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A Montana Road Trip: Part One

Some weeks are awesome. This past week, my Montana lovin’ friends, was one of them.

Why? Because it was spent road tripping from Missoula north along Highway 93 into the Flathead Valley with a group of lovely ladies.

Our goal for the week: To experience as much Montana goodness as we possibly could within five days. And boy howdy, did we ever.

Here’s a look at the first part of our road trip in Montana’s Glacier Country…

An evening stroll through Missoula's Caras Park.

An evening stroll through Missoula’s Caras Park.

Kicking back at Kettlehouse Brewery in Missoula.

Kicking back at Kettlehouse Brewery in Missoula.

The Smokejumper Visitor Center.

The Smokejumper Visitor Center.

The stunning St. Ignatius Mission. (A look inside will reveal 58 hand-painted murals on the walls and ceilings).

The stunning St. Ignatius Mission. (A look inside will reveal 58 hand-painted murals on the walls and ceilings).

The view from Allentown Restaurant at Ninepipes Lodge in Charlo.

The view from Allentown Restaurant at Ninepipes Lodge in Charlo.

Experiencing American Indian culture at The People's Center in Pablo.

Experiencing American Indian culture at The People’s Center in Pablo.

Kerr Dam near Polson. (This was one of my favorite stops on the road trip).

Kerr Dam near Polson. (This was one of my favorite stops on the road trip).

The Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell.

The Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell.

Downtown Whitefish. Adorable.

Downtown Whitefish. Adorable.

Our home for the evening: The Garden Wall Inn.

Our home for the evening: The Garden Wall Inn.

Every once in a while, you just need to get lost (in Montana).

Every once in a while, you just need to get lost (in Montana).

It’s been a lovely week.
TT

PS: Stay tuned for part two of our road trip, coming next week.

Go Soak Yourself

Every once in a while, I want to say the above words to people. The reason? It’s mainly because I get a kick out of it. And occasionally, I even want to say those words to myself.

This week, I directed a stern “Go soak yourself” line toward…well, myself. (And my messy hair). The last several months have included one project after another, with large helpings of travel, general hecticness and holidays thrown into the mix. So, I realized how wise those words were, took my own advice and headed off to Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort for a proper soaking.

En route to Paradise. Montana was in fine form.

En route to Paradise. Montana was in fine form.

Located on Highway 135 between St. Regis and Paradise, Montana, Quinn’s sits on the banks of the Clark Fork River. And I must tell you, it is one of the loveliest locations in the entire state of Montana. With no street lights, no neighbors and no cell service (it does have Wi-Fi), Quinn’s gives you the opportunity to fully relax in the crisp mountain air of Western Montana.

Hello, Paradise.

Hello, Paradise.

Getting my bearings at Quinn's Hot Springs Resort.

Getting my bearings at Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort.

Around these parts, hot springs are revered. Called “big medicine” by the Pend d’Oreille Indians, people have traveled from near and far to soak in the healing waters found around the region. While there are several developed and natural hot springs pool found around Glacier Country, Quinn’s has on-site lodging–ranging from private cabins to lodge rooms–as well as meeting space, a bar, gift shop and restaurant.

A cozy cabin.

A cozy cabin.

The pools at Quinn's.

The pools at Quinn’s.

My tips:
-While you’re soaking in the pool, look up. You’ll be rewarded with an unrestricted view of the night sky.
-Bring a suit. 🙂
-Bring slippers, sandals and a robe for navigating from your room to the pools.
-Order dessert. My recommendations are the huckleberry ice cream and creme brulee.
-If you’re visiting during winter, pack your snowshoes and explore the nearby trails.

Happy soaking,
TT

The Mountains Were Calling Me Home

Sometimes, you gotta go home. Like at Thanksgiving. And while this trip was definitely brought on by the Thanksgiving Holiday, I also needed to go. Why? I’m not sure. But I knew it was time to go as the mountains were calling me home.

Where I live now, I’m surrounded by mountains. Literally, they are all around me. I can’t escape from them even if I wanted to.

Mountains, mountains, mountains.

But there’s something different about the east side of this incredible mountain range. It’s rugged. Wild. Wind-blown. Brown. Vast. Endless.

It’s a place where I feel so incredibly connected to my surroundings. It’s where cowboys are tough old guys, ladies are tough old girls, babies grow up running around outside and start learning about work at a very young age. It’s a place where everybody knows your name, what car you drive, your age, your grandparents, etc.

And it’s a place that I love.

Behind these clouds are some of the loveliest mountains in the world. (Yep, I said world).

Haystack Butte in the afternoon light.

This is the view from my parent’s house. Lucky little ducks.

After a few days spent at home, it was time to pack up and head back over to my current side of the mountains. And Mother Nature must have known my heart was a little heavy to be leaving, so she left me with these images on the journey west.

Lover’s Lane.

Clear roads over Rogers Pass.

Saying bye for now to the east side.

Driving into Montana’s iconic Blackfoot Valley.

After all, when the mountains are calling, you must go.

TT

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir

 

Life in Montana: A Summer in Snapshots

I don’t know about all of you, but this summer feels like it’s cruising past at an excessive speed…if we were to clock it, I’d say this summer character is going 80 MPH in a clearly marked 45 MPH residential zone. And I’ll tell you this much, if I was a cop I’d totally give summer a ticket.

While I really want to tell summer to just “hold your horses” in my sternest mom voice, I’m afraid it’s not a strong listener. But instead of lamenting at how fast summer travels, how reckless she is with our sun-loving feelings and her need for speed, I’m simply trying to soak up as many Montana moments as possible.

Here’s a recap of the summer so far through snapshots…

Early summer drive near Flathead Lake.

Love.

Summer calls for eating as much ice cream as possible.

Summer also calls for rodeos, cowboys and bucking broncs.

One of my favorite places in the Bitterroot Valley: The Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

Summer happiness=floating the nearest river with my mom and baby sister.

Get Lost…in Montana. (Don’t mind if I do).

Strolling the grounds of the Daly Mansion in Hamilton.

Summer means long daylight hours and evening walks on the Clark Fork River.

Summer means taking the road less traveled and visiting historic places like the Big Hole National Battlefield.

June in Glacier means powerful waterfalls at Avalanche Lake.

Montana shaped sugar cookies: Yum.

Cruising Lake McDonald.

A nearly full moon over Montana.

All I can say is this: A tip of the hat to you summer for the fun you bring, the memories you make.

Happy, happy summer.
TT

PS: Have a summer snapshot from your travels in and around Montana? Share it on our facebook page.

Destination: Eureka, Montana

With all of the beautiful weather Montana has had lately, the hankering to explore has been calling to me more than ever. And we all know that I’m not one to ignore a hankering…so it was time to make a move.

On a sunshine-filled day, I loaded the car and headed north. My destination?

The quaint community of Eureka, located in northwest Montana’s Tobacco Valley. Literally a six-minute drive south of the Canadian border, Eureka is the first community that greets visitors entering Big Sky Country after crossing the border at Roosville.

And I tell you what, Eureka is CUTE.

It’s home to a 100-year-old theater, antique shops, boutiques, art galleries, lodging options, golf courses and cute diners.

Main Street.

Perhaps the cutest antique store in all of Montana.

Just meeting some friends at my favorite table at Cafe Jax.

Hand-painted shot glasses at Elk Camp Art Gallery and Showroom.

It also offers easy access to Lake Koocanusa (a massive lake that stretches from Montana to Canada) and Ten Lakes Scenic Area.

Watching the sun sink over Lake Koocanusa.

As part of the adventure, I also made the seven-mile drive west of Eureka to Rexford. Rexford is tiny, but definitely a must-see if for no other reason than to fill your tummy at the Koocanusa Cafe (yummy breakfast) or to quench your afternoon thirst with a cold beverage at The Frontier Bar.

I don’t know about you, but this girl is looking forward to many more sunshine-filled adventure days.

Cheers to summer,
TT

Remembering the Joy of Travel

Last week, I packed my Montana lovin’ bags and headed to California for work. While en route, I sat in front of a daddy and his two little ones (I’m guessing they were three and four). And, as fate would have it, got the goodness gracious kicked out of my seat for the duration of the two+ hour long flight. Part of it, I’m sure, was the boredom of being trapped on a plane when you’re that age. (Heck, even at my age I fit it hard to sit still for that long). And part of it, I’m sure, was how excited they were to be soaring through the sky on a new adventure.

As we continued on our journey and flew above incredible places like Crater Lake in Oregon, I could hear their little voices exclaiming things like, “This is the BEST plane ride ever!” and “Did you see the clouds? They look like candy!” And I realized something. Something that, shame on me, I had forgotten for a moment due to a number of reasons.

Traveling is about joy.

It’s about creating new experiences, seeing new things, making memories and connecting with people in a way that you perhaps didn’t anticipate. When I boarded that plane the only thoughts going through my head were “Man, I’m tired.” and “I hope our pilot is trustworthy.” (Can you tell I’m a bit of a worrier?)

And now?

I feel quite fortunate that I sat where I did on that plane. The kids helped me remember to always be in the moment, to look forward to each new experience and to find the joy in every journey I take, whether it’s filled with smooth flights and blue skies or stormy weather and turbulence.

And while it’s not the most fun to have your seat jostled by little munchkin feet, I’m sure glad they were there.

Wishing you joy in all of your travels and adventures,
TT

Touring Montana’s Highway 200

Last week, I took a little overnight trip along Highway 200 in Western Montana. And as I traveled farther north and west away from my home in the “city,” I cruised through the area’s small communities, past fields filled with horses and cattle and some strikingly beautiful scenery.

And I started feeling something. As I continued to drive and soak up my surroundings, I realized what it was…I felt at home.

There’s something about this corner of Western Montana (located about equal distances from Kalispell and Missoula) that is innately special. And while I can’t pinpoint one single thing that makes it that way, I can say this…it delivered exactly what I was looking for at that moment in time.

Cruising Highway 200.

The color of the Flathead River at the Kookoosint Fishing Access Site was stunning.

Hello cutest welcome sign ever.

The Old Jail Museum in Thompson Falls.

When traveling through Tour 200, keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep.

Happiness.

I literally cannot wait to go back.
TT

PS: If you’re heading through the Tour 200 area, be sure to stop at Linda’s Montana Gifts & Gallery in Thompson Falls, Sunflower Gallery (it’s an artist co-op with locally crafted Made in Montana furniture, jewelry, photograph and artwork) in Thompson Falls and Auntie Pamela’s Antiques & More in Trout Creek.

Whitefish, Montana: Pretty Prettiness

While the view from my office is typically pretty standard (hallway, door, windows and people cruising past), last weekend it was simply awesome.

I traveled north to the charming mountain town of Whitefish for Winter Carnival, the Black Star Beer Barter and some sweet shredding at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

And this, my friends, was the view from my “Office for A Day.”

The view into Glacier National Park from the summit at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

So many choices...

It was a beautiful inversion day.

Man, I love that office.
TT

A Piece of Loveliness: Montana’s Bitterroot Valley

A few days ago, I packed my bags and headed south with two of the loveliest ladies in Montana. Our destination? The Bitterroot Valley. Our goal: To experience as much Montana goodness as our little hearts could handle.

And did we ever.

Here’s a peak at our journey…

The Holt Museum at Travelers' Rest in Lolo.

Birding at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

Montana-style wine glasses.

The Daly Mansion.

Trying on hats at Alpaca Hill Drygoods.

Powder Thursday at Lost Trail Powder Mountain.

A display of barbed wire from the mid- to late-1800s at the Ravalli County Museum.

Root beer (is it delicious!) from Higherground Brewing Co. in Hamilton.

It’s been a great week.
TT