July 27 - August 4, 2012

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We had a wonderful time in Montana this summer.  We had a lot of time with family, a lot of relaxation time, perfect weather, and we were able to miss the hottest temps of the year in Oklahoma at the same time.  Score! 

We arrived very late on Friday night and enjoyed the hospitality of Jeb & Amy.  They are awesome at putting up with our crazy flight schedules.  We saw them off to a basketball tournament and then headed to Mark & Jodi's house to meet our new nephew Colt.  There's yet another new nephew named Carter (Lucas & Kristi's new baby) who we still haven't met yet.  I think Carter is the 16th grandchild of Dan & Rose but it is hard to keep track! :-)

Colt is adorable and very sweet-tempered. Colt looking at Eric in fascination.
 Now we arrive in Eureka and can't resist a stop to see our new barn. It is beautiful - and huge!!  It is also extremely well built.  It should last for generations.
 The inside of the barn - built to withstand strong winds and deep snow.
 Now we're out at the Ponderosa - Dan Sr. has just returned 
 from a 3 week mission trip to Africa.  
Mark, Eric, Dan, and Lane at the ranch.  We are eating apples from the ranch 
apple tree and (as always) having a conversation that involves a lot of pointing.  
 Now we're out at some property we bought which Mark has turned into a 
 beautiful barley field.  He has put a lot of work into this project this year.  
Eating fresh-picked barley.  It's good! 
Mark & Eric surveying the field.  It has almost no weeds and is very productive.   Close-up of the barley.
Eric is impressed with the golf ball-sized rocks they picked.
That was a LOT of work! 
Boys playing on the rock pile.  At least they didn't play "king of the hill" or Lane
would have surely shown everyone up.  
 Here's the tough guy now.  Me & my barley

The view from the field.


 Eric is pretty happy to be back in Montana. Mark, admiring the barley.  
I wish you could have seen how it waved in the wind.
It was very pretty.  We got to watch it turn yellow over
the week we were there.

Another view of our barn from the road into the property.



This is to show how the joints are cut in, 
they are not just hammered together.
 Back at the Ponderosa with Dan Jr.'s beautiful girls - Kaitlyn, Ashley, & Tracie Rose got this great picture of the girls looking so lovely.


 Back at the ranch, Jodi & the kids arrive for the day. 

  Jodi with Jack, Amber & Trevor's dog who lives everywhere but their house. 
 Back at the Ponderosa for some family relaxation in the yard.   They were all trying to find shade but it was incredibly nice in the sun!  


 The lake hit record high levels this year. Here are some views of the lake from the Ponderosa. 

 Doesn't she look devious?!!  Don't be fooled, she spoils little Gus like crazy.  
The lakefront property on Glen Lake that Larry & Mary Beth are developing.  
It is very nice. 
 Larry, Eric, and Glen Lake Rose & I baby sat Colt while the gang went out tubing on Koocanusa.  
 Here the family looks over our early-stage house plans.  Exciting!  Becca doing some sisterly hair braiding 
 Larry's girls with Eric at one of about 5 campfires we had that week.  Lane is never more than about 2 feet away from his dad.  
 Hot coals at the end of the evening.  The deer were everywhere this year and not all that afraid of humans either.
I caught this one in mid air.  (Sorry it's a little blurry.)  
The next day, Eric & Mark take a long walk that ends at the barley field.  
Tired of walking, they had me come pick them up.   
Glen Lake
The construction site for the future bath house. Larry worked hard on this all week.
Rose, Eric, Dallas, & I hanging out on our land.  Mark took his camper up there
for us and we slept out there most nights. 
There was a full moon while we were there.  It was pretty all week long. The barn in the moonlight.
 On Wednesday I spent the morning wandering around Eureka.  It's a nice town. 
In the afternoon Eric and I decided to swim in Costich Lake.  
We've been in the south too long - it felt cold to us even on a hot day. 
 Refreshed from our 10 minute swim, we decide to take a long walk.  We saw 3 baby loons at the end of the lake.  Here are 2 of them. 

Me and the end of the lake.
  Me along the irrigation ditch trail. 
From the peace and beauty of the woods to the scratchy grass of the
field, to the swampy area with saw grass where we waded in the mud - 
this walk had it all.  
The walk ended near the barn so we had to check it out again.
Dallas & Jeb helping Larry pour footings.    Dan & Larry supervising. Poor Larry was exhausted. 
 But not too exhausted to take the kids out tubing in the evening.  


Faces set with determination, they await the big takeoff.
These Montana kids are so tough, it's cool out by this point 
and they were still ready to get in the water.
We felt it was cool enough to start the fire.  Here Eric and Mary Beth
throw firewood down the steep slope.  It was exciting since I was at 
the bottom and I'm a slow mover.
Eric doing a CrossFit-style workout with some wood.



I told you Gus was spoiled.  He has those girls right where he wants them.
  Mom Mary Beth fixing Rebecca's hair while Aubrey tries to be good. 

This day (I think it was Thursday) we spent an interesting afternoon with Don Lundeen.  He gave us a tour of his unofficial museum which is a really neat collection. 
  When "a few of us" get together for dinner, we take over the whole restaurant! 
That day was the coldest of our trip, and that evening was particularly
windy and chilly.  Here I hide in the car while Eric & Coulter try to start
a fire in the wind.  Notice Coulter is in T-Shirt & shorts.  Tough kid.
There were many, many S'Mores consumed that week.  
   Why is it the best picture of me is also the worst picture of Eric?
 Lane's got the shy guy thing workin'  One of the few times Gus wasn't in someone's lap

We got a beautiful sunset that evening



I know this is not a good picture, but it is so hard to get a shot of Dillon!  


God does nice work, doesn't he?

Now we are joined by Dallas and Caleb


 Dan and his snuggle bunny Eric, not to be outdone, found him a snuggle bunny too.

Now Jeb gets in on the act with Madison
Also I got my second picture of the illusive Dillon. 

 The next morning there was a beautiful mist on the lake at sunrise. An elk across the lake on Dan's property
 A little mist still lingering as the day warms up Another look at the barn, in morning light this time.  Can you tell we like it?!
On one of my long walks at the Ponderosa One of the 1,000 Frisbee throws I did for Tipper.
You'd think I'd have gotten good at it with all that practice. 
 An interesting bug I saw in Rose's flower garden. This is the beautiful flower garden of which I speak.
 This is the sweet little cat that now lives at the Ponderosa  Big sky
 Dan Sr. got a new 4-wheeler while we were there.
 Here he gives Rose a ride on the brand new rig.
And away they go.   It looks very romantic here, but he drove her to the 
barn and then she had to walk back.  Those Casazza men are so smooth! 
 We headed back to Columbia Falls after this and stayed at Jeb & Amy's again.  Then we were up and out for our early morning flight the next day.  Great trip! 



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