This is the big M on the hill at Montana University.


After 11 tough switchbacks we did manage to make it to the top to realize just how big the M really is.  The short answer, it’s really big.  It was about 75 degrees and sunny which made for a spectacular view as well as a whole lot of sweat, and a little bit of complaining.  I never really imagined that we would be complaining about heat in Montana in mid October.

And as per usual this guy was the first to the top. Man o man this kid can move!  It’s one of the things I admire about him, his determination to finish what he has started, no looking back.



And here are the girls, we made it, in our time, closing in at the end.



I believe this was the point in time where Jeff felt the need to explain to the boys the importance of not throwing rocks down a mountain where many people are hiking.  It was also the same point in time when I was hit by a rock.   Lesson learned!



Even with this beautiful view the most impressive part of the hike for Korben was the aerial view of the Montana University football stadium, which I found quite impressive too.




Here is Jeff trying to make a plug for Twilio, if you can read his t-shirt.



But what goes up…… and going down is always harder.



Till next time Missoula, it’s been fun!


I’m not sure which Montana city I enjoyed more Bozeman or Missoula.  Each city has a fun vibe but offers its own unique experience.  I am told Bozeman and Missoula are arch enemies, at least in the college football world.

This is the town where I cut about 7 inches of my hair off so I will always remember Missoula for that.  I choose a place called the Cowgirl Salon.   I wasn’t sure what I was going to get from a place with the word cowgirl in it but I hoped for the best.  And the Cowgirl Salon delivered with a great cut.



Missoula has a great park on the river front with a large climbing structure.  I don’t recommend attempting to come here right after a Montana University football game ends. We were at this park twice.  Once in the evening (around 7) with one other family and right after the football game.  This place was a sea of maroon and white and quite frankly I was feeling a bit out of place.



We headed over to the carousal, which is located directly next to  Mayhem Park  Dragon Park.  The KOA we are staying at gave us free passes to ride the carousal.  The neat feature of this carousal is this.


Can you see the rings coming out of the dragons  mouth?  Each ring is colored, and as you come around (on the second fastest carousal in the US, I know we are talking carousals here) you can reach out and grab a ring.  If you grab the golden ring, you win a free ride.  Here we are ready for action…



Well, guess who grabbed the golden ring?… yep, that would be me! 



Here is Jeff trying to pull off the same golden ring grab that I performed.  He wasn’t successful, I guess I have skills at pulling rings out of a dragon’s mouth.  That must be worth something, right?

We also spent some time at the Barnes & Noble here in Missoula.  I point this out because I managed to whip up this cute hat while we were there.  And although my model isn’t happy, isn’t the hat great?



She is happy here though.



I have to mention the Big Dipper Ice Cream.  Every Missoulaian (is that word) told us about this place.  I must say they had the most unique ice cream flavors I have ever seen and tasted.  The super friendly staff will give you a sample of as many flavors as you ask for but you must ask.  The line is always extremely long, go knowing you will wait for a bit.  Start talking to some other families on the line (like we did) and you will get to the front in no time.  And when you get there try everything, you won’t be disappointed.  Some of the flavors available were, huckleberry, white mint oreo, rasberry amaretto chip, banana, and eggnog.


This was a fun day and I’ve been enjoying Montana way more than I ever expected to.  I still can’t imagine living in a land lock state.  A couple girls at the Cowgirl Salon said that they could never live on a coast.  They were telling me that the fear of earthquakes on the west coast and hurricanes on the east coast keep them living in Montana where there are no real fears of natural disasters.  She then mentioned that they get an average of 34 feet of snow each winter and for me, that is a natural disaster.


The 45th parallel is the border of Montana and Wyoming.  The owner of the campground in Bozeman told us about a swimming hole found directly on the border.  We were looking for this spot before we entered Yellowstone but came to realize the border is found inside the park. We didn’t see anything clearly marked at the border so we continued on.

Reluctantly I asked the ranger at the visitors center if she knew of this place.  She did and offered us a small slip of paper with the directions to the spot.  I’m not sure she would have offered us this information if I hadn’t first asked about it.  Because in all the time she was telling us about things to do in the Mammoth area not once did she mention this spot.

We followed the directions and found the Boiling River.  A quick change into bathing suits in the van and we were off down the trail, anxiously in search of this swimming treasure. 

The Boiling River is where Mammoth Hot Springs meets the Gardiner River.  And where hot water meets cold, a natural hot tub is formed.  And where the hot tubs form people pile up rocks to mostly enclose this magical water.  I felt like I had just found a piece of heaven when we came upon this.   This natural sanctuary was just as relaxing as it was invigorating.








This was a special day for our family and what better way to end our time at Yellowstone!  So it goes that my family and I, on October 14th, went swimming on the 45th parallel.


This day, it’s hard to find the right combination of words to describe it.

We entered Yellowstone today from the North, through a little town called Gardiner.

We entered through this arch on this picture perfect chilly morning.



We stopped at the Mammoth Hop Springs visitors center and right as we were leaving we were greeted by this beautiful group of elk.



We headed east on Grand Loop Road.

First stop Petrified Tree… so cool.  The kids couldn’t believe this was a once a tree, as we know trees to be, since it was as hard as a rock.



Onward we go…



…toward Tower (yet another area of the park with a visitors center) but not before stopping a few times to take in the breathtaking views and to take a couple short hikes.






Made it to Tower visitors center that is now closed for the season.  After a short hike to this beautiful waterfall we stopped to eat a quick lunch before heading back west. 


We wanted to be sure we could spend sometime at Mammoth Hot Springs before sun down.  This park is immense and we found that it was hard to judge how long it could take to get from one area to another… especially when a Mama bear and her 3 cubs are spotted on the side of the road.  We kept pulling over again and again to check out one cool thing after the next.

Approaching Mammoth Hot Springs.


The first thing we see when we turn the corner are these fellows just hanging out.



We stood in awe of Mammoth Hot Springs. These terraces are formed from deposits of calcium carbonate.



We were told that due to earthquake activity the area has drastically changed.  Because the vent has shifted much of the area that was once covered in spring water is now completely dry.  Also, apparently this area was much more colorful at one point.

Here we are at the end of a walk way.  Doesn’t look too impressive or should I say as impressive as it once did.   But I didn’t mind because there is always something new around every corner in this park.  Each place telling a unique story of a space in time.



But then this just a short walk away.



And after Mammoth Hot Springs we got a little taste on just how hot that water really is…. more on that tomorrow.

Till then….


Bozeman, I love this quaint Montana town.  It had such a fun hip vibe to it.  With The University of Montana at the heart of the town this brings lots of great events and activities to the area for all ages.  The Museum of the Rockies is located directly next to the university.  I believe the museum is affiliated with the university.  We had a fun day at this museum.  It had a fun way of learning the history of Montana.  As you walk through the museum you are evolving right along with Montana, starting one billion years ago when there was water where Montana is today.



These models helped me to understand the formation of Montana and the Rocky Mountains.  It also helped that Jeff broke down the fancy verbiage and explained them in “Jill terms”.



And although we aren’t huge dinosaur fans, they did have an impressive dinosaur hall.  They also had a great show on color at the planetarium, which was particularly exciting for Koah as he had never been.  And man, o, man those planetarium seats were super comfortable.  The 30 minute presentation was way too short for me.


The kids favorite part of this museum was the Exploring Yellowstone kids room.  It happened to be one of my favorite parts as well, as I was really impressed with the animals that were placed through out the exhibit.  Each animal was designed and made with items that would have otherwise been trash.  This inspired me to think how I could use items that I would otherwise throw away.



We also stopped into the Bozeman Public Library.  We headed to this library after dinner and I was thinking that we would be gone for about an hour before heading back to the campground.  We were here for 3 hours (until closing at 8).  The kids were just having too much fun, and I had to savor the moment and let them be.

Playing “chester” (against herself).



Doing some art, with her keen artist eyes.



Freya’s masterpiece.



I even got to flip through a few crochet books as the kids were all busy doing their thing.  It is moments like these where I say I could do this forever or at least for a long time but then there are those other days.  But for today, I’ll take this one and cherish it and remember it.


We didn’t know much about this battle before coming here.  We had heard various people on our travels say “Custer’s last stand”.  Well now we have seen where Custer had his last stand.  This monument is dedicated to remembering the Lakota and Cheyenne Indians fight here to preserve their way of life.  And even though the Indians destroyed Custer and the US Army’s 7th Calvary in this battle, the Indians knew that soon they would have to conform to the laws about living on lands set aside for them (the lousy  land).

This monument is a peaceful place set on the beautiful open lands of Crow Agency, MT.


Custer’s tombstone is one with the black on it, among the many other US soldiers.


Junior Rangers hard at work.




This was about on hour drive from Billings but well worth the trip.


We made it to Montana!  First stop Billings, in this ginormous state.



We cooked mini meatloaves on the grill, mostly prepped and cooked by Makenzie and Koah.  The best part was the crispy parts cooked onto the aluminum foil.



We also had a quick bit of hail move through.



The kids had fun at the playground.  And more on that in a moment.



But the best part of Billings was meeting the Higgins family.  Turns out that they are on a similar adventure, traveling in a blue school bus.

Also turns out that they have 4 children as well in the same gender order as us. 

Also turns out that their children are about the same ages of our children. 

Get where this is going…. Kids to play with!

And kids to play with means time to get things done rather peacefully, like cook a meal uninterrupted, fill all the RV tires with air, and have an adult conversation with little disruption. 

These couple days in Billings were fun with the Higgins.  After we pulled out of the campground the kids got a little choked up that they wouldn’t have the Higgins kids to play with anymore.  We are hoping our paths cross again someday.


Oh and playgrounds can be dangerous.  Courtesy of the 2 oldest boys.


Merry Go Rounds Can Be Dangerous