Montana in May
May 17 - 24, 2014

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We made a trip to visit family and work on the house in mid-May.  The weather was a bit cold and rainy at first, but turned truly beautiful by the end of the week.  There were a few days that felt exactly like summer! It was great to see everyone, and we were completely blown away by the house.  It is very special.  
 We arrived to find Dan Sr, Dan Jr, and Mark working on irrigation - no surprise! Our first look at our house in person - it was an amazing experience.  
Rose taking us on a tour of the beautiful siding that Scott Frost stained so nicely. Everyone checking out the beautiful timber work on the eating porch.
This looks like Eric saying, "No, the house was supposed to be turned that way!"  He wasn't, 
of course - it's so much nicer than we had imagined.  Dan has put so much into this. 
Everyone loves this front door - it makes you feel so small.
 I wonder if these boys are related? 


Lovely views on a walk with Mark

Here we admire the huge wheat field Mark has been working so hard on this spring An old pump house and an occupied Osprey nest

You can kind of see the Osprey in this shot, just barely
  Ouch - It's got him!!  
 We love this pond, it's very pretty there A view of the ranch house in the afternoon with the little cabin next door.
 A elk on the driveway to The Ponderosa

I don't get to see snow on the mountains often, as I usually limit my visits to summer.
  Handsome Coulter has grown up! 

Beautiful Amy taking a tour up to Eric's loft office
Testing paint samples.  We picked the darkest brown 
swatch but it turned light yellow on the walls, but I love it.
There's always a lot of pointing when Casazzas get together, but this one is
particularly classic.  Eric had loaned his shirt to Dan so he was wearing my
somewhat feminine coat, and Mark was channeling the Supremes in this pose.  
The deer are incredibly thick, you see groups of 10 or 20 everywhere
   I didn't get many pictures of our family, this was mostly a house trip for us. 
 Here we are at the house chatting with Jeb one afternoon. 
This Osprey had a huge fish for dinner along the way to The Ponderosa Another view of that beautiful pond over near the wheat field.
Our barn & house, with Dan's shop just visible across the lake behind our house

Deer, deer, everywhere
   Eric loves these trees and the perfectly placed rocks at their base

Proof that times really do change.  This sweet kitty has earned herself a place inside
The Ponderosa.  She shows her gratitude by making Dan's naps more enjoyable.
Here I am looking skeptical in my office, probably worrying
about paint colors. I carried that notebook EVERYWHERE.
 Beautiful shots of a double rainbow near our barn Here it ends at the most beautiful part of the lake 
   The gate into the D-C Ranch, looking so nice in the evening sun
   On Tuesday we went to the valley to do house shopping, but first we stopped
 at Graves Creek to look for some rock for our hearth.  We followed this moose
 along the road for a bit before she finally took to the woods. 
 Handsome dude I found in the woods One of the spots where we picked rock

This log is a man-made fish habitat.  Eric used to make them when 
he worked for the Forest Service. 
  Another lovely spot where we picked rock.  
Well, Eric picked rock and I took pictures. 

One posed shot that I would NEVER attempt, but of course Eric can do it! 
  In the afternoon Tracie rescued both of us by offering to go shopping 
with me in Eric's place.  Lane was sick but he was so good you'd 
never know he felt bad.  Here we are at about hour 3 in Lowe's.  
During our shopping trip on Tuesday and the 50 mile drive home, I noticed the,
"Check tire pressure" warning, but forgot to do anything about it.  The next day
on our drive back to the valley Eric realized that we had a totally flat tire.  
Now we've made it safely to Dan & Tracie's house where we're feeding Lane's horse.
Now we're up in the South Fork where Jeb was a heck of a camp chef We ran into family friend Roger Hall and he hung out with us while we had lunch

Jeb cooking an amazing smorgasbord of hamburgers, hot dogs, brats, and steak
   Jeb even let us use his VIP chairs - they were sweet! 
   This is usually Hungry Horse Lake, but it is low right now in anticipation of a high spring runoff.

The low water level worked out well for us - more rocks to pick from for our hearth! 
  The Casazza boys are all champion nap-takers.  Here Lane gets a nap in about a 10 minute drive. 
 Heading out to scout for a good fishing spot  
 We spotted one, so now we're off!  The fam making their way through the debris while I (as always) hang back and take forever

This looked to me like a broken ankle just waiting to happen, but Eric 
hopped all around it like it was a playground.
  Eric bouncing on the end of a log as if he was on a diving board

The dirt in Montana is often this powdery gray stuff, which makes a nice 
contrast to the multi-colored rocks.
  Aforementioned rocks
 The view from our fishing spot  This part is usually underwater so it had the lunar-landscape thing going on.
 Dan,  Tracie, and Lane enjoying the view Jeb knows how this fishing thing is done!

This picture makes me laugh - they have the same expression on 
their faces and are both looking blankly in opposite directions.  Priceless! 
  Now here's a great facial expression, a beautiful smile.
Lane caught a fish! 
Gotta watch Uncle Eric carefully to make sure he does everything right.  
OK, here you go Lane...  and oops!  He dropped it. Dad to the rescue!

Eric and Jeb, deep in thought.  Or not.
Gotta go show Uncle Jeb  

Dan decides he needs a rest. He told Tracie she should catch one, and she did!  
  Now Lane takes over to reel it in.
 He's got the stance  And a great big fish!  He didn't want to hold this one.

Now we're back at Jeb's at the end of our day.  Here's an a picture of an 
antique John Deere manure spreader.  I took this to show my sister's son  
Brodie back in Oklahoma. That boy loves farm equipment. 
  Handsome Casazza men, including Tanner the dog! 
 Back at our place on Thursday, Scott got the whole inside painted while we were there.  My favorite view - which will be right out my office window.  What a blessing! 
The ranch house in its natural state - with cows and toys and 4-wheelers all around.
This is the way it should be.
A look at our house from Dan & Tracie's place.  We visited their place often in the epic battle against pocket gophers.  
There were several times of stress during this house-building trip, so we took a
morning drive out to Stone Hill for a little quiet time Friday morning.  It was very helpful.
It's beautiful there.

Back at the ranch, this cow made us laugh because she was scratching her
butt on the pipe trailer.  Super ick!  
  The living room at our house with the rocks laid out for the hearth
 Sunset at our place Dallas came out for the campfire that we ended up not having, but it was great to see him anyway.  
 Lovely sunset Eric and Dan, taking it all in
One last look at the house before we head to the valley for breakfast with Jeb & 
Amy, more house shopping, and our flight home. 
A Bald Eagle was sitting at the edge of the water at the end of the lake, 
but I had already packed my good camera, so Eric caught the shot with his phone. 
 In just one week after we left, Randy got the hearth done.  Here it is almost finished.  Beautiful! 


We can't really believe this place is ours.  We are so grateful to 
Dan & Tracie and everyone who is making this dream possible. 
We hope this house will be used by the Lord to be a blessing that 
extends much further than the two of us. 

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