Tuesday, November 22, 2005

MTD1 – Howdy Partner, Welcome to the great state of Montana

We're vacationing in Montana for the Thanksgiving holiday (for an entire week!).

Uwe and I have been looking forward to this trip as: a) it will be our first real vacation since Astrid was born (not including weekend trips or when Uwe was working), b) we can relax, rejuvenate, and enjoy the great outdoors, and c) this will be the first time for all of us visiting the state of Montana.

Here's a photo of our frequent flyer sitting in the middle seat. Uwe trying to catch up on some reading while the baby sleeps.

The flight went smoothly. It was getting to the airport this morning that was really stressful. Since we were traveling with a baby and had a lot of luggage, (including a stroller, car seat, baby backpack carrier for hiking, and winter outfits), we decided that it would be more convenient and cost effective to pay a taxi (we requested a van) to take us to and from LAX. To make a long story short we were assured that a taxi would be at our house in 15 minutes, however an hour later with a lot of "just 5 more minutes he's almost there" from the dispatcher after we kept calling, there was still no sign of a taxi. It was a well known taxi company - Checkered Cab. I will never use them again. They even told us the taxi driver was on our street only to tell us 15 minutes later that no, in fact he just exited the freeway. And then that he was at a certain Avenue but 5 minutes later he still wasn't there. I wonder where the heck he was and if he ever got to our place.

Fearing that we were going to miss our flight, Uwe packed up our SUV and we rushed to the airport. Luckily we were able to do curbside check in while Uwe parked the car. The curbside check in has a 45 minute cut off and we just barely made it, and made our flight just as they were announcing the last call for boarding. The parking at LAX will cost us over $400 (instead of $120 for cab fare) and caused us a lot of unnecessary stress. I'm thinking of writing a complaint letter to the cab company.

With that behind us, we thanked our lucky stars that we made our flight and couldn't wait to get to Montana to start our relaxing vacation.Astrid playing with the plastic sandwich container. Sometimes the best "toys" are free.

We made a stop in Salt Lake City, Utah and hopped a connecting flight to Bozeman, Montana. (Utah is the 4th state that Astrid has been in - CA, NV, NY, UT - and now Montana is state #5. )

A gentleman accidentally bumped into me and said, "Pardon me ma'am." We're definitely in Montana.

The Bozeman, Montana airport looks like no other airport I have ever seen. It has a rustic look and feels more like a lodge. A bronze bobcat is mounted above the baggage claim. Bronze geese hang from the rafters. A bronze bobcat caught in action lunging from a cliff (next to the stairs).

Look at all the stone and wood. And yes, they even have a large stone fireplace. It wouldn't be complete with out a huge bronze statue of Montana's state animal, the Grizzly Bear. Check out the gold claws. The little blond boy standing next to Uwe and Astrid, is Cadmus. Cadmus (everyone calls him Cad) is the three year old son of Bailey and Julianne, who invited us to to come to Montana to stay at their Crazy Look Mountain Cabin , which they own with 2 other families/friends.Here is Astrid sitting on the front porch of the cabin. We rented a Jeep with 4 wheel drive in case it snows. Currently the temperature is 38 degrees and the sun is out. We have an amazing view from our cabin. The downstairs has large picture windows looking out on the Crazy Mountains. It's hard to get a good shot with a digital camera because of the glare, but the mountain is covered in trees and then way in the distance there is a little town and then beyond that more mountains in the far distance. We seem so isolated up here on top of the mountain. It feels like we're so removed from civilization. Just what the doctor ordered. =)
To the right of the cabin you can see more of Crazy Mountain and we also have a view of the Yellowstone River down below. Here's a photo of the cozy front room with its stone fireplace and snow shoes above the mantel.Here is my Grizzly Adams figuring out how to work all of the electronics.The 2 cutest couch potatoes I've ever seen. Here's a pic of one of the upstairs bedrooms. This room also has a crib so we call it "Astrid's room". This is the view from that bedroom's window. You can see more of the Yellowstone River.Here is a pic of the 2nd upstairs bedroom that we're already calling "our room". We chose to stay in this room because it is across from Astrid's bedroom and very cozy. The bed is made entirely of wood logs and is so high off the ground that you have to step up onto the lower wood log of the bed's frame to hoist yourself up there. You can see in the pic that there's a twin pullout bed underneath the large bed. And check out the cowboy hats hanging from each corner of the headboard. This is the view from one of our bedroom windows.

The cabin was initially built in the 1990's as a single room log cabin, and since then has been expanded to nearly 3,000 square feet. It has 3 private bedrooms, 3 large beds, 2 twin beds, a bunk bed, a crib, 4 bathrooms, an office, a reading room, and even a sauna. The property is a whopping 100 acres. The owners occasionally rent out the cabin for around $400 a night depending on the time of year. I would highly recommend it if you're planning a trip to Montana.

On our stay we will have the entire cabin to ourselves. It has the coziness of a cabin but it sure is much larger than what you think of when you think "cabin". There's no "roughing it" here. We have all the amenities of a deluxe resort. It's also especially perfect for traveling with a baby because we have our own laundry room with a washer/dryer, lots of space, and a kitchen. (No more washing bottles in hotel sinks. What a relief!) The evening winds down with Astrid's bath in a sink. The cabin has a bathtub but without a baby tub (we were not going to lug ours all the way to Montana), it's just safer and easier to wash her in the sink.

Tonight Uwe made dinner - Ahi tuna, salad, mussels, and baked potato. For dessert we had strawberry cheesecake. Uwe says cooking in a gourmet kitchen "makes cooking fun" and he has pledged to cook dinner every night we are here. Woohoo!

We're all settled in and already it feels like the stress is rolling off our backs. With the high altitude, good food, wine, and coziness of the cabin with a fire, I'm sure I'll sleep like a baby our first night in Montana. This is "serenity now." =)

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