Goodbye, Montana!

Before leaving Montana, Natalie said she prayed to see at least one deer with antlers.  As we drove away from the cabin for the last time, we spotted a group of six deer; and one had antlers.  Yes, God cares about the little things!

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Our last day was filled with cleaning, packing, and driving.  The morning went smooth, and we made a final stop to M and S for some buffalo jerky, cherries, and huckleberry soda.  Perfect snacks for the drive ahead!

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We headed back through Idaho…

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…Back into Washington…

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And I just loved this flag we saw.  It was huge, though the picture doesn’t do it justice.

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The drive was long, but beautiful.  Though it was hard to say goodbye, going home is always so sweet.  After our second flight was delayed, and we had trouble getting our car from the airport, we finally made it back home by2:30am… and the kids were up at their normal 6:30am!  Home again, home again!

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Montana, Part 7

Our girl loves horses… but can you imagine getting to learn to ride in MONTANA?  It doesn’t get much better!  Day 7 began early as we drove to Whitefish for a day of horse camp.  We stopped at Mudman’s for the best breakfast sandwiches, first.

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We didn’t stay long.  The allure of kid-free time was too much.  In hindsight, I wish we stayed a tad longer to at least watch them ride a little.

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(They let Natalie borrow some boots!)

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The kids were so excited and seemed totally comfortable, so off we went.  We drove around a bit and explored, stopping to take  a picture and eat lunch at Whitefish lake.  We also hit a few other stores before heading back to pick the kids up.

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When we returned, the kids were all smiles.  Pam showed us pictures and videos of them riding horses, playing in the water, and doing crafts.  what an incredible day of camp!

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One last picture… the kids are hoping to go back for the full week next year…

And that concludes our last full day in Montana!  I’ll have one last wrap-up post to come!

Montana, Part 6

Day 6…  See, these two do actually love each other!

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Father, son time:

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Check out what we spotted — a wild turkey!

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That afternoon we headed out to Kalispell for some Montana Coffee Trader’s, and then on to Whitefish.  The huckleberry soda was soooo yummy.  The pastries were good, but it was the end of the day so there wasn’t much selection.  Still, I had to hit my favorite bakery spot!

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From there we went to Whitefish specifically to see Potter’s Field Ministries, since our church has been a long time partner with them and they come to visit and give their testimony every  November.  We were blessed to be greeted by Pam Rozell, who gave us a full tour of the facility and church, and invited the kids back to go to horse camp the next day.  They were thrilled.  We were thrilled.  Everything about this trip was a blessing!

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On our way out, we stopped at the Army Navy store and got some shoes…

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And that was  day 6!

Montana, Part 5

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Among the many other benefits of staying at a cabin is that we were able to cook most of our meals and didn’t “need” to go out until day 5!  Like the other days, the morning was cool and was perfect for a Sunday brunch with giant mugs of hot chocolate for the kids.

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While we lingered over coffee and getting to spend time with Carol and Gary, the kids went outside and played on the rocks.  Alas, we had to join them!

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Random deer picture from our drive back to the cabin!

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Once back at the cabin, we changed into our swimsuits and Uncle Gary took us for another ride on the pontoon boat, only this time the kids (and Daniel) got pulled behind it!

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Everyone had a blast.  They will never forget their first time being dragged behind a boat!

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Another random deer shot as we decided to go back into town for Dairy Queen blizzards,

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And, Daniel made me take this picture; they actually have cop cars with dummies inside.  I don’t know how he noticed, but I took a picture for him.  Looking closely at this picture, I just noticed that even the logo on the car says “decoy.”  Good ol’ Montana!

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Montana, part 4

Day 4… alas!  Every one of my Montana posts I want to declare is my favorite for different reasons.  This day held absolutely no plans, the weather was somewhat dreary and unpredictable, and yet it was just right.  This is truly vacation to me!

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First thing in the morning, Sierra and Natalie were anxious to get back out to their rock shop with their new sign.  We had fun trading rocks for a good chunk of the morning.

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And we spotted a bald eagle — it was breath-taking!

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More games and coloring…

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The big girls wanted to go kayaking, so Daniel took them and Malachi while Sierra and I went on a nature walk.  Our goal was to capture a deer and a chipmunk on camera — check!  Sierra also brought along her journal to draw some pictures.

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When they got back from kayaking, it was Natalie’s turn to go on a nature walk.  We captured a butterfly, several birds, but no deer this time.

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Natalie and I took several bird pictures.  Natalie is my “bird girl.”  Above on the left was a bird with a green beak.  We came home and Googled it, and it turns out it is a evening grosbeak finch.  So fun to make new discoveries!

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That night we drove into town for some Dairy Queen Blizzards.  This last picture was probably taken around 9:45pm.  We so enjoyed the late evenings!

Montana, Part 3

Mornings in Montana… glorious mornings!  Fire in the fireplace.  Always.  Something simple cooked by the husband.  (I did NO cooking or dishes while in Montana).  And card games… picking up where we left off the night before. Not a care in the world.  Glorious.

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I don’t know who took the next picture, but I found it worthy to include simply because Malachi spent hours at that little glass table playing with one little box of Legos that were there.  Now I know; next vacation bring a little box of legos, for sure!

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Day 3.  We actually made it out of the house by 10:15am and walked down to camp for their closing worship service.

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Look who else came to worship!

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Afterwards, we took the kids down to the jumping cliff to show them where they would be jumping later.  It was a tad cold, so they weren’t super excited, but we had talked about it so much before coming that they just couldn’t help but try!

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We walked back, got our suits on, and kayaked to the mini cliff where they would jump. We were too nervous to bring our camera in case it fell in the water, but the picture of both Sierra and Malachi as they emerged I will never forget.  Poor things were in shock from the cold and almost in tears.  Brave Allison id it twice.  And, Natalie handled it  like a champ, but said never again unless it warms up.  Ha!  Great memory.

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We came back and my Uncle Brook and cousin Johann arrived.  We munched on the Flathead Cherries they brought, and headed out on the pontoon boat with my other Uncle Gary.

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Uncle Gary has such history with the lake, and is a wonderful tour guide!

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Daniel made tacos for dinner.  Then we did s’mores for the win!

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Sierra and Natalie set up a “rock trading shop.”  Uncle Brook broke the rock they gave him in half and claimed it was a faulty rock and he wanted to return it.  That rock now sits in our home; a favorite memory from the trip.  Sierra and Natalie call it a “best friend” rock, and each keeps half.

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That evening before bed, (which was around 10pm since it stays so light), we looked out the window to see this fabulous rainbow.  Nobody could find the camera, so we realized it was left by the dock.  Sweet Allison offered to go look, and took this picture on her way back.  I’m so glad she did, because by the time she got back the rainbow was gone!

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Another great day in Montana…

Montana, Part 2

I’m realizing after uploading these pictures that I’m going to need several more Montana posts to get it all in.  I just can’t seem to edit down many pictures because 1) Montana is so beautiful and 2)  I want to remember every moment of such a fantastic trip!

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Our first full day began with exploring our surroundings via kayaks.

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My aunt and uncle had 5 kayaks for us to use, o we all got to go out at once; what a blessing!

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I love their fire pit; an old propane tank end carved and re=purposed as a personal fire pit!

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The water was… cold.  The weather was… not too hot.  But, swimming was still fabulous!  The entire trip we saw lots of rain, lots of sun, and cool temps; in my opinion the perfect weather!

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After lunch on the deck and some more game playing, we headed out to Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp, which is less than a quarter mile from the cabin.  Throughout the trip, we took advantage of my old stomping grounds, where I once was a camp counselor and hiked the trails and played on the low ropes course.  This night we hiked up my favorite trail, “Sunset.”

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It was so, so fun to have my cousin Katie with us this day.  I wish we could have kept her our entire time!

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Family Christmas picture?

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Check out the size of those dandelions!

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We ate dinner at camp that night, and I was blessed to visit with some old counselor friends who had returned for family camp.  We stayed to enjoy the family camp activities.  Malachi spent most of the time napping in Katie’s arms.  Allison, Natalie, and Daniel liked the slack line best!

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Around 9pm, Katie took Natalie and Sierra to campfire while the rest of us headed back to the cabin.  (We were all exhausted, but N and S couldn’t bare to say goodnight to Katie, yet!)

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Bedtime snack.

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Bedtime stories.

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Goodnight, day 2!

Montana, part 1

We arrived to Spokane early in the morning, and were thankful for a hotel across the street.  The next morning, we had a wonderful breakfast just looking out at the beautiful skies.  We stopped in Couer D’ Lain for lunch, and then in St. Regis for Huckleberry milkshakes, Northwest Cherries, and some card playing.  I thought I would burst with joy!

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Just as we pulled up to the south end of Flathead Lake, we were greeted with this spectacular rainbow.  I took a quick picture through the car window.

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When we arrived at my aunt and uncle’s cabin, it was pouring outside, but super cozy inside.  There was a fire in the fireplace, smiles and hugs from family members, and hors’ deurves and dinner waiting.  I felt so spoiled!

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My cousin Peter and his wife and their little John stayed an extra day to greet us.  Little John loved Sierra and wouldn’t stop hugging her. My cousin Katie was also visiting from Michigan and such a blessing to be with.

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I am so grateful my aunt and uncle blessed us with a wonderful week at their cabin.  Thank you, Carol and Gary!

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Lots more pictures to come…

Home Again, Home Again

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We got home {very} early this morning from the {most} wonderful family vacation I could have imagined.  Look at the lovely sunflower that greeted us!  Ironically, we listened to the audio book of The Secret Garden throughout our trip, so coming home to this “magic” truly inspired me!  I can’t wait to share my 500 pictures with you; ha!  I am already feeling like summer is nearing an end and I have much to do, but getting at least some of the pictures up on the blog is definitely a priority.  Right now going to bed is priority!  Good night!