to Red Lodge and back

We returned last night from our (mostly) annual Memorial Day road trip to Red Lodge, a small town in south central Montana where my husband was born and raised and where we met, awkward middle schoolers.


It is the perfect road trip for the Memorial holiday, for that memorized stretch of highway that crosses through the sacred Montana landscape holds an important, pensive place in our hearts. I am always amazed at how little we talk on this drive, Andy and I. We study the land. We point out the swelling river, increased coal train traffic, bald eagles, antelope, new construction. We talk about what is changing and what is exactly the same. We remember. For our bodies know this journey.


We happily make this pilgrimage with our daughters, knowing the deep appreciation for our home is firmly rooted in their bones. In this week’s mama digs I wrote about this journey and its legacy, my memory of the same as a kid. Click to read almost there.


The Beartooth Pass opens, in theory, every Memorial weekend. Plows cut through 20 feet of snow on a winding mountain road to connect Montana to Wyoming. We ski the pass every May and June. Or, really, I used to before kids. It hasn’t appealed to me as much in the last few years and I’ve instead opted to hang with my kids and family, run my favorite trails, adrenaline pumping as I think every fat tree is a moose.

I’ll ski the pass again. Maybe next year. I’ve been saying that the last three years…The pass didn’t open this year because a fierce storm dropped feet of wet snow, over a foot in the valley.


Imagining we’d have so much time to hang inside I lugged my sewing machine and yards of fabric, planning to stitch up some summer frocks for the girls. Wouldn’t you know, we managed to fill our time just fine.

my aunt and uncle’s property

my mother-in-law picking rhubarb to make a crisp


I love Red Lodge for many reasons, mostly for how little it changes. Every store or restaurant or trail we visit, we run into friends and family. We settle into the familiar, grounding rhythm of being with people we love. Of just hanging out, making messes and cleaning them up. Hanging out some more.

brand new Clara

daddy throwing snowballs at the window


So we are home now and (AND!) we move into our new home on Friday! By ‘move in’ I mean it will be ¬†empty and we can walk around and study every nook that is our very own. But, we plan to stay in our little apartment for a bit longer while we do some messy renovations upstairs. One benefit to our unique living situation is that we’ve saved some money to throw at our new place right away. We plan to do new lighting, wall re-texturing, painting and carpet rip-up right away. Oh yes, there before-and-after galore, y’all. Here’s a little sneak peak at our living room:

living room


23 Responses to to Red Lodge and back

  1. tricia says:

    SO excited to see you before and after photos! Happy Tuesday, mama. :)

  2. Jenn says:

    Ooops. At MamaDigs I told you to have a nice trip. Guess I better read a little better :/ Glad you had a fun time, it looks beautiful. I keep coming back and looking at that first photo. Will you be putting that on SmugMug? Look forward to seeing all the before and afters!

  3. ctb says:

    oh alice.
    woof and love.

  4. Jenn, I just added it to SmugMug! It’s in the ‘adventure’ album.

    Thanks for asking, Nici

  5. Kelle says:

    Love these photos, your trip and the potential in that beautiful new home of yours. It is waiting for Cline life and art and spirit.

  6. Ellie says:

    Wonderful photos from that big Montana sky of yours.

  7. Ciara says:

    Your trip sounds great. Can’t wait to see the photos of your new place! Good luck with the big move.

  8. mumofsix says:

    Adore before and afters. Can’t wait. Your trip pics are gorgeous. How wonderful to have such a familiar place to go to. Still gob smacked by andy’s fences. Art. He is amazing. Take care! Sarah

  9. Eek! I’m so excited to see all of the before and after pics! Yay!

  10. Allison says:

    Your pics and stories make me want to live in Montana!!

  11. Tina says:

    OH! Your posts lift me up when I read them, every time.

    Thnx :)!

  12. Melissa says:

    Ruby is so big! And so blond! Glad you had a good pilgrimage–xo

  13. Delhibound says:

    I love seeing other people’s landscapes … that of their homes, their lives and their travels. This one was lovely. That first shot is breathtaking!

  14. Jean says:

    That describes our trips back and forth across the Montana landscape exactly to a T–what talking there is is exactly what you and Andy talk about.

    So good to hob nob with y’all. I love you guys so much.

    And I am LOVING your photography. Girl can use a camera along with her excellent eye.


  15. I can’t wait to see more of your transition into the new home. Exciting times.

    Your trip looked perfect. How sweet is new baby Clara? GORGEOUS!
    And your ‘pi-bolar weather’ {as discussed on Instagram} fascinates me :)
    Love it.

  16. Minnesotagal says:

    Love this post so much! We live on one amazing planet don’t we !?! Someday we’re going to trek out to MT. I remember driving through it time and again as a child as we drove (and camped out of a wood paneled station wagon) from MN to CA to visit my grandma. I’d love to do a verison of that trip again. Yellowstone to Glacier (maybe even via Missoula…) is on my short list!

    Your pictures of the road look exactly like Andy’s paintings! I think he should do the one with your toes. ;)

    Can’t wait to see your new home evolve!

    Oh and is that mud on Margot’s shoes – oh my!!

  17. May says:

    Holy cow, look at that sky. And look at that new baby. Both beautiful.

    I have a Margot of my own, and I love seeing photos of your girls. Thanks for sharing.

  18. FinnyKnits says:

    OH! You Before and After temptress! I can’t wait to see what you all do and how you make that place all your very own.

    As always, love the Alice photos, too.

  19. Your tale on Mamalode this week reminds me of the summer our family drove my aunt’s car from Portland, Oregon back to Philadelphia, PA. OMG, the endless road, the fighting, the playing, the need to find an outhouse in the middle of nowhere. The flatness of Kansas seemed to stretch forever. And my poor parents – I cannot imagine how much they had to endure.

    That pix of Alice with a smile a mile wide made me laugh. Sounds like a great adventure to the birth of your relationship. Good luck on the house renovations – if the transformation is anything like installing a fence, it shall be nothing less than amazing and creative and satisfying.



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