quick trip up to fairy lake

Saturday we went for a quick day trip up to Fairy Lake about an hour northwest of Bozeman.  We had heard it was pretty spectacular but we honestly couldn't have imagined what we encountered.  Unfortunately, that sentiment is a double edged sword.

George was very excited to go on a hike. He was so excited, he started fabricating "sightings" to ensure us he was excited about the trip up. I think he "saw" three owls (I haven't the heart to break the whole "nocturnal" thing to him), airplanes (C'mon George, do you think we were born yesterday), and horses (flat out lie).  George was really feeling the good vibes and wanted to ensure that we all had a good trip up, I think it was a little role reversal personally. George pacifying the parents with faux-sightings! So cute.

The drive was pretty smooth, but the last 7 miles are over a pretty bumpy, steep at times, dirt road.  I was thankful we were in a 4wd with a little bit of clearance.  There were a few climes where we were in first gear, cranking it up the hill.  Pretty intense. On our way out we pitied some folks on their way in, in... older looking sedans.  Tough road ahead.

Once we got to the parking lot we saw a sign that said "Fairy Lake, .5 miles."  We couldn't see the lake from where we were, so we honestly had no idea what to expect. Within a few minutes... this is what we saw:

It was absolutely breathtaking.  We made our way down to the Lake... and honestly couldn't commit to a place to set up camp without walking around the entire lake (it's pretty small, probably took us about a half an hour).

George walked the entire time, and couldn't resist popping in a few times to test out the water. It was chilly, but honestly I've felt colder water. It wasn't too bad. It was very warm day, and even at 7,000 ft I would guess that it was still in the mid 70's up there.

There weren't too many people around, and I was wishing that it was even a little more private so we could be as loud as we want without fear of looking stupid or scaring people who were fishing from the banks.  We even saw a couple floating in the middle on innertubes.  Pretty sweet.  To escape the heat we finally found a good place to take a dip.  Ashley went in first... and with little cajoling took the entire plunge.  Completely submerged.  This is no small feat as the water was very chilly.  As I've said a million times, Ashley loves adventures.

After Ashley went in, I took a plunge myself. It felt so good. Honestly we could've stayed until nightfall... if it weren't for one important thing I've neglected from this tale. If  you don't want the story spoiled... just stop reading now and imagine this heavenly place all to yourself.

Ok, for those of you that want the real scoop on Fairy Lake - here's the deal... It's gorgeous, I swear there has been no photoshop-funny business going on to enhance blues and greens. The water is as clear as advertised!

But there are flies out there.  Serious. Flies.  Huge, mammoth, man-eating flies.  By some miracle they weren't too interested in George's deliciously smooth skin, but they loved my ashy-pale bicyclists legs, and Ashley's too.  The flies honestly prohibited a prolonged enjoyment of this place. I don't know if simple bug spray would work on these guys, or what the deal was. But honestly, towards the end I was about to have a nervous breakdown.  Ashley can corroborate this part of the story.  I was about one more fly bite away from having a Dr. Leo Marvin breakdown.

So... we might go back next summer, armed with fly swatters and bug spray.  I'll probably need about that much time to cool down.  Other than that, it was a very fun adventure and absolutely gorgeous.



Last weekend we went for an excellent adventure with our friends the Christensens.  We combined a night of camping with a full day on the Gallatin River.

I don't mean to rub it in... but the summer up here really has been glorious.  We are getting to do all of the things we dreamed about doing.  The weather has been phenomenal and the long days make for absolutely spectacular weekends/sunsets.

We headed down towards Yellowstone and camped in Gallatin National forest.  Free camping right by the Taylor Fork River.  Spectacular.

Here are some pictures and light commentary.

Scott and Ashley enjoying the scenery.  The river was flowing a little quick so we had to be on alert with the little ones running around, but the setting was just so perfect.  Once you settle on the fact that car camping is the only way you'll be camping for the next foreseeable future, there are just so many great places that you can go.

Here's another view of the campground as we got set up with the Christensens.  We miss our friends in LA dearly and nothing can replace them, but we've also been blessed with great friends here in Bozeman.
Ashley and our skipper, Scott - ponder the best way to attack the Gallatin River the next morning.

George - sometimes has issues with other kids his age.  Frenemies is the best way to describe it. Not with Abram.  George loves Abram... he thinks he is hilarious.  Here is a picture that Celia took of the two little guys yucking it up.

In addition to the the busy river next to our campsite, there was also a very calm streamlet right next to us as well.  The kiddos loved playing in it. I think some people might be reticent to take their kids camping.  If you give up on the notion of getting an "awesome" night's sleep, camping with kids can be a lot of fun.  We have been camping with George since he was about 5 months old.

Here we are all gathering around... singing a few lines of "Michael rode the boat ashore."

The Christensen's treated us to some home made, deep dish, brick-oven, coleman-warmed personal pan pizzas.  We made flapjacks for breakfast topped off with Ashley's delicious buttermilk syrup.  Camping in style!
Celia & Scott are great camping companions.  Family camping can be so fun if you go with people who totally know what they are doing... not that we are imbeciles, but after a few anecdotes about grizzly bears Ashley was definitely considering moving the tent a little closer to their tent.

We scoured for wood to burn, and Ashley was amazed at my camouflage techniques.  Can you spot me?

A lovely fire was topped with smores in the Rocky Mountains.

Family picture.  Pulsiphers, 2011.  Still waiting on a winning name for baby #2.   From some angles Ashley is deceptively pregnant.

Picture of our campsite in the morning.  Much to our relief, there were no grizzly sitings.  I tend to be a worrier about these kinds of things, but if you follow all of the rules (keeping a clean camp, storing all smelly things inside the car) you really are doing about as much as you can. Scott brought a can of bear spray, but after a few stories about its misuse I wasn't sure which I was more alarmed by, the potential for a bear encounter or the likelihood that the bear spray would end up being used on myself, somehow.

The Pulsipher family all together on their first rafting expedition.  We had previously braved the Madison river on inner tubes, but this time we were on the Gallatin river in an actual, sea-worthy vessel.  Scott is a very skilled raftsman and I tried to do my best to impress the group with my mastery of nautical terms via Whale Wars.

George enjoyed rafting so much, that he wore himself right out.  Towards the end of the trip we had another Montana highlight, our first moose sighting.  It was so cool.

I was very proud of Ashley pulling all of this adventure off while 8 months pregnant.  We may have discovered another secret to car-camping.  The inflatable mattress.  It makes a significant difference in your comfort level. I used to... scoff at the notion.  But really, if you aren't "light backpacking" and hiking/biking into your campsite, you might as well go all out.  Portable satellite dishes, inflatable swimming pools, coco lattes, foot spas, and every other comfort you can squeeze into your car - all fair game I say ; ).


it's boots and straps and cowboy hats

Saturday Night we went to the Livingston Rodeo.  Livingston is the next town over (east) from Bozeman. We haven't spent any time there, but cruising through it the other night confirmed to us that we'll need to go back.  The downtown area looked really cute and the main boulevard is right by the train tracks, so that is a huge bonus for George.

Livingston puts on a bona fide rodeo.  As you can tell by the clientele in the picture below, there was no fooling around.  We tried to blend George in with his cowboy hat.  Though the crocs might have been a tipoff that we weren't exactly seasoned rodeo goers.

The rodeo kept George's attention pretty much through out the duration of the night.  It went over three hours, and George didn't squirm or have a need do to any prolonged sprinting.  Our general admission seats weren't exactly the best, but the action was good for a toddler audience.

There was all kinds of things going on at that rodeo.  First off - let me say that if you are easily offended the rodeo might not be the best place to go.  We had the unfortunate experience of falling into many of the demographics that served as the butt of the announcers jokes.
  • Californians
  • People who voted for Obama
  • Democrats
  • Utah
  • Bill / Hillary sympathizers.
I'm sure if they found out we were wearing chacos and drove a CR-V to the show we would've been put in their volunteer rodeo-clown program.

Most of the people in the audience were laughing pretty hard at the Obama jabs... makes me wonder what the left-leaning equivalent of the rodeo could be, any ideas?

The sight seeing/people watching was fantastic.  Check out this zoro dude in front of us.

Another key factor that may have contributed to George's enthusiasm for the rodeo, could have been his introduction to cotton candy.  Do you think he liked it?

Methinks that's a yes.

Despite the... questionable comedic repertoire/color commentary of the announcers, it was still really really cool to see a completely new (to us) athletic competition. The crowning event of the rodeo is the bull riding.  It is so fun to see the cowboys try to ride the HUGE bulls.  George loved every second of it.

Here's an action shot of the first event of the night, bare-backed bronco ridin'.

As with most events in our family, George looked the coolest.  I'm sometimes jealous that George looks about 10,000 times cooler than me every time we're in public.  Ok, not really jealous, but I wish I looked as natural at the rodeo as he did.  I think he was even laughing at the bill & hillary jokes.  What a chameleon!

All in all it was a great night.  George loved it so much that in his half-sleep state, he proclaimed "Bulls!" as we put his pajamas on.  A ringing endorsement from the coolest member of our family.  We hope you are all having a great holiday weekend.


softerthan a lullabye...

...rocky mountain high!

Last week Ashley, George and I got back from a two week extravaganza in Colorado.  We were all over the state visiting our family.  We love going back to Colorado to visit our parents, grandparents, nieces/nephews, aunts/uncles, brothers/sisters and cousins.  It can be a tricky feat to balance all of that in one vacation schedule - but we pulled it off decently this last go around.  I had to work here and there throughout our stay so that made scheduling tricky.  Between "the Springs" and the Mountains we had a great stay and were so happy that George got to spend so much time with grandparents and cousins.
Here's Ashley, George and Grandma Potter in the front garden.  One of the Saturdays, we spent the entire day outside, mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, and watering the flowers.

George is really getting into the "cheese" phase with picture taking.  This is his cheese face.  I love it.

We also discovered a new treasure trove source of toys for George... garage sales.  We picked up a few toys that George immediately glued himself to.  He stayed outside and played on the porch, undisturbed for nearly an hour.

George got lots of cousin time. It was cousin Scarlett's birthday so we went out to a Japanese restaurant and.... I'd love to say that George's palate is distinguished enough to appreciate Japanese food at this time, but he was more interested in the fish tank than the cuisine.  Here's George with my sister Blythe's kids (left to right), Duncan, Abigail, Finn & Scarlett.

After city time we retreated to the mountains to meet up with my parents and my brother Ian and his family.  Here is George with his cousin Serena.  They were completely riveted by a documentary on the French and Indian War.  Our little history buffs!

Grandma Pulsipher has some serious wooden train tracks.  The transportation planner in me got a little carried away.

Look at this masterpiece.  Have you ever seen its equal?

We also got a lot of trampoline time in.  George is really good on the tramp, and one of his better abilities is to fully commit to a jump whether or not he has control of his body.

I like the mid-air shots... he was battling a little bit of a cough, we think he might have some sort of Colorado-induced allergies. It seems like every time we go back home, he starts to get a runny nose and other maladies.

I wanted to include this picture because its equal parts despair/cute.

On the trampoline, in the Rocky Mountains with cousin Serena, Uncle Ian, Grandma, and cousin Eva.  Pretty much the best place for a kid to jump on the tramp, in the world.

Our trip was a great success and it made us feel the pull of wanting to live near our family and friends who love us and George so much.  We hope you are all having a wonderful summer full of adventure.