortly. I’ve changed into sweats and a warm hoodie because, boy, does it cool off at night. Low of 49 coming tonight.

We saw Mars burning red on the drive home, and we think Venus, possibly Jupiter, too—all so clear in the sky. So we have big hopes for the meteor event. We won’t be staying up till dawn—we have Missoula on tap for tomorrow, and we’re not night owls on this trip.

All in all, a fine, productive yet relaxing day. With the possibility of a celestial show in an hour.

Then it’s bedtime so we can gear up for a day of shopping.

We’ll be sending you good vibes, Laura!

Nora

In today’s #randomkatness:

Rope rest and a spot of tea/Kat

The Montana gang should be off to Missoula within the hour, I’m off on my own adventure.  Thanks for the good wishes everyone.  I’ll be back tomorrow to pick up where we left off. Because I, for one, can’t wait to hear if they saw meteors! ~Laura

Montana – Day 6

Kat’s cat puzzle caught me. So hard to walk away, especially from all those cute faces. I figure to write a little bit today to make up for it.

Though the temps didn’t hit triple digits again, they came close—and with a touch of humidity in the air, it actually felt hotter. Still, Jason and I braved the heat for our walk to lunch. Good soldiers are we.

We eat inside, because pretty damn hot—and enjoy the variety of the offered buffet. Barbecued brisket? Yes, I think I will.

A little overcast, which may add to that close feeling in the air, but Jason, a very good soldier, walks back. I’ve hit my 15k so a ride will work just fine.

Then there’s that puzzle, just waiting. Why not spend a hot afternoon inside with cute kitties?

Cats, a lot of them/NR

We have activities (sort of) planned for next week, so another lazy day works just fine, too. We’re going to do another paint session, all four of us, hit the trail of horseback (not our Baby Mama!), head into Missoula to shop. I may, at some point, take one of the hiking trails to see what I can see.

But we take a day for hanging, puzzling, sitting on the porch, and eating.

Drone class/BW
The cabin from BW’s drone/BW

And playing with baby names. Much fun for me! They now have the baby’s name choices down to about nine. I enjoy this little contest as I love all the names on their current list.

Have some fun looking up meanings for the options.

Time for dinner! Jason’s on foot again. We have to stop to take pictures of the God fingers in the sky.  

They have a Long Table event tonight, but we’re doing that next week. As a result, we nearly have the back deck of the restaurant to ourselves, and a sky with sculpted clouds, a breeze. BW and Kat try the chili—apparently it’s hot enough they ask for sour cream. Out of that, but yogurt does the trick. Jason goes for a wrap, I go for pasta.

Selfie Pano #2/photo by j a-b’s phone

It’s cooled off nicely, so it’s a very pleasant outdoor meal. And the sun’s setting, outlining the clouds in pink, adding some violet, sparks of gold. We add photography to the meal that Kat and I top off with huckleberry and vanilla ice cream. It’s like a huckleberry Dreamsickle!

[From Laura — three different takes on the view]

Kat
Nora
Jason

Our girl’s having some Braxton-Hicks. I think this is the first of them. Not painful, but not comfortable with that tight belly. Baby’s giving her a little preview.

So back home, so mama-to-be can rest.

Workout’s done, and I think I’ll write a little in a bit. Much, much cooler today with a high forecast at 79–that’s about a 20 degree drop. Maybe porch writing! Plus, meteor showers tonight! I hope our big sky stays clear enough for us to see them.

Missoula’s on tap for tomorrow, so I need to make a couple lists. Christmas present shopping, and some groceries. Another homey chore today—a load or two of laundry.

If that doesn’t fill the day, I’ll grab my book.

Nora

In today’s #randomkatness (sorry, there is no #food-a-rama — the sky took up everyone’s attention)

Rock +knots = #randomkatness
I said NO BUG photos (even under glass). Kat disagreed.
Distress from Laura/photo by Kat


Scheduling notes from the Maryland Control Center (aka Laura’s office): Vacations are all about no deadlines, little stress. Not so at home.  My second eye surgery is set for the usual time the blog shows up in my inbox.  So the update may be late on Monday or a two-fer on Tuesday.  Either way, you’ll get Day 7 and Day 8 as soon as I’m back up to speed.

Montana – Day 5

We get a hot one, but the heat takes its time to roll in. By lunchtime it’s pleasant enough still for us to scramble together our leftovers for an easy lunch on the back porch. Something for everyone, and especially nice since that blissful morning massage turned me into a relaxed noodle.

Kat’s doing another painting on her own in her room, to use for this year’s magnets and bookmarks. She’s researched the area where I’ve set next summer’s hardcover, and has created a beautiful image that reflects it.

Those of you who request the annual magnet this year are in for a treat. An original Kat!

BW has his drone, Jason has his coding. I’ve got my Spencer book.

We all find a good way to spend the heat of the day.

By early evening it’s hot but not oppressive, and we’re all up for heading over for dinner. Jason gets his walk in, but I’ve got 15k steps so I’m satisfied and ride.

We stop a few times as there are very photogenic horses waiting to pose.

Photo by BW
Photo by BW
Bison blending in/BW

We opt for outside as there’s a nice breeze—and as always that view. Since I’d taken it light at lunch, I figure I can handle another steak. The rest of the table goes for the lamb entree.

Everything is delicious, and Isabel, our server, adds to the whole event. I try the sparkling wine special at her suggestion, and that gets a solid thumb’s up.

While we wait for dinner, we wander out to take some pictures. I get to enjoy Jason and Kat setting up another echo image for that sweet baby bump. Adorable.

Belly and wheel, a still life/j a-b
Awwww/NR

This time Jason and I split the flight of sorbet—mango, blackberry, raspberry.

Time for a mid-post #foodarama:

Perfect.

The evening’s cool—it’s a solid temperature rise and fall daily, and we’re at the end of another relaxing day.

Time for puzzling! Kat’s brought cats. A cute, and again challenging puzzle with lots of cute cats, balls of yarn, a basket and so on.

The guys have already turned in by the time we call it, but we get a decent chunk done—including (as is my system) the edges.

Up a little later this morning, a lovely Saturday, and up to the loft to hit the workout routine. Some good cardio and core this morning, and a nice yoga session to stretch it all out again.

Kat has a massage shortly, then I guess we’ll see about lunch. We may need to squeeze that in as she has the dress rehearsal for her webinar.

I may write, I may read—we’ll see which mood strikes.

Nora

In today’s #randomkatness

Practicing peek-a-boo/Kat

Montana – Day 4

Activities!

I decided to spend a couple hours in NYC, circa 2061, and had a fine time. The lovely morning meant I could start out writing on the porch—so nice to sit in the fresh air, hear the wind surf through the pines. Even if murder is the order of the day.

Finished up inside at the bedroom desk once the sun got strong enough to glare on my screen.

And all done just in time to walk with Jason and BW to lunch—our mama-to-be drove. We detour to visit the horses, and the one drinking, close to the fence, gives the three of us a look.

Eve Dallas’ worst nightmare: they multiplied./BW

I’m not in the mood for a ride today, the look says, so bugger off.

He swishes his tail and walks away.

I fall for the grilled cheese again because why not go for comfort food?

It’s a gorgeous day, but going to get close to triple digits, so time, when we get back to close the windows, turn on the AC. A little time to unwind, then Kat and I have a big treat.

Competition/j a-b

Painting under the willow—huge, fabulous willow with lots of spreading shade—near the main resort. There are five of us at long tables with wood canvases, looking out at the pretty spectacular view. This is billed as abstract. Our instructor is Danielle, and sets us up with globs of oil paint on our pallets, and a little cup of oil to thin the paint as we go. We’re working with two brushes, two pallet knives (a new one for me).

My take is we’re to paint what we see, sort of sketching it out—long lines or curves or whatever—then filling it in. Apparently I saw brilliant fall as my colors ended up seriously bold.

I glance at Kat’s now and then, just shake my head. The girl has serious skills, and there’s no abstract there. What she has is a soft, soothing, yet dramatic rendition of the landscape—the hills, fields, sky, clouds—she even adds in a couple horses some clumps of wildflowers.

Kat’s painting/NR

Danielle claims mine is Van Gogh-esque. Bless her sweet heart. Believe me, I won’t be cutting off an ear any time soon.

Nora’s painting/NR

It’s great fun, and entertaining to see how everyone’s turns out so different. Danielle works with us, makes suggestions (not so much with Kat, as why bother?) I admire the meadow of flowers in the painting on Kat’s other side, and Danielle gives me some pointers on how and where to make some of my own.

I like it!

It’s a terrific way to spend a couple hours. They’ll ship our paintings when they dry—as oil takes time unlike the acrylics I’ve used in Paint and Sips.

I think mine may dry in a year or two as I had a lot of fun with the pallet knives.

Kat and I agree we’d absolutely do this again, and try to convince the guys to try it with us.

Back we go, a little break before it’s time to head back over for dinner.

And we spy our class paintings inside a room—if you stand well back from mine, it’s not bad!

Art from a distance/NR

We have dinner in a cabana—pasta and a salad for me, and it’s great. I don’t have much room for dessert, but ask for the raspberry sorbet, thinking I’ll get one scoop. I get three, so that goes around the table.

We’re a pretty jolly group, and as the evening cools we head back. That sky, that sunset—just as amazing as a painting itself. Dusky blue rising up to strong pink that fades into softer blue, all spreading a gilded light over peaks and fields.

We decide to end our evening with a game of Hearts. Kat’s very canny with this game, and runs them before the rest of us can blink. I got a run in later on, but it’s not enough to catch her. BW and Jason jockey for last place. Then, following our house rules, BW (very quietly) takes four hearts to hit 100 on the nose, and goes back to zero to win.

We’ll be keeping our eye on him next match.

I’m up early to workout as BW, Jason and I all have massages booked for ten. Kat’s getting her pre-natal massage Saturday. Jason and I walk—close to a mile, I guess—on a cool, pretty morning.

I have Natalia—and we actually recognize each other from our visit here three years ago. She gives me a blissful hot stone massage that vanquishes even the thought of a kink.

A damn good way to spend a morning.

I suspect we’ll stay in for lunch as we have leftovers—and it’s hitting up to 104 today. Dry heat it may be, but 104 is freaking hot!

I think I’ll settle down with a book, a glass of wine, and let the afternoon heat roll by.

Flower portrait/NR

Nora

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#Food-a-rama:

And in today’s #randomkatness (not sure if this is Kat’s remedy or the resort’s but she took the photo — and Jason supplied the description):

Natural bug protection: cloves and lemon. Kat

Montana – Day 3

Another pretty day with no real plans makes a nice vacation.

Jason’s doing code on his computer, Kat and I are puzzling, and BW is trying out the new drone I got him for his birthday. Fun for all.

Time for lunch so a walk for me and Jason. It’s warm enough I wear sturdy sandals—but do so without thinking of the dusty road or tiny little stones. Still, you kick the stones out and all’s well again.

Hoofprints on the trail. Photo by j a-b.

There’s a huge buffet at lunch—so many choices. A lot for somebody like me who usually dines on Cheez-Its* for lunch at the keyboard. Some salad, a big hunk of fried chicken, some fries. I can manage the salad and about half the rest. It’s so nice to eat outside, with the view, the breeze—and a little sparkle to top it off.

It’s an easy, lazy meal—with Jason walking back toward his 12k goal for the day. (I’ve already passed that :))

More puzzling, BW at the living room desk reviewing the tutorials on his new drone. I decide to sit outside for awhile, with more sparkle and email.

I smell gas. I’d smelled it the day before, but we couldn’t find the source, and it went away. But catching that smell two days running? Time to call and report it.

A couple of guys are here in minutes, and I leave them to Jason. I can hear them outside, checking this, checking that. Then I hear male groans and laughter.

The gas smell turns out to be a dead mouse under the cushion of one of the porch chairs. Very glad Jason was in charge! Dead mouse and cushion are taken away.

The mystery is: Did the mouse crawl under there to die, or did some predator tuck it there, thinking to come back for it later?

Either way? Eeww!

I have to say the staff here is everything you could want. Friendly, efficient, informative. Kat needed a folding table for a webinar she’s doing for the foundation—and they brought one (BIG) lickety split. I had trouble with the DVD player, and they’re here dealing with it quick and easy.

At meals, the waitstaff is just lovely, and everyone looks happy. It really adds to the vacation mood.

Kat and I puzzle some more—we’re close to done on this very challenging and really pretty project. But it’s time for dinner.

Puzzlers. Photo by BW

Kat decides she’ll attempt the walk with Jason—and since at 30 weeks, she moves slow, they leave well before us.

Third trimester belly watch — the point when your body resembles the landscape.**
Photo by Kat.

We’re at one of the cabanas tonight in The Yard, with that magnificent view. There’s a little boy, probably 18-20 months, and his big sister—maybe five. He’s trailing her, and she’d stop, look back and make him bust out with that fabulous toddler gut laugh.

Corn hole as far as the eye can see. Photo by j a-b.

Over and over again.

Kat and Jason make it shortly after we arrive.

J & K 4 evah!
Photo by NR

I don’t want a big meal—had that at lunch. Not after red meat. I get the kids’ menu, and it’s perfect. Pizza!*** A little green salad to be a good girl.

It’s good pizza, and really filling. They need to box up half to take home. Hey, breakfast!

The first (of MANY) artistic, selfie pano.
Photo by j a-b’s phone.

It’s already dusk—and really cool by the time we finished. Cool enough I go out for the hoodie Jason left in the car—known on this trip as The Car Hoodie.

It’s too late for the walk back, so we all drive—and the sky is glorious. Red and pink spread over the mountains with that dusky blue above. And all the fields charmed by that softening light.

Time to finish our puzzle, so satisfying. And as this one came with a quiz/hidden object deal we’re into that. Jason helps out here. You’re looking for the name of an artist—we’ve determined Raphael by the clues. And once you answer the questions you’re looking for things like keys, an eight, a cardinal, a turtle and so on.

We find some fairly easily, but are defeated by others.

Bedtime—but a few minutes for me outside. We’re not in Texas, but the stars at night are big and bright.

Up for my morning routine. Check in with the world, up to the loft for a workout—which I capped off today with a really lovely yoga session.

BW and Kat head over for breakfast while I’m in the loft, return just about yoga time. When yoga’s done, Kat calls up she’s found the other objects in the puzzle.

And she has, though God knows how she found that damn turtle!

BW’s drone practicing. I think Jason might still be asleep. I’m going to clean up, have some cold caffeine and think about what I’ll do with the rest of the morning.

Nora

#foodarama

In today’s #randomkatness:

The highest form of #randomkatness. A western still life with materials at hand by Kat.

__________________________________

* This is true.  I’ve seen the evidence. 
** A close runner up for today’s #randomkatness

*** Nailed it! I get the photos before the copy and called this as Nora’s dinner.
Laura

Montana – Day 2

A doing pretty much nothing day—perfect for the first full day of vacation.

Gorgeous weather—cool mornings and evenings, HOT afternoons, clear skies and a whole lot of quiet.

Montana Sky (c’mon, you know I had to do it)
Caption by Laura/photo by j a-b

Jason and I walked over to meet Kat and BW for lunch—a good, long walk down a dusty path where horses had obviously been. You can see for what seems miles, fields of that western green, clumps of dusty green sage, then we hit the center where they keep the horses. So many pretty, pretty horses, cropping the fields, or hanging out in paddocks.

Horses/photo by j a-b

And onto the restaurant where both Kat and I get the grilled cheese. It needs a much less humble name. Thick slices of garlic toasted sourdough bread with (my choice) of melty sharp cheddar. I can manage half of mine—it’s huge!—BW has part of the second half. And since it’s vacation, I’ll have a huckleberry sparkle with that.

Stuffed, Jason and I walk to the shops where BW and Kat have driven as BW wants a bike. They have poker playing raccoons, good for a smile (Not actual raccoons), and I need a belt. Spot a Jason shirt—it just says Jason, so get the shirt, a nice belt. BW rides his bike back, Kat and I drive, Jason walks.

I think at night they come alive.  We need follow up photos of the cards.
Caption by Laura/photo by j a-b

Then it’s a fine time to sit out and read awhile, have a bat nap to go with it.

We’re going to the Tuesday barbecue, so take our time getting cleaned up. I think about walking, but hey, I already have 20k steps for the day. I leaving the walking to Jason.

In what they call The Yard, the have tables set up, a pavilion holding tons of food. Lots of salads, lots of sides, herb roasted chicken, pulled pork, beef, taco makings. Nobody’s going to go hungry.

We tuck in very well, and enjoy the live music—and the side yard full of kids getting pony rides, playing soccer, tether ball, playing corn hole, getting a lesson on roping from a cowboy who’s so delightful with the kids. So dinner and a show.

It’s a seriously beautiful evening—warm, but not oppressing, a lovely breeze, a soft blue sky.

There’s a family at a table near us, and the youngest is a little girl of about three—blonde, a ribbon in her hair. She’s having the best time.

And as it’s BW’s birthday, the waitress brings over a couple scoops of huckleberry (what else?) ice cream with a little candle.

Birthday boy!  Photo by j a-b

Mostly our family has a deal—no happy birthday stuff in public, but we break the rule—keep it low key. But apparently Happy Birthday is the little girl’s favorite song. She’s delighted.

At one point I started to walk down some steps leading to the side yard, and they fired a starter pistol. The kid races behind me: Fireworks! She’s sure that’s what the little crack meant. I say, Fireworks? And she grabs my hand, pulls me down the steps, eager to share her joy. She points to the sky, instructs me to watch, and when no fireworks appear, she’s not the least concerned. Time to run back and have fun with something else.

I found her utterly charming.

Jason opts to walk back—good for him—and we drive along, watching the sun—a hot red ball—sink over the western peaks. Cattle, horses, buffalo—a white-tail deer. I decide to enjoy the romp of the deer as she’s not the one who ate my hostas.

Allowable deer. Photo by NR

And there are longhorns—gorgeous, big, in shades that make me think of Appolusas. We want a picture of the big guy, so BW gets out and obliges—and catches one of the grazing buffalo in the background.

Bull with bison, a still life. 
Photo by BW.

We’re told the sky will be loaded with stars tonight, and Mars will be visible. It’s just dusk when we settle in, so Kat and I decide to start a puzzle. BW puts on some music, and we hang very well until dark.

It takes awhile for those stars to light up, and our view is too obscured by trees to show us Mars. But once that sky lights, it’s damn impressive.

We get a good start on the puzzle before bedtime.

I hit vacation routine in the morning, catch up on the world, then head up to the loft for my workout. The DVD player gives me a little trouble, but that finally resolves. A solid workout gives me 10k steps and a good upper body session with my traveling resistance bands. A stretch, and done.

A long, hot shower, and I’m ready to face whatever the day brings. It’s cool enough this morning for a hoodie as I write this on the back porch. I may go in, do some puzzle, grab my book, take a walk.

I think I’ll write a little tomorrow because it’s starting to tug, but another day of doing pretty much nothing sounds good first.

Nora

I’m adding a new section this year: Food-a-rama to showcase different parts of meals.  Unless Nora specifically describes something (like the huckleberry sparkle) I’ll keep the photos here.  You know, we could have a drinking game: when you spot a huckleberry, take a shot! Laura

And now, what you’ve all waited for: today’s #randomkatness:

Before she was pregnant and switched to a smaller size, Kat could have built this with the contents of her cross body bag.  Truth!
Photo by Kat.

Girls in the City

Kayla was eleven the first time I took her on a girl trip to NYC–and this mother of sons spent a LOT of time in the American Girl Doll store.

First trip. Photo by LMR
Second trip. Photo by LMR

My own American Girl is now on the cusp of 16, and we spent considerable time in Sephora.  And the new and amazing makeup cathedral on the second floor of Saks. And the eighth floor (shoe sale!!)–plus Lululemon (two locations) and various other venues where girls just wanna have fun.

And fun we certainly had.

Laura and Kat drove up separately–Laura to visit some family first, and Kat as the limo trip brings on car sickness. So Kayla and I had the big-ass limo to ourselves, chatting away a good part of the trip.

Just finished sophomore year. Photo by NR

Selfie as they set out. Photo by NR

We arrive at the hotel on a pretty afternoon with Laura already in and Kat only minutes behind us.

Made it to NY! Photo by LMRTime to unpack, hang a bit, then take a nice walk around to stretch out the legs, do some quick shopping, form our plan of attack for the next day. A trip over to B&N for cards and jigsaw puzzles. Plenty of time left for hanging out on the roof terrace, a spin in the hot tub. And at Kayla’s request–and no argument after a travel day–room service. Some work on a 1000 piece puzzle–one that looked simpler from the cover than in reality.

But Kat has a genius eye for shapes and tiny variations in color. Much progress before we turn in for the night.

Finished first puzzle.

In the morning, Kayla and Laura head to the gym, and I do my workout in the suite. Time for breakfast, pulling it together. Kayla and I walk over to a Lens Crafters–my girl recently got glasses, and as she also has her learner’s permit (!), I decree she needs prescription sunglasses as an early birthday present. We discover we’ll need the doctor’s prescription, which we’ll get faxed, so back we walk to meet Laura and Kat at one of Kayla’s nirvanas–Sephora.

I appreciate her love of makeup, and more her excellent–and age-appropriate hand–with it. I’ve a good hand with makeup myself, but I learn things from the girl. Onto Free People then Anthropology. Good hauls, and pregnant Kat finds some fun stuff, too. Nobody walks out empty handed as we take a nice lunch break.

Yes, we’ll have champagne–or Laura and I will.

Lunch on Wednesday. Photo by NRTime for a little lie-me-down for mama-to-be, and the rest of us hit more shops. Since Kayla’s a runner and I work out daily, Lululemon works just fine for us. Kayla’s issue is a mile of leg on a size 0, maybe a 2. But she does pretty well. I do, I believe, some better.

We walked miles, literally, before calling it for the day.

More puzzle time, more hang out time. Laura has a dinner out with her daughter Clare and some of Clare’s friends. The rest of us, again, opt happily for room service. And I’m drawn into a new card game for me. Nertz. I win–which Kayla insists is beginner’s luck.

Maybe, but hey. I win!

Kayla has given Laura a curfew <g>, and fortunately Laura makes it back with a couple minutes to spare. 

Made it by curfew. Photo by LMR

In the morning, Kayla has her first Shaun T experience with me–and does quite well. Then she and Laura need to get ready for the day while I do the rest of my workout. They head to one of Kayla’s goals, the top of the Empire State Building. * I’m grateful Laura took this on as I have no need to subject myself to that height again, and Kat isn’t up for it either. But Kat is up for fancy braiding Kayla’s hair on their return, a skill I don’t possess as a mother of sons.

Hair by Kat. Photo by NR
My fabulous editor joins us for some hanging out and a terrific and oh-so-pretty lunch at Rockefeller Center’s summer cafe on the ice rink. My poor Leslie broke a bone in her foot a few week ago, so she’s in a boot, and Kat’s carrying my sweet baby. But we stroll into a couple of shops before Leslie heads out, and Kat heads back to put her feet up.
Lunch spot. photo by LMR

More shopping for the rest of us. Kayla knows how to shop, knows what she likes, what suits her. The shoe floor of Saks suits her, and me for her as SALE. I’m an indulgent Nana, no doubt, but a 16-year-old only gets Pradas at 50% off. And she does, and they’re adorable. As she’s most always in running shoes, I enjoy seeing her try on stacked heels, pretty flats. And I find the red shoes I was after.

Success!

I’ll add the girl hauls all the bags without complaint. She is designated Sherpa. I also notice how her confidence in the city grows every day. At first she sticks to me or Laura or Kat basically hip-to-hip. But as time goes on, and I explain every day the grid that’s midtown, she eases up, remembers which direction to go.

I also notice, proudly, how polite and engaging she is with hotel staff, with store clerks, waitstaff. Never fails to thank them, to make eye contact, to smile. To make a little conversation.

Good girl.

It’s room service again, and that’s fine. We’ve walked our feet off. And as the puzzle’s complete, Kat decides we need another, and takes herself off to get one–and finds more happy mama clothes on the way.

I love the way pregnant Kat looks, how she dresses that gorgeous bump!

Time to eat–do a little puzzle, and Kayla wants to play Hearts. Kat is a novice, so we walk her through it. I win, again. Ha ha. Then we drag ourselves off to bed.

Second puzzle under way. Photo by LMR

Kayla opts to sleep in on Friday while Laura and I do our workouts. Then, after breakfast (the size 0 can eat!) Kayla and I head over to pick out sunglasses. I approve her pick, and really didn’t intend to get another pair for myself. But fun and cute, and since I pop on sunglasses every time I step outside, justified.

She’s made an appointment for a facial at Saks, so we head over there to meet up with Laura. Lots of scent on the second floor, and since it doesn’t hit pregnant Kat well she takes a day of rest.

Did you know Lancome does customized foundation? Neither did I. I’d decided it was time to switch up my makeup and skincare–it gets tired after a few years. So the Lancome ladies hit me at a good time. Laura, the makeup queen, gets her own custom foundation. It’s so cool to watch the science of it and the little machine that mixes it.

Kayla loves the facial, gets her makeup done. We now, between the two of us, own enough new makeup for a dance troupe.

The girl wants a wallet, and I promised Colt an Ugg blanket like his siblings have. So it’s uptown for the two of us where Kayla–who admired my Ugg sneakers (they weigh nothing and are super comfortable) finds then in light pink. I find some great sandals, also really comfortable, she gets some short boots, some slippers. No wallet, but there’s a Coach right there.

Sale!!! 1/2 price sale! She finds a pretty and practical wallet, a couple of the little cross-body purses (all she’ll use) and I end up buying a pink purse. I don’t have a pink purse, so now I do.

Haul it all back.

Clare’s going with us to the theater, staying the night with us. We’ve decided on an early dinner–pizza delivery–as we have an eight o’clock curtain for Mean Girls. Really good pizza, and after Kayla gives Kat some makeup advice as Kat plays with some of her new girl toys. Kat pays her back with another adorable braid.

We leave in plenty of time to walk across town to the theater and settle into our seats.

Nearly showtime. Photo by LMR

I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen many shows on Broadway, and happy enough to have taken my girl to several. Mean Girls ranks really, really high. It’s such fun, it’s so bright, so pretty. The voices are amazing, the choreography just freaking fabulous.

Tiny Fey is a genius, a comedy-writing genius. She’s translated her terrific screenplay (just love the movie) into an equally terrific book for the stage.

We’re all completely happy during and after. Just a great show if you have the opportunity to see it.

After, Kat heads back, and Laura, Clare and I fulfill our promise to face Times Square on a Friday night so Kayla can hit her very favorite store in the universe of stores: American Eagle.

She simply won’t consider non-AE jeans. And they do fit her perfectly. So I’m shopping in Times Square at eleven at night–a new experience for me. AE has three, count them three, floors. We do them all, and she hauls back the bags. It’s an absolutely gorgeous night in the city, and the walk–once through the madness of Times Square–just a delight.

Spires of St. Pats on Friday night. Photo by LMR

Kat’s still up, so we hang and talk until nearly one in the morning.

A little later start, understandably, on Saturday. I squeeze in a workout, clean up, find a few puzzle pieces.  Since we’re heading downtown, and separating, Kat draws Kayla and me a little map. I’m not as familiar with the downtown streets and stores. We cab down, Kayla and I get out to hit the downtown Lululemon first, and Kat and Laura cab on to the yarn store.

We strike gold for the tiny size in the downtown store, and she stocks up on running shorts, sports bras, leggings. I cave and get some leggings and capris myself.

Saturday, downtown. Photo by NR

Using Kat’s clever map, we find Alex and Ani–another wish. The girl loves to stack little bracelets, and we find one with a K charm. Text our yarn-seeking companions to let them know we’re heading toward Lombardi’s, our lunch destination.

Pizza, fun girls, a glass of wine. Ah.

Uber back, organize a little, and Kat heads off to buy a sketch book. She’s designing the baby blanket she’s going to make out of the pretty pale blue, dark blue yarn she scored. Did you catch that? She’s designing the blanket.

Clare’s coming back for dinner, which is room service again.

We hang out, Kat sketches, we play puzzle and finish number two. Eat, talk poor Clare into learning Hearts. Kayla won this time (beat me by two points!)

Then everybody but mama-to-be, who isn’t allowed, heads up to the hot tub. Gorgeous night, fun, relaxing interlude. Time to hug Clare goodbye.

I take a look at Kat’s sketch, and OMG! She’s done a dragon with Celtic knots around it, and it’s gorgeous. At the corners she has circles and is going to pick animals that represent the grandparents. Her mom, her dad, BW and me. So clever, so unique. It’s going to be an heirloom.

Tumble into bed.

Up to pack, squeeze in a workout, shower, dress, pack more, organize and condense shopping bags. Start a Mom check on the suite. Say goodbye to Laura–drive safe! Another Mom check, bag count–remind Kayla to look under her bed, just in case. A final Mom check (I’m obsessive here).

Call for bellmen (plural!) say goodbye to Kat as she’ll be heading to the garage. Check out. Brent and his limo arrive exactly on time, so it’s load it up, and time to say goodbye to New York. The city treated us very, very well.

And it’s been wonderful, all that female energy for a few days with girls you love.

Kayla talks running on the way home. Training, meets, coaches, meets, her teammates, meets, her goals. It’s so rewarding to see her passion and her determination for something she’s so good at, something she loves.

Then I have to say goodbye to my best girl, and hope she’s as loaded with fun and happy memories as shopping bags. I know I am.

She really makes me proud.

Nora

Note from Laura

* Our Empire State Building trip was perfect.  We walked 16 blocks at a face pace around 9 am. took the elevator to the 86th floor, then another elevator to the 102 floor.

View from Empire State building. Photo by LMR

After souvenirs for her mom and brothers, Kayla and I decided to set the stopwatch and see how fast it took to get back.  We did agree with a pause in the stopwatch to take a photo in front of the NY Public Library.

A girl and a lion. Photo by LMR
We made it back to the hotel in 16:24 for Kayla, 16:30 for me.  Nora and Kat were highly impressed by how short and efficient our trip went.

Sunday in New York

We arrive on Tues, to summer in October weather. After unpacking, our initial group—me, BW, Jason, Laura—hit the streets and the shops. I have an agenda every October trip, and that’s to get as close as possible to finishing my Christmas shopping as I can.

Get a good start on that agenda before it’s time for drinks, and a room service night.

Up early Wednesday, get a good workout in. BW and Laura, too. We’re having an Employee Fitness Challenge through our Fit In BoonsBoro back home. Fun stuff! BW and Laura get points walking a mile together. More shopping, more checks on that Christmas list. Jason and I have our own little FitBit competition, and while he’s usually 20-30k steps ahead of me, when we travel, I catch up. And hah, am am now in the lead.

Wall sits with drinks - aka multi-tasking. Photo by j a-b.

Lunch at a favorite pub, more shopping, and back home here where BW and Laura do their daily workout challenges together. Hysterical wall-sits (with alcohol) push-ups (and Laura’s wearing a dress for this one) squats, lunges. I get to watch as I did all that much earlier in the day.

Dinner’s a pleasant walk, then pizza.

Fall colors on the Helmsley Building. Photo by Laura

Laura’s husband’s coming up, so she moves out of our space and into her own. We have a girl shopping annual tradition with my agent and editor. Kat usually joins us, but she has stuff so won’t be up until late Thursday afternoon.

Where’s Nora? I posed for this one — was having great fun. Photo by Laura
Would you wear these? Photo by Laura

So good to see my NY pals—and my editor brings the finished cover for Year One. OMG!! It’s just fabulous.

More shopping, a fun, light lunch when the guys join us. Then a little more shopping. I am hitting my agenda, and hitting it hard!

Back to the hotel as we have an early dinner—and here’s Kat!! We’re eating early because we’re going to see Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly. The Divine Miss M. Bette. I’m thrilled at the idea of seeing one of my icons on stage.

We walk to the restaurant—just gorgeous weather—have a wonderful meal, then walk to the theater. I’m not surprised the performance is sold out. It’s Bette.

As much as I anticipated this, the reality exceeded. Aside from Bette (for the moment) the costumes, the lighting, the choreography, the chemistry, the voices, the whole works is just stupendous.

Now add Bette. And stupendous doesn’t cover it. When she first walks on stage, the house explodes. She’s tiny and glorious, and obviously having the time of her life. In turn she gives us the time of ours. Then there’s David Hyde Pierce, whom I adore. I’ve seen him on stage before, and he’s just as marvelous this time around.

The Hello Dolly number brings the house to its feet. The applause goes on and on for her solos. This is what’s meant by bringing down the house.

I’ve seen a lot of wonderful, memorable, fabulous shows on Broadway. Nothing beats this.

Playbills. Photo by Laura

Just wow.

Friday—after workout—Kat, Laura and I head out. Girl time, and more good shopping.

Stunners for Kat. Photo by Laura

Laura’s guy is off with some of his NY pals, BW’s having lunch with a couple of his, and Jason’s doing the same. Laura peels off so Kat and I walk downtown to meet our men for the new Blade Runner movie in IMAX.

Cool! Intense! Fun!

The long walk back, and room service. Laura and her guy have dinner and a show on their schedule.

Kat has to leave early Saturday morning so I say bye to my girl, get in my workout (still in the FitBit lead!). Jason has an errand, Laura and her guy have brunch with their daughter (Clare works in NY). BW’s arranged a photo shoot with a model in our triplex.

I have some specific type items on my agenda—and need to pick up the new glasses I got after my eye exam here on Wednesday. I promise to check my phone often so I can hook up with Jason and Laura.

On the street I see a gorgeous young woman wearing a man’s white dress shirt—mid-thigh—over-the-knee gray suede stiletto boots, a beret and big sunglasses. She looks amazing.

Jason’s errand’s done quick, so we text back and forth until we meet on the street. And he becomes my Sherpa. Head to hotel to dump bags, text Laura. Her guy’s meeting some of his old classmates, so she and Clare will hang with us while Jason and I have lunch.

Back to our favorite pub.

Clare heads off, and we head to The Gap—Laura and I both have specific wants here, and pretty much satisfy them. Then there’s the UGG store. I wasn’t looking for myself there—Kayla likes the classic tall UGGS—but found a pair of boots I couldn’t live without.

Annual photo of St. Pat’s. Photo by Laura

Oh, and sneakers in a deep orchid color—so light, so comfortable!

When we get back, BW’s about finished with his shoot, so we rest our busy feet and have a drink. We’re walking over to 9th for Italian for dinner. (Laura’s dh is having a fine time with his classmates.)

Long walk, but this weather! Good wine, great food, fun companions, and good service.

We meet up with Laura’s Mark after dinner, hang out in our suite awhile. I want to watch SNL, but conk.

Up early today, solid, cross-training workout. Then rest of our group is off to the Jets game (Laura and Mark are major Jets fans.) I bid them goodbye, clean myself up, and decide to walk uptown to Bloomie’s to hit that agenda again.

Do just fine, walk back, hit another shop. The housekeeper’s still dealing with our space when I get back. I see her once or twice a year, so we chat a little.

I show her a picture of Kayla on FB—who had her FIRST DATE last night. Homecoming. Oh, so beautiful, my girl. And she’s going with Handsome Henry. The housekeeper and I talk about how she’s just so grown up.

It’s lovely to come back to this same place year after year, because it adds such comfort to know the people who work here. I tell her I’ll see her in June when Kayla has her NY trip (just weeks before her SIXTEENTH!!!! Birthday).

Now on this Sunday in NY, I’ll finish this blog, which Laura will post after they get back. I hope the Jets are kicking it (not a football girl myself). I’m going to pour a drink, get my book and kick back instead of kicking it, for a bit.

We plan to head downtown tomorrow—have pizza, shop. Then we’ll see what we do for our last night in the city.

I love New York, I really do. The things you see, hear, the way it feels and moves. It’s so opposite where I make my home. So it’s nice to spend some time here, knowing my dogs, my quiet, my routine waits for me. 

Nora

Notes from Laura: very sad to report that the Jets lost, but my photo of me and my husband was on the huge scoreboard, so that was fun.

We saw War Paint with Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole which was marvelous starting with this curtain in front of the stage. We’ll stay an extra day and see Donna Murphy play Dolly on Tuesday night.

Amazing curtain at War Paint. Photo by Laura

Oh and I have some #randomkatness for you:

Randomly, cats. #randomkatness
The mystery of Kat, halfway revealed. Selfie by Kat. #randomkatness