Montana – Day 17 into Departure

Our last day starts cool and misty. That mist adds a nice, secretive quality to the forest, and the deer that graze through it.

Misty morning/BW

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.

Ready to saddle up with Evan/BW

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.

The most ambitious pano yet.

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. 

And this one surely was.


In the final #randomkatness for this vacation:


For everyone who has asked, our intrepid travelers stayed at The Resort at Paw’s Up.

23 thoughts on “Montana – Day 17 into Departure”

  1. Wow, you packed in a lot in the last day. It’s nice to have friendly horses on a trail ride.

    Thank you taking us along on your vacation. It was wonderful.

    The last Kate’s is awesome.

  2. Until next time… other places or travelling to this one in memories. What a wonderful (wild) Country you live in. A blessing.
    Thank you for sharing ❤️

  3. I so enjoyed your vacation, very different than the last two I’ve “joined in on.” Very relaxing and peacefu.l

  4. Thanks for taking us along on your vacation. Enjoyed it !! Feel like I’ve been to Montana myself.

  5. Kat’s paintings are amazing! She’s very talented. Good Luck to them with the Baby. Thanks again Nora for sharing your vaca with us homebound fans! Much appreciated.

  6. Great travel journal! Feel like I could smell the leather and horse sweat on the trail!

    Glad everyone is home safe and sound enjoying the four footed welcomers!!!

  7. Thanks for sharing. Definitely will be a beautiful day today in MD.
    Love all your books.

  8. I love Kat’s pictures. I would love to visit Montana. You tell such a beautiful picture of the state. You had a wonderful and memorable vacation.

  9. Your vacation travelogues are almost as enthralling as your books which I thoroughly enjoy. Thank you for sharing your time and talents with us.

  10. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful vacation and time with your family! As a popular personality, I’m sure there are times when you wish you could fade into anonymity, which makes your willingness to allow us these glimpses all the more special. On a side note, I don’t know who took the lead photo on this chapter but it’s absolutely stunning. I keep looking for the fairies…

  11. I loved hearing about your vacation! Safe travels home! I love your paintings Kat!

  12. Another wonderful vacation is in the can, as they say in Hollywoodland. Appreciate the words, the pics, the joys, the temperature changes . . . greats posts all around. And please pass along to Kat that she has a way with a palette, brush and canvas. Those paintings of hers are really fine.

    I’m sure the dogs were thrilled to see you. When we leave, our black Lab slobbers all over us, he’s so happy, but the yellow Lab – who is part cat, I swear – acts happy for a minute, then turns her nose up at us for hours. As in, “how could you do this to me?” I hope your boys treated you great when you arrived home.

    Looking forward to September’s read, and whatever else you share on your blog. Enjoy being home!

  13. Kat has a wonderful talent with the brush…thank you for sharing; and, Jason and Kat, best wishes for a healthy, happy, and well-loved baby! Thank you all for sharing your travelogue and vacation with your many fans. Nora, even with your musings, you are such a talented writer, you made me feel as if I was back home in Montana…I can’t thank you enough!!! Although I’ve been back home to visit, I moved to Washington State when I was 20 (and just celebrated my 71st birthday). Again, thank you all and blessings for the future….

  14. Wonderful triptych Kat! You have a true gift. Sounds like the perfect ending to a great holiday. Thanks so much for sharing.

  15. Thanks for taking us along on your trip. I enjoyed your posts, & I’m sorry they are over. You timed your vacay perfectly. It did rain every day, & was as muggy as can be. This weekend, & next week, will be hot and glorious, so you timed it well again. As for your fall NYC trip, maybe I’ll get lucky, & bump into your posse on the streets of eve & roarke.

  16. Love the pictures! Kat’s bison, long horn and horse paintings are wonderful. Love her talent and creativity. BTY Beefalo is a breeding program – the meat is lower in fat and cholesterol. I looked it up to be sure, but a Robert E. Lee’s horse was named Traveller. As fun as your vacation was, I think it’s always great to be home. Thank you for sharing your vacation and adventures at The Resort at Paw’s Up.

  17. Welcome home thank you for sharing that wonderful vacation. Have a nice relaxing time sliding back into routines at home.
    In 2013 I took off across country. I boarded my “kitten” who was not yet 6 months old. I went to Fort Stewart near Savannah to spend time the nephew’s wife and kids along with the oldest nephew’s wife and two girls. The army nephew was deployed so was one little boy age three and the rest of us females.
    I went to Atlanta for RWA and then over to Orlando to see some friends.
    Imagine my shock when I get home and pick up my cat to find she’s huge. She’d grown miles while I was gone.

  18. Sounds like a wonderful trip. Love the great artwork by Kat. She is so talented. Glad you made it home safely. See you in September.

  19. Sounds like a wonderful trip! Thanks for taking us along! Kat’s paintings are very pretty. ❤️

  20. Another great vacation! I’m sad to see it end. Thank you Nora for taking us on this trip. Your words are beautifully put together & create a fantastic jounrney for us fans. Thank you BW and Jason for sharing your teriffic photos. Thank you Kat for the fun filled photos and #RandomKatness. Last but not least thank you Laura for putting this all together while you were healing. I can’t wait for next years trip!

  21. The vacation sounded lovely! I read the excerpt to Blood and Bone and I can’t wait to get it in December!

  22. Hi,
    Your trail ride with Doc reminded me of my last trail ride. My horse wanted to eat and would ignore me by trying to bring her head up and at one point just laid down. I did not have a pleasant experience with her at all.
    They gave me a full refund and an offer for a free trail ride but since it was a day trip and to far away to go back again I just made do with my refund.

    I am going to miss reading of your daily adventures. It was a beautiful experience and I couldn’t help but notice that the similarities with your Montana vacation and “Come Sundown” in certain parts. I thought that it was awesome. Even that your server was named “Alice”….

    Glad that you had a great time! Beth

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