BW, Kat, Griffin and I flew out Monday evening to meet Jason, who’s been in Edinburgh for several days. Boonsboro High School’s Theater troupe got an invite to the Fringe Festival here. This is a very big deal, a terrific honor and opportunity. Jason came as one of the chaperones, and as he works in theater, a tech advisor.
Before I get into us, I have to say I’ve been following the kids on FB, and what an amazing experience they’ve had. A couple days touring London, then the long bus ride here. Four performances of their chosen play, Almost, Maine.
Just huge congrats to everyone, all the kids, all the parents and families who got behind them, the community of Boonsboro, and to Mr. Bair, the guy who works with and inspires these kids (as he did withJason) every day. (See note below.)
Our flight was smooth. I say that as someone who hates to fly. Have I mentioned that before? It bears repeating. I hate to fly. In this case, the flight was so smooth I got a solid three hours sleep, only woke once to some turbulence over the wide Atlantic where I had to use the power of my mind to keep the plane in the air.
Best of all Griffin does NOT hate to fly. He’s a traveling boy with some experience under his belt already. He loved it, crawled up and down the aisle, flirted outrageously with our flight attendant, who flirted right back.
And he conked out for a good four hours.
We landed in a drizzle, packed a van, went through Customs, did the whole round. Lots of traffic on the drive in. Jason tells me that Edinburgh is a city of about 500,000, but during August, during Fringe, that swells to 1.5 million.
Gorgeous old buildings, dour gray and brown stone majestic in the gloom—just as it should be. Mountains and hills in the not so much distance. Sheep in the fields.
And in town buses, tons of double deckers, streets lined with those gorgeous buildings, and the grand spread of the castle on the hill.
Flowers, flowers, flowers, and green.
The main part of our suite is ready, and we’re so weary and grateful for that. We have expansive views of the city, big windows we can open enough for fresh air.
Griffin’s happy to explore.
Some lunch in the room—I have amazing tomato and basil soup. BW and Kat get fish and chips. The fish is enormous—and enjoyed. Griffin also approves there.
Naps come next.
I get about an hour down—that’s how I like to do it.
Jason arrives—his wife and son are asleep on the couch, so we catch up.
When they wake, Griffin’s so happy to see his daddy he wants no one else. Joy.
BW and Kat are going to BHS’s last performance. I would love to see it, too, but I know with my bleary brain if I sat down in a theater, I’d wake up again at curtain call.
So they go off, and Jason, Griffin and I walk around the city. A light drizzle, busy streets. Then The Mile—shops, restaurants that becomes, as Jason puts it, a kind of temporary Times Square during the festival.
He’s not wrong.
I see some actors still in costume and makeup, lots of tourists, lots of performers buxting. We climb steep streets and steps, head down steep alleyways.
We head to BHS’s venue to meet up with BW and Kat, wait in the little lobby. We can hear some of the performance, and Jason explains the scene to me. We can also hear an enthusiastic house, and that’s gratifying.
Cheers and applause at the end for these talented kids who are now international players.
I’m ridiculously proud.
Jason peels off—he’s staying with the troupe one more night, and they’re all going to The Tattoo—the big show at the castle.
We head back, taking the most amazing (and endless) marble stairs. The Scottish Stairs have a different color of marble on each tread, each landing. Kat’s carrying Griffin, BW and I take the stroller.
I got my workout in, for certain.
Another nap for the boy, and as Kat went out and found a wine store, some much appreciated champagne for me. A relaxed evening in, room service, early to bed.
Before I turn in, I hear fireworks, and look out to see the castle lit up for The Tattoo.
And sleep a solid eight.
Kat and Griffin join me in the morning right before my workout. He is a huge infusion of cuteness in his little jacket and cap.
They’d off to get batteries for one of his toys, some breakfast.
I have the bulk of my workout done when they get back, and as BW’s fighting a head cold, Kat wonders if she should go down and bring him breakfast. On his birthday, too!
We end up ordering room service again as BW rises, and Griffin does part of the workout with me.
I entertain him with the Mash-Ups on Shaun-T’s Cize program. He loves these, and laughs, snuggles, begins to fade.
A quick nap for him while we eat.
Stretches for Nana, and here’s Jason.
Griffin wakes thrilled to see Daddy.
We’re going to walk around, do some shopping on this marvelously sunny day. You have to take the sun when you get in here, so we will.
This summer’s grandkid trip features Logan at fifteen, and–by his choice–Montana.
He and his posse–BW, Jason, Kat, Griffin and me–head off to Paws Up for five packed days. When a boy’s never been west, you can’t have a much better intro than Montana.
The flight out’s smooth–thank all the gods–and the weather when we land a LOT cooler than Maryland. First stop, a bite to eat which includes Griffin’s favorite treat, french fries.
Then it’s time to fulfill Logan’s first request. The boy needs a hat and boots. This offers a nice walk–stretch those plane legs–and a chance to see some of the horses in the paddock before BW checks Logan in for his first activity.
A guy can’t go west without testing his skills on the rifle range.
I plop Griffin on the grass. He is very entertained grabbing it, yanking it, talking to it.
He’s also thrilled to gut laughs by the tether ball play.
Grandda takes Logan to the range, and the rest of us head to our cabin to unpack, settle in. It turns out Logan has a keen eye and steady hand with a .22. Those endless hours of video games likely help there. Montana Logan shoots the crap out of the targets for a solid 90 minutes.
Logan has the loft room in the cabin, so I join Kat and Griffin to show him his space. As he’s well pleased we leave him to unpack then clean up before his first western barbecue.
Kat, Griffin and I decide to walk over to the Village, and while the road–pitted, horse poop, rough–is a challenge for the stroller, we manage just fine. You can smell the burgers and dogs and brats before you get there, and hear the music from the live band on the outdoor stage.
Griffin likes the music, and shows his own keen eye every time a pretty girl walks by. The men join us for the feast, the view, the music. You don’t go hungry at Paw’s Up. And, oh, that sky.
But our body clocks are still on East Coast time, and we unanimously agree to call it an early night.
We (except Griffin and me) have a hot air balloon ride booked for the morning. But the weather up there looks iffy, so that’s called off.
I head up to the living area of the loft for my workout while Logan catches more zzzs in his bedroom. I hear Jason and Griffin down below, go to the rail to say good morning. It’s rewarding to hear Griffin’s happy babble when he sees me. Jason brings him up, puts him in the pack and play. He’s well entertained watching his Nana jump around for her cardio section before the rest of the crew stir and all but Nana head out for breakfast.
Since they won’t be gliding up in the clouds, we vote to hike down to the obstacle course. The Grizzly Man isn’t for wimps. I have to give Kat major kudos for hiking it with an extra twenty pounds of Griffin strapped to her in the pack.
The trail’s steep. I’m talking feel those quads sing steep. Logan handles the obstacles like an American Ninja champ. Nothing stops him. And he instantly becomes Griffin’s favorite cousin, bringing on gut laughs as he climbs, swings on ropes, jumps and balances.
I’m in pretty good shape considering, but I’m winded more than once on the climb. That’s okay because I can take time to admire the wildflowers. We’ve never been here this early in the season, so I haven’t seen the bitter cress or wild lupine in bloom. Makes me happy when I catch my breath.
And I only had to wince and close my eyes a couple of times while Logan performed.
Well earned and much appreciated.
The gang–which does not, again, include Griffin and me–have a river float booked. After Daddy entertains his boy with tosses and rubbing his belly on Daddy’s head, Griffin and I are happy to wave them off. We have some play time, then a nice rock on the porch when he gives Nana those I’m Tired tells. I’ll take rocking a cuddly baby on the porch with a fabulous view any day over riding the rapids.
Team Logan returns, wet, cold, triumphant.
Logan’s favorite cousin status is only more solidly cemented.
The whole river gang hits the hot tub.
Time for dinner.
We thought to play a game or two after, but the energetic day’s taken its toll all around. So goodnight!
Workout for me in the morning, then breakfast for the gang. And we’re off for a guided tour of Garnet Ghost Town.
Our guides point out the beargrass along the way. Fascinating starry white puffs on stalks. Each plant only blooms every three to five years. The woods and hills around Garnet are loaded with them.
We do our tour on a gorgeous morning walking around and through the old log buildings of the once thriving mining community. Daddy hauls the baby, Mama hauls the baby, everybody eventually hauls the baby who loves looking at everything and every one.
And before you know it, lunch!
My two boys really pack it in. No fussy eaters here.
Logan, Jason and Kat are off to ride ATVs. Time for another porch rock, and some down time while the baby naps.
Our adventurers come back coated with dust and success.
Clean up time before our Chuck Wagon Dinner experience.
We now have two cowboys as Kat and Jason scored a bandanna and boots for Griffin! He is seriously dressed for Chuck Wagon time.
They shuttle us over to yet another gorgeous area of the resort by the Blackfoot. Food’s more than plentiful, but first Montana Logan heads to the river. I watch him and Kat skipping stones.
Kat wins this one, hands down.
Pretty, pretty evening, lots of kids running around, some cowboy poetry. And more grass for Griffin. I swear he’d sit for hours in the grass.
But there’s horseshoes, and I spot Logan taking on Grandda. We have to go watch this. Kat, Jason and I play pass-the-baby. The score stays close, but it looks like experience will triumph over youth.
But then, Logan, steely-eyed, lofts his shoe. It’s a Ringer!
I wish I’d had my camera out to capture that look of surprised delight on his face. I did get the aftermath. And he takes BW by a point.
Back home. And some Reverse Charades.
This again has the baby in squealing with joy. Look at all those crazy people!
Logan thrashes us.
BW to read, me to sleep, and apparently the rest to hang out awhile. During that time, Logan’s favorite cousin status reaches new heights–as they demonstrated for me in the morning.
Logan meows. Griffin: Hysterical!
Logan shakes his hair. Griffin: Gut-busting!
Logan makes a face. Griffin: I think I cracked a rib!
Kat, being one smart mama, now enlists Logan every time she needs to change Griffin if he’s fussy. All Logan has to do with shake his hair or make noises, and Griffin’s squealing with joy.
I love, seriously, how engaged and patient Logan is with him. He’ll get down on the floor with him, or take his hands for Griffin’s favorite walking practice. And the little guy will walk endlessly if you can keep up. They’ve bonded hard over these days to the point Griffin just has to see him to break out in grins and excitement.
Morning time. Breakfast for them, workout for me. Then BW and I have massages booked.
Ahhh. A trip to Spa Town’s just what the doctor ordered. Blissed out we return for Logan’s Aerial Adventure Course. I’ve seen him take on those types of courses before–he’s like a monkey. But this one is bigger and more complex.
He handles it like freaking Spider-Man. And again has Griffin lost in hero worship. He swings, he climbs, he balances, he walks the tightrope, he belays down from–I don’t know how high a platform–then climbs up to the second part of the course.
We find grass for Griffin. Logan finishes the 90 minute course with 20 to spare, and is invited to do any part of it he likes again. But he’s satisfied. And hungry.
Lunch is welcome, followed by a little down time. We have a jigsaw puzzle we’re working on. Progress made.
It’s Griffin and me and the rocking chair. And the rest off for a trail ride.
When the gang returns I learn they had the kind of excitement you’d rather not. Jason says he noticed his mount seemed a little testy, kept putting his ears back. Then about ten minutes away from home, he spooked. Turned straight into Kat’s horse, spooking that one. Had Logan’s horse shying.
Logan got his under control, Kat managed to pull hers up from the gallop he’d launched into. But as Jason pulled back, his horse turned again, and tossed him.
Fortunately–as best as you can be fortunate–he took the brunt of the fall on his hip and shoulder. The wrangler was quick, and they called out the EMTs just to be sure. The group’s a little shaken, and Jason plenty sore on top of it.
He’s got ice, has a long hot shower, some Advil. He’s moving slow, but okay. Still we opt out of that night’s BBQ. The rest head off–and they’ll bring us food back. I’ve pretty much hit a wall activity-wise and take a solid nap. That with a minor break, turns into 10 solid hours of sleep.
Human enough in the am for my workout. Jason’s better, but his main deal now seems like a pulled inner thigh muscle. Some stretching, some ice, a spin in the hot tub. Improvement.
Better yet, he and Kat and Logan have massages later in the day. Perfect timing for Jason. Kat and Griffin go rappelling. Jason’s in no shape for that! But Kat rediscovers her love for it, and Logan has a great time.
They head down after lunch for a good rub while Griffin and I have that floor and porch time.
Logan, Grandda and Kat head to the go-cart course. Though he’s doing better, Jason opts out. The report is, once again, Logan wins the day.
We’d planned to have dinner and a movie in the cabin for our last night. Our timing is perfect. As we wait for our food delivery, a storm–a whopper–rolls in. It’s dramatic and fabulous–especially since we’re all cozy indoors. (Logan’s become our official fire starter.)
The wind blows, the rain slashes, and the hail shoots like bbs. I have drama, wine and a fire. It’s pretty great.
It blows out again while we eat.
Up to the loft for movie time. How about some Captain Marvel? Griffin doesn’t make it through, but sleeps peacefully on Kat’s lap.
It’s a nice, relaxing end to our many adventures.
Miscellaneous photos from the trip:
Quick morning workout, pack it up. Breakfast, happy Griffin who watches Logan with adoration all the way down the loft stairs.
Back to the airport on a–thankfully–clear day for the flight home.
Have to say goodbye to Jason and Kat–who remain the best traveling companions ever–and the happiest baby in the world of babies.
We’ll see them again soon as we have our full-on family spa week coming up in no time.
Drop Logan off at his mom’s, and his two siblings actually come outside to see him. Absence makes the heart grow, after all.
Home to the dogs, to unpack, to just chill.
Those cowboys wore me out!
But nothing makes a nana’s heart smile more than having her teenage grandson tell her this was his best vacation ever.
The first Saturday in May always manages to sneak up on me. I mostly avoided that this year by taking the Sunday before to figure out all the clothes, shoes, bags for three fun-filled days in Louisville.
This must become habit as I avoided all the last-minute insanity and could just plunk everything in a suitcase Wednesday night.
This year we took good pals JoAnne and Larry with us, got on the plane Thursday morning–hit some weather which is NOT fun–had to circle awhile. Then ah, terra firma, how I missed you.
Our three days of Derby are packed so it’s hit the ground running. But first time for some lunch, a nice time to catch up with the excellent Brian and Sara. We’ll miss Kathy this year, but Sara–hair magician–will look out for us.
It’s cloudy, and rain’s threatening, but hey, we’re in Louisville, and it’s Derby. We’re not going to let that dampen our spirits.
Off to the hotel, unload, unpack. Whew. Let’s definitely have a drink.
Tonight is Club Night in two parts. The first, the Frazier Museum, the second at a speakeasy type club with a Steampunk theme. Let’s get this party started!
It’s always great to start seeing members of our Derby family again. Happy faces, familiar faces, welcoming hugs. The museum’s a big, airy, wonderful space for an event. A terrific place to wander or sit with a glass of champagne, catch up with Derby pals. Plenty of food if you’re hungry, and energy already bubbling like that champagne.
It’s great to see Tonya and Tammy again–these sisters, these clever, busy women organize, spearhead and guide this complex, complicated and simply fabulous event every year. We’re so grateful to be a part of it.
From the museum, it’s off to the club. Time to don our steampunk hats! This is a brick-walled, atmospheric place, and it’s packed. How we managed to find an empty table, I don’t know. There’s a steampunky mask laying on it, I assume someone left behind. I see a mask, I put it on!
More happy faces, more greetings–some impressive costumes–and just an easy good time that’s topped off with a warm cookie and ice cream at the end. Yum.
Time for bed to rest up for our very full Friday.
Jo and I are very good girls and get a little workout done in the morning. A little cardio, a little core, a little yoga. We’ve now earned all our fun and frivolity.
Sara picks us up and ten, and we wish our men good luck at the track. I give BW my pick for the Oaks before we part ways. I’ve yet to hit, in all these years, in the Fillies For The Lilies, but this may be the year. (Spoiler Alert: It’s not.)
We’re off to City Nails for mani-pedis. I love this place, another happy place, so friendly and fun. They’ve done some remodeling–new paint, new chairs, new blingy lights. It looks great. And oh boy, does it feel good to have my feet soaked and rubbed and scrubbed while we watch the races on the flat screen.
Jo asks if they do dipping, and they do. I have no idea what this is–I don’t get into a salon very often. I’m told I should try it for my mani, and okay, I’m game.
The process is freaking fascinating to me. My nails are a complete mess–keyboarding and gardening will do that. But my hands are taken in hand and transformed. Evened up, clipped, smoothed out, then covered with some sort of bonding agent that looks like clear polish. I’m getting a French, and the tips of my fingers are carefully dipped into this white powder, one at a time, then the whole nail’s dipped into a pale pink powder. A couple layers of this, and I’m amazed as I can already see the results.
Nails are buffed and smoothed, and suddenly they’re perfect. The kind of nails a woman might have if she didn’t spend hours hammering at a keyboard, then her weekends digging in dirt and pulling weeds.
I have lady hands!!
We say goodbye to the wonders of City Nails and celebrate our pretty digits at La Vin for lunch.
Louisville, I have to say, has great food, fun restaurants, cheerful service. Since I stopped touring I don’t get out and about in the world much, and Derby reminds me why this area was always one of my favorite stops when I did tour. People are just nice here.
I say the same about shopping at Rodes. Always a fun time with fun people. And I really luck out as the weather’s not looking good for Derby day and Beth has this fabulous (reversible!) topper that will scoff at the rain. As always, they have men’s shoes (size 14!) for me to choose from for BW’s traditional Father’s Day gift. I’ll add his shoes have been a big hit at Derby so far.
At the end, Beth temps me with several gorgeous scarves. I shouldn’t buy more scarves, but . . . I’ll do a purge through what I have. Plus one will go so well with my new topper.
Thanks, ladies, and see you next year.
Sara zips us back to the hotel. It’s gala night, and we need hair!
The guys aren’t back yet, so we extend our just girls time with hair and makeup. As Cathy at City Nails transformed my nails, Sara transforms my hair. A little fun and glamour.
Our men return with reports they did okay at the track–and more they had a great time. The rain’s held off, or mostly. We even saw some peeks of sun now and then. But now it’s time to suit up for Unbridled Eve. Gowns and tuxes and sparkles for the gala, a great time that benefits a great cause in Blessings In A Backpack.
Our pals Isabel and Steven join us for an interlude in our suite before we all head down. It’s so good to see them! More Happy Derby time. And we all look pretty terrific.
Brian’s waiting to escort us down to the Red Carpet, the big ballroom, the silent auction (I’ve already picked my goals there!)
Everyone looks gorgeous in a gorgeous space. The flowers, the lights, the sparkles! At the end of the Red Carpet, my pals have a glass of champagne waiting for me. That’s why they’re my pals! I have to do a walk-through the silent auction area, and note there are a couple other things that might deserve a few bids from me. Good cause, after all.
Sara and her Mike join us at our table, as do the fabulous Mike Mills (R.E.M.) and his fiancee Jasmine. We’re a very happy group, and I’m pretty excited that Mike’s going to perform later. In all the years we’ve come, I’ve never heard him perform. An extra treat for this R.E.M. fan.
Tonya and Tammy–those amazing York sisters–put on a hell of an event. The entertainment is awesome. I love hearing John Elefante singing some of my Kansas favorites just as I love reconnecting with him and his lovely wife Michelle.
Meanwhile, I’m bidding on my phone–eyes on the prize.
Then Mike takes the stage, straps on a guitar, and wow. Just wow. I love he does Don’t Go Back To Rockville–that’s where my pal JoAnne grew up, and I grew up basically next-door in Silver Spring. It’s amazing to hear him do I Am Superman, a song I’ve sung along to countless times.
It makes me think just how blessed I am to be here.
I even win three of my bids. Woo!
Before we leave we boogie to Skip Martin from Kool And The Gang. Yeah, Celebrate!
Tumble into bed. Sleep like a rock.
Another workout for the good girls in the morning before we start duding up for the Big Day. It’s going to rain, we’ll just have to deal with that. Plus, I have my new topper and scarf!
We look damn good.
Brian’s waiting, and it’s off to the track. We like to get there early because BET! HORSES! THE DOWNS!
It’s a little drizzly, but not bad, and nothing, really nothing, can spoil my first look at that gorgeous track, that rich brown oval, the white spires, the green, green grass of the infield.
Champagne on ice, hugs to our servers Amy and Kim–and let’s get those bets in. I bet on the third race. It will be the first of only two times through the days I don’t cash a ticket.
I am hot! I have a streak going as more people come in, as we meet and greet and exchange tactics, take pictures, eat, drink, bet.
So many pretty outfits, so many pretty hats!
Yes, it rains off and on, but it’s Derby Day and the energy is high and happy.
I stick with my strategy (don’t mess with a streak) of just betting across the board. No fancy stuff. I always bet the gray if one’s in the field, otherwise I go by names that strike me. Or an Irish horse if one’s running. For whatever reason, it’s working for me. My pal Jo is a complicated better. Trifectas, exactas, supers, boxes. I have a hard time figuring out how to do any of that anyway.
More champagne, and now there are cookies! And lots of what’s your pick, who did you bet? Some table hopping. We have Mike and Jasmine and Skip at our–it makes for a lot of happy.
It’s building to that time, and the rain doesn’t want to quit. It’s not the deluge we had last year, so that’s something. I’ve picked horses for my kids–and some of the grandkids sent me names they liked. To avoid the mad rush of the Derby race, I’ve placed those bets through the day, tucked the tickets away in my purse.
You can feel the pulse of the room quicken as post time approaches. Everyone crowds out on the terrace when they play My Old Kentucky home. It’s a moment, always a moment, as is the roar of thousands at the end.
The favorite was scratched Wednesday night, so the field’s pretty wide open. Another horse scratched Friday, I think it was. Watching the horses and riders circle the field is magic. The excitement builds, builds, builds as they’re loaded into the gate.
And in a fingersnap, they’re off.
Stunning, always stunning. A sensory overload of sight and sound. The ocean roar of the crowd, the thunder of hooves, the slop of the track flying, and those colorful silks in the gloomy light. I can never keep track of the horses I bet on, not in that blur of strength and beauty. I honestly never care by that point.
Seven crosses first as the crowd cheers and cheers. I realize I have some money on seven, so that’s nice.
But there’s been a foul called–two riders called foul on seven. Hold your tickets. It had to be an endless, stressful wait for the jockeys, the trainers, the owners. Eventually seven was disqualified for swerving out of his lane, nearly causing a pile up. Not intentional, it just happened.
Country House–a 65-1 long shot (and one I nearly tossed a little bet at) wins the Derby. That bumps Tacitus–number 8–into third. I had some money on him, and picked him for Jason. So we both won a bit. Next time I think: Well, I live in a country house, I should put ten across the board there, I damn well will!
We say goodbye to some of our Derby pals until next year. We always stay for the last races–bet, yes, but also traffic.
I hit on the 13th race, and nicely, thank you.
On the last race there are three grays. Well, it’s the last race, bet them all. Jo and BW decide to follow me on that one. And Jo does another bet adding #5 for I think it’s a super.
We go out to watch while the place empties out. Watch the horses–and those three pretty grays head to the gate. Hear that clang for the last time today, watch them run. And holy crap, look at those grays!
This is unexpected! All three run like the wind, and all three come in. Win, Place, Show. I end the day with a surprising and substantial win. And Jo? She hit the super as #5 came in fourth. A crescendo to our operatic day at the track.
Amazing and wonderful, start to finish.
Back to the hotel for some food, some unwinding. Bed.
Up to pack–always more going home than coming in. The sun, at last is fighting through the clouds. Mom checks–two or three times–on the suite.
Sara and Brian wait to haul us all back to the airport.
And it’s goodbye to Louisville after a whirlwind three days that put so many good memories in the bank. I hope all my Derby pals have a fantastic year.
Doing a lot of that now with the summer travel behind me. Lots and lots of fun had by all, and now it’s time (or almost) to dive back into routine.
We finished up the summer travel with an earlier-than-usual trip to NYC. With Kat due next month, we moved that fall tradition up. And were gifted with my kind of weather. Hot and sunny!
Hot and sunny didn’t stop me from the hunt for more Christmas presents. I did pretty well on that front. It also didn’t stop me from indulging my weakness for boots. Mmm, boots. The best thing about cold weather, imo.
BW and I hit a street fair the day we got in–and there I scored some adorable onsies for you know who. Later in the week, Jason and I hit The Gap, naturally ended up in the baby section. TBD (they haven’t settled on his name) can now celebrate his first Halloween as Chewbacca (cutest little one-piece, winter weight deal) or a cat (adorable cat hoodie with little ears!)
More fun for me to see how into the baby clothes my baby boy was.
Spent a great day shopping and hanging out with my fabulous editor and amazing agent–so we, too, were able to catch up in person. We had Waitress picked as our Broadway night, but said amazing agent was able to score Hamilton tickets.
Wow. Just wow. A stupendous show. Glorious. Oh, the voices, the music. The energy. We just loved it.
Temps dropped and rain moved in as we packed up last Sunday. We figure this is the last trip with Pregnant Kat. Next time: BABY!
Our girl is doing great, looking great as she comes down the last leg.
Back home to delighted dogs.
Really happy to get back to work last week, to dive into that routine.
Kept a close eye on Florence as she pushed her way toward the Carolinas. Scary and awful, and I’m hoping any of you who might have been in her path got to safety. Heart-breaking to see the damage she’s done.
Here, while we had rain, rain, rain last weekend and into the start of the week, it went back to warm and sunny. Warm, sunny–and very humid for yesterday’s booksigning. But that didn’t stop readers from traveling to Turn The Page, and helping make it a really fun day for everyone. My favorite visitor was a young boy who came with his mom and some friends. He wanted to know if I was His Grandmother’s Author, and was skeptical at first because I wasn’t wearing the same earrings I wore on the book jacket.
Another fave brought their aunt in Puerto Rico to the signing via FaceTime. Now that’s fun!
It’ll be back to routine for me on Monday, and I’ll have a good, solid week of work before the weekend. And . . . Kat’s baby shower next Sunday. Seriously can’t wait. We’ll have friends, family, games, (sorry, Laura!)* prizes, all those adorable baby things for Mom-To-Be to open, good food, wine–and an amazing cake. We’ll be sure to take some pictures.
Our last day starts cool and misty. That mist adds a nice, secretive quality to the forest, and the deer that graze through it.
Since we’ve got a trail ride midday, we opt to clean up the grub we have in the cabin. I’m not after much as I feel like I’ve grazed like a deer since we got here.
BW comes back from a drone excursion with a story. He met Kyle, a rancher, and the buffalo (bison if you’re technical) are his. The big black steer who hangs with the white steer and other cattle is Tyrone, a beefalo. Tyrone was the result of a buffalo and cow getting through the fence to each other (true love!) and mating.
I’d never heard of a beefalo, but apparently it happens. Hey, you love who you love, right?
It feels cool enough, not unpleasantly so, for layers for that afternoon ride. But by the time we walk down to the big paddock for our horses and wrangler, it’s warmed enough I tie my jean jacket round my waist. Jason does the same with his hoodie, and BW ditches his vest.
Evan will be our guide, and after a few minutes of getting-to-know-you, and asking about our riding experience, he chooses our horses. So many pretties hanging out by the paddock fence, most just dozing the afternoon away.
BW gets Traveler, a big white dude for the tall dude. I get Doc—another white but not so big, and Jason gets the pretty paint, Lonnie. Right before I mount, Evan let’s me know Doc has a heavy mouth and likes to eat on the trail, which means I’ll have to haul his head back up.
I discover truer words.
Mounted up, we head out, and Doc lets me know pretty quick he wants snacks as we ride. I let him know pretty quick that’s a no, I’m going to haul him up. We have this little war of wills throughout.
Other than that issue, Doc is as comfortable a ride as I could ask for. Sure-footed on the narrow, rocky, often steep trail, and steady as he goes. I start out beside Evan as Doc would like to be lead horse—nope, I say, settle for second place.
It’s warm and beautiful out as we cross the road, head up, up, up into the forest to wind through it. Evan, like everyone we’ve met on the resort, is knowledgeable, friendly, helpful. He works here summers, so will—like many others—be leaving Monday to go back to college in Missoula.
Our horses are really sweet and sturdy—Doc and I continue to pit my will against his greed for grass. He’s a strong one, so I feel I absolutely got my resistance training in. Jason’s Lonnie plods along, a bit slower than the rest. At one point Jason said he wondered if Lonnie went to sleep climbing up a slope.
We can see parts of the ranch below, smell the pines surrounding us. Steep climbs up, steep climbs down.
Halfway through I switched from Western style one-handed reins to English so I could use both arms to drag greedy Doc back up. I had a lot better luck.
We ride down to a pasture where a mama and her new foal graze. Our mounts either like to visit or know they’re soon heading back to doze as they all break into a trot.
We’re not to let our horses get too close to the fence, Evan tells us. Mama won’t like. But the baby seems happy to see us, whinnies even as he sticks close to Mama.
A more level ground ride now, warm, sunny, picture perfect. Traveler has edged Doc out of second place. And Lonnie is content to bring up the rear.
At one point Doc tries to nibble at a rock. I point out to him, That’s a rock. His answer is to turn his head toward me and try to nibble on my right boot.
I think he grinned.
Back we ride, with everyone but Doc stopping by the water troughs to drink. He just wants to get back into the paddock.
When I dismount, he’s content to let me pet him until it’s time for Evan to lead him away.
In the paddock now are two kids—a girl of maybe eight or ten, a boy surely no more than five or six. Both are mounted and know what they’re doing.
The little boy’s horse wants to go to the fence, but his pint-sized rider just pulls him back.
We take more pictures, bid the horses goodbye. I wish I’d thought to take a picture of this beauty that belonged to one of the wranglers. When I commented, Evan said it’s called a Gommoragh (sp) Paint.
We walk back home to relax a little (or pack a little) before our last dinner.
Experience tells us it’ll get cool—very—before the meal’s over, and since we’re going to eat outside, to bring jackets.
Alice is our server again tonight, and has reserved a pod (cabana) for us with nothing but that beautiful view in front.
After we order, we decide to try one of our family panoramas in The Yard. A little staging, a bit of blocking, and we have another tradition in our bag.
Dinner, wonderful as always with a sky that finally gave us at least a little of the fabulous Montana sunset.
Now it’s cold, even with the heater in our pod. Inside we go for all—but me—to order the final dessert.
No one leaves hungry or disappointed.
A ride back under a 3/4 moon.
More packing before bedtime.
No working out in the morning on departure day. More packing, checking, organizing, packing. We’re leaving with more than we came with—and I’m astonished when I find I can actually pack my new boots.
We opt to take the evil puzzle apart and leave it for the cabin or the staff.
Kat and BW have their last breakfast, bring back some bacon. I do the Mom Check on the cabin probably a dozen times. Pretty sure we left nothing behind.
The driver and the transportation supervisor (she needs a ride into the airport to pick up a van) arrive so we can load up. LOTS of loading.
Another pleasant, informative trip to the airport. We learn for Christmas, the resort goes all out, even putting antlers and a red noses on the Kias, Christmas trees in every cabin, white lights on the outside trees.
That’s the spirit!
Unload at the airport, load onto the plane.
We’re flying home as I write this, should land in MD in about two and a half hours. Supposed to finally be clear weather at home. Reports are that it rained nearly every day while we were gone.
It’ll be great to see our dogs—and I know Kat and Jason missed their cats. It’s always nice to settle in at home again, even after an absolutely terrific vacation.
I expect one last Montana wrap up post in my inbox today or tomorrow. (There were 20 new photos in the shared album when I got up this morning — the usual indication of a great day.) But since our intrepid travelers gather their gear and head east today while I move Control Central from Maryland to the beach this is a quick break.
Nora could stick to her habit and write up the post before they leave, but I’ll be on the road for six hours starting at 10 am my time so the likelihood of a Montana Day 17 post is tomorrow.
While it’s hard to get over post vacation blues, the fall swings into action with Leverage in Death (and Nora’s fall trip to NY) and doesn’t stop until Of Blood & Bone is in your hands. And, of course, in between the two we’ll meet Young Master Pong Aufdem-Brinke.
I’ll pop in with some beach photos over the next few weeks along with regular updates on books and such. If you’re curious about what I do when Nora’s not around you can follow me on Instagram here. BTW, don’t forget we now have official IG accounts: Nora Roberts and JD Robb. I’m having great fun regramming readers photos of books and where they read them on both pages.
Plus, coming really, really soon: the Of Blood & Bone excerpt.
See you on the beach side! (I’ll be working in the chair to the right.)
Brisk morning, chilly enough for a fire. And a wise decision to postpone our trail ride. The rainy day cleared the haze and put the mountains in sharp relief again.
Since it’s chilly, and we’ve got that lovely fire, Kat and I tackle the evil puzzle. We can’t let it win! We break for lunch, sort of, here in the cabin. Vacation time’s winding down, so let’s eat what’s in the fridge.
And at last, even through all the dark moments, we have victory over this *&%%$!sonofa&^##!! Puzzle.
It may be evil, but it sure is pretty.
Time to kick back—and time for Kat to work on her cow painting—before it’s time to clean up for our last barbecue in The Yard. It’s still chilly by my standards so I layer it up, pull on warm socks and boots.
It may be brisk, and the sky layered, but the air’s clear and sharp so the view’s like a painting. And we have Mudslide Charlie for entertainment again, and that’s a definite plus.
Food, food and more food, but jeez I’m not used to eating all this food! I have to lay back a bit tonight, enjoy some wine, the music, the view—and the heater the lovely Alice—our waitress- sets up by our picnic table. Ahhh.
While we sit, a couple of cowgirls gallop by in the near field, one leading a third horse. Man, that are beautiful to watch, riders and horses. They end up riding right through The Yard, to the delight of all (especially the kids), then tethering the horses on the other side of the fence.
Eventually I walk over to say hi to the horses. One just stares at me like: Whattaya want? The second—with an amusing to me 57 tag on his bridle—allows me to scratch his head, pet his flank. The last gives me a well, maybe glance, and is fine with stroking on his pretty neck.
As the band rocks, the paella guy is grooving whenever he’s not dishing it up for guests. One of the cowgirl leads one of the horses by, and a little girl with equine fever all over her joins her. I can tell they’re having a serious horse conversation.
A smaller girl stands in front of the stage, staring at the female singer—I think imagining herself in the spotlight. Then she happily dances.
We’d hoped for a sunset, but it doesn’t look promising—and its getting cooler yet. We head back to our fire, have a quiet rest of the evening.
Workout’s done. Must start to organize soon as this is our last day. All but Kat will hit the trail this afternoon, and we’ll have one last dinner at the main resort.
Warmer today, but I think fall’s coming early to Montana.
Back in a former life, I was into crafting. I sewed—even made little overalls, with flies, for my boys—I embroidered, did crewel and needlepoint. I did macrame, canned jellies, refinished furniture. I was, basically, insane.
My theory is I was searching for my creative outlet, so when I found it in writing, I gave all the other up without hesitation.
But hey, vacation here, and they offered an apothecary class. Kat and I jumped in!
We walk down to the yoga studio at Spa Town—nice walk, cool morning—where Simone (of the glorious facial) would guide us through the creating of fragrant lotion bars, lip balm and body scrubs.
Just Kat and me in the class in the glass-walled studio.
We pick molds first, and both of us go for the rose pattern for the lotion bar. Pretty! Since it’s just the two of us, Simone has us double the recipe, then we can add color—Kat and I both combine the blue and red, hers for a lovely lavender purple, mine more pinky, then scent. So many delicious essential oils to choose from. I can’t resist the blood orange. Then, once Simone melts the mix, we have choices of pine needles, lavender, rose hips to crumble in, stir up before we pour into the mold.
Fun! And into the freezer with our creations.
Now we have a recipe for lip balm and little clear tubes, a little metal box. More color—we both end up with a kind of blush that looks pretty in the bowl, more essential oils. Melt it up, into a little lipped beaker to pour. While these set up, we’re onto body scrubs.
All the while, that view’s right out there through the wide glass walls.
Fine, fine sugar and salt, lots of those herbs for the scrub. I stick with the lavender and rose hips, Kat adds some pine needles. Stir, stir in a little white bucket, add more as you wish. Then the oils.
Here I reach for what I thought was the blood orange, but whoops wintergreen. Whoa, that’s pretty minty. Simone helps me tone that down with the orange, some lime, tangerine, grapefruit. It’s still minty, but now more interesting. And definitely what I’d call alert. Kat’s is lavender, and very soothing, relaxing.
Into little jars, with a label on top for the name.
In an hour, we’ve made lotion bars, lip balm and body scrubs—so much fun, and easy if you just have the ingredients.
Everything smells so good! We walk back pretty pleased with ourselves, even though it’s starting to rain a little.
We meet up with the guys for lunch. Raining more seriously now, so Jason skips his walk and we get an inside table. Good thing as the wind picks up, and the rain beats. They’re got a fire going in the dining room, and the buffet holds many choices. Fish and chips for me! And an arugula and berry salad that was mighty fine.
Hot chocolate’s pretty popular on this damp day where the temp’s barely nudging 60.
We—or should I say the intrepid Kat—builds a fire back in our cabin. It’s a snap and crackle comfort as Kat and I attack the evil puzzle. Slowly, slowly, progress is made.
Mama-to-be breaks off for a nice long bath with her own body scrub. Time to just relax by the fire, let the rain and wind have their way.
Dinner time, so I need to figure out what I have that’ll be warm enough to step outside again. Why not make use of Old Gringo Lavender boots? I wear them with warm, soft socks made by the creative Kat for me last Christmas. Cozy feet always make a difference.
Big fire in the big hearth in the dining room. Wine, soup, salads, eggplant parm special for BW and Kat, chicken fingers (GREAT bbq sauce) and fries for me and Jason.
I can’t handle dessert, but others can. Kat makes a special request. The baby is craving the world’s smallest sundae. And they come through with a little scoop of vanilla in a sorbet cup, chocolate sauce, whipped cream. And a cherry on top!
Back home and into pjs. Puzzle is definitely coming along, but it’s got a long way to go! I finally give it up, but Kat’s still at it.
And this morning I see the separate work she’d been doing, big chunks, finally found their connection to the whole. Whee!
We had horseback riding for those of us who aren’t pregnant scheduled for this morning, but it’s too cold for us greenhorns. We’ll change that to tomorrow when it’s warmer.
Workout’s done, and ended with my man Rodney Ye and some lovely yoga. I’m going to join Kat at the puzzle for a bit. If I get caught up so be it. If not, I may write for an hour or two.
Our last barbecue in The Yard tonight.
In today’s #randomkatness
Note from Laura: For those of you who mentioned the misaligned photos and captions in the posts, my first suggestion is to see if there’s an update for the WP app for your device. The main complaints have come about devices, but not just ipads or Androids. My guess is that as WordPress updates the platform, some of the apps may be lagging behind. I will continue to monitor comments and see what I can learn from the WP community. Stay tuned.
A late start (what will be Day 15), at least for me. Waking up just past eight is like the middle of the day! Part of the reason was processing Infinity Wars, but that’s for later.
Kat and I decided to hit the Outpost to finish off a little shopping in the morning. A nice day, a bit hazy so the far mountains rise under a thin curtain. We walk over—or mosey at that’s our girl’s speed right now. Only more pleasant. BW heads over to work out, Jason finishes up some stuff at the cabin—and we’ll all meet up.
We pass the horses—and a rooster crows. Hey, a little late today, pal. Gorgeous black horse, sweet, sleepy dog, strutting rooster. An entertaining stop on our walk.
They have new stuff in the shop, so we must see everything! Kat’s mission is boots, but alas, swollen pregnancy feet cause a serious issue. Even with short boots, zippered boots, larger size boots, though the girl who helped us tried really hard. Best to wait on these until after baby. Which is a shame as several pair were pretty terrific.
I’m not after boots. I have a pair of cowboy boots I’ve had for years that serve very well for those rare occasions I want them, and are wonderfully comfortable.
But…..When there is a pair of cowboy boots in a color billed as Old Gringo Lavender—and the display pair is MY size, what can I do? It’s almost an obligation, really. So what I can do is buy a pair of Farm To Feet socks (adorable and warm and comfy) to check them out.
They soon become mine. [See note from Laura.]
I also find (or Kat finds for me) a cute little dress, with pockets! Too short for a dress for me, but as a tunic over leggings, wonderful.
We have a good time looking at the leather cuff bracelets, and Kat finds one that fabulous for her. Search for a couple of gifts, and find those.
Then the guys show up, so it’s time for lunch.
Lunch this time out means a Huckleberry margarita, which is every bit as delicious as it sounds. So I have two before lunch is over. Another grilled cheese for me. Nice and sunny and warm on the porch.
Jason gets his walk back, but I’ve hit my goal and ride.
Now there’s porch sitting time, and puzzle (evil puzzle) time. A lot of doing not much of anything for the rest of the afternoon.
BW shows off his pictures of a doe and her fawn who came right up to the glass walls of the gym while he worked out. We spot a few more just grazing in the high grass beyond the cabin. Then I see one bounding—God, so pretty—just bounding along too fast for me to fumble out my phone for a shot.
I hear a hawk call—something else we hear off and on during the days here.
It’s dinner and a movie night at the cabin. Lots of left-overs to be heated up, dished up for a nice meal on the back porch.
Our tech guys (J&K) are hooking up a laptop to the loft TV to stream Infinity Wars. J&K have already seen, but Kat is anxious for my reaction and take once I have.
We have big chairs, big sofa up there, so it’s really comfortable.
I don’t want to do spoilers, but I thought the movie rocked (huge Avenger’s fan, and comic book reader since childhood here), and the ending was WHAT??? But actually not only made sense (there was definite foreshadowing) but made a really brilliant story arc from the very first Avengers movie.
I’m very anxious to see where they go (I think I know) from here. Have to wait till next summer.
Due to processing the movie, it took me awhile to fall asleep. Probably why I slept late.
Got a solid, slightly shorter workout in as Kat and I had an Apothecary class over in Spa town.
I’ll detail in the next blog, but will say we had a great time.
Cold and rainy today so writing this (after lunch) in front of the living room fire.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.