I was really nervous before we arrived - my mom has lived in Montana for 14 years but we've never visited - and didn't know what to expect. I also didn't really know how treatment was effecting my mom - she was still working so I had assumed that she was fairing at least somewhat okay. Despite that though I expect her to be sickly. I'm happy to report that while some days she didn't feel great, we were able to spend some time together every day - and best of all, she didn't really look sick. Except for the stint in her chest that would sometimes come up over her t-shirt, you'd never know that she had just finished an aggressive round of chemo + radiation.
Getting to Montana was interesting - there were no direct flights from Oakland so we ended up on Alaska Airlines via Seattle with a nearly five hour layover in Seattle. [Landing at the airport we discovered there had been a direct flight in from SFO arriving at the same time we did - I wonder how much more expensive that would have been?] I love the Seattle airport so while that was one heckuva layover it didn't seem too terrible. I even had an opportunity to get a pedicure done at a place called Butter. It was expensive, and it wasn't great, but my toes needed it and it killed about 45 minutes so that's a bonus.
Flying into Bozeman I was a little disappointed to see how brown the surrounding area was from the air. I don't know why but in my head I had pictured Montana being all mountainous and forested. And there are areas that are like that, but for those not in the know - like me - Bozeman rests in a valley between a couple of mountain ranges and it's really flat. At the end of September everything is dry and the landscape up close is a burnished gold, brown, and yellow. Once on the ground, it was actually quite autumnal (if only it had been cooler). Unfortunately, the dryness also killed my allergies. I spent the whole week with terrible sinus pressure and sneezing uncontrollably multiple times a day.
Working from our house for the week worked out really well. My mom works from 4 p.m. to midnight so she'd come over for lunch everyday and we'd have the evenings to ourselves to cook, explore, or just hang out. Because this wasn't really a vacation, we didn't plan on doing much of anything other than spending time with my mom and getting our jobs done but we did manage to fit in a trip to Livingston the day after we got in and then to Yellowstone the day before we left.
Unlike a regular trip report for the blog I won't go into what we did each day because it would sound like this: wake up, make coffee, look for wildlife, work, have lunch, work, make dinner, watch TV, pass out. Instead, here are some pictures.
|My mom pointing out deer from our deck|
|Sunset from the driveway to our house|
|This is the house we rented taken from the path to the river.|
|Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center - West Yellowstone|
|Yellowstone National Park|
|The only bison we saw the entire day. Meanwhile on the other side of the park people were seeing them in herds of 20-30.|
|Old Faithful Inn|
|The restaurant at the Old Faithful Inn. My grandpa once got my mom, her husband, and aunt kicked out of here during dinner. He was supposed to have been in his room resting. Instead he'd been at the bar getting wasted. Oops.|
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We returned to Bozeman in May 2012 over the long Memorial Day weekend. While several friends were dashing off to beaches and warmer climates, we were heading for ... SNOW. And I couldn't have been more thrilled. (Well, that's not entirely true - I would have been happier had Hertz not given us a Mustang convertible for driving in snow. That was kind of awkward.)
We rented a house in downtown, walking distance to Main Street. I absolutely loved both the house and walking the neighborhood. Yes, even in the snow. We also took a long drive up to Badger and back, just because we could.