south central Montana

When we were in college we made the six-hour road trip home to Red Lodge four or five or eight times a year. We went last weekend for the first time since last Memorial Day weekend. The cliches are true: time carries a new set of rules with a kid. It flies. Blink and you may miss out on important milestones. A year? It’s been a year.

We stopped off in one of our favorite places, Chico Hot Springs, for Thursday night. The drive was long and we got in after midnight and would have been earlier but, after nearly hitting a skunk and then a giant rabbit, we happened upon a horrific motorcycle accident. At first we just saw carnage, a dead deer and a down bike and without talking, Andy and I both thought we are going to be looking for a dead body. Thankfully, miraculously, that wasn’t the case. A young kid with shattered legs is what we found. He was sitting up and talking to 911 on his cell phone. Miracle.

We slept in until 8:30 am. Alice, Margot, Andy and me. I woke feeling refreshed and energized by the brilliant sun peeking though our dusty, decades-old curtains. We walked with Alice to espresso only to find the shop closed. I went to the front desk to report the espresso person hadn’t shown up for her shift and the front desk person said they open at 8. I said, But, it’s 9:30. No, it’s 7:30, she said. Our clock in our room was two hours fast. We had risen at 6:30. I suddenly felt exhausted.

We headed back to our cozy room for our new favorite down time activity, a bed romp. Margot loves loves to jump, roll, lean, kiss, hug, giggle and jog on a big bed. It’s the best.

A lazy breakfast, an even lazier soak. Eventually espresso. Another walk. Then back in the car to Red Lodge for the opening weekend of the Beartooth Pass.

After arriving in Red Lodge, Andy immediately headed up to ski. No skiing for me this year. And, I feel like I should justify why I didn’t ski but blah. I am pregnant and didn’t feel like it. I hung around with my ma-in-law. Hiked a bit, sewed a bit, sat outside. Hugged on my family. Ate. I am so hungry. And I am craving mayonnaisy casseroles and salads like the ones old ladies make for funerals. Wonder what’s going on in there that this little critter the size of a grape wants reeser’s potato salad and doritos?

Below is the dress I made for bug (worn over pjs and under her coat. She refuses to take her coat off. Ever. Sleeps in it. Eats in it. When she is especially needy, she wears two coats. Sometimes we manage to distract her and get it off but within minutes, coat?, she pleads.):

And, the big news is Margot now tells us before she has to poo. And, she went in the toilet. We danced around the kitchen and blew bubbles. Chicken adores bubbles. She calls them bahdeez.

Andy and I went on a date. Only the second time out, just the two of us, since Margot was born. And, we decided we needed to do it more often.

We left on Monday and drove west where encountered another car accident. Again, one of the first cars on the scene, we were at the beginning of what ended up being a sting of stopped end-of-long-weekend traffic that went as far as we could see on I-90. The front end of a huge truck was smashed completely off. The guard rail tangled up like a limp noodle. Both driver and passenger were walking and ok. So, I couldn’t help but wonder what all this is supposed to mean. Andy and I talked about it for the last two hours into our Missoula valley. The most basic revelation we came to was the realness of you just never know….really, if we had been 30 seconds earlier in either car accident scenario, we would have beer a part of it. Live. Love. Laugh.

And we came home and did just that. We picked lilacs, ate pickles and rolled in clean laundry on the bed.

24 Responses to south central Montana

  1. Kelle says:

    delight. i remember when you went to red lodge when she was little and reading the post. i love how trips make home even sweeter when we return. funeral mayonnaisey casseroles? bwah ha ha. dude, i gained 30 pounds in college from mayonnaisey casseroles ‘cuz i lived with my grandma and she could make ‘em really good. oh, and yes…they do share the same suit! touche on the poop. seriously. she is such a love.

  2. April says:

    Gorgeous photos and beautiful words.

    Glad you made it there and back safely. You really don’t ever know what’s going to happen. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Kelly says:

    Oh, that bug has such personality! I can envision Lily and Bug hanging in the pool togehter! Aww, how I love that ruffle buns swimsuit!!

  4. paige says:

    cute! rolling in bed… my favorite activity.

    glad you guys are always late… that means you miss out on the accidents.


  5. TRB Holt says:

    Love the ruffled butt, bed jumping, precious moments with GmaJ,(love her too),PG food, Margot’s grin, pool shots @ Chico, YOU and Andy on a date!, walks with my granddaughter & granddogger,kisses for your papa, homemade frocks by mama, cozy coats, poos in the toilet…rewarded by “bahdeez”! and….Remember to be late is very fashionable!!

    xoxoxoxoxo, Mom/Gram

  6. TRB Holt says:

    PS……OH the Montana sky & those mountains, lilacs AND you are MY granddaughter with the love of pickles!!! We will make them together at “Gram Camp”….stay tuned Bug!:) (xo Gram)

  7. Gillian says:

    gorgeous montana pics. makes my just finished post feel goofy cuz my camera skills just can’t capture it all. thank goodness there’s you to back my sorry ass up!

    so true about the moment. the precious present.

    hope to have a precious present moment with you soon@

  8. Melissa says:

    Pregnancy suits you well, inside and out!

    What a great little girl you have. I hope to meet your family when we come visit the Kesslers in July.

    Which brings me to this: I am a little freaked out by our plan to drive from Seattle to Missoula . . . the last time I did that I was in a van with 5 other dancers and I have a fuzzy memory of Taco Time in Spokane. Hmm.

    Glad you had a nice family vacation. xo

  9. alright . . . you got me. I am a reader now. Chico Hot Springs . . . Red Lodge.
    Love the shots.. the big blue sky and roads of the east side captured beautifully!

  10. Loved the post :) That pic of the montana country/mountains?Amazing. The pic of bug and andy? too cute for words :)

  11. FinnyKnits says:

    Ahhhh! The sweetness! Glad you had some soak time in Chico – I still can’t believe we missed you by only one week.

    Excellent cute photo of Margot and Andy :)

    I hope you’ve reached your quota of highway accidents for the year – sheesh.

  12. Joan says:

    Alot packed into a few days. On date night I was bathing Margot and took a quick second to turn to see what Alice was up to and low and behold there she was up on her hind legs eating fresh baked banana bread off the counter. What do ya do? Sigh and grin and let it all unfold without taking the other eye off the babe in the tub. With Alice there was not a crumb to sweep up, no evidence that the loaf was ever there. Good girl Alice. Margot is an absolute scream and hard to take your eyes off of. Thanks for 4 days of perma-grin. Love to you all, GMaJ

  13. Heidi says:

    that open mouth kiss at the bottom is precious! i remember wishing those kisses would never end.

    love that she is so into her coat…and it is a beaut! i’d want to wear it lots too. seeing this post made me more excited than ever for my road trip to michigan!!!!

  14. Kelle says:

    dude. had to come back. and tell you that i love the picture of you and andy in the wash basin stand mirror. that’s what it is, right? a wash basin stand? and the fact that you found a hotel with a wash basin stand…well, that’s the real treat. and the pickle. because lainey likes ‘em too only i find half eaten pickles around the house. and she likes mustard and spicy salsa. i have half a notion right now to jump in car and drive to missoula. xoxo

  15. Anonymous says:

    Thank yoooooou! Long time lurker here. You hit my favorite places in MT! The Beartooths never failed to blow me away when I lived out there in ’91/’92. *sigh* I worked a crap job in Billings but from my desk had a million dollar view of those mountains. Love Chico and go every time I visit (I’m in MD now). I haven’t visited MT since 1998 and now with two kids and a mortgage it’s harder to get back, but your pix have inspired me. I’m going to dig out my photo albums and figure out how to do it in 2010. My husband and I met in Billings so it’s time to show our kids some family history. Just gonna leave out the juiciest bits. :0)
    Thanks again!!

  16. Linda says:

    Love it all Nici, the words, the feelings, the pictures. They put a smile on my face for the first time today, thank you!!

  17. Awesome nature shot! Beautiful! Plus your adorable daughter makes me smile in her cute bathing suit. Bubbles, we blow them every day. The best simple and portable entertainment.

  18. beegirl says:

    Lovely post. You had me at the ruffled swimming suit bottom..

  19. Katie says:

    Margot potty trained by 18 months. I’m calling it now.

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