Beartooth Mountain Pass

We have continued to have an adventure nearly every week this summer! We have been pushing hard to get out there and it has been wonderful! A couple of weeks ago we went to early service on Sunday morning and decided to drive the Beartooth Mountain Pass after we got home. A couple of the teens had to work and the younger kids didn’t want to sit in the car all day so we ended up just taking our 19 year old and 13 year old.  (Grandparents watched the rest of the kids.) Since there were only 4 of us we were able to drive my husband’s new VW Golf. He was so excited since it gets wonderful gas mileage. We left at 11:30 am and returned at 8:30 pm.

Beartooth Highway runs through the Beartooth Mountains and goes into Yellowstone Park. One part of it is known as the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway and it runs between Cody, Wyoming and Cooke City, Montana. It is an absolutely beautiful drive with breathtaking landscapes, wildlife, and sometimes treacherous roads. There are lots of switchbacks and the road takes you up to an height of around 11,000 feet.

We started our drive up through Red Lodge and our first stop was at the rest stop overlook. There is a wonderfully maintained pathway out to the edge where you can look down on Rock Creek with a beautiful view. There are a ton of chipmunks that are very used to people here. They were climbing on us hoping we had something to feed them.

Our next stop was the gate to Beartooth Pass. There is a gorgeous field of wildflowers and rock. Standing here you feel like you are on top of the world or filming, “The Hills Are Alive” from The Sound of Music.

We drove through the snow pack which is still very high considering it was July! It is a very popular trip for most people in our area. I would guess it was around 15 feet high still. I can’t even imagine the hard work it is each year to plow this road!

Next we stopped at the Beartooth Summit. Usually you can drive up to the summit but this year the road was still covered in snow so we had walk through the snow to get there. It is covered in big rocks and little wildflowers.

A little further down the road we stopped at Island Lake. The mosquitoes were fierce once they found us but it was a lovely stop with the lake, pine trees and a rushing stream feeding the lake.  I hope to go back after the mosquitoes die down. I could sit there for hours breathing in the fresh mountain air and listening to the sound of the rushing water.

After this we found a great little tourist stop called Top of the World. It had some great merchandise and bathrooms! We got a couple of cute stickers.

One of my favorite stops was next, there is an amazing waterfall! it is a huge, rushing waterfall! The power of that water moving just takes my breath away every time I see it.

We made it to Cooke City right in time for dinner. We stopped at the Beartooth Cafe while it was still serving the lunch menu. They had delicious sandwiches and burgers. We also stopped in at the Trading Post. They had a ton of great stickers and some fun souvenir t shirts on sale. They also had a taxidermy display for customers which was pretty amazing (although it was a rather violent scene).

Our final stop was at the Clark’s Fork Canyon Gorge in Sunlight Basin on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. My husband and girls had some fun bouldering while I stayed and watched from the top.

I heard some one say that God reveals himself in two ways: through his Word and through his Creation. Spending Sunday in the mountains appreciating his creation was a wonderful way for us to worship and renew our spirits for another week ahead.

MamaKay

The End of an Era

Nine years ago, I was expecting baby number 6 and we outgrew our minivan. The search began and we chose a 12 passenger van for our new to us vehicle. It served us well as we added to our family. It took us on adventures camping, trips to Kansas to see family, back and forth when we moved to Montana, it was great on our trip to Ohio. We could fit all 10 of us plus groceries.

But life has changed. The 10 of us rarely travel together anymore. Our children are growing up and going their own directions. (Half of our family is now drivers! How did that happen?)The gas mileage was terrible, getting 14 mpg at the most. And then there was the winter. Somehow a one ton vehicle with rear wheel drive is ridiculously difficult to get out of the steep incline of our driveway in the snow.

And so it was with a bit of sadness at the thought of not being able to travel all together that we decided this was the year to trade in the van.

While my husband was hanging out at the dealership getting our Kia Sorento serviced he found a 2015 VW Golf Sportswagen. It was one of those cars that got caught up in the scandal. So even though it is a 2015 it only had 160 miles on it when he test drove it. He totally fell in love with it and it brought him back to Geo Metro days only so much nicer! On long trips he has gotten as much as 53 mpg! They gave us a deal too good to resist and so we found ourselves trading in the van.

The Kia holds 7 passengers which is plenty most of the time. The rest of the time we just have to take two cars. And wow, driving the Kia is so nice. I was content driving the van but it was an Econoline, which pretty much means no extras. Now I have so many extras I can hardly believe it! I can talk on the phone or listen to things from my phone using Bluetooth, I have a backup camera, a trunk that opens & closes with the press of a button, heated/cooled seats, all wheel drive and so much more.

The big van was such a blessing while we had it (and a couple of the kids are still sad that it is gone). I feel so blessed that I get to drive such a nice car and it will be so nice not getting stuck this winter.

I frequently find myself thinking that this is the way things will always be but God keeps showing me that I need to open my hands and surrender my thoughts about my life and be ready for things to change. The harder I hold on the more difficult that change becomes. When I can hold things loosely the blessings are so much more quickly realized. I think I am learning!

Is there anything you have had to let go of lately? What are you learning?

MamaKay

Pompey’s Pillar

We are continuing our adventures this summer but are having to be flexible! It has been a crazy wet summer so we have had to rearrange things. This past weekend we wanted to go on a day trip to Island Lake in the Beartooth Mountains but it was storming. On a whim we decided to visit Pompey’s Pillar instead. It is located about half an hour outside of Billings and is famous for its evidence of Lewis & Clark’s travels through our area.

Even though I grew up here I had never been before. The weather was perfect! The area close to the river was closed due to flooding but we were able to climb the stairs to see William Clark’s signature on Pompey’s Pillar and visit the wonderful visitor center. I think it would be so fun someday to do a tour following Lewis and Clark’s travels. I can’t imagine being so adventuresome as to travel so far and draw the maps for others to follow.

Here is a travel tip for you: If you buy the National Park Pass (which we did at Yellowstone Park this year) you can get into Pompey’s Pillar for no additional cost.

I hope you will check out this historical site!

MamaKay

The Montana Badlands

For our first adventure we decided to check out a place we had never been before: The Badlands of Montana.  It was about three and a half hours from our house so we loaded up the big van with our new tent from Costco and food enough for 2 lunches, a dinner, a breakfast and snacks. Our two oldest girls couldn’t join us for this round so we had 8 people: My husband, me, our 15 year old girl, 13 year old girl, 10 year old girl, 8 year old boy, 6 year old boy and 3 year old girl. We left mid-morning on Friday to head out on our adventure.

We stopped at a park we had visited a few years ago in Miles City that the kids still talk about for lunch. It has a merry-go-round and lots of other play equipment. For lunch we had sandwiches, individual chip bags, baby carrots, snap peas and water to drink.

Once we got to Glendive, we headed straight for the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum aka The Creation Museum. General admission is $8 for adults, $6 for children (3-12) and 2 and under are free. We absolutely loved this museum. It was beautifully done with very friendly and knowledgeable staff. It was wonderful seeing all of the dinosaur fossils that have been found right here in Montana. Everything was shown from a creation perspective which we appreciated. One of our favorite parts was a room they had of old Bibles. They had an original King James Bible as well as a Torah scroll and lots of other beautiful Bibles.

After enjoying the museum we stopped for ice cream at a local shop. They had both soft serve and hard ice cream so everyone got what they liked! It was delicious!

We then traveled through Glendive to Makoshika State Park. We had made reservations online for a campsite so it was all paid for and ready to go. It was a nice flat site with a picnic table and fire pit as well as a vault toilet close by.  I think everyone’s favorite part was the perfect climbing hill right behind our site. Lots of other kids were climbing it too!

  

We tried out our new giant tent from Costco. It is an instant 10 person cabin tent. The instructions said it could be up in 2 minutes but we did not find that to be true. It was more like 15 minutes but we were very happy with that. There was plenty of room for the 8 of us and our bags.

After we got our tent set up we set out on a hike to find the Hadrosaur Site where there were dinosaur bones still in the side of the mountain that they couldn’t remove. Most of the hike was pretty easy except one particularly difficult part that was so steep they had makeshift stairs to help you get up and down. The kids and my husband did awesome. I had a bit more trouble but I made it! There was a bench at the very top that we sat on and could look down on our campsite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For dinner we had hot dogs or chicken apple sausages, baked beans and chips as well as s’mores for dessert. Pretty standard fair for camping. But simple and familiar are often the best!

We enjoyed sitting around the campfire and then a restless night of sleep in the tent. (Tent camping is not my favorite! But it is cheaper and easier than finding another place to stay with a family our size.)

It was already getting pretty warm in the morning so we decided to clean up camp after a breakfast of delicious apple camper pies. It took us about 45 minutes to get everything packed back up and ready to go. We drove through the rest of Makoshika State Park. It was beautiful! Paul and the kids hiked around some while Clarissa and I watched from another nice bench. I think if it would have been cooler they could have hiked for hours. But it was already pushing 90 degrees so we decided to be done.

 

We stopped at the visitor center. It had a few fossils and real stuffed animals to explore. The kids enjoyed it and picked out a souvenir from the gift shop that I thought was a brilliant idea. It was a water bottle stuffed with fun things like toy dinosaurs, stickers, sunglasses, a pencil, a lollipop and a squished penny.

We had a really nice weekend and by the time we got home a storm was coming in and cooled down the temperature! It was amazing to see how different the landscape can be within the same state. Montana is such a beautiful state!

MamaKay

 

 

Montana Adventures

Montana is a huge state. It is the fourth largest state in the union. It has 147,040 square miles filled with mountains, forests, rivers, plains and badlands. We can drive to the Yellowstone River (the longest river in the United States) in 10 minutes. We can be in the mountains in 45 minutes. Yellowstone Park is just over 2 hours away. We are hugely blessed to be able to call this state our home.

Last year we decided to let go of our dream of homesteading to make room for other ways to build relationships with our family. As more of our children are becoming teenagers we are recognizing just how short our time with them at home really is. Without cows to worry about or a garden to tend this year we decided to explore our state.

We started doing some short hikes and day trips last year but we are building on it this year. For this to work, I had to let go of expecting everyone to be there every time. And I had to think smaller. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We can take who is available and just for a little while and it will still be worth while. We are excited about the adventures we have already had and looking forward to the ones still to come.

Over this summer I intend to chronicle our adventures both big and small as we explore this beautiful state we call home. I will share the places we visit and tips we learn along the way. Traveling with kids from 3 to 19 lends itself to lots of opportunities to learn and grow and have lots of adventures along the way whether they were what we planned or not!

Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
    shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains,
    O forest, and every tree in it!


Isaiah 44:23


Here are links to the posts in this series:

The Badlands

Pompey’s Pillar

Beartooth Mountain Pass

MamaKay

What I learned this Spring

I am sure by now you know I follow Emily P Freeman. She is such an inspirational writer and voice in my life. I am linking up with her on her seasonal “what I learned” list. I have found making this list to be such a great exercise.

  1. I need a brighter, happier playlist for Spring! I realized that a lot of the songs on my playlist were reflective and melancholic and it was time to bring more energy into my life through music. You can check out my new list on Spotify.
  2. Getting books through the library can be good but watch out! I put several books on hold awhile back (and actually kind of forgot about them) and then all of a sudden they all came in! So I had to push hard to read them before they were due and had to just give up on one. But yeah! me for not buying more books!
  3. I absolutely loved Rebekah Lyons book You Are Free ,so I lead a group study at church based on it. One of the big takeaways I got from it was the idea vines wrap around anything they touch. When Jesus tells us in John that he is the vine and we are the branches he is telling us that he will wrap around us and protect us in a way that we could never do for ourselves.
  4. As a family we need less screens and more time outside! The screens have such a pull for all of us and we need to be able to step away from that. We are still working out how that plays out in our lives and I am trying to find ways to draw us outside instead of making it feel like a punishment.
  5. I am not sure who I heard it from but I think it was on the Hello Mornings podcast. Am I trying to fill a bucket from the River (Jesus) and heave it back to give my people or am I hooking up my hose to the never ending supply of life giving water and letting it flow through me?
  6. Letting Go is hard but a necessary process in life. I will write about it more soon but I am letting go of homeschooling my children for the next year in hopes of renewing my spirit so that I can continue on this journey.
  7. Quote from One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler:  You can’t put your life on hold over the long term, eventually, you’ll reach a breaking point where you simply have to take care of yourself. And if you perceive that tending to your own needs can never go hand-in-hand with serving, you’ll stop serving. This is so true for me and I am working on changing that.
  8. The Great British Baking Show is wonderful!! I don’t know why I waited so long to watch it! I love how the judges push the contestants to do their absolute best and yet they encourage them and help them along the way! I have been inspired to up my baking game!
  9. Meal Planning is very helpful! It is amazing the difference in my stress level  just having a meal plan makes even when I don’t follow it.
  10. I absolutely love taking walks. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I listen to podcasts and other times just my own thoughts. I am trying to learn to be flexible and look for opportunities to go for a walk instead of it having to be at a particular time or not at all.

 

What have you learned this Spring? I would love to hear from you!

MamaKay

Stitch Fix #6

Wow! I can’t believe how long it has been since I wrote here last! Life keeps flying by! I normally wait a little longer between Stitch Fixes but they offered me a deal on a pass so I can get as many fixes I want in the next year without having to pay for the stylist fee! Plus it is my birthday and the weather is finally warming up! I am ready for a few new pieces for my wardrobe.

I would love to get your feedback. (I already think I know what I am keeping but I want to see what you think.)

Item #1: Chambray button up shirt

 

Item #2: White Shorts

Item #3: Floral Dress (I paired this with a jean jacket I already own.)

Items #4 & 5: A grey striped t-shirt and olive green cargo vest

Stitch Fix is an online store that sets you up with a stylist to find clothes for you. You answer questions and they work to match things with your size and style. Each time (you decide how often you get the boxes) you get a box with 5 items in it. You try them on and then have 3 days to decide if you want to keep them. If you don’t like any of them you pay $20 for the stylist fee. You send back the items you don’t want (in a pre-labeled bag they send in the box for free) and pay for the items you keep. If you buy all 5 items you get a reduced price. If you decide you want to try it for yourself please click on my link and I will get a referral credit.

Stitch Fix #5

I got a new Stitch Fix box! It is has been awhile but I decided it was time for another update to my wardrobe. As always, I love hearing your feedback on what I should keep!

The first pieces are a purple knit dress and a pendant necklace. I paired the dress with some boots and denim jacket I already own in the second picture. I really like the color and the fabric.

 

I also received some skinny jeans with cargo pockets that are so comfy.  I paired it with a grey sweater they sent me. I am not so sure about the outside seams and elbow pads.

 

 

 

 

The final piece is a green button up blouse with embroidery on the back. My family is split on whether they like the embroidery or not. What do you think? 

Stitch Fix is an online store that sets you up with a stylist to find clothes for you. You answer questions and they work to match things with your size and style. Each time (you decide how often you get the boxes) you get a box with 5 items in it. You try them on and then have 3 days to decide if you want to keep them. If you don’t like any of them you pay $20 for the stylist fee. You send back the items you don’t want (in a pre-labeled bag they send in the box for free) and pay for the items you keep. If you buy all 5 items you get a reduced price. If you decide you want to try it for yourself please click on my link and I will get a referral credit.

I can’t wait to hear what you think!

MamaKay

Happiness Project – My Rules for Life

In Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, she documented her Twelve Commandments that she tries to live by. I was inspired to do the same, although I came up with more than twelve. (It also reminded me of Gibbs’s Rules from NCIS.)

Here is my list that I am constantly adding to:

  1. Be Krystal
  2. Give to God first
  3. Write it Down!
  4. People are More Important Than Things
  5. Don’t go to bed (or leave) angry
  6. Be Intentional
  7. Just Do It!
  8. Be Faithful
  9. Choose Present over Perfect
  10. Connect Meaningfully with Others
  11. I am only responsible for my own feelings
  12. Don’t Call the Game at Halftime
  13. Be the Gift
  14. Be a Flamethrower
  15. Watch her Dance
  16. I was Made to Worship
  17. Bring My Basket, Let Jesus Multiply it
  18. Jesus is my perfection, so I don’t have to

 

Do you have rules for your life? I would love to hear them!

Happiness Project Update – February

February is already well under way. Doesn’t it seem like January lasts forever and February is over in the blink of an eye? Well, it does to me.

I am continuing my Happiness Project this month. In January, I decided to focus on building my morning and evening routines, hygge and no spending (besides the bills and groceries). I was fairly consistent following through on my morning and evening routines. I got up on time and spent time with the Lord every morning. I added yoga to my evening routine and did a pretty good job of reviewing my day each evening and looking at the day to come before bed. Although I did cozy up under blankets and read during the month of January, I would have liked to spend more time just enjoying coziness instead of pushing so hard on everything. I hit February pretty exhausted. I definitely could have done better on the no spending. It was less in some ways but could have been better.

For February, I am going to continue practicing my morning and evening routines, I am going to focus on writing something every day, and I am going to invest energy in loving the individuals in my family according to their love languages. I am a sucker for personality quizzes and tests and this one is great for discovering your own love language and those of you family! http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/

What are your plans? Did you start your own happiness project? I would love to hear about it!

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


1 Corinthians 13:13


 

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