Here is Jen’s guest blog from her trip to MT, hot off the press from Washington, DC!
In 2006 I helped out with GOTV (for all you non-campaign folks, that’s Get-Out-the-Vote) on Senator Tester’s campaign and fell in love with Montana (there’s another love story that resulted from that short political gig, but I’m sure I’ll be guest blogging/telling that story at another time…) I knew I would make it back one day again. Little did I know it would be to visit one of my best friends TK (aka Kate) and her now fiancé and my friend Matt (see future blog reference above).
It all started with a little bit of cabin fever during the crazy snow storms this February at home in DC when I planned out my summer vacation which included a visit to MT over 4th of July! The 5 months that went by until July seemed to last forever, but the time for my trip out West had finally arrived!
I landed in Bozeman the Saturday before the 4th of July and was picked up by my awesome hosts TK, Matt and Blue. I was really excited to meet Blue since reading about all her adventures (and shenanigans) on this blog and I must say… she is just as cute in person as she is in pictures!
We ran some errands in town and headed out to Deep Creek to stay at the ranch in Paradise Valley. I have to admit that after getting on a gravel road, darting through Hedgehog Heaven, driving through the neighbor’s gate and following a little trail in the middle of a great big pasture (where we actually had to wait for a herd of cows to clear the way) I was a bit skeptical of where we were headed, but the Nell Ranch is amazing!!! We settled in the house, had a little bit of wine on the balcony looking over the great expanse of the Paradise Valley and decided to go exploring.
We went on an afternoon hike and walked among the wildflowers before heading out to the Chico Hot Springs resort in Pray, MT. We had an incredible dinner in the Dining Room at Chico. They say this is the BEST restaurant to go to in the area (as a self-described foodie, I wholeheartedly agree!). Matt ordered a smoked trout app that was out of this world! Instead of desert, we chilled out in the Hot Springs with an after dinner cocktail and soaked in the steaming water. It was so relaxing and nice to be out on a cool night (the temp drops down to the 40’s at night)! What could be better than that?
And then in the late morning we did a river boat float down the Yellowstone River. It was incredible. Blue Girl was on her best behavior on her first river float, although there were times we thought she was going to jump ship!
After our amazing float we chilled at the ranch before heading out to the Livingston 4th of July Roundup Rodeo! Talk about some patriotism (even though one of the sponsors was Canada – the country – but we appreciated the support!) While this was not my first rodeo… it was definitely the best.
The bull riders were my favorite and people-watching came in at a close second! You should have seen some of the get ups in the crowd. They seriously could do a Bedazzler commercial in the stands! The night was complete with an outstanding show of fireworks played against the backdrop of the Montana night sky with some really patriotic country music. I’m currently humming “Proud to be an American” as I type.
It could not have been a more perfect Montana 4th of July, except then we had a nightcap at the Murray Hotel and watched some two-stepping dancers in their cowboy and cowgirl gear. Then it was really perfect. It was a blast!!
It’s always nice when you just happen to come across a random field of wild sunflowers… (things you take for granted when you live in an urban abyss of pavement and marble!). Then we packed the car up, bid farewell to the Nell Ranch and headed to Missoula. I was excited to see TK and Matt’s home and see all the work they had done, plus it was great to get to see the garden and Man Shack in person!
Fun things we did in Missoula:
– Dinner at Taco Sano (loved the chipotle bbq sauce!)
– had some Big Dipper ice cream
– “ran” in the North Hills (I regret not having my camera, but I’ll be back!!!)
– biked downtown to run errands and shop
– had coffee and breakfast at The Break
– drank lemonade at Out To Lunch in the park while listening to live music
– drank a Coldsmoke (or two) at the K-Hole (that’s the North Side Kettlehouse Tap Room for all you novices!). I (Kate) would like to add that while Jen can hold her Vodka sodas like a champ, she was rocked by 2 Coldsmokes – Yeehaw, Montana beer is hearty.
– dined out on the Depot Deck
– shopped organic at the Good Food Store for our amazing home cooked meal
– made ravioli’s for the first time and used veggies fresh from Matt & TK’s amazing garden including peas, basil and spinach
We also used ground beef and bison meat they had in their freezer from the rack of meat they bought (because who doesn’t just have a random 3 lbs of beef and bison in their freezer, right?)
– took Blue Girl to the Dog Park Island
– witnessed Matt getting locked in the bathroom and jumping out a tiny window (oops!!, not really fun(ny)…)
– had an amazing time catching up with old friends and got to meet a whole bunch of new people!
Thanks TK and Matt and Blue Girl for an incredible trip out to Montana. I wish I could have stayed longer and I miss you so much already! Looking forward to being back there soon!
P.S. All my pics are on Flickr at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jengon/sets/72157624495216792/