Friday, November 28, 2014

Opening Day!!!

It's been a long time dream of mine and Brandon's to groom a family of snowboarders. I will admit, with Tori and Brighton who hate wearing snow clothes, are weirdly picky about how their shoes fit, and cannot tolerate being wet even a little, I didn't think the day would come that we would go let alone actually have a ton of fun, but with opening day upon us, and a ski resort just over an hour away, we figured it was time to see if these two would fit the buck ; ) We enticed them with promises of riding a magic carpet, and it worked. 

Brighton had to wear his goggles at all times on the way up. 
Freezing but excited!!
After getting the kids their rentals, we took them on one test run supporting all their weight the whole way down the bunny hill. It was painful, so Brandon concluded that we were just going to let them go for it on their own.
Tori giggled, snowboarded, giggled more, got bored at how slow we were, went ahead,  would crash, eat snow, and giggle more. I was so impressed! I really didn't expect them to like being strapped to a board, so imagine my excitement when they both acted like they had done this several times before. My heart burst about 20 different times.  
Brighton didn't like his girl gloves, but forgot all about them each time he crashed and would say, "That was awesome!"  
Sometimes I struggle being their's a thankless job. So, I needed a day like today to admire their adventurous, playful, and determined spirits that I sometimes forget in the midst of tantrums.  
Brighton didn't want to give his snowboard back at the end of the day. And I couldn't blame him. 
These things are adorable. I need like twenty more of them with twenty more babies to put in them...or like one. 
So Red Lodge, Montana is my favorite of favorites. It's the most charming resort town nestled in a little valley at the base of the mountain. Aesthetically and geographically, it is everything I want in a town we settle in someday. I cannot say enough. If you haven't been you should, if you don't think it's worth it, you're wrong.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Allow us to introduce you...

To Cody, a remote but charming tourist town just 50 miles outside of Yellowstone National Park. What was once a dismal job prospect is now a wildly successful relocation for our family. I anticipated it being a purely professional relationship, but to my surprise, I find myself crushing big time on Cody. So let me show you some of it's best features. 

Brandon and I have seen LOTS of pretty country in our lifetime, from Idaho to Colorado to upstate New York, but Cody has introduced me to some of the most diverse and beautiful nature yet. We have loved exploring here. 

 Cody has 16 public parks, give or take because some I wouldn't actually count. We have seen all of them, and find that our favorites/cleanest ones are within our neighborhood.
With exception to this one up South Fork. It rests on one of the highest residential points in the city and has some incredible views of the mountains. 
Cody also has the BEST school colors and mascot. Gold and blue Broncs. It's kind of like the Boise Broncos collided with Notre Dame into this perfect world where I get to dress in gold and pretend Kellen Moore is still a high schooler. Friday night lights quickly became a favorite activity in our family. 

Tori taking pictures of the cheerleaders.  
Brandon and Brighton finally found their common ground. 
Being a tourist town, Cody knows how to throw a party. From parades for every occasion to street fairs with live demos of wood sculpting and jewelers selling earrings made of fishing tackle. So, we probably won't do a lot of shopping here, but we Deans are suckers for a good community event. 
Tori had to get close to check out the competition. They are with the "other" dance studio. 
Cody is also overrun by deer. I can't think of a day I haven't seen a deer in town. We have a buck that I guess nests behind our town home. The excitement of seeing a deer is about as exciting as seeing cattle for us now.
If the deer aren't enough to tickle your fancy than the Cody Mural might just do the job. It's a stunning piece of art done by a non-member artist depicting the history of the church. It's no modern NYC street art, but it's beautiful nonetheless. 

There's also other exhibits in the same church building where I discovered that Byron Sessions was a distinct figure in the settling of the Cody area. Small world, but not so much when you're a Sessions. 
My absolute favorite thing about Cody is their museum. It takes all the museums we were so lucky to experience in New York and smashes it into a smaller scale western themed one. It also has the Gun Museum which I thought sounded ridiculous until I saw it. The museum also features a Natural History portion as well as an art gallery, so there's just enough culture to pacify the whole family. 
The "smoke guy." Otherwise none as Buffalo Bill.  
Natural History Museum. 
And I love the Buffalo Bill hall. It's full of character, history, creative exhibits, and flat out good stories about the west. 
Our sanity through what will most likely be a long and cold winter will come through our Recreational Center. It is awesome!! And what I love most about it, is that it provides smaller communities more extra-curricular for high school kids. I would have loved to have a swim team. They also have ice hockey. It's so great!! And the swimming area for the kids is just incredible complete with a giant water slide not pictured below. 
Outside of Cody is a reserve for the wild mustangs. This was something I didn't realize I was so interested in until we went to see if we could spot some wild mustangs, but it's pretty cool to able to say we have seen a wild horse in it's element.
The dining isn't to die for in Cody, but of course, we got pretty spoiled in New York. However, we do have this ever so charming coffee shop with a fresh bakery and some amazing sandwiches and soup, which if you know me at all, a good sandwich and soup is like Christmas day for me. 

Against all odds, I have really come to love Cody. We have met some great people and done some great things in such a short amount of time that it sometimes feels weird to think we've only been here a little over a month or so. We feel beyond blessed to have gotten a job right out of school and that Brandon really loves going to work everyday. I've learned from this that the Lord can provide you with things that are better than you can imagine or believe possible. I feel strongly that we were meant to be here and I'm grateful that we answered the call, and that Cody continues to treat us so well.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Bighorn Crags - Round 2

A few years back, Brandon and I did a 20 mile (+/-) backpacking trip to the Bighorn Crags, nestled deep in the Frank Church Wilderness. To my utter dismay, I lost almost every single one of the photos from that trip and due to inclement weather, we weren't able to visit some of the destinations we had planned. Needless to say, we knew we would be going back for more when the opportunity presented itself. Enter summer 2014, and the chance to go with 3 of my favorite guys!

I call this one "One of the guys." Loving my lesbo boots! 
It was so great to be able to do it with both my bros! Jacob went with us last time, but this was Ben's first time in. And actually our first backpacking trip together. 
Rock trail
View from our first campsite next to Harbor lake. It was 7 miles in on our first day. We were exhausted, but…can't beat this view. 
The next day we wanted to hike to a lake we missed last time, Ship Island Lake. To save some walking, we decided to hike up the ridge of Harbor Lake instead of following the designated trail.  
A man between two lakes. It was a great view. 
The other side was a little less enchanting, having to climb down a shale cliff.  It's the areas you can see where the ridge makes a "U." It was pretty scary. I only cried the whole way down out of both fear and pain in my knees. But I did it! It was funny in retrospect. 

We wouldn't make it all the way to Ship Island, as a crazy lightning and hale storm blew in. We did get a view of it.  
Me hiding under a tree from the hale. 
It looked like it had snowed and the trail had turned into a muddy stream.
We stuck to the trail on the way back, and it was a pretty, but very long hike home.
The next day we hiked out to Cathedral Rock to camp along the ridge. We found a leveled out spot between to crags just above the trail. 
And the rock had a man's profile.
This was one of my favorite pics of the trip. We saw a lot of variation in terrain on this trip, but this area was my favorite with the sand, boulders and green. 

This was the view from our actual campsite, overlooking the Cathedral Rock on the left there. It was pretty cool. We got all our drinking water from a dirty patch of snow that we boiled and purified. Neat to live off the land. 
The weather wasn't on our side though, when an alarmingly close lightning storm blew in we had to evacuate our high post on the ridge to find lower ground. Ben and I built a lean-to next to a boulder to keep the rain off while we waited out the storm. While sitting we heard some cracking out in the trees and the boys had to get armed for potentially dangerous wildlife (the area is known for wolf packs). It was literally one of my worst fears realized. But we were fine and eventually made a very dark and spooky hike back to our tents.
Where we play shadow games on the boulders.