Montana – Day 1 (with short recap)

Note from Laura:  She’s back — ok technically, she’s away — and you’ll hear from Nora for most of the rest of August.  But first a recap in her words:

It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to take a nice chunk of time to write a blog. The summer’s been crammed. Actually starting in the spring with my post-Derby cold from hell, then the stupid tooth deal. And travel (fun stuff) from Kat’s birthday spree, Kayla’s NYC trip, two signings, the reader brunch, then onto The Greenbrier.

Oh, and I squeezed our big annual summer party in there—with lots of help from BW and Jason doing the manly set up, to Kat and Laura and Kayla working with me in the kitchen.

All that life and travel and so on equals a lot of fractured writing time. My goal—to finish next year’s summer hardcover before our summer vacation meant focusing in at every available opportunity, and that left no time for blogging.

The Greenbrier worked its magic, and in addition to a full day’s shoot for St. Martin’s, I carved out writing time, and finished that sucker.

So up until now, summer has been a series of interruptions, work, fun with family—oh yeah, we had our family week at the spa in there, too. Gardening.

Let me add one thing about gardening. The deer are now my sworn enemy. No matter how often BW sprayed, the monsoon rains of July countered the repellent. I’ve never had so much eaten away in all my pretties.

They won this year’s battle, but we will retrench and fight the good fight again next year.

And now I can report on our first day of vacation where I’ll only write when the spirit moves, where I intend to enjoy the gorgeous scenery, the time to simply vacate, and appreciate watching Jason and Kat slide through this couple weeks of her third trimester.

We left early yesterday morning, had a long but uneventful flight. The 40 minutes or so from the airport breezed by with Papa John (not the pizza guy) at the wheel. Clear skies as opposed to the haze from wildfires we experienced last time. Those stunning mountains, the wide fields, the curl of the river.

Since we arrived early, we had a drink, a snack, breathed out. Kat and I walked down to the new, bigger shop. We will surely go back, but even on this brief foray, I found a gorgeous bag (I’m so weak! But it was on sale!) And Kat this amazing sort of Hamilton-esque waist coat that she can wear open now with her beautiful bump, and closed post beautiful baby.

The weather’s hot—really hot and really dry, which is just fine by me.

Time to head to our cabin, unpack, settle in, have a nice drink while sitting in a rocking chair on the porch, just looking at sky and trees and mountains. Birds singing, squirrels chittering.

BW on the cabin porch/photo by NR

I hope to do some hiking while we’re here, and a lot more porch sitting, maybe get a massage, do some outdoor yoga. And it’s nice, really nice, to be able to just take each day as it comes. No I Have To Dos on this break.

Before we know it it’s dinner time, so we clean ourselves up, head over to the restaurant. It’s lovely to eat outside, and the evening’s cooled off to very, very pleasant. Since it’s my first day in Montana I order a steak—and mmm-boy, yum. I also order what the waitress and I decide to call a Huckleberry Sparkle. A glass of champagne with pretty huckleberries. There’s never a lack of huckleberries around here.

It’s all just lovely, and a very nice end to a long travel day. We get home just about the time the sun’s going down and setting those peaks to the west on fire.

This morning, I’m up early, check in on what’s happening in the world, then head up to the loft for my workout. Later, my focus might be a book somebody else sweated over, or doing a jigsaw puzzle with Kat, maybe taking that walk.

We’ll just see how it goes.


More from Laura:  if you’re new to the travelogues, here’s the key to the initials in the photo credits:
NR — Nora (obvs)
BW — Nora’s husband Bruce Wilder
JAB — Nora’s son Jason
KP — The blooming Kat
For those who sent good wishes, my left eye is done — surgeon is pleased and I can see! Will spend the rest of the week as the Dread Pirate Laura because I have to wear a patch over the right eye until it’s fixed next week. Aaaaargh.

38 thoughts on “Montana – Day 1 (with short recap)”

  1. Ah, Montana . . . a favored vacation spot for the hubs and me as well. So damn happy you’re getting that time to relax, because – quite frankly – I was worried about you. As much as I love your prolific-ness (can I say that?), I hope you’re taking time for YOU, just you, and getting re-centered. I truly wish you a joyful, relaxing and fabulous vacation; I wish it for all of you.

    So, go read, puzzle yourself silly, walk until your feet ache, croon and whisper to the baby-bump. But enjoy those glorious mountains and all that Montana has to offer. (Oh, and keep these blog posts coming, but only if you feel up to it, that is . . .)

    And you, Dread Pirate Laura, I’m very happy you came thru the surgery okay. Best wishes for the next!

  2. The patch is something new from all I’ve heard from others who’ve had the surgery. My contacts are mono-vision, maybe the patch is to not confuse the newly-brilliant fixed eye? I remember great pictures from that Montana spa – hope it all is as much fun again!

    1. I’m a bit of a special case. My vision is currently -17 (for those who say their eyes are so bad at -5.5). I’ve worn gas permeable/hard lenses since 1974 but wearing them now will change the right eye topography. I’ve been in glasses for six weeks to get my eyes as good as they can be. So it’s a patch, unless I can figure out blackout sunglasses.


      1. Many, many years ago, I asked my eye doctor what my vision was. He asked me to read the largest letter; I told him I knew ie was an E, but that it was very fuzzy. He said I was approximately 8/200 meaning I could see at 8 feet what a 20/20 person could see at 200 feet. Arg! I wore gas permeable contacts for years, the bi-focal glasses when I quit being vain. I had PRK on my eyes several years ago (one at a time – I didn’t qualify for LASIK). To me it was a miracle. I could distinguish the shades of grey in my bedroom at night and identify the furniture – and I could see the ceiling! So many people don’t understand extreme myopia, but you will love, love, love your new sight.

        1. I, too, have extreme myopia and had lasik sx 24 or so years ago. I was able to have both eyes done at the same time and it felt magical to see the doctor ‘come into focus’ as he did each eye!! I was glass-less except for readers for a good 5-6 years but even tho’ I now wear glasses, they are very thin. So so worth the sx!! Best for luck with your new vision, Laura!!! Enjoy!

      2. Pop out the lens corresponding to your fixed eye from your glasses. That way you use your new eye (no lens) and can use glasses for bad eye. Worked great for me! And my eyes were about as bad as it sounds like you are. Love my new eyes!!!

        1. I’m so glad it worked for you! The doctor told me specifically not to do that because my script changed so much in the last year. Besides, the unbalanced weight of only one lens would probably be more frustrating. Oh well, five days to go until I don’t need one.

  3. Oh my, that porch immediately made me think of the ending of Angels Fall; or how I envisioned it at the end; esp. surrounded by the woods with those two lounges! And I think I hear a few Nora titles set in Montana calling! Been a while since I’ve been in Montana Sky! Come Sundown I reread recently, and I opened Chasing Fire the other day, thinking of the horrific fires & keeping the firefighters and all the folks in the fire’s path! I’m glad there’s no fire near the vacay spot this year!

    Dread Pirate Laura, are you working on selecting your replacement? I’m glad it’s going well for you!

    1. Replacement? Personality? Next week I may be a mermaid instead of a pirate. Otherwise, I’ll man the control center in Maryland. Then once Nora’s back at the desk, I’ll head to the beach and work there for three weeks.


  4. Taking time to exhale and breathe is the best!

    And especially for Kat….cuz she has twenty years of child rearing ahead of her!!!


    Hmmmm all those deer….sounds like you need a border collie to herd them away from the gardens!!!

  5. Perfect vacation opener! I’m such a nerd I’m excited for each blog! I’m so glad to hear that you are healing well Pirate Laura! I never ever want to complain about anything NR related as I dislike those who take her wonderfulness & hard work for granted. I do however have my ?for some #RandomKatness

  6. Welcome back to our non smokie summer! It’s going to be a hot, hot one by the end of the week!

  7. I with you on the deer. My husband has been trying to find deer-proof flowers (he is against using sprays). I will check with him on the two that, so far, have not been eaten. The huckleberry sparkle looks delish! My husband is from Montana and he and his siblings used to go huckleberry picking every year. Yum! To pirate Laura: hurrah that one eye can see! Only a week to go, matey!

  8. Oh how lovely Nora!!! Being a born and bred Montanan (now living in the Black Hills of SD) it makes me miss my home state. I hope you have loads of fun and tons of relaxation piled upon you!
    Ahoy pirate Laura! Great news for your peepers!!! So glad everything went well 🙂

  9. To Laura,
    Go! I hear that doing one eye first and then the other is more disturbing for some people. When both are done at the same time, people tend to feel harder the procedure but recover in step and it seems faster because there’s no second-time-around 😉 . I hope you are happy with the option they made with you and soon you will be bothering everyone telling them to check something they have been seeing perfectly since ever 😀 Even your delightful pictures will look more striking and awesome 😉 tell them you need to go everywhere again to see it in detail 😉 🙂

    To Nora,
    Damm! Where’s my Montana Sky?! 😉 As always a hit. You always choose the best places filled with the best of people and treats (well, you take your own troupe anyway in case it’s not the case 😉 ). Enjoy and Relax the so earned and deserved Relaxing!

    Enjoy Summer! And Life ❤️

  10. That sounds lovely. Right now I’ve got to deal with the smoke from the Carr, Yosemite, and California coastal fires. The smoke here in Auburn is so thick sometimes that it looks overcast with clouds. I would rather be elsewhere right now.

  11. What a wonderful place. Never been there yet. One day I will. So happy to hear good news on your ?. Sending y’all Sweet Blessings and Safe Travel. Glad y’all get to enjoy some time together.

  12. Was in Bozeman, Montana, over the weekend to celebrate my sister’s life and to celebrate the gathering of her family and extended family. We welcomed new partners/spouses as well as new toddlers. The young generation members will be great representatives. It was cool with rain on Sunday afternoon. Hope you have some fresh breezes and rejuvenating scenic memories.

  13. Deer? Time to make friends with your local barber. Take the hair he cuts and sprinkle it around your plants. No more deer. Oh and salon hair won’t do because they wash it. ?

  14. Have a lovely vacation Nora! You definitely deserve it! Hopefully, you can get some solution for the deer in the garden next year. It’s a big problem with all the rain we’ve had this year on the East Coast and as a gardener, I know it’s a big disappointment as they’ll even eat roses. I’m looking forward to seeing more photos from your vacation!
    Laura, glad to hear you your first ear surgery went well. The pirate look can definitely work with the right accessories! Good luck with the 2nd eye!

  15. Nora and family – rest relax and do whatever when ever the mood hits. That’s what vacation is about. Right?

    I of course will drool over the travelogue along with everyone else.

    Laura- take good care and get some rest while you can.

  16. I look forward to the Travel log all year. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us Nora. Laura I hope you wont have to be a pirate for long. I wish you a speedy recovery.

  17. I hope the smoke from the fires aren’t where you are. It’s getting bad here with temps up in the 100’s for the next 3 days.

  18. I have a friend here in Texas and the deer have feasted on her plants. But it’s been so hot and dry this year I think she’s babying things along with water to help them survive. I have a black thumb. The only plant I have not killed is a bamboo I bought back in 2013. I just have to add a little water once in a while. I can forget to water it and it survives. I had to put it beside the sink to remember and I still forget. A Vietnamese lady told me water it every day but that seemed to be too much so now it’s when I remember.

    I had to have cataract surgery in January. I was truly blind in one eye and couldn’t see out of the other. After the doctor did the right one I was shocked at the clarity. I am supposed to wear glasses haven’t gotten them yet. I would rather wear contacts, wore gas permeable ones myself for years. Before that were just old fashioned hard ones.

  19. Ouch on the eye surgery! I am destined to have cataract surgery at some point, but so far it’s not recommended.
    Hope everyone has some relaxation, whatever their method. Haven’t been to Montana in years—since before we were married! Lovely country.
    Looking forward to reading Leverage before much longer. I do love an engaging story.
    Best wishes to the soon to be parents & grands! What a delightful addition!

  20. So glad to hear you enjoy your time in Montana.. I certainly have not seen all of it even though I’ve lived in Montana for a good 30 years. Enjoy your time here!!

  21. I’ve always dreamed of visiting Montana and have yet to get there. Thank you for bringing it to me with your beautiful words.

  22. I have a complete collection of your books including the J D Robb ones except for the ones from this year. Since I read them on my IPad now I put the new ones on my wishlist so that when the ebooks become available I can download it to read. Couldn’t fit another hard or paperback book of yours in my bookcase if I tried. This is the first time I have read your blog. Don’t know why. Also glad you have no fires to contend with as my son and daughter-in-law were evacuated recently due to the Holy Fire in Southern California. Only good thing about it was they stayed with me. Enjoy your vacation. After all Montana IS called God’s country.

  23. I’m a bit late getting to these posts but always enjoy reading her travelogues.

    I read awhile back, but haven’t tried it yet, that deer don’t like Irish Spring soap, you can cut up bars and sprinkle the chunks around flower beds. Plus rain won’t wash it away for a good while. Might be worth a try! I’m going to try it next year (they didn’t bother the flowers this year, but ate every one last year).

  24. Montana sounds absolutely like heaven!! Have never been there before ! Hope everyone had a great relaxing time !!

  25. Laura I was so scared to have my cataracts done but everyone assured me I would be fine, I was. I had the right one done first and was a little less scared the second time. The worst part of having them done was the cobwebs I could see that I didn’t before, lol. Wishing you the best with the second eye and I wore the patch as well and got picked on.

    My great great uncle and his wife founded Great Falls, Montana. I am hoping to get there someday with a cousin whom I met through At least she has sent me many historical things from them even if I don’t get there.

  26. Thank You, 1. You’re imagination, 2. You’re dedication, 3. The storytelling of a group of people you bring together slowly so we become immersed in each novel that we wait impatiently for the next even if they only come out twice a year so we have to reread them again and again waiting for the next of course I’ M talking about the J.D. Robb Series. Thank You again for sharing your talent with us so we can just loose ourselves in the stories. Keep well, good thoughts.
    All the best to you and your family.

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