visiting montana


I've been MIA for awhile partly because I was in Montana for a three week visit with my dad/family. My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer several months ago and while it's been heartbreaking news to all of us, in many ways it's been a great unexpected gift to spend time together sharing old family stories, our favorite memories, our greatest pains and regrets etc. Lots of time going through old photographs -- and when I say old photographs, many of them are from before the turn of the last century onwards of all the different family lines. He's been going through chemotherapy treatments, which have been tough, however he's been doing great and going strong! Here are some highlights of the trip. More to follow.

On the homefront outside of Red Lodge. You never know what to expect there with the weather. My brother and I arrived to snow, but over the next 3 weeks it melted and we had several days that were sunny and 80 degrees.

One of our first stops was to the Red Lodge Cafe, our favorite breakfast diner.

My brother Stewart and I. I want to point out that the breakfast on the left is Stewarts and the one on the right is mine -- dad just had tea.

The road out to the cabin. My dad and stepmother live 7 miles outside of Red Lodge on the 400 Ranch, a land trust that borders on national forest.

The river on the 400 Ranch

Home sweet home

Dad and Blilzzard

Dad, Linda, Blizzard and Lilly (Libby might be in there somewhere)

One of my favorite activities

Dinner with Uncle Sande and Aunt Gail (they came down from Helena)

Sande and Dad ( I should mention that Sande had just gotten a haircut that he did not like, he normally wears a 'fro)

Breakfast the next day (the Wilson family LOVES to eat!)

Stewart enjoyed fishing for several days

Meanwhile, I was out cutting and loading wood.

This was the beginning of one of my favorite days during the visit. Breakfast with dad and our friends Mary and Bill George and Father Osterman (Dick). Dad had to leave the breakfast early to go to a meeting and he had asked me the night before if I could wear something to work in the next day so we could cut wood. Well, I thought it might not be that great for him to be working so hard, so I communicated this to Mary and Dick and learned that Dick loves cutting wood and actually does this just for fun.

So we headed on up to the 400 Ranch and started working. I should mention that Dick is the retired Catholic priest in Red Lodge and also had a role in the movie the Ballad of Little Jo, which was filmed in Red Lodge.

Dick cut, while I loaded. But then began our saga of comedy. First, Dick's chainsaw stopped working, so I went and found my dad's. However, that one also was not working. So we decided to go into to town to have them looked at.

We ended up getting sidetracked. Dick and I learned that we were pretty much two peas in a pod -- both total scavengers and easily distracted. We spotted this great mattress at Dick's neighbor Gene's.

So we stopped and loaded it up, while Gene came down from his house and took a look at the chainsaws -- to no avail. As we were dillydallying, my dad called and met up with us. Dick and I decided that we wanted to stop in at the Red Lodge Cafe to have lunch. My dad decided that he wanted to head up to the Ranch to start cutting wood and took the chainsaws with him.

I completely underestimated my dad's strength -- in the time it took Dick and I to cut one and a half trees, my dad had cut eight! So ... lots of loading for me.

More wood.

A day well done!