Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trip Out West Day Eight: Drive, Drive, Drive

We were up and on the road by 7:30 a.m. on July 7th which was a bit brutal based on our 9am-or-later-roll-outta-bed schedule of the previous seven days.  We found an IHOP for a late morning breakfast and it was delicious.  Bekah said, "If my dad didn't make pancakes, then IHOP's would be the best!".  Awwww...how sweet!

Then we drove and drove and drove and then drove some more.  The kids passed the time with toys and playing with the ipod touch.  See exhibits A and B below:


We stopped for a late afternoon picnic lunch at a wayside rest, spreading out a blanket to stretch out on.

It was hot and all of us probably would've gone pants-less if it was appropriate, but since it wasn't, only Alarik got to do that.

We arrived in Sheridan, WY 593 miles and 10 hours later.  That's makin' good time! We only stopped one other time besides breakfast and lunch stops.  (Jesse is kind of a nazi when it comes to travel time.) 
Our hotel didn't have a pool but did have a hot tub which Bekah, Scott and I took a soak in after our takeout dinner of pasta and sandwiches from a nearby pizza/deli joint.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Trip Out West Day Seven: Bummin' Around

We took off from the cabin on day seven with no particular place to go.  Our family drove some back, back country roads.  We saw a bit of wildlife, picked pretty wildflowers and rocks, and found an amazing view or two.  We also found some trees across the road and some questionable territory!

Um...is this even a road anymore???

Alarik enjoyed some huckleberry twizzlers we'd picked up from The Huckleberry Patch the day before...
...and he also enjoyed a nap - mid twizzler!

We ended up in Whitefish by lunchtime so we grabbed sandwiches at a place called Quickies that was supposed to have an outdoor garden dining area with a playhouse for the kids.  We were disappointed to find that wasn't true.  Darn Whitefish, MT ipod app lying to us!  The food was good though.

While out exploring we'd found a beach on Tally Lake so we returned there for a picnic dinner and swim with everyone else.  It was really fun to be in the lake with the mountains rising all around you.  Definitely a cool change from the MN lakeshores we are used to.

Alarik loved the water and was sitting and splashing before we knew it, even though it was pretty darn cold if you ask me.

The weather was beautiful and we had the beach mostly to ourselves.  It was a peaceful way to spend our last evening in Montana.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Trip Out West Day Six: Avalanche Lake

As had quickly become a habit on the trip, we slept in and after breakfast headed to Glacier for a hike.  We chose the Avalanche Lake hike because it was rated only moderately difficult and we had so many sets of short legs hoping to make the trek.
The parking area at the trailhead was an absolute zoo and we ended up having to park at a pull off about a mile away from it instead.  Chalk up another two miles hiked for us!
The first part of the path was boardwalk and then a short paved portion before the climbing started.

I would rate the hike more like "strenuous" but even so, the kids did great and the grownups all made it too!

 We were hot and sweaty by the time we got to the end of the trail and couldn't wait to get our socks and shoes off to wade in.

 That was some COLD mountain lake water, I tell you!

 It was like standing in a picture up there.  To say it was beautiful doesn't do it justice.

 The hike back down was considerably easier.

We did suffer some losses on the trail including two of Alarik's sun hats and two pairs of underwear!  Alarik kept tearing his hats off his head and Jesse didn't notice when he chucked them.  We were hoping to find them on the way back down but no such luck.  The underwear were a casualty of the effects of altitude sickness on the poor kids' tummies.  No fun, but funny now!

On the way home we stopped at The Huckleberry Patch because I just HAD to have a huckleberry pie.  $30 was the price tag on it but I barely flinched.  We cut it up into small slivers back at the cabin so everyone who wanted to could try it.  I'd say it was worth the $30 but only as a one-time treat.  I can't say if Scott agreed.  He liked the crust anyway.

The jacuzzi tub was busy that night as one after another of us soaked our  tired feet!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Trip Out West Day Five: Happy 4th of July!

We started Independence Day with a biscuits & gravy breakfast topped off by mimosas (for the adults only, of course). 

Then we drove to Bigfork for their parade.  It was strange to see BHS cheerleaders in blue and red instead of blue and gold!

Bigfork, MT is definitely a more happening little place than Bigfork, MN and their parade was well over an hour long.

After the parade, we had a little fun walking around taking "Bigfork" pictures.

We wanted to eat at The Montana Club for lunch but it appeared to be closed, for good, so we ended up having all-American burgers, fries and shakes from a drive-thru in Kalispell. 

We spent the afternoon back at the cabin playing volleyball and letting the kids run through the sprinklers.

The clerk at the drive-thru had given us a hot tip to watch fireworks that night from the shore of Flathead lake in Somers.  We grabbed pizza from McKenzie River Pizza Company and found a spot at the park where we ate, cuddled on blankets and waited for fireworks.

I don't believe we witnessed a big professional display, but we could see fireworks all around the lake and they were pretty.  I was glad we didn't go to a big show because the few that were close to us and loud were not appreciated by Alarik.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Trip Out West Day Four: Around Flathead Lake

 We were ready to get out and go by the next morning so our family loaded up and headed down the east side of Flathead Lake, through Bigfork, and down to Polson where we visited the Miracle of American Museum.  What a weird place.  The motto was "From the walking plow to walking on the moon" and I think it was supposed to be a complete history of the United States.  Well, there was enough stuff there to cover all that time period, but it was crammed and disorganized and then there were tons of things there that didn't seem to have much to do with anything.  Especially outside where it appeared that someone had just decided to put a "museum" sign out in front of a junkyard.  An interesting junkyard, I'll give it that, but just a random, huge collection of stuff with no rhyme or reason to it.  Such as this alien sculpture with his spaceship: 

And this spider:

Some of the displays had historical significance, like this relocated Green Mountain Schoolhouse building:

And this war helicopter:

But much of it did not:

After that experience, we drove into town and found this cool pirate-themed deli and pizza shop where we had lunch and then played on a playground on the lakeshore below the restaurant.

We drove back to the cabin via the west side of the lake and there were so many pretty views, especially the many, many cherry orchards along the shoreline.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Trip Out West Day Three: Life @ River Meadow Ranch

After 1,089 miles, no one was really itchin' to get back in the vehicles so we spent our next day just hanging out at our new home, River Meadow Ranch.

The kids enjoyed their own downstairs living area with a big screen tv and a pool table.

 The upstairs living/dining/kitchen area was spacious, to say the least.  Just look at how tiny those two babies look in the vaulted-ceiling living room:

 I'd have to say our favorite place though was probably the deck.  Large enough for three tables and a swing with plenty of running room to spare, it was half covered, half not so you could catch a few rays and then scoot your chair back and enjoy a cocktail in the shade.  Or, if you're not of age, a few monster trucks

Alarik took relaxation to a whole new level this week.  He didn't usually nap during the day as he normally would, just caught 20 minute cat naps in the truck, but he made a habit of logging 12 hours at night.

Steph had brought along walkie-talkies and the kids had a great time playing "spies".  Who doesn't love a walkie-talkie?

After Steph won the master suite with an 8-cut, divvying up the rest of the rooms was easy.  The babies each slept in their respective parents' rooms.  Bekah and Jade, being the only two girls, got their very own room upstairs.  It often smelled of nail polish and/or nail polish remover and was a nice, quiet room for the most part.

The four older boys shared a downstairs bedroom and it got rowdy and smelly in there at times.  They really let loose this first night and had themselves an underpants party.  They even invited the babies!

 And then the went outside and hunted prairie dogs in their underpants.  With lacrosse sticks and giant tennis rackets.  They didn't catch any, just in case you were wondering.

What a perfect place to stay with all these kids!  There was an elk farm just a short walk away down one dirt road...
...and a herd of long horn cattle directly across another dirt road.

We had a campfire that night and could hear the longhorn cattle lowing, the elk bugling and a pack of coyotes yipping off in the distance.  Then we could hear the pack of coyotes closer.  Then we heard a few of them come even closer.  And then we heard one lone coyote yip from no further away than the long grass on the other side of the road.  The kids were wide-eyed and looking to the adults for reassurance.  So was I.

Bekah and her stuffed eagle friend enjoyed smores and popcorn around the fire.

The boys enjoyed the treats too but they also reveled in the chance to show off their muscles by hauling firewood for all us ladies.

Day three was a perfect, relaxing day on the ranch.