So I guess we got a little nostalgic for the snow, because we decided to spend 10 days in Big Sky, Montana skiing and relaxing. We rented a house in the Meadow Village, just south of the mountain, with our friends from Maui, Jeff and David. It was great to have some space to spread out. The kitchen was huge, the bed was really comfy, and there was a hot tub that was just begging to be used.
After just a three hour drive from Billings, we arrived at our first exciting destination since Denver, Bozeman. It’s a smaller city with great restaurants and shops. It’s a college town so it has a liberal vibe, even though it’s in the middle of Montana. When we got to Bozeman (still about an hour from Big Sky), we grabbed lunch at Starky’s. They have lots of vegetarian options (I love the Southwest Salad and the Veggie Burger) and they make the best cookies on the planet. I think I have now tried them all. I love the lemon one the best. Or the sugar cookie. No, chocolate chip. Ok, I think I have a problem. We hit up the local co-op after lunch for all of our meals and snacks for the next ten days. The Community Food Co-op in Bozeman was amazing. I would say that it was even better than the ones we have in Minnesota (and that’s saying something).
We checked into our place on Thursday night (March 5). Mother Nature sent out her welcoming committee when we arrived. We saw five elk on the roadside just before the turn to the house. Unpacking took awhile, but it feels great to be ‘home’ (at least for awhile). We made some dinner and relaxed with some Netflix, a luxury that we got rid of when we moved into the Airstream. We continued the theme of relaxing on Friday. We went to East Slope Rentals (in the Meadow Village) to get skis so we would be ready to hit the slopes the next day. East Slope is great and only charges you for the days that you actually ski. Plus, their staff is super helpful. Porter even got a bone while we were waiting. Travis and I have owned skis for years so it was really exciting to try something new for a change.
The mountain was calling, so we finally hit the slopes on Saturday. The high was around 45 that day, but it stayed a little cooler at the higher altitudes. We skied a few runs at Big Sky and then headed over to Moonlight for the rest of the day. A few of the runs were icy and a few were showing dirt and rocks, but overall I was impressed with the mountain. The only disappointment was the food at Moonlight Lodge. The cafe that served great pizzas and sandwiches is gone, replaced with a grab-and-go style cart with pre-made wraps and soup. Not cool, Moonlight, not cool.
Our second day on the hill was Tuesday. We didn’t get to the ticket counter until 10 so the huge price tag of the ticket is a little hard to swallow (I’ve always skied open to close at Big Sky). But it did help that we both got the college discount (being a graduate student is starting to pay off. I wonder what other discounts I can get?). We went to the Shedhorn (south) side of the mountain but found that it was pretty melted and slushy. All of that sun and 40 degree heat this week will do that. For lunch we finally made it to Yeti Dogs (something we had been anticipating since our trip here last year). Let me just make a plug for this hot dog place. Yes- we are both vegetarian but they have an excellent veggie dog. Trav likes his with sauerkraut and I just like mine plain, with ketchup. Paired with a cheap 20 oz beer, we were set. Don’t miss it!
On Thursday, we headed down to West Yellowstone. We stopped at the Blue Moon Bakery for lunch and dessert before driving an hour south to our destination: the Grizzly Bear and Wolf Discovery Center. If you are ever around Yellowstone, and I assume many of you will be, go check this place out. You won’t be disappointed. We got to see 3 bears and 7 wolves. Sam, the biggest bear on campus, was 1050 pounds and from Alaska. He was so beautiful. He hunted around for about 20 minutes finding produce the keepers hid under rocks and logs. The wolves tore apart deer carcasses during feeding time. Yuck! But still very fascinating to watch. A few stops on the way home to take pictures of the scenery and it ended up being a wonderful day.
Downtime at the house was spent doing homework, playing pool, cooking meals, watching movies, relaxing in the hot tub, and playing Dragon Age. I’ll let you decide who did what. I also started a new hashtag on Instagram, #wastereductionwednesday. As the Eco Travelers, I wanted to bring in more education to our repertoire. Look for it each Wednesday on our Instagram account. Porter enjoyed his afternoon walks and got to play in the snow a little bit. I think he likes it, but if he’s out too long he starts to shiver. The sunsets in Big Sky were lovely. Mostly because we could watch them from the comfort of the hot tub or our porch that looked out over Lone Mountain.
The four of us ventured out around Big Sky a few nights too:
- We took a couple trips to the new grocery store. I know that doesn’t sound exciting, but four friends walking around the grocery story at 10pm after a bit of drinking is fun. Believe me! It had a lot more organic and natural foods than the other store. My favorite part was the huge bags of chips (only made huge by the change in air pressure from being on the mountain).
- We hit up a local brewery on Sunday night. The beer was great, the food was pretty good, but the service was slow. But when you have a good beer in hand it doesn’t matter very much. We played a game of shuffleboard (Travis and I lost) and headed back to the house.
- We had dinner one night at a local Mexican restaurant. They wouldn’t substitute anything on their menu so we had limited options as vegetarians. The food was mediocre, but the margaritas were great!
Travis and I skied the peak on Friday! We tried to talk David and Jeff into it, but the conditions were not great and they opted to ski the bowl (which was also fun). The view is always amazing from 11,166 feet. It was a bluebird day and you could see for miles. The run off the backside of the mountain, Liberty Bowl, wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be. The snow was icy and there were a few rocks, but we got down in one piece. We shot some footage with the GoPro, but have yet to get it downloaded onto the computer. Hopefully I can do that soon. Getting back down to the lift was another adventure. There was dirt everywhere and the lift operator said we had to take a different way back because they were closing runs. Damn you 50 degree weather! We made it back, albeit a little tired and winded. But that’s nothing another Yeti Dog can’t fix. Or in this case, two! And a snickers bar. I never eat them, but skiing takes a lot out of you and I clearly was not in shape for this trip.
Happy Pi Day! We went shopping in the Meadow Village on Saturday. I love walking around, looking at the little shops. We didn’t really need new clothes or souvenirs, so we bought Porter a new dog toy. A little bear we call Patch. He loves it! To celebrate the most epic Pi Day ever (3.141592653= March 14, 15 9:26:53), I made a pizza for dinner and a pear-apple pie for dessert. Yummy!
We left Montana early Sunday morning (March 15). We were going to stop when we were half-way back to LA, but we just kept driving. We pulled back in to Torrance at 11:45pm and slept in the Airstream. My aunt Shari was in town visiting so we got to see her for a few minutes before she caught her plane at 6am the next morning. All in all it was a great trip!
Big Sky will always hold a special place in our hearts. I (Jenna) have been there seven times. Some trips have been with my family and some with friends. Travis and I got engaged there. And now we are coming here each year to spend time with friends. Each time I get on the mountain I feel at home and alive. Big Sky Country will continue to be a place we visit, year after year.