Fall is by far my absolute favorite season of the year.
When I woke up this morning…the entire valley was blanketed in a thick fog. The kind where it is so thick you can actually see the water float through the air. Not kidding.
Thankfully since I’ve been into getting my rear end into shape…I had a perfect opportunity to go on a walk with my neighbor and bring my camera with me. (Little did she know that I would be stopping every 3-1/2 minutes to take photographs…:-) )
The photos I did happen to capture though are…well…it is hard to believe that they were all taken within just a short mile from my home. THIS is why I live in the country. To experince this beauty that is completely overlooked…especially if you’re amongst Billings’ small high rises like the First Interstate Building. Or the Crowne Plaza. Or a Transwestern Building. Or a Wendy’s.
That’s the thing guys. The world was covered in an Autumn mist. Blanketed in a cool dew that grasped every particle in the air and every leaf and grass blade. Don’t forget that as you woke up and saw this fog, that there is beauty in it. Open your eyes and know that its there…
Ahhhh….A Day in the Life…
For the first time in six years, (Or nine years, depending on who you talk to) the Hubby and I actually celebrated our Anniversary!
We gave the kids to the grandparents and had only one plan.
Spend the night in Lewistown, MT.
So we left town…and on the open road we went! (Though I do have to admit, we stopped in Big Timber because we didn’t bring a map.)
We broke away from the Interstate as soon as we possibly could. We jumped on a road that dove in and over through hillsides, a local road no doubt – and I could hardly keep count of the Meadowlarks so casually sitting on fence posts. We drove that road for – I don’t even know how many miles – and never saw a home, much less people.
Montana is truly untouched.
Especially this part of Montana.
Never again did I want to return to the hustle and nightmare that Billings can be. I know, I know, in comparison to larger cities and metro areas…Billings is practically “small town.”
But the thing is…
That idea that you have about a small town in Montana, nestled between the mountains…
That idea still exists.
There are still ranchers, hauling ass on dirt roads, listening to old Country music with a Golden Retriever barely hanging on to the rear of a flat-bed pickup.
That’s what I saw.
That’s what I witnessed. I witnessed more rainfall than our state has seen in decades. I witnessed the result of that through hay fields that farmers can’t even keep up with. I saw the result through closed roads and destroyed bridges.
I almost crapped my pants in the Judith Mountains while driving down through the canyon. The road was completely washed out (COMPLETELY people)…and we just kind of drove on through. Talk about not seeing a soul! We drove right through the middle of a mountain and DID. NOT. SEE. A. SOUL.
Montana is truly untouched.
Before I close this novel up…I thought that I would share a few more things.
Over the course of this trip (And in less than 48 hours):
We spotted a Peacock at a Ghost Town
Walked amongst ruined buildings that are still standing, in the town of Kendall, MT
Talked up a bartender named “Candy” (no shit!) at the Mint Bar
Ate wild raspberries next to a waterfall
Laughed until we cried
Traveled 550 miles
Saw an archway that led into a trailer house that was made of stacked firewood (Dude…I have a picture to prove it)
Ate amazing sandwiches in White Sulfur Springs
Found where we want to retire
Had the worst Chinese food in history
Stopped or passed through thirty towns
Slept in past 6:00am
And most of all, we remembered why we got married.
We used to drive aimlessly when we first met, and it was driving aimlessly through Montana that brought us even closer together.
Here’s to 60 years from now Honey.
You…telling stories of how we used to do this…
And Me…showing pictures to prove that it’s true.
Ahhhh…A Day in The Life…
There’s nothing like a Spring storm in Montana.
What begins as a sprinkle of rain, will turn into this heavy/wet mixture that soaks into every pore of the earth. As a Native Montanan…I expect this every Spring. So all of you that have been complaining about it all morning – where have you been? It’ll be gone tomorrow anyway!
Since I was bragging to my awesome Canadian friend Tara about having green grass just a few days ago, I figured I’d better fess up and take a few pictures of the winter wonderland we woke up to this morning! (I jinxed myself girl!!) Lets just hope that this is the last of it…I know everyone is definately itching for some steady warm weather.
Bwahahaha…I highly doubt it!
Proof that we busted out the mower in hopes that Spring had actually arrived! (Jacob’s mower can be seen tucked underneath Daddy’s…always striving to be just like Dad!)
Had to include a picture of the Little Miss sleeping in her swing on this beautiful morning!
Last Sunday…the hubby, kiddo and myself took one of our favorite drives. We made “the loop.”
Park City – Reed Point – Columbus - Joliet – Laurel – Park City
It was a beautiful sunny Spring day and I had more than a great time capturing everything from cattle, to deer, to bluebirds (my first sighting EVER), and of course…my beloved Beartooth mountains.
It just goes to show though, in Montana, what looks to be Spring – is just a sign that snow is coming.
Yesterday (a mere 5 days after our trip around the loop), we made a mini trip to Reed Point, then Columbus, then back home to Park City. Talk about a completely different view! There was *at least* eight inches of snow on the ground and the fog covered the plains with an odd snowy mist. It was beautiful.
The pictures that follow are first, from our trip last Sunday – and then our trip yesterday.
I can’t imagine living any place else.
Did you know that ZooMontana is a privately funded non-profit organization? In short, this means that they rely solely on private donations and volunteers to keep their doors open.
By March 19th (Next Saturday), Zoo Montana has to have reached its goal of $500,000 in donations, or the Association of Zoos and Aquariums will revoke their accreditation.
For every person who has ever sat in their house, whining and complaining that Billings is “Sooooo boring” and there is “Nothing to do here…” – take those loafers to the streets and go check out the Zoo!
The kiddo, my Mom, and myself - did just that today. (And boy was it a perfect day for it!) The sun was shining and yes, the wind was blowing, but it felt like our first real taste of Spring…I’ll take it any way it comes at this point!
The pictures that follow give you just a glimpse of what ZooMontana has to offer. I really encourage you to walk the grounds yourself. Bring a friend – spend a sunny morning or afternoon catching up while you walk the trails and peer into the eyes of Bald Eagles and maybe a Red Panda (if you’re lucky!)
And please…don’t let it be something that you procrastinate and wait to do. If you don’t do it soon, there may not be a ZooMontana for you to explore.
For those of you that may live too far to visit this amazing facility – please don’t hesitate to click HERE and donate. Every penny counts!
In honor of the hubby and I being residents of Park City for five years (as of yesterday)…I bundled up and went outside to take pictures of *hopefully* the last snow of the season. (Crossing my fingers people!)
I know everyone is ready for Spring – but just take a moment and remember how delicate and amazing Winter can be. It was almost like a breath of wind could *Poof* all the frost of the trees. Goregous.
Ahhh…A Day in The Life…
Jacob was about two months old – and we were invited to go branding in Ismay, MT.
With a newborn in tow…I was nothing short of thrilled. I needed to get out of the house!
I took it as a great opportunity to bust out my camera after months of diaper changes and feedings, and I decided I would share some of my favorite images from that trip with you.
Ahhh…A Day in The Life…
Living in Montana can still facinate me.
We began our mini adventure with a trip to the Park City dump. (Always a real treat let me tell ya…) As the hubby unloaded cardboard boxes and who-knows-what-else, the kiddo and I were playing what I call, the “Hi!” game. I say, “Hi!”…he says “High-eee” back to me. Kind of like this…
As we left, the hubby asked me “Which way?”
I smiled and replied, “You pick.”
We drove North on Valley Creek Road (which is pronouced Valley CRICK Road for all you out of towners…) for a loooooong time before we realized we were going to be in Ryegate soon if we didn’t start heading West. We followed winding and barren County roads, and didn’t see ONE vehicle the entire time. Absolute bliss if you ask me!
What some people might see as a vast landscape of nothing…nothing…and maybe a cow or two…
I see as so much more.
There is unspoken history. Miles and miles, and sections and sections of fences that were built at some point in time. By families. By friends. By neighbors. By Homesteaders back in the late 1800′s. Maybe by a man who wanted change for his family, just as far back as 30 years ago.
Most of the land I drove by today probably hasn’t ever felt a human foot walk across it. That is how awe inspiring this area still is to me. The wind blown prairie around me still sees more tumbleweeds and field mice than it does a human hand.
That is AMAZING.
While the cities of New York and L.A. are being beaten deeper into the Earth by sheer population and loads of tourist buses…there is some of my Montana that still remains as it did almost a hundred years ago.
This is how I view my state. My Montana.
I hope that these images portray what I was blessed enough to experience today. For photographs can merely touch the beauty that lies in these windswept hills and bluffs…
This calf was having the time of it’s life!! The way it was frolicking about made me laugh out loud…
Had to get a photograph of the train for my kiddo…since they are his FAVORITE things in the entire world!
Someone has to be able to explain to me why there are crosses up on the bluffs out here in Stillwater County. It is absolutely facinating to me…some of them are even lit up at certain times of the year.
My favorite image from today…
Have you EVER seen so many tumbleweeds?!!
This abandoned home (seriously a very large home too) is perched up at the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere. Makes you really wonder…
When I say that Winter brings the blues…I mean, that it brings out the beautiful hues of blue that somehow get blown out in the Summer months. (Though surely, when you’ve been a hermit in your house for weeks at a time – the blues definately come a knockin!)
I love that when most people look outside and all they see is a brown wind-blown landscape, I know that I can find photographs that would surprise them. It’s the little white flower out in the field that has somehow managed to survive, the hawk resting on a perch scoping the ground for a mouse off guard, or even this…
There really is beauty all around us…we just have to take time out of our fast paced lives long enough to look.
Personally, I think my next door neighbor (The Farmer) calves waaaaaaaaaaay too early.
Like seriously – as they’re being born, the wind is whipping at a lovely 45mph and the snow is being frozen to their hide before its even had a chance to dry out from being inside the womb.
I’m not so set that The Farmer even knows what he’s doing half the time. The ditch (that he so unfortunately owns full water rights to) needs to be dug out again in the *worst* way. The entire North side of my property is flooded twice a year. I wouldn’t really mind all that much, but my garden and the building that now houses my studio is on the North side of my property. Ugh.
Though I may complain about him every now and then – (especially during allergy season…ESPECIALLY) I really am thankful that I have a chance to witness the beauty that his property holds. THIS is what I get to see every. single. day.
There’s something about watching the farmer’s cattle roam the field next to me. Even in the snow…it doesn’t stop them for a moment.
So there’s this hawk that has been hanging out in the willow trees in front of my house for a week solid. I have yet to actually get a picture of him…and it’s been driving me insane! Every time I pick my camera up, he flies off his perch and soars across the field next to me. I’ve got a 70-300mm lens, so you would think I could at least get a glimpse…
But this guy is good.
It’s like he can sense me from 400 feet away…creeping toward my camera…and then…
Mouse! (It’s like in the movie “Up” when the dog loses all direction and goes “Squirrel!”)
So…here are the pictures I got while waiting for him to come back. No hawk, but my mission isn’t accomplished yet! I shall succeed!
There’s something about driving West.
When I make my way over that first hill out of Park City, heading towards Columbus – it’s like I’ve reached freedom. The Beartooth mountain range says a familiar hello and even the peaks of the Crazies make a short appearance. I feel so tied to this area of Montana…maybe it’s because my Great Grandma who came from Norway in the early 1900′s settled in Columbus. Yes…that must be it.
I could spend hours – no, even days – in the small towns speckled in this area. To outsiders (out-of-staters as we tend to call them), they’re just pit stops for bathroom breaks and the occasional Hershey bar. To me…they’re towns where I have memories. Like in Absoarkee, when my cousin Mike gave me my Absoarka River Adventures tank top. Or when, armed with my first camera, Mike and I took a drive down every dirt road we could find – just so I could maybe get a nice picture for my photo album.
Now, I return to these places and try to make new memories. I try to take a single moment out of time and capture it on my poor little Nikon D80 that has seen way too many a summer for how much use it gets. And I hope…that years from now, I can look back on this Fall day – and remember how the Autumn colors popped. Maybe I’ll remember how the slight breath of wind didn’t seem bothersome…it rustled all the leaves that were barely hanging on and brought them floating to the ground so artistically, if that can make any sense.
So maybe I can spend hours, maybe I can spend days…maybe I can even spend weeks roaming these little towns across South Central Montana. Actually, now that I think about it – I think a lifetime sounds much better.
After almost an entire week of being cooped up in the house, I decided it was time for the kiddo and I to take a drive.
Down to the river we went! The colors of Fall have made their way to the Yellowstone and let me tell you…it was rejuvenating. While leaves are saying their goodbye for the season – I find that it gives me a much needed peace.
I leave you with the words from my favorite poet:
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” ~John Muir