Come play in my world for awhile!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


So we just returned from a whirlwind month. We finished the school year and immediately hopped on a plane, and headed for Montana. We hiked and fished, but mostly we ate ice cream cones. Over the years Pat's father has become a veritable connoisseur of ice cream cones. He knows all of the best spots, and we hit every one of them at least once! We covered a lot of ground on this trip. We were able to make it out to see Great Grandma Jones in Sydney, and still find time to visit Red Lodge and the Beartooth mountains.


We hiked in an area called Woodbine, which is one of my most favorite areas in Montana. Usually the water is moving quickly, but this year was unprecedented. There was an abundance of snow this winter, and no appreciable Spring. When the summer arrived hot and fast it yielded a mass of snow melt. The result is this rushing, gushing, tumultuous flow. I was actually nervous walking with the kids. The path runs right to the edge of all that water, and I could just picture someone slipping. Obviously no one did, but I know the kids were tired of me hollering, "Stay to the SIDE!" at 30 second intervals. The only saving grace was that all that pounding water makes a significant ruckus! I don't think they could even hear me half the time.
Red Lodge
You really can't do a trip to Montana without including Red Lodge. The scenery is gorgeous, and the town itself is old and quaint and steeped in history. If you go over the 4th of July there are two must-see's: the parade and the rodeo. The parade is totally fun. There are lots of horses, and floats, and of course, plenty of candy thrown into the crowds. The best part, though, is the crowd! It's small! No one has to get there early to do stakeout!

After the parade concluded, a sign advertising "Indian Tacos" caught my eye. We were able to enjoy authentic Indian Tacos made by an American Indian. She was kneading the dough balls and frying them on the spot to make flat bread. You can top the flat bread with any number of items, and voila! Indian Tacos. And yes, they are really yummy.

My next memory after the tacos is ice cream. I know we walked around Red Lodge, but I think I was engulfed in a food haze. My next memory is eating one of those ice cream cones that I mentioned earlier. Actually, I am holding two cones. I don't think I ate them both.

We also got some lake fishing in before we left. Abby caught the first one, and by the end of the day she was handling the fish with a bit more enthusiasm!
Red Lodge Home of Champions Rodeo
I am actually not a huge rodeo fan. I'll admit that it is fascinating to watch, but it seems a bit mean spirited. Any time you have to strap a tight belt around an animal's private parts as incentive to participate I feel as though things have gone too far. I mostly keep that to myself, though, as that is a minority opinion for sure.

However, I'll still admit to loving some aspects. First, of all I love the history. If you are willing to blur the edges of reality a little bit (you kind of have to selectively delete from your mental imagery the private planes that take off from the dirt runway throughout the event to whisk the cowboys off to the next rodeo competition) it is almost as if you have stepped back in time to the Old West. The cowboys are just as tough and leathery and stoic as you would imagine. The events haven't evolved at lightning speed with the rest of the world. It's a little snippet of the past.

Another thing I love is an event called Mutton Busting. This almost defies description, but it basically involves convincing a child to jump onto the back of a sheep and hang on for dear life. Whoever stays on the longest wins. There is no pain inflicted upon the animal and the kids don't seem to get hurt, which makes me happy, but the real fun is the combination of little kids and energetic barn animals. I have seen a sheep leap into the air (with a child attached, of course!) as if it were a reindeer on Christmas Eve, a child rider who actually slid until he was riding while hanging on to the sheep's belly and only let go when the sheep sat down in exhaustion, and one child who walked up and kicked his father in the shins at the end of his ride yelling, "Doggone it Dad why'd 'ya have to make me go and do that!"

But the best part by far is the menu! I'll give the cowboy burger two thumbs up -- they are really delicious --but the real star is the 6-pack of beer. I didn't order one, but where else can you go and find a 6-pack of Budweiser on the menu?!

Before the rodeo the kids were also able to participate in a barrel racing competition (on stick-horses, of course). It was cute, and helped the kids understand the nuances of the competition. Emily and Hannah are on deck for their race.

All the kids did their best to blend in with the cowboys and cowgirls!

Sydney, MTOriginally we had planned a tour through Yellowstone, but in the 11th hour we opted to do a road trip out to visit Great Grandma Jones. I think this was the highlight of my trip. There really isn't anything to speak of in Sydney, MT. Except Grandma! She is worth the trip in and of herself. She is 94, and still living on her own. Listening to the stories as she took us through photo albums was fun, but her sweet sense of humor is what gets me every time. My only regret is that we didn't drive down the road a few miles to North Dakota -- just to say we did it!

Until Next Year!

As always, Montana was an adventure. As the children get older it only gets better. I'm already looking forward to the next trip, although it is good to let some time elapse getween get-togethers so that I can shed the weight I inevitably accumulate. I'll end this post with the picture below. Hannah read the sign and said, "Brats?! Do they sell kids here when they are bad?!" Apparently, I need to work more on her German heritage


Leslie M said...

Sounds like a great trip! It IS much more fun to vacation with the kids as they get older, isn't it? I found that them learning to read this year has helped a lot, too. My current client has a house in Red Lodge that sadly, he is not at very much because he works here in the Silly Valley. He also has a ranch up there somewhere that I've heard about. I'm glad to see some pictures! His wife is a volunteer fire fighter in Red Lodge. Were they part of the parade?

My summer vacation begins tomorrow.