Our trip to Montana started at the Snake Pit, a bar possibly given that name because it was built atop a swamp and possibly because it used to be a brothel.
It is everything you want in a bar, in that the inside is one of the most bizarre, ridiculous places I have ever gotten to behold.
And you can order some nice Rocky Mountain Oysters! (Google them, I really don’t want to have to explain.) (I have never eaten them but my little sister- who was too young at the time to know what was happening- and my mom- who is slightly crazy, and said they “tasted like sausage”- both have) The people at the table next to us apparently had a series of dares going, and there were various people taking bites of things and running to the bathroom to spit them out. Good times!
We were there for the huckleberry milkshakes. My godparents said they were a must. They were hucking excellent (like how I did that?)
My godparents were awesome and just ordered a giant order of “Idaho Nachos” (served on top of fried potatoes) to share.
Steve went for a buffalo burger, something he was fixated on getting in the West. Despite the fact that I buy buffalo pretty regularly… in the east.
It also came with a mountain of Idaho… wait for it… potatoes.
I got the surprisingly impressive salad bar- huge pile o’ greens, sprinkling of veggies, huckleberry vinaigrette (yay!), and for fun a blob of potato salad. And some randomly FANTASTIC spicy shrimp. It was seafood buffet night, something I found a little disconcerting at a bar in North Idaho but the shrimp spoke for itself. Yummers.
I returned to the bathroom to discover that the meal that had commenced with huckleberry milkshakes for all was apparently concluding with huckleberry ice cream for all. Had a bite, handed the rest to Steve. I was full and he was just experiencing his first huckleberries.
Our destination? Trout Creek (pronounced “crick”), Montana, site of my godmother Brent’s cabin, where we joined Brent, his incredibly sweet wife Darla, and his daughters Jourdan and Amanda. They are the most hospitable people in the entire world. You got into their house and they said make yourself at home and we… made ourselves at home. And had so much fun. And felt like the bestest of pals, instantly. They are awesome, awesome, awesome (Hi Darla if you’re reading!)
In the evening we played a lively game of Namesies in a Hatsie (my family’s version of Celebrity… don’t ask). The highlight for sure was charades, in which my godfather drew Natalie Portman’s name and did his best Black Swan impression. It was epic.
I woke up in Paradise.
I stepped out on the front porch and saw the lake that had been blackness the night before.
The cabin is really a bit of a misnomer- it’s beautifully engineered with a lovely wide living and dining room, two downstairs bedroom, a big kitchen (plus a bonus beer fridge!), and up above a huuuuuuge sleeping loft where Steve and I bunked.
As for the view… you stepped to the end of the dock and saw all this beautiful wide open space stretching around you. Mountains, trees, water, emptiness.
Being up before the rest of the household, I started off on a morning walk (on which I promptly ran into my godfather, and then we walked together). Apparently if we had waited just a few hours later, when my godmother walked, we would have seen a bunch of rather impertinent young bucks. Still, there were millions of birds chirping their brains out and scads of those cool moths with the illusion eyes on their wings.
I enjoyed the neighbor’s colossal, shellacked front gate.
And then I arrived back at the cabin and thought of all the nice people I was with and decided I wanted to make all of them pancakes. Make yourself at home, after all, right? I am happiest and most comforted when I am cooking for nice people.
And with a megabag of pancake mix, it was so easy!
Also got to use a really awesome griddle! Much better maneuverability than my wimpy little stovetop one.
Aaaaand a convenient warming rack for the rawther beautiful pancakes.
I asked my godfather whether he preferred plain or banana and he kind of wrinkled his nose and said, 'Plain”. So I only made a few banana ones and then wouldn’t you know it, they were the sleeper hit. A bunch of people had never had banana pancakes, can you imagine?! Also did a chocolate chip variation on Darla’s recommendation. They bought their chocolate chips in bulk, something I highly respect.
Then Brent went out to the outdoor stove. Isn’t this the coolest thing ever?! You can cook whatever greasy messy stuff you want outside and all the smoke just blows away. And it is just fun cooking outside, obviously.
Brent had to put on a special long sleeved shirt he uses for one particular purpose to prevent spattering hot oil on his arms… (That’s Brent being blocked by smoke. And my boyfriend, doing some quality man bonding).
This spattering, manly ingredient was of course… BACON!
I helped myself to one plain pancake and one banana one… plus more bananas scattered on everyone. Plus peanut butter. Yum yum yum.
Also yum: peppermint mocha coffee mate?! And it’s now available all year?! So glad I learned about this. Artificial creamer is my ultimate vice.
Steve’s ultimate vice:
Then Brent pulled out the Guinness, and Steve had one, too. Because it was twelve o’clock somewhere.
I am not a beer drinker but several people made the case for Guiness to me cause it tastes like carbs and coffee. I could see how it could grow on me.
And then it was time to be on the water! I got to join the boys in filling up the tank and launching the boat. The view from out on the water was quite beautiful. Too slow with my camera to capture the osprey diving for fish (!)
And it was TUBING TIME. There are likely incriminating pictures of me tubing, but they have not yet been emailed to me. So you’ll have to see Jourdan. She is a tubing expert.
We were ostensibly going to watch boat races, but they were sort of far away… and there’d be one that was about thirty seconds long and then like twenty minutes of nothing.
Mostly, we just happily bummed around on the water.
I get the sense that the people in Trout Creek do that a lot. Along with their dogs.
You can tie your boats together and become sort of floating islands.
There is junk food to be consumed, beer to be drunk.
In some cases, beer to be drunk while in the water. (Apparently, the key is to stick your legs in a life jacket so you continue to float). (Also, until right before this photo was taken, that Chihuahua was in the water, in a life jacket.)
Once on land, a walk around beautiful Montana was in order.
We were lucky enough to see osprey in a nest, and I found one of their feathers on the ground. Thus, the osprey is my spirit animal. I wore that feather for the remainder of our time in Montana. I also wore it to Costco. It felt right.
Dinner was a wonderful casual taco night. They’d bought the most EXCELLENT refried beans from a Mexican takeout place in town, so I used them to make a very scrumptious taco salad. Plus cantaloupe.
Steve had at least 8 tacos til I just quit counting.
As day turned to dusk, we all assembled in the yard for a vigorous game of bocce ball, then took one last look at the stars and climbed into the car to head home after our Montana whirlwind.