We are now two-thirds of the way through our summer tour out west, and are about to turn east and slowly head back to The Villages. But first, we have some more visiting, sightseeing and hiking to do in the Rockies… This is Mill Creek, east of Emigrant and Pray, Montana. See how many houses, cars and people you can pick out in the photo…
I got lots of hiking in while My Lovely Bride made a quick trip to Albuquerque, NM, to teach her Serving Spirit course. When she returned to Montana, we went on a hike together in the Beartooths… I think she is making a face because of the name, which implies some relationship with the “business end” of grizzlies. (Note: we did carry industrial cans of bear spray, but I never saw a bruin in several solo hikes into the area.)
Wildflowers were in bloom due to recent rain, and this species was prevalent in a burn area where I hiked; the Ponderosa pines were all dead from a lightning-generated fire, but wildflowers, plants and seedlings had returned.
Hopefully, in 20-25 years only experts will know that this area had burned, but for now, it looks pretty grim.
Our last day along the Yellowstone River south of Livingston, Montana, provided this view of the Absaroka-Beartooth mountains and wilderness at dusk. If it weren’t for the bitter winters, I could live here quite happily. Summers are mild (75 F is a warm day) and the crowds are rather small… like, nonexistent! And the fishing is good – I mentioned to some friends that I had caught and released three brown trout in the Yellowstone, and My Good Friend Bob asked, “And what happened when you woke up from that dream?” I didn’t have a 2 x 4 handy when Bob made that hurtful, sarcastic remark. But I am looking for an opportunity to get even…
While on the subject of fishing, I should relate an incident which occurred as we were walking down a creek and met some fishermen carrying a couple of trout. We stopped to talk, and I asked the trio what they used to catch the fish: flies, spinners or bait? They replied that they had all used nightcrawlers, the “universal bait”. We walked on, and I noticed that My Lovely Bride had a naughty smile on her face. I asked her what was up. She turned to make sure the fishermen were out of sight, struck a sexy pose and replied, “No, Sweetheart, this is the universal bait!”
Our next stop was Whitefish, Montana, where we got to enjoy some quality family time with Suzanne’s nephew Matthew, his lovely wife Eleanor, and their daughters Olive (7) and Ruth (3).
We were staying at a KOA campground, and the swimming pool there provided a good opportunity for some fun in the water for the kids. (Hey, looking at them from my age and perspective, they are ALL kids!)
Matthew took us to an internationally renowned equestrian event, The Event at Rebecca Farm. Originally called Militaire, and designed to test cavalry horses and troopers, Eventing has evolved into the equivalent of a Triathlon for horses and their riders – dressage, cross country and show jumping. We were there on Thursday, which was the novices’ day, but got a good look at several competitors and their trusty steeds.
We also got out to Glacier National Park for some hiking and a trip up the Going to the Sun Road. Unlike during our visit a couple of years ago, the road was clear of snow this time… but the scenery is still spectacular!
We departed Montana for Spokane, where we left the coach and flew back to Florida for a visit with Suzanne’s Lovely Mom Ruthie, and for Suzanne’s keynote speech and workshop at the annual conference of the International Association for Near Death Studies (IANDS) in Orlando. This was the first time that I have attended one of her “away” conferences, and it was a treat. You will note that I am wearing a name tag, but My Lovely Bride is not – because just about everyone knows her!
Her keynote speech was filmed and streamed live. Without my awareness, Suzanne alerted the film crew to focus in on me because she was going to tell a joke about me to warm up the audience. She predicted I would put my face in my hands and shake my head, which is exactly what I did. Does she think she knows me after 20 years, or what?
Today was a special day: Suzanne and Ruthie celebrated their shared birthday. I will not reveal their ages, because gentlemen don’t do that, but I can say that Suzanne is now a legal Villages resident! Suzanne’s brother Brent and His Lovely Bride Cheryl took us all out to dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurant for sushi, and a good time was had by all.
Finally, during our visit we also got to spend some time in our new house. The weather was very hot, but we would get out for a bit at sunset to enjoy this grove of oaks festooned with Spanish moss near the house. I’m not sure what that green area between the trees is all about, or the holes filled with sand and the yellow flag stuck in the ground. There appeared to be several small groups of people standing around periodically, sometimes rejoicing and sometimes wailing and gnashing their teeth, but so far it’s a mystery…