My love affair with Montana continues.
Last week, John and I packed up the truck and headed toward what has become a familiar town to us. Our first visit to Bozeman was in the summer of 2010, before we were even dating, to see the new life our dear friends from Utah were making there. After that incredible Fourth of July, we just kept going back. When Spencer’s job moved them to the Bay Area, we were there for the last hurrah in Bozeman (ouch). And when Nancy mentioned that they were planning a return trip to Montana for Spencer’s 40th birthday, it was a no-brainer: we had to be there, too.
We didn’t tell Spencer.
We’ve grown to love the drive to Bozeman- the strange drive-through wildlife park, the first glimpse of the Tetons, a mandatory stop at the Mountain Market and Deli for the world’s best sandwiches. I daydream of ranch life near Ennis and John scopes out the popular fishing zones along the river.
Fun was had from the moment that we rolled in around happy hour on Friday night and yelled, “Surprise!” (Friday also happened to be Nancy’s birthday, so cupcakes were necessary!) There was a birthday party full of old friends on Saturday night. There was a perfect little happy hour on our friends’ back porch. There was a fantastic day of fishing on the Madison River for the boys.
We visited our favorite shops and restaurants- The Root, Plonk, the Cat Eye Café, Blackbird- the sites of so many laughter-filled moments over the last few years.
For the last two nights of our trip, John and I joined the Christiansen clan at Wilderness Edge Resort on Cliff Lake, about two hours from Bozeman. We stayed in adorable, rustic, side-by-side cabins along a creek. Sydney met friends and caught crawdads. Cholula met a friend and wrestled with him daily. The rest of us enjoyed the sunshine, afternoon rainstorms, plenty of adult beverages, fabulous meals, lawn sports, and each other’s company.
We spent a day on the lake, canoeing and paddle-boarding on the aqua water, even diving in for an invigorating, semi-frigid swim. Our last day in Montana was Spencer’s actual birthday, which we celebrated with a few shots of Patron, some kind of random, magical grilled chicken we named Dirty Birdie, and sweet treats with a candle on top.
On Wednesday, John, Cholula and I reluctantly turned the truck toward home while the Christiansens returned to Bozeman for another 5 days of adventure. It was a beautiful morning as we drove down the dirt road toward the highway, away from those cute little cabins, away from our dear friends.
It felt too soon to be leaving, but we’d had yet another fantastic visit to one of our favorite places. Add it to the growing pile of Montana memories. No doubt we’ll make more, sometime soon…we can’t seem to stay away.
Montana does that to you. Once you fall in love, it’s forever.