To Montana and back…

To Montana and back…

When you spend two long days in an automobile with someone, you get to know them pretty well.  Doug and I left on November 12th for the 1,130 mile journey to Montana for a sweet visit with my firstborn and his precious family.  Over the course of a couple of days, there was a lot of conversation and just as much laughter.  Thankfully, we have like tastes in music and enjoyed it at a volume we could actually hear!  We both sing along with the music and that’s fun.  We also have similar tastes in reading material and we both like mysteries…which made listening to a couple of books on tape enjoyable.  When we took breaks, we were anxious to get back to the mystery to pick up where we left off.  I think that I can honestly say the time and the miles actually flew by.

For the most part, we were blessed with good weather, marvelous scenery and light snow!  The funny photo below was one of several cute “photo ops” at the Wyoming Welcome Center.  I confess the one of me on horseback was funnier but won’t be published!  😉


Rafting in snowy waters photo op at the terrific Wyoming Welcome Center…

We loved our time with my son and his family.  One day we drove about two hours to the Patagonia Outlet in Dillon, Montana.  Patagonia is expensive but a terrific 40% off sale made their prices look a whole lot better!  It was a beautiful drive with awesome scenery along the way…including several impressive Montana ranches!  On the way, we also made a stop at Montana Wheat Bakery & Deli for lunch and a visit to the bakery & gift shop.  On the evening before we left for the return trip home, Doug treated us all to pizza at the MacKenzie River Pizza Company in downtown Bozeman.  We had such a good time, but all too soon it was time to say goodbye.  I miss them all already!

On the return trip, we took the two-lane road through the Black Hills of South Dakota which made for some beautiful and interesting scenery.  We stopped for a break to check out a very neat place, the Spearfish Canyon Lodge.  It reminded me very much of the lodge in the movie Christmas in Connecticut.  It would be a great place for a winter vacation with all the snowy trails and snow mobiles for rent!  It would also be a great place to meet the family for a fun vacation in the Summer.  It is not far from Mount Rushmore, our next stop on the trip and only 2.5 miles from where the film Dances With Wolves was filmed.

I must be one of the few remaining people on earth who had not seen Mount Rushmore – along with Doug.  It is an inspiring, captivating place.  A place borne in the heart of a dreamer and sculptor.  To say it leaves an impression on you is an understatement.  Seeing it with snow covering the mountains made it extra special I think.  Not to mention the fact that on that bitter cold windy afternoon, we were two of only a handful of people in the entire park.

Enjoy the slide show below of our visit and our journey back home…

A snowy walk in Montana…






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One week home…

One week home…

It’s hard to believe that I flew home from Montana just one week ago today.  Flying into the Des Moines airport last Wednesday, I was struck with the beauty of the patchwork of rolling hills, the enormous farms visible from our descending height and especially with how superbly green everything was.  Granted, there are no snow-capped mountains here in Iowa but the Iowa Heartland is beautiful all the same.

It has been a very busy week – filled with a few technicolor Midwest storms, torrential rain and today there was sunshine with cloudless, clear blue skies and a high of 85 degrees.

On Sunday afternoon, we celebrated my granddaughter’s 15th birthday.  Her paternal grandparents were there, I was there, her parents and siblings…and about about ten of her friends who wanted to turn the special event into a surprise party!

My assignment was to get my granddaughter out of the house while the friends arrived and the house was decorated.  I decided to treat her to several books at one of her favorite stores:  Barnes & Noble.  Unknown to her, we were on a time schedule and I had to have her back home in time for the surprise.  My daughter warned me to let my granddaughter enter first.  I did but I still managed to get my share of “silly string” too!

My daughter made a huge pan of her delicious Penne Rustica.  I made a gigantic tossed salad and three loaves of french bread.  My granddaughter had requested my daughter’s homemade delicious chocolate cake with vanilla icing.  Scrumptious!

All in all, it has been a busy week with a lot crammed into it.  I love traveling but, for now, I’m glad to be home…


Above:  with her younger sister in 2014.

Below:  one of my favorite pics of her as a toddler.

Sunshine in Bozeman…

Sunshine in Bozeman…

After several days of rain and cloudy skies, the sun is out and the weather is beautiful!  I love looking out the windows in their home here and seeing mountains so close!

Yesterday, we had a wonderful morning worship service at their church which I really liked!  There was a small orchestra with two violins, a couple of guitars, drums (that were NOT too loud!) and a couple of instruments that I do not recall.  We sang several different songs which I enjoyed.  The songs included two of my favorites:   The Lion of Judah by Robin Mark and the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy.  Needless to say, after growing up in a Baptist church in the South, I knew every single word of the hymn – all verses.  Hymns bring such joy and peace and I wish we would sing them in our church.  One thing I also noticed was that the music was not too loud and I could hear myself sing and everyone around me singing  I loved that.

After church, we headed to Livingston, Montana, and had lunch in a very “Western” restaurant.  The food was delicious and the scenery perfect.  I remarked to my son that it was the perfect setting for a movie and he responded that there have already been several set in this part of the country.

After lunch, we traveled up the mountain range climbing closer and closer to the snow peaked mountains tops.  We parked at the trailhead and I have no doubt that they will be back to climb the trail!

Last night, we celebrated my firstborn’s birthday with homemade broccoli cheese soup and a delicious chocolate cake with mocha filling and chocolate frosting.  All homemade, of course, and fabulous.  He liked all of this presents – mostly mountain biking clothes and trout fishing gear.

Today, we headed to downtown Bozeman in the warm sunshine.  Not too crowded at all which, apparently, is a bit of a change.  First, we went shopping in several of the neat shops on Main Street.  I found a Montana long-sleeved t-shirt, a Montana ball cap and a few other goodies.  Also purchased some Huckleberry Chai Tea which we will enjoy this afternoon.  Then we ate lunch at the Nova Cafe where the food was delicious.  While we were walking down Main Street, there was a young couple with a nine-week-old French Bulldog on a leash.  I fell in love!  He was so adorable!

For supper tonight, Jeanine is making her wonderful homemade chili and I will make the cornbread!  This trip has been so much fun and I can’t believe tomorrow will be my last full day here.  Don’t worry, Yellowstone, I will be back to visit you!







Downtown Bozeman…

Downtown Bozeman…

Yesterday was the perfect afternoon to stroll around downtown Bozeman, Montana.  Sunny skies after a rainy morning made for a great afternoon.  The Montana State University Band (part of it), the MSU football players and the MSU cheerleaders were meandering in and out of stores along Main Street…playing along the way.  Of course, it was music I had to dance to.  We went into one special store with the most awesome hand-spun and dyed yarn!  The price of a plane ticket for all the ones I would have liked to have – so maybe in the future.  Kate and I stopped at the bench for a minute and Jeanine snapped our photo with her phone.

Bozeman is a neat town with an especially quaint, “Western” downtown.  I definitely want to return before I leave.  Would love a Montana baseball cap, t-shirt and sweatshirt!  Such a neat place to live…


photo 1

Hello, Montana!

Hello, Montana!

I left Des Moines yesterday morning in a FIERCE Midwest storm – the likes of which I haven’t seen for a while.  I couldn’t find my umbrella, so by the time I had the luggage loaded into the back of my friend Susan’s car (who had kindly offered to drive me to the airport), I looked like I had just stepped out of the shower.  Not to worry though, I dried. Once the plane got up above the clouds and past a few major bumps, it was sunny and smoother flying.  Once we arrived closer to Bozeman, I looked out the window to see a mountaintop so close, I could almost touch it!  The scenery here is magnificent.  Definitely different from Oregon but amazing.  I can see why they call this “Big Sky Country”!  The sky stretched as far as the eye could see over the mountains. I was so happy to see my oldest and his precious family!  The girls have grown so much and are, of course, beautiful!  They love it here and it suits their outdoor, hiking, camping, mountain biking lifestyle beautifully.  Later in the week, we will head to Yellowstone and I will take some pics there.  In the meantime, enjoy a few of their Montana living pics below!




























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