Montana – Day 13

What to do after blissful spa services? Maybe puzzle some, and hit the leftovers for a smorgasbord of a lunch at home. 

Clearly, we picked an evil puzzle that changes the shape of its pieces on its chuckling whim. But we persist. (Mostly Kat persists). Progress is painfully made.

Puzzle of evil/NR

I finally give it up for a bit, plan to read or check in with the world. And conk for a solid hour. 

BW actually wakes me up as it’s time to get ready for the Long Table dinner. I’m one groggy napper and stumble around slapping makeup on my blissfully facial’d face before figuring out what the weather might be so I put on something that won’t be too hot, too cool.

In the end, since we adjusted our shuttle pick-up time, BW, Jason and I have time to walk to the Outpost for the shuttle. This is a good thing for me as the walk and the Diet Pepsi I glug as we go finally wakes me up.

And oh, the pretty evening adds to it.

Kat drives the car around, and our timing is once again pretty solid as we arrive all at once.

We shuttle over with a woman and her two kids, and in conversation it comes out she and I both grew up in Silver Spring. Small world indeed.

It’s a ride down narrow, bumpy ranch roads where those shuttles coming back and our shuttle going to have to jog for pull-outs to make room. Following the river again, and those fields, those forests.

It’s easy to see why they picked the spot they did, not only because it’s gorgeous, but it’s very open. And when they say Long Table in Montana, they mean Long Table.

The scene/NR
Long table/j a-b

Lots of people there already, but plenty of chairs at the table so we snag ours alongside our shuttle companions. 

We’ve got a couple of bars, a hot band, tables of food, booths with more—samples of bread, honey, oils, cheeses all local. 

Beef tenderloin, paella, hot dogs (LONG ones), salmon, potato salad, green salad, Caesar salad, coleslaw. Name the fancy picnic food and we’ve got it.

#Food-a-rama

Mudslide Charlie, the band, keeps things moving. We’ve got a lead female singer who has solid pipes, and plays the washboard—fascinating—and the guitar. We’ve got a sax player who also plays harmonica. The drummer, the bass player, lead guitar. It’s R&B, which makes me very happy. 

Mudslide Charley Band/BW
https://www.mudslidecharley.com/

People stream in all evening. Kids play soccer on the rise above the tables, or they play by the river. Lots of cowboy hats, lots of boots.

Kat concedes to the bump, so she and I shuttle back. The guys will stay for another set.

We shuttle back with a couple and their three kids. The youngest and his mom are in the row with me. Dad and the two older are in the back.

Mom and the little guy have a nice conversation about getting showered up as the kids played hard in the dust. In the back the two older kids are bickering some. Dad keeps telling them to stop, forbids them to play together, threatens punishments. Mostly they ignore or argue with him, and he argues back.

As I’m listening, I wonder why an adult parents argues with a child. Or tolerates being told NO by a child. (NO, I’m not taking a shower. YES, you are. NO!) At one point they were all quiet, and suddenly he says: I told you not to play together! No videos for a week.

And I think: But they were finally quiet, WHY did you start them up again? So we’re whining and arguing, then comes the negotiation.

I believe in bribery where kids are concerned. I believe in explaining the whys and why nots. Negotiation? Hey, this is no democracy here. I am the benevolent dictator of your world. Negotiate with a kid, the kid will run you over and back again.

Which is exactly what happens by the time we arrive back at the Outpost. Videos, etc are back on because the kids claim they behaved for the last five minutes.

I also note that Mom stays out of this and simply continues to engage the younger child on the ride. Younger kid is perfectly happy to watch and comment in amazement on the red ball of sun sinking in the sky.

An interesting dynamic.

Kat and I have a nice, peaceful drive back from Outpost to cabin.

Then there’s that damn puzzle, just sitting there taunting us.

We work it awhile, and the guys come. The floss-dancing kid came back for an encore tonight after we left. I’m sorry we missed him.

Bedtime.

Workout done, and Kat’s back on the puzzle. I may cave and join her awhile.

Tonight is movie night at home. We’re streaming the latest Avenger movie, which BW and I haven’t yet seen. So room service and a movie for our Sunday night.

We’ll have to see what’s going on between now and then.

Nora

In today’s #randomkatness

Zinnia/Kat

Montana – Day 12

It’s repetitive to say we had a beautiful day, but I’ll take repetitive beauty on vacation. Hot, but breezy, which is my kind of perfect.

After workout—and a slice of bacon BW and Kat brought me back from breakfast, it’s that damn puzzle. The puzzle’s absolutely beautiful, but the pieces are somewhat loose which makes being sure the right piece goes in the right place a bit frustrating. Kat’s making considerably more headway than I am.

Even though she and BW drove off to this tiny little town near here, population about 500, where you can rent a teepee, for instance if you need a spot for the night.

I think I got three pieces in the whole time she was gone!

It’s paint night, but since it’s about three miles away, near one of the camps (glamping) sites by the river, they send us a guide car. Pretty drive, rough roads, winding river, pine forests, open fields.

Our tables are already set up right by a bend in the river, down a rocky, sandy beach. It’s glorious. I find another rock for my rock pal Colt. A pretty pale blue stone.

The river gurgles over rocks, pines rise up, then there’s that sky—a little overcast at the moment with a 75% chance of rain.

Danielle sets us up with our wood paint boards, our palettes, our oil paints and walnut oil to thin.

Palette/BW

It’s so pretty, so breezy, and a lot of fun.

I like painting the river (note: though the river is brownish green we all end up painting it blue!) I realize too late I should’ve done more sky before swiping in my cartoonish trees, but oh well. Jason’s beside me, BW beside him, Kat on the other side. I decide we’d sit in order of need for stability as it’s a little sandy slope.

Painting encampment/BW

Jason’s colors are bold. I do like my river, but the overall result looks angry. So we have a storm or it’s night, or the artist was pissed off (though I wasn’t.) BW goes pretty bold, too. Then I make a mistake.

I step back to look at mine and glance at Kat’s.

Kat’s vision/BW

Oh man! It’s soft and gorgeous, and very European to me. It’s freaking Cezanne in Montana. Danielle has gone very abstract and colorful and lushly beautiful. Kat’s is a calm, beautiful vision of a river with a tinges of pink at the edges of the sky.

BW/Nora/Jason/Photo by BW

Thunder—and not just from my angry painting. And some rain. We have umbrellas, and paint a bit more. But I really can’t do more damage to mine. Jason and I pass ours off to Danielle.

Kat is contentedly adding fine, fine details with colors I have no idea how she made. Tiny flicks or nudges of the brush for shadows or texture.

The rain passes, and she finesses her vision.

We take pictures, thank Danielle who’s given us such a good time.

Artists and their paintings/BW’s phone

Off we go to wash paint off our hands before dinner.

Painting works up an appetite so we feast in one of the cabanas. The sky is huge and layered with the sun beaming through clouds.

I take a picture of a spirea for Laura , and see some of my favorite heliotrope. What a scent!

It actually gets cool enough by dessert that pregnant Kat wants to go inside. She’s a furnace these days, so that’s plenty cool.

Have my huckleberry dreamsickle inside, in the warm.

Evening gallery:

We decide we have a game of cards in us when we come back. We use the loft as the puzzle, even on its puzzle board, takes up the table downstairs, and why bother.

Another game of hearts. Both Kat and I get hands in the early stages where trying to run is just how it has to be—even though, in both cases, we know one card can screw us.

And it does, both times.

The only successful run of the night is Jason’s—and he wins this match fairly handily.

A good, full, happy day ends.

Workout bright and early as it’s Spa Day for our party. We all have eleven o’clock treatments. I’m now still in the bliss from one of the most incredible facials ever. Simone transported me during that lovely, lovely 90 minutes.

Spa village/NR

All but Kat walked up and back—and walking back was the right choice or I’d be asleep!

We’re going to forage for lunch right here.

Tonight’s Long Table night at the resort. That should be another nice—and filling—cap to a good day.

Nora

#Food-a-rama

Kat

In today’s #randomkatness

Cowboy pillow/Kat

Montana – Day 11

Another pretty day in the west as we head off to Garnet Ghost town. It’s not far, but it’s back windy, windy roads where the land rises and falls—lots of rises.

Garnet/j a-b

You have to wonder why people made a town back there. Easy. Follow the gold. The river winds, too, and panning for gold led settlers to this isolated, hilly, forested spot.

They’ve faithfully preserved cabins, the big hotel—which was pretty damn fancy in its day—the saloons, always a big draw—the general store, the stables, the smithy.

We’ve been here before, but it’s just fascinating. And considering Kat, we drive down to the handicapped parking area. Otherwise it would have been a long, difficult walk down, and a seriously arduous climb back up for her. The park official got it, let us park there. And if they needed the space, would come find us so Jason would take the car up, park, come back, go up again and bring it down (good daddy).

Fortunately, they didn’t need the space during our visit.

We stop in the little gift shop—I pick up a geode for Colt. Onto the store where once upon a time you could by a can of coffee for a quarter, shaving soap for ten cents.

I’m delighted with the table strewn with old shoes and boots. And a dress shoe prominently displayed.

We’ve got wringer washers, and incomprehensible—to me—tools, a pair of ancient skis so long the tips must have arrived five minutes before whoever wore them.

The Wells Hotel—designed and built by Mrs. Wells who married Mr. Wells, an Irish immigrant when she was 14 and he 29 (then had NINE children)—was considered the premiere hotel in the area. Three floors—with the attic level provided for miners or travelers to just lay out their bedrolls. The wallpaper—some of which was custom made—is mostly gone now. Let me just say the spirits aren’t. It felt very crowded and active in there, but if a hotel in a ghost town isn’t haunted, what’s the point?

It has a parlor, a huge kitchen area, and the rooms upstairs are certainly tiny by today’s standards. There are one or two larger rooms I imagine cost considerably more.

And the facilities only a short walk outside.

No privvy privacy/BW

The ground shoots up or rolls up, and little cabins still dot the rises. The trees cover the steep juts, giving the town that isolated, intimate feel. I love The Newlywed Cabin. Garnet was a rare thing—a family mining town with family and community picnics and events. Whenever someone got married, they could use the cabin until they built their own—or somebody else got married.

A nice boost for the happy couple.

Kat takes plenty of rests on benches, and wisely doesn’t climb too high.

Garnet gallery:

We get back a little late, and decide to grab food from the buffet and take it home. They’re great about this, have take-away boxes, so we have a little post-day trip lunch at our own table.

Time for Mama to rest.

I start a new book. Decide quickly it’s just too hot to read outside, but I have a nice bed to stretch out on while I relax with a book.

Refreshed, Kat’s ready to start the puzzle we picked up in Missoula. Hey, I’m game.

This one’s 1500 pieces, and HARD! I can’t remember having a frame take me so long to put together. Lots of lovely but blending colors. This one’s going to take awhile.

But it’s dinner time. I’m still full from lunch, but off we go (Jason on foot). I work up a little appetite wandering around taking pictures of flowers, and the big berries (?) on a very cool tree.

Spiky purple/NR

But even with that, I decide I can only manage a salad—and fries. Always room for a few fries.

They are delish.

Today’s #Food-a-rama

Not much of a sunset—the sky went soft and blurry, with a tint of rose. Dusk lingers while we finish the meal. But why not have dessert?

Hazy sunset/Kat

Well, if you insist, I can eat a scoop of sorbet. Which is also delish.

It’s cooled off enough I walked back to the car for my jacket before dessert. And now, ready for home, it’s night, and there’s that slice of moon, with Jupiter and Venus bright.

We have so many trees at home—comes from living in the woods—that I rarely see so many stars. It’s a treat.

Back for another shot at the puzzle. Whew! I’m on a purple area that has a zillion shades. Kat worked on a green area—a zillion shades. She is far more advanced than me.

Now workout’s done, and Kat and BW are back from breakfast—I think Jason on foundation work, and BW’s heading down to the river to take some photos. Kat’s already at the puzzle. I may have to give that some time.

Tonight, we paint!

Nora

In today’s #randomkatness:

Le stove/Kat

Montana – Day 10

It’s a good day at home with this and that to do through the morning. One that started off cool, and heated up strong by noon.

Following routine, Jason and I walk over for lunch. Spaghetti and meatballs on the buffet? Alrighty then. Just an easy-breezy fuel-it-up time on the porch.

Back for Kat to take a little rest, for me to catch up on email, etc. After I think about reading, then conk for nearly an hour. I am so not a nap person, but hey, it’s vacation!

We have a looked-forward-to private event for late afternoon—waiting for the best light.

It’s pregnancy photos time!

Kat has four outfits and visions for each look. I help—at her request—picking out accessories. I want an Asian Goddess of Fertility look for the black, lacy, belly-exposing gown—where Jason wears a pair of Asian-type black PJs.

Our photographer (BW) has picked a spot in the side yard, so we get started. She looks amazing—and my boy doesn’t look so bad himself. I play ass’t, and when I remember to get my phone, take some shots of the shoot.

BW at work/NR

From there we move inside, and the resort—as requested—delivers beautiful flowers. More shots in a high-backed leather chair, with flowers.

Costume change!

Now we go for romantic and classy in a white robe with Jason in a gray shirt. During the change, our photog angles a bench on the front porch. Our parents-to-be look just terrific, and the light is excellent. This is so soft, pretty, romantic.

Dreaming/NR

Next change!

White lacy gown—bride like, especially with the addition of flowers. These are so sweet! I keep taking shots of the shoot, or try my own angle.

Mama in waiting/NR
Photo by NR

For the crescendo, we need one more costume change—and props. This set’s pure Kat and Jason.

Plaid shirts, jeans, Kat in pigtails. And Jason holding a watermelon to mirror her belly. Such silly fun, a lot of mugging, or sober American Gothic type faces with the mountains in the distance as the backdrop.

Classic/NR

We’re going to have so many keepers.

Job well done/BW

We’ve run late, so pull it together and head to dinner. Glad I brought a jacket as the sun’s down before we finish, and it’s very cool again.

Pretty, pretty night—crescent moon, Jupiter and Venus very clear in the sky.

At home we hook up the laptop to the TV to watch a slide show of the photos. Oh, yeah, plenty of keepers.

Up early to workout as we’re heading into Garnet, a nice little trip. And who doesn’t want to visit a ghost town?

Nora

#Food-a-rama

Late summer on a plate/Kat

And in today’s #randomkatness:

photo by NR

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

__________________________________________________________

#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

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