Montana done right (part two).

So, where did I leave off?

Ah, yes. Day Three of our Montana adventure. (Read about the first couple of days here!)

As I mentioned, this whole trip was planned around one thing– surprising our friend, Spencer, with a “one night only” visit (complete with a Blitzen Trapper concert). So on Friday morning, we buttoned up camp for the night and drove the 2+ hours into Bozeman. (Side note: Two hours with a giant “puppy” in your lap is far more manageable than seven.) In cahoots with Spencer’s lovely wife, Nancy, we had a loose plan to meet up at the Cat Eye Café. It’s been one of our favorite brunch spots over the years, and would be a great spot for a surprise. Plus, they have mimosas in pint glasses. Ya, it was going to be that kind of day.

John and I got to the restaurant first, ordered 4 mimosas, and hid behind menus. They walked in to find us waiting, and a few hugs, laughs, and clinking pint glasses kick-started an awesome- and busy– day.

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We discussed our options for the afternoon, packed up the hounds, and headed toward Hylite Lake. As we drove up the winding road, I was reminded that this was the first place Spencer and Nancy took us when we visited Bozeman for the first time.

Then:

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Now:

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It was just so perfect. On our way back down to town, the boys dropped a line in the creek. John even caught a fish. So far, a great day with friends.

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Our friend Leslie joined us for a fun dinner at one of the few good restaurants our friends hadn’t taken us to yet. Many drinks later, we arrived at The Filling Station, known to locals as “The Filler.” On our last visit, we stopped in to see the joint. In the daytime, it’s a feast for the eyes.

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At night, it was a packed house- small enough to really rock. Blitzen Trapper was a great show!

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What a night.

The next morning was lazy. We took our time getting back on the road, licking our wounds and eager to get back to our lakeside oasis. We spent the afternoon on the shore, playing with Cholula and her new boyfriend- a year-old Golden Retriever named Shep.

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I was pretty excited about dinner on Day Four. The menu: grilled chicken sammies with pesto, roasted red peppers, and pepper jack cheese served with grilled veggies and a salad of corn, avocado, tomato and arugula. A scrumptious dinner at our al fresco dining table was the perfect welcome back to the lake.

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Our last morning began simply, with coffee and magazines, cereal and milk. John paddled around the lake for a bit, and then we decided to explore the other side of the lake. There was a fork in the dirt road that we had heard led to a little shorefront resort of some kind. We thought we’d pack up some food and check it out.

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The resort, called Wilderness Edge, was a cluster of cabins tucked into a ravine. It wasn’t really on the water, but a wink and a smile got us permission to pass through the property to a little dock. The view from this end was just as lovely as the other side of the lake. We had lunch while Cholula grew fins. On our way out, we traded stares with a big eagle for awhile.

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Oh, right. THIS WAS MONTANA.

When we returned to camp, the wind had picked up enough that we decided to spend happy hour inside. A plate of cheese and crackers, drinks, and blackjack- this was precisely why we decided to upgrade from the back of the truck to a trailer in the first place!

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After I won all of John’s chips, we pieced together a dinner of leftovers and hit the sack early, but not before being treated to a big moon over the lake.

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We awoke early, unintentionally. Maybe the 7-hour drive ahead of us was on our minds. Maybe our thoughts were on the big party we were hosting the next day. Or maybe we just didn’t want to delay the inevitable- saying goodbye to Cliff Point Lake and to Montana. Our beautiful, early drive through a sunlit canyon didn’t make it any easier to leave.

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I don’t do well with goodbyes. Let’s just say, “See you soon.”

Because we will. 

21 replies »

  1. If Liz sees your photos, she will definitely change her line to … “I want to go to there and never come back”!
    The lake reminds me of one we saw last year while hiking in Estes Park, CO. Can’t wait to go back … just a few more weeks. I’ll just look at your photos until then.

      • We will move to Colorado early next year, so we are taking a “working vacation”, looking at houses and hiking. I loved Estes Park, I want to see more of it. I want to see more of Colorado altogether. New York has always felt like a temporary home to me for some reason. And last September, when we were in Colorado (my first time there), it just clicked… it felt like home.

      • It’s a big, wide open state! Let me know if you make it into the Southwest corner of Colorado. I lived in Durango for 10 years and have a lot of suggestions for that area. You’ll be closer to me in Utah when you live there!

      • We both love hiking, so once we are there we plan to explore all the nearby states. Utah and Montana are high on the list.

        Thank you for the offer! I am sure we will need all the suggestions we can get. We are heading to Denver initially, mostly due to our work background (and because someone – umm, me – needs to learn how to drive before moving further out – yes, 34 and never drove a mile).

        Have a great weekend!

      • Keep me posted! Also, I learned to drive on the long, empty roads of Colorado when I was in high school on a road trip with my parents. You’ll be fine! Have a good day!

      • I will, thank you!

        I drove a little bit on a dirt road in Iceland during our honeymoon and let’s just say…empty road, no trees, really old, beat-up car (or a tank, if possible), a helmet, knee and arm pads – these are a few of the things I will need for my first driving lesson. But, I will learn.

      • I am pretty sure my driving will be a summer thing… at least for the first 5 years or so. My husband needs to watch over me whenever I use the stove, so me on the driver’s seat during winter is most likely his biggest nightmare.

  2. Lovely. We’re planning a weekend trip back to CO sometime in August before the kids go back to school. Not enough time for camping, but it’ll be our first get-away together in more than 10 years. You’re posts are whetting my appetite for going west again this year — only no kids!

      • You read right. No kids. 🙂

        No itinerary yet — still working on one for a 4-day weekend. Starting in Denver, we’ll most likely drive west. I’d rather it be Salt Lake City, but there’s a significant increase in air fare. Can’t wait!

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

      • Wow! In fact, the last time we were out in CO together with no kids — only a few years into our marriage — we explored from Farmington, NM to Telluride, Ouray, Cortez. Would love to go back there again, but I’d want to take the kids, too. It is truly that — stunning.

      • I was going to suggest the loop- Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, Delores, Mancos, Durango. Sounds like you did it! Must bring the kids. They would love the train ride to Silverton.

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