Montana is one of my favorite places on earth, especially the The Cabin. Like last year and the year before, I spent a couple weeks at the cabin for this year's 4th of July. Last year was interesting because I met Trish two days before my vacation. This year, she joined me for the 2nd week, along with her Dad. It was also the "90s Reunion" for the Seeley Swan High School, which I attended my freshman and sophomore year.
My parents have lived at the cabin for a little over a year now, having retired there last year. It now looks like it did when we were kids. That is, it feels like home rather than just a cabin in the woods. Their retirement cabin is coming along nicely and the finished bathroom with a toilet + shower provides a nice break from the outhouse and sauna. It was interesting to see all the logging being done on The Homestead. My parents hired someone to clean things up and it looks great so far. They're not clear-cutting, just thinning the forest to reduce fire danger and give more resources to the big trees.
There were several highlights of the trip, but one of my favorites was our Float in the Swan Valley Parade. Abbie came up with the idea (Happy Birthday America) and we decorated an old trailer with streamers, balloons and a birthday cake to celebrate. Abbie made up a song and sang it throughout the entire parade (with a portable microphone and amp). We all got dunked afterwards, drank some cheap beer and had lots of fun fiddlin' and swinging. The fireworks that night were epic and Trish and I were amazed late night when we smiled on a crowded campfire with many of my parents' old friends.
The next day, we woke up, recovered a bit and then headed for Glacier National Park. We spent the afternoon at Big Sky Waterpark and had a great night's rest at Glacier Mountain Lodge. Trish woke up early the next morning for some sunrise shots at Lake McDonald and we enjoyed a short hike to Avalanche Lake that afternoon. Unfortunately, Going-to-the-Sun Road was closed due to snow so we were unable to drive to the top. 2011 is the latest they've ever opened.
The rest of our vacation was spent doing early morning airport runs, riding the 4-wheeler, golfing and hanging out with old friends. For the trip home, we took the scenic route, driving through Yellowstone and Grand Teton. We stopped along the way to spend the night at Jackson Lake Lodge, shortly after marveling at a Grizzly Bear and her two cubs along the highway. Trish snapped some some magnificent sunset and sunrise photos and we packed up the car for the final journey home. After being gone for 3 weeks, I've never seen the kids happier to cross the Colorado State Line.
As far as vacation destinations go, Montana is one of my favorites. This year was special because I had the pleasure of sharing it with Trish. She's always wanted to photograph Glacier National Park and the Grand Tetons and we were lucky enough to visit both. I also got to share a lot of smiles and memories with old classmates and friends. I experienced the joy of seeing my parents back home, living as Montanans once again and loving every minute of it. I smiled proudly as Abbie thought up the "Happy Birthday America" float and then sang on it the whole way through the parade. I simply loved spending so much time with my family in such a beautiful place.
Finally, I'd like to share a picture montage that Trish put together of the trip. Below that are some of her best shots from our adventures. As always, you can find see my latest photos on Flickr.