We had a lovely trip home to Montana to see my folks and play. The wildflowers were raging, and everything was surprisingly green, especially compared to last year's
near-Sodom-and-Gomorrah forest fire pea soup smoke that canceled most of the fun plans. We played plenty hard this summer. Boston and Leslie spent every spare minute outside chasing down the cats or shooting their marshmallow guns my mom made with them, and Cooper loved getting to play with the new host of toys, some left behind by his little cousin Jaxon, who we just missed seeing by a few days. It was so great to have a change of pace--I think the kids watched a total of an hour and a half of TV in five days--that's really saying something. Our first full day we were there we went to the Montana state fair. Let me ask you--what other Grandma would purchase HERSELF a free-ride bracelet just so she could hang out with Leslie all afternoon. I had no idea my mom was such a wild woman, I guess because whenever we went to the fair growing up, she was on baby holding detail. I couldn't believe some of the rides they went on while Mark and I were off with my dad and the boys, looking at model train exhibits, quilt, car, tractor, taxidermy, and art displays and petting all the animals. We did get Boston to go on one ride (he's kind of a chicken about that kind of thing still...) but it turned out rather badly. They were on these nice little race cars that went around a track. He went with Leslie but was totally freaked out by the jerky way they went around the corners, so he howled through the whole thing. Oh well, that saved us more than a few bucks.
The second day we went to the lake to try out my Dad's big new boat. Of course, he'd been fretting for days that the wind would blow and ruin our trip (The weather is culpable for everything that goes wrong in my parents' life and always has been. That's what it means to be a farmer I guess. I hope in the next life he has a little more say over what the clouds brew up. Maybe he could be an assistant grand rainmaker and thunder thrower.) As expected, the lake was white-capping and my folks were so disappointed. I, however, was taking a deep sigh of relief gazing around at a huge lake with only one other boat on the whole of it, after feeling so claustrophobic during any outdoor activity on the crowded Wasatch front. We couldn't land the boat at the beach because it would get knocked too badly against the rocks, so we all loaded in and ate our picnic lunch and swam in a calm pocket behind the dam. I love boats and we had a great time. Here's poor Coopy in his girly life jacket eating Oreos in the bottom of the boat while the rest of us are having a water fight.
PS. While we were out playing some hairy hippies from Connecticut who apparently didn't understand the solemn law of privacy during outdoor activity in Montana came and parked their truck within three feet of ours on OUR beach. After WE had even chased the cows away and set up chairs and stuff. And they had miles and miles of beach to choose from. They must have heard me say how nice it was not to feel crowded. I just had to laugh.
The next day was Saturday and we took it easy playing at home, except that I dragged Mark and Leslie on a little educational field trip. My Dad used to lease some land that included a long, narrow hill, untouched by modern civilization, that is completely coated in tepee rings. (For those of you who don't know, tepee rings are these large groups of heavy rocks, arranged in circles to secure the tepees. When the Indians left, the rocks remained, many also piled in fire pits in the middle of where the tepees would have been.) He no longer leases that land, so we did a bit of hiking and mild trespassing...the owners of the coral and pasture and barbed wire fences we had to climb through are on a mission in Africa. (Ssshhh, don't tell, Mark couldn't help but try out their private professional baseball diamond while Leslie and I picked the stickers out of our socks when we were done. The ball and bat were just laying there.) It was beautiful on the top of the hill, with a spring below that probably watered their horses and a 360 degree view-for-miles so no one could sneak up on them, I guess. We were going to count how many rings we spotted, but we lost track. I'm guessing between 20 and 25. I gave Leslie a small mossy rock from one of them to take for show and tell. She was so cute about it. "Wow! A piece of real life all the way from Montana." Here are some pictures of Leslie in the middle of a ring, a shot of an entire ring that's kind of hard to see in a photo because the rings are so large and slightly buried or hiding in the grass. Also I have to include a fabulous shot, taken by me, of the view from this hill. That Paramount Pictures type mountain is called Haystack, and you can also see it from my parents house. The ridge-looking thing along the river is actually a pishkun--a buffalo jump where the hunters would chase them over the cliff to kill them because it was much easier and safer to the hunter. Easy pickins I guess.
Sunday was next, and it was all about getting to go to the old ward where everybody knows your name and knew your great-grandmother, and has an opinion about who your kids look like. So nice. Then, of course, we stuff ourselves with my mom's famous roast beef, potatoes and gravy feast and wallow around laughing or sleeping the rest of the day.
Monday was an extra special treat. Mom still had the day off work, so she and Dad offered to watch our kids THE ENTIRE DAY, (this means breakfast through dinner, folks) while Mark and I took a romantic day trip to Glacier National Park (only the most beautiful stretch of mountains in the entire world.) Mark had never been because every time we go up to Montana we are so sick of being in the car we can't stomach a full day of driving around. Well, without having to pander to the three little terrorists in the backseat, this actually sounded kind of fun and adventurous.
It was very clear and beautiful and Mark and I had fun in a little contest trying to take the best picture. The highlight of the trip was driving on the legendary Going-to-the-Sun highway that is actually carved into the side of the glacier-scraped ring of mountains, very close to the summit. The view is just incredible, with cascades of glacier runoff spraying you at every bend, and you get up there and can't believe the crazy crazy courage (and at least a few lives) it must have taken to build something so preposterously beautiful to take the people to the literal tops of the mountains. I had to make a comment to Mark about perhaps someday having the Lord's house in the tops of these mountains. He was speechless and just whistled "How Great Thou Art" out his open window.
When we finally got back that night we found out that the kids had been nearly perfect, so we are so glad we went. I guess Boston showed Grandpa just a little sass. When my Dad, in his blustery, loud, teasing voice, told Boss, "When I say no I MEAN NO!" Boston looked right back at him and answered, "When I say yes, I MEAN YES!" Dad didn't say who finally gave in on that argument. We left the next day and it was a long yucky ride, but it was so nice to get home. I so love my house. It still smells like fresh cut wood when no one has been around for a week to stink it up.