Category Archives: Exclude

Making a Move: Montana to Wyoming

I’m not quite sure how to tell you this, so I’m just gonna come right out with it: I’m leaving Montana.

Goodbye, Montana.

Goodbye, Montana.

For those of you who’ve been reading this blog or following me on social media, you know how much I love Montana. My love for this state is as expansive as Montana’s big sky and as deep as my family’s roots in this place we’ve been lucky enough to call home for generations. But I’m packing my rig (AKA my 4WD Jeep), pulling on my cowgirl boots and heading south for the beautiful, wild, romantic and adventure-filled state of Wyoming.

Hello, Wyoming.

Hello, Wyoming. Photo: Andy Austin

While it hurts my heart to leave Montana, I’m thrilled, happy and excited to explore the Forever West, and I can’t wait to help tell the incredible stories about the people, places and experiences that make Wyoming so special. And if there’s one state I could possibly leave my love Montana for, it’s Wyoming. Also, in case anyone is keeping score, Montana and Wyoming are BFFs (read more about why MT + WY are BFFs here). After all, they share three of the most special place in the country: Yellowstone National Park, the Beartooth Highway and Bighorn Canyon.

MT + WY = BFFs.

MT + WY = BFFs.

And while I’m leaving Big Sky Country, I’d love it if we could still be friends…maybe even BFFs like Montana and Wyoming? If you’re interested in keeping up with my new adventures in another absolutely stunning part of the world, you can follow me on instagram at @MontanaTia (PS: I totally know I’m going to have to revisit my instagram handle ;)), where I’ll be sharing photos, stories and more from life in Wyoming.

And while I said it in last week’s blog post (you can read that here), I need to say it again: thank you for letting me be part of your lives. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and feel honored to have spend so many years sharing my adventures with you as I’ve been living, working and playing under Montana’s big blue sky.

Until we meet again—this time under Wyoming’s wild skies—happy trails to you.


Win a two-day rafting trip with Montana Raft Company

You guys, there are some adventures that need to be done when visiting Montana. One of them: whitewater rafting the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. In case you’re not familiar with it, the Middle Fork runs along the southern boundary of Glacier National Park and is a gorgeous teal color that’s created by glacial silt. It’s also one of the most fun destinations for whitewater rafting in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Navigating the rapids on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

Navigating the rapids on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

I realize that you may be wondering why I’m telling you about this river. The truth: I want you to raft it. You see, not only is the Middle Fork of the Flathead one of my favorite rivers in Montana, but rafting it is one of my all-time favorite activities and I want you to have the chance to experience it as well. So much so, that I collaborated with my friends at Glacier Guides and Montana Raft Company to give away a guided two-day rafting trip for two (including food, gear and a guide) on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. Pretty awesome, right?

This would be your campsite.

This would be your campsite.

Just you, a fire and Montana's star-filled night sky.

Just you, a fire and Montana’s star-filled night sky.

Here’s how you enter…

1) Comment on the blog and tell me who you would bring with you on the river and why.
2) All entries must be received by 6 p.m., MST on Wednesday, May 27. A winner will be announced on Thursday, May 28.
PS: You must be 18 years old to be eligible to win the trip.

Update: There were SO many incredible entries into this Montana rafting trip giveaway! Thanks to all of you who entered–it was a delight to read your comments. Also, a big CONGRATS to Rich Rice of Butte, Montana on winning this two-day raft trip with Glacier Guides + Montana Raft!

Looking forward to hearing about who you would take on one of Montana’s most famous rivers,

Montana Boys: A Song + Why I Love Them

You guys, I’m going to be straight with you: I’m a big baby. There are certain things that touch my heart and I sometimes feel like it will either burst or break.

One such thing: Montana boys. I count myself lucky to know and love so many wonderful men. For my entire life I’ve been surrounded by incredible examples of men who are both tough and tender in the form of dads (yes, I have two), uncles, cousins, brothers and friends. The latest additions to the list are my four nephews, who may in fact be the cutest and most charming little fellas I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Three sweet Montana nephews. Photo: Brandi Powell

Three sweet Montana nephews. Photo: Brandi Powell

Another thing that punches my heart: music. In my free time, I dabble in singing and songwriting and am in awe of musicians who tell their stories through song. I’ve always felt like music is the most powerful storytelling tool that exists.

Playing my guitar, Miles.

Playing my guitar, Miles.

Earlier this month, I stumbled across a song that combined two of my soft spots — Montana boys and music — when I heard a song aptly titled “Montana Boys” by Great Falls, Montana native Coyne Wiggins. Coyne (who I imagine to be a nice Montana boy after listing to this song on repeat), captured the spirit and characteristics of Montana boys so well. Since hearing this song, I’ve listened to it probably 53 times. That’s how much I love it. And because I like to share the things I love with all of you, I’ve included it below.

Have a listen…


A Montana Girl’s Love List

Every year around this time, I think about love. After all, it’s pretty hard not to when you’re surrounded by roses, chocolates, lovey dovey cards and hearts plastered everywhere you go. (Side note: I love all of it). Over the years as I’ve gone from a towheaded toothless girl to a messy-haired grown up, I’ve been blessed to have love in my life. Some of it was meant for a lifetime, while other types of love only lasted for a season. Some I’ll never forget and others I’d like to bury deep in the ground. But regardless of whether or not my jaunts into love will last for a minute or for forever, I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to feel love.

Apparently when you're little, you think a new pair of gloves is love.

Apparently when you’re little, you think a new pair of gloves is love.

You see, I may be a forever optimist or a hopeless (while somewhat klutzy) romantic, but I truly believe that love is all around. While it can be manifested and found in grand gestures, sweep you off your feet romances and perhaps a sparkling piece of jewelry, it is most often found in little things.

To me, love can come in the forms of people, relationships, pets and interests. But for the sake of not boring you, I’ve summed up my thoughts on love below…

-Babies. Running around with my two crazies (also known as my nephews) is one of my favorite things to do. They slay me. Occasionally I try to tell them no, you can’t have every toy you possibly want or seven cookies a day, but it’s really hard—especially when they say please. Between you and I, I’d give those little boys anything in the world they wanted. (Just don’t tell their parents).

Little Foot & Chomper.

Little Foot & Chomper.

-Yet to be born babies. Breaking news: my big sister is pregnant with her first baby—another boy! And while logically I know it’s hard to tell how cute a baby is from an ultrasound picture, I’m pretty sure this little mister is going to be a heartbreaker. The icing on the cake? They’re naming him Donald after our grandpa. A man who happened to be tough as nails, had hands the size of bear paws, a twinkle in his eye and a heart that held so much love it’s a wonder it didn’t burst.

My new nephew's namesake and his Lady.

My new nephew’s namesake and his Lady.

-Family. If you haven’t figured it out by now, my family is massive. Between all sides, there are more than 23 aunts and uncles and 60 first cousins. That’s kind of a lot. Growing up, we were peppered with hugs and kisses, family parties, treks into the mountains and lots of cousin bonding time. And while it’s safe to say that my family may be a bit overwhelming if you’re not used to the chaos that comes along with it, they are some of the finest and most loving people I know. And I’m grateful for each and every one of them.

One of my 150 uncles.

One of my 150 uncles.

-Friends. I’m not bragging, but I have some lovely friends. Some are people I’ve literally grown up with, while others I met in college or when I forged my way into the professional world. And while we may have met at different times, one thing remains the same—I love these people.

-Music. Music is love. It’s raw emotion and storytelling and it speaks what words cannot always say.

A friend of mine for 25 years.

A friend of mine for 25 years.

-Sour patch kids. I know this seems like an odd thing to love, but sour patch kids (the new berry flavored ones) brighten my day. And while sure, a sour sugar-covered candy shouldn’t have that much of an impact on me, I’m not ashamed to profess my love for these sweet little treats.

Hello you little lovelies.

Hello you little lovelies.

-Montana. I’m often asked when I’m going to leave Montana to pursue other adventures. And I must be honest: leaving would likely be one of my biggest heartbreaks. When prodded, I often echo the six little words said by Brad Pitt’s character Paul in A River Runs Through It, “Oh, I’ll never leave Montana, brother.”

After all, as John Steinbeck said…
Chinese Wall_Boots


A (Romantic) Getaway to Whitefish, Montana

By now you’ve likely seen or heard that Montana–the beauty that she is–made her primetime debut on “The Bachelor” this week. (In case you missed it, you can watch it here). And I’ll tell you what, she looked lovely. It’s like the old girl just gets better with age.

Two Medicine in Glacier National Park. (screenshot from ABC)

Two Medicine in Glacier National Park. (screenshot from ABC)

And now, thanks to the lovelies at Explore Whitefish, you can experience just how romantic it is by entering to win a romantic getaway for two to Whitefish this September.

The package includes:
-Three nights all-inclusive “Glamping” package at The Bar W Guest Ranch
-Three nights lodging at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake
-Dinner for two at Logan’s Bar and Grille at Grouse Mountain Lodge
-Aerial Adventure for two at Whitefish Mountain Resort
-Glacier National Park entrance pass
-Rental car from Dollar Rent A Car (Four-wheel drive)
-$1000 Gift voucher for airplane tickets through Flathead Travel

Sounds pretty sweet, right? So I’m sure you’re wondering to yourself, “How do I enter and take my own sweetie pie on the trip of his (or her) dreams?”

It’s really simple. You can enter on Explore Whitefish, now through February 18. The catch? There isn’t one. You just need to be at least 18 years old and a legal resident of the United States.

This could be you.

This could be you.


PS: If you’d like to see visual highlights of Montana eye candy from “The Bachelor,” check it out here.

A Look Back at a Montana Girl’s 2012

Before we jump headfirst into the new year, I feel like 2012 (and all its craziness) deserves a proper goodbye.

First things first, I feel blessed that it was a good craziness. Sure, there were a few bumps and hiccups along the way but that’s life. And for this messy-haired girl, life is best lived fully, with ample amounts of happiness, fun, adventure, laughter and love. As for the small rain showers that appear along the way, I’ve found that it’s best the channel the attitude of Dolly Parton who says, “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”

With that said, it’s time to take a look back on 2012. While it was a year that will likely be most remembered for a devastating hurricane, a heated political race and national heartache, it’s my hope that we will also remember the good…that we can remember how neighbors helped each other, prayers were sent to the heavens, the kindness of strangers increased and love was openly shared.

January, February & March
Confession: Sometimes I think of winter as a curmudgeon. Why? Oh gees, I don’t really know. Probably because I don’t like being cold. And yes, I know I should be a HUGE fan of winter, as I’m a Montana girl through and through and to live here, you kind of have to love winter. And I’m not happy to tell you that in 2012, I discovered that winter is really not that curmudgeony.

What changed my mind? I got out and explored! Instead of grumping at winter, I learned to love it. I also faced my ridiculous fear of chairlifts and got back on a snowboard. Winter + Montana snow + looking a chairlift right in the eye and learning to not fall every time you get off it = A happy winter.


Other highlights included a trip to see the family, my baby sister’s Senior Night at The University of Great Falls, as well as a visit to the beautiful island of Hawaii. Because after all, once you face your fears of snowboarding and chairlifts, it’s best to reward yourself with a trip to the beach.


April, May & June
Spring and early summer brought more adventures, both personally and professionally. During these three months, I spoke at a tourism conference, visited Paradise (literally), bunked with hobbits, traveled to Los Angeles for work (my very first visit ever), biked the Going-to-the-Sun Road before it opened to vehicular traffic and planned a family reunion.


August, September & October
For me, this is the time of year when Montana really shines. These three months also happened to be some of the busiest of the whole year, both personally and professionally. During this time period, my grandma passed away, I took a spontaneous trip to Mexico City, visited my best friend in Chicago, did some river therapy in the form of fly-fishing and simply tried to soak up every morsel of summer possible. I also “welcomed” my 30th year of life (yikes) and turned it into a week-long celebration instead of just a day. You only turn 30 once, right?


October, November & December
Ah, the last few months of the year. A time of crisp autumn air, gorgeous fall foliage and the changing of seasons before the holidays arrive. For some reason, these months were also action-filled with a wedding, winter’s first snow and trips to both El Paso and Seattle. The year ended with a few much-needed days spent at home playing with my favorite 3- and 4-year-old, topped off with just the right amount of family time.


All in all, 2012 was a good year. As for 2013? I feel like it will be even better.

Adios, 2012. You were lovely...and for that, I thank you.

Adios, 2012. You were lovely…and for that, I thank you.

Wishing you each a happy, healthy, successful and love-filled 2013.


Christmas in Montana: A Recap

While I look forward to Christmas every year, the days leading up to this year’s holiday didn’t find me in the best holiday spirit. Instead I was feeling tired, drained and a tad bit stressed out. (Not three of my favorite things).

As I prepped to travel home to spend the holidays with my family, I still wasn’t feeling particularly festive. But, thanks goodness, that all changed as I loaded up the car, donned an ugly Christmas sweater (seriously it was NOT cute), grabbed my reindeer antler headband and bags full of presents and headed east. Over the mountains and through the woods I traveled, all while gently blaring Christmas tunes to break me out of my rut.

And just like that, it disappeared.

I felt good. I felt ready. I felt better. I was officially ready to celebrate this incredibly special time of the year with my family. And celebrate we did.

Below is a recap of a few fun-filled days with family.

Lover’s Lane (yep, that is its real name) looks particularly lovely dusted in snow.

Upon arrival at my parent’s house, I was greeted by these two little men. How can you NOT love Christmas when you get to spend it with faces like these?!

After a few hours of playing, it was time to make sugar cookies!

Bringing back our family tradition of “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

A few of the one billion cousins in my family.

Early morning peacefulness on Christmas morning.

Until next year, home.

And as quickly as the Christmas holiday came, it was gone. But it was one of the brightest moments of my whole year. My hope moving into 2013? That I can keep the spirit of Christmas (love, goodness, patience, charity, hope and peace) with me all year long.

Wishing you all a year filled with the best life has to offer.


It’s Christmas.

I look forward to Christmas every year. Besides literally being the most wonderful time of the year, it’s a time when we all seem to try to be a little better and a little nicer. It’s a time for abundant holiday hugs. It’s a time for family. It’s a time for caroling. It’s a time for ugly sweater parties. But most importantly, it’s a time to remember what life is about and the reason for the season.

While I don’t want to wax political or tout my religions beliefs on this nice friendly blog, I do want to share with you one of my favorite things about this time of year. It’s presents.

Truth time: I love wrapping presents.

While I love getting presents (hey, I’m only human!), I really love giving them. If I had a reason to give someone a present every day (besides hugs, kisses and smiles) you better believe that those said someones would be getting a gift on a daily basis.

Growing up in a large family (with five siblings and about a billion cousins), we always bought presents for each other and whose name you would draw in the extended family Christmas present exchange was always a highly anticipated moment.

And while I’m sure I somewhat enjoyed picking out gifts for others in my younger years, it’s something I’ve come to truly enjoy as I’ve turned into a  full-on grown up. Picking out a present that will fit each family member’s style, needs and wants has become an art to me. Gift cards? No way. Generic presents where everyone gets one of the same thing? You won’t find that with this girl, buddy. Each person gets (and in my opinion) needs a personalized gift to help them remember how much I like, love and fancy them.

And this year, because it’s Christmas (and because I like you) I want to give a present to you. But there’s a catch. I only have two presents to give.

“Just what kind of presents are these?,” you say.

The first is a set of two lift tickets to Whitefish Mountain Resort, while the second is a set of two lift tickets to Lost Trail Powder Mountain.

Present #1.

Present #2.

To throw your name in the ring for a chance to win one of these sets, leave a comment and tell me tell me what you’re hoping for most this Christmas. Comments will close at 11:59 p.m., MST on Thursday, December 27 and present recipients will be announced on Friday, December 28.


UPDATE: Congrats to Tyrel Fenner! He won two lift tickets to Whitefish Mountain Resort. And congrats to Sarah Foster! She is the winner of two lift tickets to Lost Trail Powder Mountain!

PS: No matter what presents you open this Christmas, I hope you are all blessed with peace, kindness, goodness, happiness and joy this year and always.

“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.” Dr. Seuss

Be a Winter Warrior (and win cool stuff)

We’re saying it: Happy winter! While the first official day of winter isn’t until December 21, around these parts we get pumped for winter early. How pumped, you ask? Very pumped.

In fact, this year we’re so excited about winter that we’re celebrating it and spreading the good word about winter in Montana with our Winter Warrior campaign.

Catching air at Lookout Pass last February. (Photo by Glacier Country Tourism)

As part of the campaign, we’re encouraging folks near and far to sign up to become a Winter Warrior and to learn more about their favorite winter-geared activity of choice in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

The best part, besides finding out all the info you need to shred, sled and play in Western Montana this winter, is that after you sign up you’re automatically entered into our weekly giveaways.  And boy howdy, we’ve got some good swag to give away!

Here’s a list of the goodness we’re giving away every week, all winter long. Drumroll, please…

Now that you’ve made it through this list (pretty sweet stuff, right?), be sure to head over and sign up to become a Winter Warrior.  After all, winter is rad.

And winter in Montana? Well, it’s even radder.

Bonus: When you order your Winter Warrior packet, we’ll send you one of these cool stickers.

Happy shredding,