Category Archives: 2021 Montana

Montana – Day 6

So pretty for about half the day, then clouds and cool mostly. So we set up to paint inside. Ashley, our instructor and guide has painted a couple of choices, and we go with lovely Montana landscape.

Let the fun begin.

Canvases, paints, brushes. Jason takes Griffin duty first—early nap so the boy’s up—and gets a late start, but he gets to join in.

Resting up for art class. Photo by Kat

I avoid looking at Kat’s because . . . Kat.

Lots of color to play with as we start—as instructed—with the sky and work our way down. I love that everyone’s interpretation’s different.

Artists at work. Photo by BW
A different view. Photo by BW

Ashley goes around the table, complementing and/or answering questions, then I hear her Oh Wow! She’s steps behind Kat.

I decide, what the hell, and round the table, too. It’s such fun to see what everyone does with the same scene. And yes, Kat’s an Oh Wow.

She’s added Buffalo (still to be detailed when Griffin is napping) and made it a winter scene.

Then Ashley brings out another canvas and gives Griffin paints and brushes.

He goes for it!

Maman c’est comme ça que tu peins! (I imagined him thinking in French – Laura).

A fun, artistic afternoon on a breezy day. And we all have our personal souvenirs of Montana.

The gallery. Top row: Kayla, Bruce; middle row: Jason, Nora; bottom: Kat, Griffin. Photo by Nora.

It gets cloudier, and rain’s off and on. Still good enough for some playtime in the tent.

In a theater family, it’s never too early to learn cues and trust falls. Video by Kat

All but BW decide to stay in, order room service and forgo tonight’s barbecue. We also have frozen pizza, and the toaster oven’s just big enough.

Sadly, we discover one of the baby birds—didn’t know they’d hatched—has been kicked out of or fallen out of the nest. And we discover it far too late to attempt a return. I hope the rest fare better.

We eat happily at home in our Montana ranch.

After dinner I play a little gin rummy with Kayla while Griffin begins his night time/bedtime ritual.  Jason finally comes down with the baby monitor as Kat tries to convince the boy to sleep.

Now we have four, and play Hearts.

This turns into a marathon, roller coaster of a game. Kayla way in the lead, BW losing steadily, Jason and I neck-in-neck between. Kayla slips, Jason sneaks by her, I sneak by Jason, back and forth.

Kayla runs them! Back in the lead.

Then BW cagily does math, plays it right and hits 100 on the nose. Hit 100 by our house rules, go back to zero.

The game turns around! BW way in the lead the other’s battling for second. Up, down. I should add Kat comes down during all this battling, and that besides card sharking we have a ridiculous amount of laughs.

We’re hitting BW hard, though he still holds a commanding lead.

And then, out of the dark, Jason—apparently inadvertently—hits 100.

Back to zero, and I fall over the edge.

Game over. Jason is The King Of Hearts for the evening.

Then we all fall into bed.

Workout done on this cold, cloudy day. This is forecast to be the coolest, wettest day of our stay, so we  plan to cook a big vegetarian meal for dinner. (And there’s frozen pizza!)

We’ll start on that after Kat, Kayla and I have our massages at Spa Town.

Sounds like a very fine way to spend a day where they’re calling for a high of around 48.

That ain’t June to this East Coast Girl!


The essence of #RandomKatness

Update from The Travelogue Editorial Desk: Today’s #randomkatness is a puzzle. A five leaf clover? Did Kat get a maniture? Do the palettes match the greens? There’s no explanation so I leave it up to you.

And just between us – since we’re friends and all? I’m working at the beach office and the weather is just fine.


Montana – Day 5

We’re gifted with a perfectly beautiful day. Bold blue skies, light breeze, low 70s. There’s another bush between the lilacs, and I think—maybe—white lilac. Not sure, and the blooms are too high and on the other side of the fence so I can’t do the sniff test.

But pretty.

High white blooms. Photo by Nora.

Lots of play time outside for the boy, in the tent, out of the tent with bubbles and his love of pouring water and dropping rocks into the tub. Pour more water from tub to tub, pick out rocks to drop in new tub. He can work this experiment for a very long time.

I can sit on the porch steps on a pretty day and watch him for a long time.

The mad scientist magics up a nice day. Photo by his Nana.

When it clouds up, as predicted, and you can all but feel the rain coming, there’s some intense puzzle time. Kayla’s deeply into this and makes serious progress.

Some wavering by me about heading to the Chuck Wagon Dinner event. If it’s raining and chilly, I can toss a frozen pizza in the toaster oven and all good.

But, delightfully, skies clear, temp creeps up again.

Time to put the cowboy on.

In the shuttle Griffin does his car riding thing. He calls out K!!!!! We like to think that’s his name for Kayla and not just the letter. Then COWS! He has a steady interest in the cattle—from a distance. We all join in.

This event is by the river and a stunning spot. You travel there through woods and hills all sparkling and shadowy at once in the sunlight. The river’s running fast, the smokers are smoking—smells good—-and the bar’s set up.

Supply wagon. Photo by BW
J by the river. Photo by BW
The set up. Photo by BW.

We grab a picnic table under a pergola—in case the rain comes back, and while Griffin takes off with his parents giving chase, the rest of us settle in.

Perfect spot. Photo by Nora.

Live music, a beautiful spot on a beautiful evening.

Apparently our boy wanted to run in the road—and the fact he was denied this activity ruined his life for about ten minutes.

The feast’s on. I’m really grateful the resort has so many veggie options, and Kayla doesn’t go hungry here. She, of course, passes on the Tomahawk steak. I do not, and it’s delicious.

Meat on the grill. Photo by BW

We all pass on the invitation to take part in a hatchet throw.

Kayla makes herself a s‘more, then it’s time for the ride home.

It’s past a certain someone’s bedtime, but he strongly objects. Mama won’t be denied, and—as mama’s do—wins the battle. But it’s fiercely fought.

Kayla and I are at the puzzle, and Kat comes to join in. But after the battle decides she’s earned a mimosa. Kat is a rare drinker, and a serious lightweight. Kayla decides she’d like to try one. When she samples, she says, it just tastes like oj. Kat is amazed! But it tastes so strong to me. (Lightweight! LOL.)

I suspect Kat put maybe a scant teaspoon of champagne in the nearly 8 oz of oj. I add a little more to Kayla’s. Okay, she says, it tastes like sparkling oj.

There you go.

So I have my first adult drink (no oj in mine, thanks) with my granddaughter.

Nora’s solo bubbles. Photo by Nora.

We puzzle on until bedtime.

Another gorgeous day, and a morning warmer than the last few. Workout done, a load of laundry in. I’ll work a little in a little.

We hope to have our Paint Day. Rain coming late afternoon, but sunny and low 70s before. It should be a great day to play artists outside.


Note from the Travelogue Editorial Desk: I wake up to a trove of photos. Some I know will fit copy. Some are there for the memory. And for some, I create stories of my own. These didn’t fit copy, but I thought you’d like a glimpse of the power of the Griffin.

King me. Photo by Kat.
Cross me and you shall bear the same fate as the flower. Photo by Kat
The flower. Video by Kat
#RandomKatness (clean rocks by Griffin). Photo by Kat

Montana – Day 4

Apothecarying’s fun!

We have our class near Spa Town with those incredible views through glass walls.

We start off making little lotion bars—custom as we choose our own scents or blend of scents.

Measure, mix, melt. Sniff, sniff to decide how we want them to smell. I’m in love with the Huckleberry so easy choice for me. Kayla goes for a lavender peach combo, and Kat huckleberry lemon.

Oh, the way everything smells!

We can add bits of rose, lavender or chamomile. Who can resist?

When we’re all done, we pour into little molds. Kayla and I both choose stars, and Kat a star and a couple seashells. So cute!!!!

From l: creations by Kat, Nora, Kayla’s . Photo by Nora

While those are in the fridge to harden we tackle lip balm. For this, it’s lavender peach for mine because it smells so yummy. A similar process of measuring and mixing, and into the little tubes.

Polish it off with bath scrub. I’m all about the huckleberry and lemon—with some dried rose crushed up in it. We get blue jars, mix it all up. It’s so creamy and fragrant.

Happy Kat and Kayla. Photo by Nora.

Back home on a warmer and happily sunny day.

BW’s been out with his drone taking aerial shots. Jason has tried and failed to get Griffin down for a nap.

The view from above. Photo by BW.

Pretty day to walk around outside—then the puzzle calls me for a session.

It’s coming along!

We have dinner—The Big Sky Bash—at the equestrian center. Kayla gets her cowgirl on with her hat—and a jacket and boots from Nana’s closet. It’s just gorgeous when we leave, but I also wear a jacket because I know how it goes here!

Kayla and her Nana. Photo by BW
Kayla and her Grandda. Photo by Nora.

We shuttle off to the bash, and it’s gorgeous there, too. There’s a pretty pond, and people out in canoes. That wide, wide spread of sky, the mountains and hills rising and rolling under it, cattle in the fields, lots of picnic table set and another live band.

Fun stuff. Along with a pony ride for kids.

Griffin makes a bee-line for the lake. That kid loves water. He has some running around time, and his Mom suggests a pony ride. But when she takes him over, sets him in the saddle, the answer is: Absolutely not!

A shame (though pretty funny) as Cookie the pony is pretty and sweet and patient. Kayla makes friends with her.

Kayla and her new friend. Photo by Nora.

Lots of food—and the roasted corn on the cob’s a big hit. Also fresh tortillas—mmmm.

Then the sun disappears behind clouds, the wind kicks up. Cold!!!! I hold out hope the sun will find its way back, but no. Just no. Still we had a fun time, good eats, and sunny and pleasant for most of our adventure.

Before the sun disappeared. Photo by Nora.

Back home for us. A Daddy Bedtime Dance. Not even halfway through that ritual, Griffin’s asleep on Jason’s shoulder. And still, mouth slack, eyes closed, he sings blearily: Wobba Wobba.

The videographer dances too!

Up to bed for our sleepy boy.

Day is done. Photo by Kat.

More puzzle time! Hang and puzzle with Kat and Kayla for awhile after Griffin’s settled (and Daddy with him). By ten we’re all tired, so an early night in the west.

I get eight straight, always a happy. Work out—good morning, Griffin. This is Daddy’s shift, their routine, and it goes along well. Some warmer, so parts of that routine means Griffin goes to the door. Time to go outside!

Finish my workout shortly before the shift change and BW, Kayla and Jason head out for breakfast.

I need to rewrite the bulk of a chapter. I’ve worked out in my head the how and the why but because it’s more intense work than editing, I take myself up to the quiet of the bedroom.

It takes a couple hours—and will need at least a couple more to make it all smooth. But it’s done. I think, while I’m up there how some idiot posted on the internet just yesterday or today—forget—how I don’t write all my own books because. There’s always a because in this type’s mind. And I think bite me, asshole, as I finally shut down after a couple of sweaty hours during my damn vacation!

Because I do write all my own books.

Come down to learn Griffin’s not feeling altogether well. When a toddler wants a nap and doesn’t want a cookie, he’s feeling off. But he has The Daddy Shoulder Of Comfort—doesn’t want Mom who is—unquestionably—his most favorite person of all people.

From yesterday when the mad scientist felt better and kept busy. Photo by Kat.

Seems a little better now, and is outside with Mom while Daddy’s getting a well-earned massage at spa town.

BW’s just back from taking pictures of our neighbors just up the road. Buffalo!

BW and his new pals. Photo by BW.
A closer look. Photo by BW.

I’m going to get some outside time myself.

We have—hope it’s not too cold—The Chuck Wagon Dinner tonight. Always a good, fun time.

Note from Travelogue Central Editorial Desk:

Because one download staring at me wasn’t enough, Kat decided to get a fuller photo of the eyes, thus earning the first #RandomKatness since 2019. To top that off, she took a snap of Griffin communing with the eyes. ~Laura

Montana Day 3

Switching it up this morning to do the blog before I see about squeezing a little work in as Kat, Kayla and I have a one o’clock.

Paint time’s rescheduled. The artist had an emergency. Since it stayed fairly chilly, and we hope to do it outside, that’s all fine.

A son and his mom. Photo by Kat

Instead, we spent the bulk of the day indoors. Indoors for Griffin and Kat meant a lot of tent time. It’s like a big playhouse—with beds! I walked outside a bit, and couldn’t resist taking a lilac sprig from one of the several blooming bushes. At home mine have long since bloomed off, so it’s nice to have this revival of spring with that lovely scent.

The Purloined Lilac. Photo by Nora.

We have a bird nesting in the outside corner of the front door. I see her often, and she objects when we go in and out. Can’t blame her as she has four pretty eggs to protect. Ms. Robin’s doing a fine job—and I wonder if they’ll hatch while we’re here.

The Robin’s Nest. Photo by BW.
Treasure. Photo by BW

We decide to break out one of the jigsaw puzzles we brought with us, and get a start on that. Our puzzle board was left inadvertently in the car, but the intrepid Kat called and asked for a flat piece of cardboard. We can move it easily from the dining room table to the kitchen counter when we need the table.

Jigsaws puzzles, screen time, happy boy. Photo by Nora

It’s barbecue night at the ranch. Layer up, everybody, because it’s cool—and downright cold when the wind blows. It’s nice when we get there as the sun comes out from where it’s hidden most of the day. We choose our pod—like a big cabana—and Jason does the chase after Griffin deal. This is fine until the boy decides he wants any pod but ours, or perhaps testing out the fire pit would be fun, then there’s that big field on the other side of the fence.

A boy and a cover. Photo by Kat

Many distractions are offered. Many are rejected, firmly.

He finally settles in after a protracted battle of wills, and we use some extra chairs to block his escape from the pod.

There’s a live band, and they’re really good. The lead singer and keyboard player is barefoot. It may be 50-52 out, with a stiff breeze that comes and goes, but the band’s from Missoula so I guess that’s summertime!

The music’s eclectic and more than fine with songs ranging from Hendrix to a number from The Jungle Book.

The food hits the right notes, too, with plenty of options for our vegetarian. Griffin decides the trout is exceptional (I agree) and eats what seems like an entire fish.

We stay for dessert.

Home again for the bedtime dance with Daddy, and after Griffin’s settled in (Daddy, too, as the dinner-time chase was long) Kayla practices her Tarot card reading skills. I gave her a deck a couple months ago, and she’s proven to have good instincts. She did a solid reading for Kat, did mine and nailed that, too.

I walked out between to grab the sunset.

Sunset. Photo by Nora

Then the three girls enjoy a gabfest until midnight.

I’m up early, naturally—and a little annoyed I can’t seem to sleep past 5:30, but what can you do?

I think Griffin and his parents had a rough night, but they’ve slept in so I hope that makes up for it.

Got my workout done. Kayla’s waiting for Grandda and whoever else wants breakfast—BW’s doing a workout of his own. I’m going to go up and change, see about squeezing that work in.

The girls are heading to the Apothecary this afternoon to make lotions and whatever else we can do. Kat and I did this last time we were here and really had fun.

It’ll be warmer today—hitting 70 (YAY!) and the sun’s out.

I’m ready for it.


In our daily Griffin video, he practices his sleight of hand, ending with a splash. ~Laura

Montana — Day 2

A little time before dinner—and that wild wind—leaves time for a little three-handed Hearts inside. Kayla, Jason and me.

Griffin playing in the tent amid the wild wind. Video by Kat

Jason has incredibly bad luck. Barely missed running them—one card light. I tell him he played it well, so he lost correctly. * He’s well behind when we have to pause the game to change for dinner.

A cool, brisk evening means eating inside instead of out—but sunny means some walks around, especially for a certain little boy. One who really, really, REALLY wants to climb through the fence and explore the next field.

Can’t sit still. Photo by Nana

But that’s a hard no.

Kayla gets her cowgirl on and it sure looks cute on her.

Cowgirl chic. Photo by Kayla’s Nana.

It’s a fine meal, and our waitress Dart is terrific. Griffin enjoys his Mac and cheese, then decides he’s had enough. His dad drives him and his mom home, and comes back for us in time for dessert.

The first, definitely not the last, creative pano. Photo by Kat’s phone

I have a scoop of vanilla gelato with a scoop of huckleberry. Just as wonderful as I remember. But too much for me. Jason reaps that reward.

We see cattle on the way back, and a field loaded with moms and babies. So cute!

Cattle still life. Photo by BW

Back home, and the temp keeps dropping so I want sweats on.

It’s time for Griffin’s nightly pre-bedtime dance with Daddy. It’s an adorable ritual with a specific play list on Jason’s phone, and usually ends with the favorite. The Elmo Slide. By then, Griffin’s head is almost always heavy on Jason’s shoulder.

Mom and Dad put their boy to bed with BW drafted to finish for Jason at Hearts.

His luck is no better. Kayla triumphs. She’s become, over the last couple years, a very canny—and often ruthless—card player. Makes a nana proud, even when she screws me over on a pass.

Jason conks with Griffin, so it’s now four-handed with Kat, BW, Kayla and me. Lots of fun, lots of laughs.

My luck is fairly crappy, but BW’s is even crappier. Kat gives her a run for it, but once again, Kayla crushes all comers.

I warn her next time we play, she’s going down!

I’m up early again, and just decide to roll with it. Pretty chilly this morning. Get my workout in, while Jason fixes Griffin’s breakfast. It’s fun listening to him babble with Sesame Street or Mickey and Donald while I work up a sweat.

I sit down to work while the Breakfast Club heads out. Cool or not, eventually the boy wants outside, so Kat and Griffin go on a short adventure.

I finish up my goal for the day shortly after the gang comes back—with bacon!!! Mmmm, bacon.

Kat’s putting Griffin down for an early nap as he hit the wall, and I might take a walk myself.

In a couple of hours we have a paint activity here at the house. Fun! And it’s barbecue night at the resort. All sounds good to me, but I admit I’m looking forward to feeling the temperatures climb back up to summer.


Notes from Laura:
* Sometimes Nora says this to me. OK, she never says it to me. Stupid games.

To follow up the first day post, here’s Griffin and Nana “bowling.” And a glimpse at the big furniture.

So…who’d volunteer to sleep in the tent? I think I would.

Montana Day 1 (and part of 2)

Good weather makes for a smooth flight—and makes me very happy. While our youngest passenger traveled extensively in his first year or so, Griffin hasn’t been on a plane since 2019. He loves it! The minute the plane startdd to taxi, he breaks out in a huge grin. Likes looking out the window—doesn’t take after his Nana on this one.

Happy traveler. Photo by j a-b

We arrive in hot and sunny Montana—glorious summer day—for the drive from Missoula to Paws Up. We didn’t get a cabin this time—booked too late as we held out hope for our trip to Italy—but instead scored a very private ranch house with gorgeous views, front and back porches. Even a BIG tent with two twin beds if anyone wants to sleep outside.

No takers so far.

Kayla gets her first real look at Western mountains from the plane. So big, so rugged, so young compared to our more sedate Eastern ranges. A different world here with those soft sagey greens, snow-capped peaks, the sea of sky, the endless fields of grass.

The view from above. Photo by BW

Since the house isn’t ready for us, we have a bite to eat, some drinks on the deck of the restaurant. Have a chance to unwind, give Griffin a chance to run around.

Home away from home. Photo by NR
The tent. Photo by j a-b

I’d say we were all a little lagged by the time we finally got into the house. They sure like BIG furniture in Montana! By the time we unpack, take a breath, it’s time for our dinner reservations. Kat, Griffin and I pass on that, and it feels so good to just stay put.

More time to explore our Montana domain, let Griffin run and pick dandelion fluff. Sit on the porch, or walk around and admire the pretty stream behind the white picket fence of our backyard. I find my stress level going down to zero.

Peaceful. Photo by NR

I play the bowling game with our boy while his mom fixes him dinner. I set up the soft pins, he gleefully knocks them down. I pretend shock.

Rinse, repeat.

We have plenty of food stocked—but discover our kitchen lacks a stove. This is a major surprise. But we’ll figure out how to use the hot plate and toaster oven.

The rest come back from dinner, and we wait on sunset. Kayla pines for a purple sky. The sun’s glorious and gold as it sinks, sinks, sinks toward those peaks. But it’s not until after she’s gone in that light bounces up and spreads purple. I go in to call her out for her first purple/gold/mauve Montana Sky.

Sunset by BW.

Griffin manages to make it to what would be his bedtime hour on Mountain time—or two hours past his usual. He’s pretty much adjusted already.

It’s so wonderfully quiet—with none of the horror movie back noise of the constant song of cicadas we’re dealing with back home. Just quiet, with a breeze sighing through the trees now and again.

I slept like a rock.

Popped awake at—ugh! 4:45. Try to ward off wakefulness for about a half hour, then give up. Griffin and his daddy aren’t far behind. While Jason makes Griffin cheesy, buttery grits (the boy doesn’t take after his nana there, either) I gear up for my morning workout.

Too cool to take it outside, so I make room among the giant furniture. About 3/4s done when Kayla wanders out. She, BW and Jason will go to breakfast, bring back bacon—very important—and something more for Kat. But no rush on that.

I do a solid workout, then start putting things together to work on the book for a couple hours as we have no activities planned. The Breakfast Club is about ready, and Kat comes down. Griffin greets her with hi, hi, hi! And madly waving hands. A thing for the family. He glances my way to make sure I’m in the swim of this.

Gang’s back, put away work, and head upstairs to change. The girls are going shopping once Griffin’s down for his nap. It’s wicked windy and much cooler today. The baking heat of yesterday’s just a memory. Soft blue skies, cool air and constant wind blowing over the tall grass.

Griffin’s down, the girls escape. Kat drives us to the shopping here in the resort as if we were here last week. Impressed!

I’ve convinced Kayla she needs a cowboy hat. We score the perfect one in minutes. A black Stetson, soft, slightly more structured than mine—and a perfect fit that looks adorable on her. I find a nice shirt, and I can probably use another long-sleeved shirt in this changeable weather. Find a hoodie that yells JASON, and two hats—one for Colt and one for his boon companion C.J.

Bag two Christmas gifts for girl pals—and a necklace that knew it was mine the minute we spotted each other.

It’s both satisfying and relaxing to shop a bit with just girls.

Back now, and I can hear Griffin, so he’s up from his nap. I’m about to finish writing this on the back porch while the wind whips and whips through the trees and over the fields. I see a few snowy peaks, occasionally hear the low of cattle and lots of birdsong.

I believe it’s time to go in and pour myself a vacation libation.


Note from Travelogue Central: We’re just getting up to speed here as our intrepid travelers adjust to big furniture/wide open spaces/and my demands for photos in the shared Google account so I can illustrate Nora’s words. For instance, where’s the Stetson I ask you???

This one just struck me and it’s from Nora, not our Random Kat.


I swear it blinked at me when I downloaded.