Saturday, March 1, 2014

Our Montana Visit

My husband, in his travels and line of work, had become friends a year or so ago with a man who lived in northern Montana.  We have kept in touch with them ever since, and they had become dear friends of ours.  They recently invited us to come and spend the weekend with them, and we were thrilled to be able to accept the invitation!

The trip involved about four hours of driving through some of the most beautiful country God has created!  You know that my camera was fired up and ready to go as we began the journey!  Some wonderful views of the mountains unfolded before our eyes as we drove.

The day was not a particularly beautiful one, but the sun was making some effort to shine, now and then.

We drove along enjoying the views as each corner provided a different angle or perspective on the mountains around us.

We crossed the Moyie River, and stopped at the lookout. It is the second highest bridge in Idaho.   If you're afraid of heights, you wouldn't like crossing this bridge!

When we read the sign explaining the historical facts and events surrounding Moyie Canyon, it was interesting to note that the Moyie River falls has a higher drop than that of Niagra Falls!

As we drove along, there were incredible mountain views displayed in a vast array of majesty.

Many times we drove alongside sheer rock where the water falling down the rocks created these beautiful icy waterfalls.

As we drove through the city of Libby, Montana, I captured this picture of an iron sculpture of an eagle. There are a lot of eagles that have nests close by to the city of Libby, that have given Libby the name of "City of Eagles".

We continued our drive along Lake Koocanusa, (It seems the lake's name incorporates the two countries and one river it spans - the Kootenai River, Canada, and the USA.  Interesting name, I thought!)

We continued the winding drive following the Kootenai River, and Lake Koocanusa, a beautiful drive.

Finally we turned and headed slightly east away from the river, towards Eureka, Montana. The views that spread out before us were classic views of the Montana that most people think of when Montana comes to mind.  Great expanses of rolling fields, hills, and valleys, with very few trees, backdropped by huge, towering mountains.

The sun was hidden behind the clouds as we approached Eureka, and the landscape looked somewhat barren and desolate, as there was very little snow cover.  I could only imagine how beautiful the landscape would be covered in snow, or in summer, covered in green.  However, this time of year, the panoramic view was not as magnificent as it could be, although still quite magnificent with the halo of mountains around us.

As we reached our destination, there was a magnificent sight awaiting us!  Perched in the tree above the driveway, this imposing figure looked down on us.  He didn't appear too worried by the camera that I pulled out, and snapped a few pictures.  Apparently, he is used to getting his picture taken!

Our friends greeted us warmly, and it was wonderful to see them all again!  Our son disappeared rather quickly outside to explore the ranch, while the ladies gave us a tour of their lovely home.  I was in awe at the open design of the home, which showcased the incredible views all around!  They have a duck pond, and Quonset behind it for storage, and for shelter for the horses.

It didn't take our son long to saddle up the horses (before it got too dark), and go for a quick ride.

This is a view of the yard facing north. In that group of white birch trees, is where the eagles like to perch.

You could see the eagles in the trees just below the house.  Apparently they have counted eight different eagles that live close by, and who are regular visitors.

Our friends told us a story about the eagles.  Just a few days ago, they watched an eagle swoop down, and attempt to carry off a turkey!  Apparently the weight of the turkey was more than the eagle could handle, so he killed the turkey, and ate the turkey right there in their yard.  They have small puppies, chickens, ducks, and a peacock.  They have to keep anything small enough to not be able to defend itself from an eagle cooped up safely. These big beautiful birds are amazing to watch, even though one can't forget that they are predators, and must kill to eat.  I'm not sure if our poor little Cosmo would hold up against an attack from these guys!

Our friends had outdid themselves preparing for the evening meal.  They had made these homemade egg noodles the day before.  Wow!  I can only imagine how long it took to make all these noodles.  She explained to me the process of making the noodles, and sometime soon, I hope to be there when she is making them to see how it is done firsthand!

The girls had also made several pans of these breadsticks for our meal.  They were even more delicious than they looked!

No effort was spared at our expense! We were served dinner on her fine china plates that were given to her as a wedding gift by her husband.  We enjoyed a lovely leisurely meal gathered together at the table, enjoying fellowship with everyone together.  All the food was passed around the table multiple times until most of it was gone.  There were lots of growing teenagers present who helped put away the food, but I'll have to admit, I helped myself to more than one plate of food... it was sooo good!  After dinner, another surprise awaited us, Boston Creme Cake served up with generous amounts of ice cream, and a steaming cup of coffee.  I don't usually drink coffee this late in the evening, but perhaps that was why I was able to stay awake until 2:00 in the morning!

After we had polished off the cake, ice cream, and coffee... we retired to the comfy leather couches to relax, and visit some more.  And indeed, we talked, and talked, and talked, until it was 2:00 in the morning, and my eyes were beginning to glaze over... our fellowship together was so sweet, as we shared stories of our lives, and how the Lord had blessed us, watched over us, guided and protected us, and the fellowship was so incredibly sweet that I would have stayed up all night talking, if my body hadn't protested!

Morning came... a bit too early for me, after such a late night.  I didn't even remember climbing into bed.  The bed we slept on had old fashioned feather tick pillows and mattress.  I could have slept a lot longer, but as soon as our eyes opened to the beautiful sunrise taking place outside our bedroom window, I could stay in bed no longer.  The older girls were already up cooking up a magnificent breakfast.  This was the beautiful morning that awaited us.

Oh such beauty they have here.  I don't know as if I'd ever get anything done living here.  I would spend all my time at the window looking out.  The mountains are constantly changing, evolving, and erupting in colorful transformations from moment to moment.

After breakfast, we noticed this eagle up in the trees not too far from the house.  One of the girls volunteered to take my camera and get some pictures.  I was only too glad to oblige.  I was still working on my second cup of coffee after an amazing breakfast of eggs, biscuits with sausage gravy and chocolate gravy, and fresh fruit.

She got some amazing shots of the eagle up close.  She told me that usually the eagles fly away when you try to take pictures of them.  But, this fellow was in a rather obliging mood today!

He tolerated the click, after click, after click!

I sure appreciated his patience, and willingness to be forever remembered through the lens of my camera!

How incredibly amazing to be able to live this close to these imposing, stately figures every day!

The weather today was being testy, unpredictable, and just kind of miserable.  The sun and clouds played hide and seek all day long.  At times the wind would blow fiercely, and the snow would just pellet out of the sky for a moment or two... and then stop....

The clouds would all gang up on the sun, and it would almost seem as if darkness was falling...

And then the wind would come up, and push the clouds out of the way, and the sun would again come out to shine.  This went on all day long.

While the weather had its own party outside, things were looking up in the kitchen.  The girls were  making preparations for dinner.  Our families were going to worship together this Sunday morning, along with another family who was coming to join us.  So, the preparations were in full force to get dinner ready as soon as breakfast was over to feed this large group of people.

A huge pot of chicken and rice along with salad, and black beans were on the menu for dinner.  There was a wonderful array of smells coming from the kitchen as our families worshiped and fellowshiped together.  We shared another wonderful meal together, sharing, and joining together in fellowship, and worship of the Lord.  It was a beautiful, sweet, and special time for everyone.

After dinner, we relaxed together over steaming cups of hot tea. The tea was a special recipe my friend had put together herself, and it was all organic.  She had combined multiple different herbs together to create a healthy blend of tea for her family.  The entire family drinks at least one cup of this tea together every day.  Since I love hot tea so much, you can only imagine how much heaven this was for me, to enjoy this special tea blend made by my friend!

After dinner, the sun looked like it was winning the war, and so we ventured outside for a walk.  We walked over to their chicken/duck/geese pen, where the peacock was also residing.  I was intrigued with the peacock, and was hoping for a beautiful show, but that never materialized.  Apparently it doesn't happen very often that he will spread his feathers for a show.  It would be amazing to see it in person!

This is a view of their home as we walked down the driveway toward the road.  Our plans were to walk down to the river, and back.  It isn't far, about a quarter-mile or so.

However, we had not made it very far down the driveway, when the wind unexpectedly began to howl again.  I turned around, and literally watched the advancing wind bring the blowing snow toward us.  One minute the sun was out, the next... nasty blinding snow pellets were hammering us.

So, we didn't make it down to the river... this time.  We headed back to the house.  No sooner had we gotten inside, and taken off all our coats, gloves, hats, and so on... see what happens?  The sun comes back out!

Before long, it was time for us to head for home.  It had been a wonderful time of fellowship for us, and the time had passed all too swiftly.  We prayed together, and then said our goodbyes, and promises that we would get together again soon.

As we left, the mountains were encased in a wall of clouds, but at times, the clouds parted. The drive was beautiful, with enough daylight left to see the mountains from a different angle than we had coming in.

As we drove along the river, with our back to the sun, the clouds reflected the light of the departing sun in creatively magnificent ways.

The last rays of the sun departing...

Finally, it was too dark for me to take pictures any longer, but we enjoyed the last lingering glimpses of the sun for a while longer, before complete darkness took over.  We weren't too far from home by this time.  We had such a blessed, wonderful, and refreshing time with our friends, that really encouraged, and blessed us.

We are very much looking forward to another visit with our friends sometime in the spring.  We both love to garden, and she has some great plans for their yard this spring and summer.  I look forward to sharing our knowledge of things that we have both learned about gardening, composing, and herbs again soon! Our kids have grand plans of camping out together, and I intend to get my walk in down to the river too.  :)

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