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Remembering the Joy of Travel

Last week, I packed my Montana lovin’ bags and headed to California for work. While en route, I sat in front of a daddy and his two little ones (I’m guessing they were three and four). And, as fate would have it, got the goodness gracious kicked out of my seat for the duration of the two+ hour long flight. Part of it, I’m sure, was the boredom of being trapped on a plane when you’re that age. (Heck, even at my age I fit it hard to sit still for that long). And part of it, I’m sure, was how excited they were to be soaring through the sky on a new adventure.

As we continued on our journey and flew above incredible places like Crater Lake in Oregon, I could hear their little voices exclaiming things like, “This is the BEST plane ride ever!” and “Did you see the clouds? They look like candy!” And I realized something. Something that, shame on me, I had forgotten for a moment due to a number of reasons.

Traveling is about joy.

It’s about creating new experiences, seeing new things, making memories and connecting with people in a way that you perhaps didn’t anticipate. When I boarded that plane the only thoughts going through my head were “Man, I’m tired.” and “I hope our pilot is trustworthy.” (Can you tell I’m a bit of a worrier?)

And now?

I feel quite fortunate that I sat where I did on that plane. The kids helped me remember to always be in the moment, to look forward to each new experience and to find the joy in every journey I take, whether it’s filled with smooth flights and blue skies or stormy weather and turbulence.

And while it’s not the most fun to have your seat jostled by little munchkin feet, I’m sure glad they were there.

Wishing you joy in all of your travels and adventures,
TT

Happiness.

Touring Montana’s Highway 200

Last week, I took a little overnight trip along Highway 200 in Western Montana. And as I traveled farther north and west away from my home in the “city,” I cruised through the area’s small communities, past fields filled with horses and cattle and some strikingly beautiful scenery.

And I started feeling something. As I continued to drive and soak up my surroundings, I realized what it was…I felt at home.

There’s something about this corner of Western Montana (located about equal distances from Kalispell and Missoula) that is innately special. And while I can’t pinpoint one single thing that makes it that way, I can say this…it delivered exactly what I was looking for at that moment in time.

Cruising Highway 200.

The color of the Flathead River at the Kookoosint Fishing Access Site was stunning.

Hello cutest welcome sign ever.

The Old Jail Museum in Thompson Falls.

When traveling through Tour 200, keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep.

Happiness.

I literally cannot wait to go back.
TT

PS: If you’re heading through the Tour 200 area, be sure to stop at Linda’s Montana Gifts & Gallery in Thompson Falls, Sunflower Gallery (it’s an artist co-op with locally crafted Made in Montana furniture, jewelry, photograph and artwork) in Thompson Falls and Auntie Pamela’s Antiques & More in Trout Creek.

It was a beautiful inversion day.

Whitefish, Montana: Pretty Prettiness

While the view from my office is typically pretty standard (hallway, door, windows and people cruising past), last weekend it was simply awesome.

I traveled north to the charming mountain town of Whitefish for Winter Carnival, the Black Star Beer Barter and some sweet shredding at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

And this, my friends, was the view from my “Office for A Day.”

The view into Glacier National Park from the summit at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

So many choices...

It was a beautiful inversion day.

Man, I love that office.
TT

Root beer (is it delicious!) from Higherground Brewing Co. in Hamilton.

A Piece of Loveliness: Montana’s Bitterroot Valley

A few days ago, I packed my bags and headed south with two of the loveliest ladies in Montana. Our destination? The Bitterroot Valley. Our goal: To experience as much Montana goodness as our little hearts could handle.

And did we ever.

Here’s a peak at our journey…

The Holt Museum at Travelers' Rest in Lolo.

Birding at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

Montana-style wine glasses.

The Daly Mansion.

Trying on hats at Alpaca Hill Drygoods.

Powder Thursday at Lost Trail Powder Mountain.

A display of barbed wire from the mid- to late-1800s at the Ravalli County Museum.

Root beer (is it delicious!) from Higherground Brewing Co. in Hamilton.

It’s been a great week.
TT

Welcome to Montana.

Living on Montana Time

I like to go for drives. Sometimes there’s a specific destination in mind, while other times I’ll jump in the car and see where the road takes me, just for the fun of it.

Last week, I grabbed my partner in crime and we headed up Highway 12 toward Lolo Pass. The goal? To see what we could see. And we saw a lot.

Lolo Pass Visitor Center

Welcome to Montana.

A modern-day explorer with Lewis & Clark.

A bronze of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Tribe.

Snowmobilers at Lolo Pass. (I was REALLY tempted to jump on the back of one of their sleds).

Lolo Hot Springs. A winter soak, anyone?

One of the coolest bars in Montana: The Jack.

Here’s to many more adventures.

xoxo,
TT

The view en route to Missoula.

Christmas in the Country

I grew up in the sticks. And every year I look forward to going home to my little town for Christmas. Home to a cozy house, warm stove, twinkling lights, hugs from my mom and family traditions. This year was no different. I was itching to leave the “big city” and get home.

So I packed up my holiday cheer, loaded the car and made the journey over the river(s), through the woods, across a mountain pass and onto the rolling hills along the Rocky Mountain Front where I was greeted by the snow-covered peaks of the mountains and hearty helpings of hometown cheer.

Winter wonderland.

My family (the mama and the papa) own an old-time general store in Augusta, where we’ve started the tradition of hosting a Christmas Eve open house. And in a family that loves spreading holiday cheer and thinks it’s appropriate to hug everyone we see, you better believe we try to do it up right. Which means dressing up in ridiculous outfits, making lots of yummy treats and singing in the store. (Yep, singing).

A Christmas elf and Mrs. Claus.

You can't be a true elf without magical elf booties.

Mama Claus and Brother Elf. Yep, they're dancing.

This is how we do Christmas in Montana.

After a few full days, I bid my goodbyes and headed back to the west side of the mountains. And while I felt a little tired from the chaos that is Christmas (being an elf is hard work!), my heart was full and happy.

The view en route to Missoula.

It was a good visit.

Here’s to a cheery, love-filled and joyful 2012.
TT

We decked the halls (and windows) at the store.

Giving Thanks

Last week, I packed my bags and headed for my childhood home. During the two-hour drive over the river, across the mountain pass and through the woods to my folks, I had an excited anticipation of just being home. My schedule this summer and fall (between weddings, adventures and daily life) got the best of me and I hadn’t been home for a few months. For this mama’s girl, that was simply too long.

And, to my delight, it seemed like the weather wanted me to get home as badly as I wanted to. Tuesday afternoon greeted me with this…

Clear roads and snow-kissed mountains.

After I arrived home, this was my first stop.

The family store.

For my family, the store almost seems like a more natural first stop than home. Likely, because much our growing up years were spent there. It was there that we spent hours stocking groceries on the shelves, unloading trucks, continually cleaning the more than 100-year-old building and waiting on customers (which was always my favorite part).

While we spent ample time at the store over Thanksgiving break, we also made sure to spend time together at home. Cooking, cleaning, watching movies, laughing and having long overdue visiting sessions.

The view from Lover's Lane.

We decked the halls (and windows) at the store.

Baby brother.

And for this girl, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Wishing you each lots of love, joy, friendship, peace and warmth during this Christmas and holiday season.

Montana hugs to you,
TT

Pre-wedding, looking out at Whitefish Lake. Photo courtesy Holley Schmid

Autumn + Wedding=LOVE

Last weekend, we headed north for the wedding of a dear friend, Sara, as she married her prince charming, Clay (Ahhhh). The wedding was at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake and it was beautiful. Not only was the bride glowing, but the location was absolutely perfect.

Pre-wedding, looking out at Whitefish Lake. Photo courtesy Holley Schmid

After a fun-filled weekend, one of our friends needed to catch a flight out of Missoula so we jumped in the car and made our way back to the Garden City. And I have to tell you, it was a gorgeous day for a drive. The air was crisp, the sky was blue and the Mission Mountains were stunning.

Driving into Polson, Montana.

Cruising through downtown Polson.

Ninepipes Wildlife Refuge

Autumn weddings may be my new favorite thing.

Until next week,
TT

Checking out a plane used by smokejumpers at the Smokejumper Visitor Center in Missoula, Montana.

Five Days in Glacier Country, Montana

Happy first day of autumn! I hope this finds you each well, relishing the past months of summer and looking forward to a beautiful fall.

Last week, I headed off for a few days with two of my favorite Montana ladies and some friends from Europe. We were together a total of five days (give or take a few hours) and definitely made the most of our time by exploring Western Montana’s Glacier Country and cramming in as much fun as we possibly could.

Our trip included exploring Whitefish, Missoula and Kalispell, sampling beer from Great Northern Brewery, zip lining/Walk in the Treetops at Whitefish Mountain Resort, a trail ride at Bar W Guest Ranch, lake cruises on Whitefish Lake and Flathead Lake, a red bus tour in Glacier National Park, checking out museums, rafting, hiking and eating delicious food from Whitefish to Somers and Missoula to Charlo. But instead of just telling you about it, I’m going to show you.

A boat ride aboard 'Lady of the Lake' on Whitefish Lake.

Traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road in our red bus.

Beautiful McDonald Creek in Glacier National Park.

Lake McDonald Lodge, Glacier National Park

The Far West docking in Lakeside, Montana.

Ninepipes Museum in Charlo, Montana

A Kootenai Indian Dress on display at Ninepipes Museum.

A kayaker enjoying a late summer paddle on Brennan's Wave in Missoula, Montana.

We rode the Carousel!

Checking out a plane used by smokejumpers at the Smokejumper Visitor Center in Missoula, Montana.

Until next week,
TT

We found some beauties!

Montana’s Labor Day Weekend: A Photo Recap

I love Labor Day weekend. It’s a time to decompress, play and recharge my batteries before fall gets truly underway. This year’s holiday weekend included a wedding, swimming in hot springs, candy and sapphire mining. But instead of telling you all about, I’m going to let the photos do the talking.

Traveling east to the Rocky Mountain Front.

Traveling west along the Rocky Mountain Front.

We heart Philipsburg.

Here's hoping chocolate really does slow down aging. (The Sweet Palace, Philipsburg)

I'm convinced that The Sweet Palace is full of magic.

Mining sapphires near Philipsburg.

We found some beauties!

Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Loop (one of the prettiest drives in Montana)

Local landmark - the elephant along I-90.

‘Twas a good weekend.
TT