Tag Archives: Summer

A Family Weekend at Placid Lake State Park

It’s probably no surprise that I love my family. Over the last five years, I’ve shared some of my favorite family memories with you on the blog. Side note: You can read about last year’s family reunion in Glacier National Park here and a wonderful week in Whitefish here.

Well, I have another story to tell you. This past weekend we gathered 44 members of the Allen clan and headed to Placid Lake State Park for a family reunion. We had a wonderful, almost perfect weekend at one of the most beautiful places in the Seeley-Swan Valley.

Here’s a look at how the Allen clan renewed our family bond under Montana’s big blue sky…

Two fishing boys + their aunt.

Two fishing boys + their aunt.

Baby + grandpa bonding.

Baby + grandpa bonding.

Q: How many cousins can you fit on one tube? A: Four.

Q: How many cousins can you fit on one tube?   A: Four.

A bevy of blond cousins.

A bevy of blond cousins.

The weekend festivities also included a Dutch oven cook-off. There may have been "some" trash talking involved.

The weekend festivities also included a Dutch oven cook-off. PS: This family takes competitions very seriously.

One of the most gorgeous sunsets of the summer.

One of the most gorgeous sunsets of the summer.

My uncle modeling all of his reunion paraphernalia.

My uncle modeling all of his reunion paraphernalia.

I heart Montana.

Two things I love: Montana and family.

It was a great weekend and I already can’t wait for next year.

Your turn: Where’s YOUR favorite place to vacation with your family?

xo,
TT

Top Picks for August Activities in Western Montana

You guys, summer is almost over! Okay fine…I realize that may be a bit dramatic, but this summer has literally flown by so quickly. For example, I have yet to float the river. For a Montana girl, that is a total travesty. But I’m determined to put an end to the sweet days of summer slipping from my grasp right here and now.

To help us all maximize the remaining days of summer, I’ve rounded up the top things to do in Western Montana this August. Here we go…

Drive the 50-mile-long Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Can I be honest with you? I have not driven the Going-to-the-Sun Road yet this year. Ooh, that feels good to get off my chest. In other news, I’m fairly certain that if I don’t do it soon I’m going to break out in hives.

My most recent view from the Going-to-the-Sun Road, taken in 2013. Sigh.

My most recent view from the Going-to-the-Sun Road, taken in 2013. Sigh.

Fly with joy on a zip line tour at Whitefish Mountain Resort. The zip lines on Big Mountain are hands-down one of my favorite summer activities. The first time I ever did the zip line course at Whitefish Mountain Resort, my group had one of the cutest guides in the history of zip line guides. His name was Kjell and every single time he would launch a pair of us down the lines he would smile and say, “Fly with joy.”
Side note: I heart Kjell. And I love the whole meaning behind flying with joy. 

Drive around Flathead Lake. One of my best drives in the summer can be found by making a complete loop around Flathead Lake, starting at Polson. Be sure to stop by one of the local fruit stands and pick up perfectly ripe Flathead cherries. PS: Some of my other favorite stops include The Raven in Woods Bay and The Dock’s in Lakeside.

Munching on locally grown cherries.

Munching on locally grown cherries.

Kick up your heels at Missoula’s River City Roots Fest. This annual festival, held every year in August, basically offers the best of Missoula. Live music, eclectic people, local food trucks (yum!) and people cruising around on bikes. As a big music girl, it’s one of my favorite festivals.

Float the Clark Fork River. One of the best things about summer in Missoula is the multitudes of people who hit the Clark Fork River in tubes. It’s one of the easiest and cheapest recreational opportunities in Western Montana. And I totally love it.

That just leaves me with one question: Where should I meet you?

xo,
TT

Playing on Flathead Lake

I’m going to admit it: I played hooky from work yesterday afternoon. And yes, I’m fully aware that it’s not the most responsible thing I’ve ever done. But I just needed to. Why?

Well, I have a few reasons…
-My bestie from college is vacationing in Montana.
-Her family rented the cutest cabin on Flathead Lake.
-It was the perfect summer day. Slight breeze, calm water, blue sky and sunshine.
Side note: How could I possibly work in those conditions?!
-Flathead Lake is bliss.

Still don’t believe that I needed to play hooky? Fair enough. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

The road to the house winds through a cherry orchard.

The road to the house winds through a cherry orchard.

Oh hi, perfect lake view.

Oh hi, perfect lake view.

Kayaking on the immense (and super clean) waters of Flathead Lake.

Kayaking on the immense (and super clean) waters of Flathead Lake.

Soaking up the sun.

Soaking up the sun.

A summer storm rolled over the lake.

A summer storm rolled over the lake.

No cars on the road home made for the perfect photo opportunity.

No cars on the road made for the perfect photo opportunity.

Watching dusk fall over the Mission Mountains on the way home.

Watching dusk fall over the Mission Mountains on the way home.

It was the perfect afternoon.

Your turn: Where did you go the last time you played hooky?

xo,
TT

A Memorable Trip to Montana’s Glacier National Park

If you ask me, any visit to Glacier National Park is memorable. But my most recent trip to the park was extra memorable. Why? Well, a few reasons really. It was early June, the weather was perfect and I was in the Crown of the Continent with five of my favorites: Kristin, Jade, Spencer, Kent and Caanan. It was literally one of my favorite trips to the park.

Glacier National Park's Many Glacier Valley.

Glacier National Park’s Many Glacier Valley.

Now, as I’m sure you all can image, I have been to Glacier National Park 7,457 times (or some outrageous number similar to that). Maybe you’re wondering, “Tia, do you ever get bored of going to the same old park over and over?” To which I would respond, “Actually, no. That’s one thing I love about Glacier National Park. No matter how many times I visit, it touches me to the very core and somehow makes everything seem right in the world. Call me a sap, but Glacier National Park has my heart.”

Phew, now that that’s out of the way, let me show you why this most recent visit was one for the record books…

First things first, we started the trip with a helicopter tour over the park with Glacier Jet Center. Based out of Glacier Park International Airport, Glacier Jet Center is the crème de la crème of helicopter tours. I kid you not, that helicopter ride was as smooth as a paddle on the calmest of lakes. Plus, Mike (the general manager and pilot) is an utmost professional and a stellar pilot. We spent a perfect hour seeing the park from the sky — an absolutely stunning vantage point.

Admiring our black stallion of a helicopter.

Admiring our black stallion of a helicopter.

One of my seat buddies, Kent.

One of my seat buddies, Kent.

Flying over Hungry Horse Reservoir.

Flying over Hungry Horse Reservoir.

The view from above.

The view from above.

A great view of one of the peaks.

A great look at one of the park’s mountain peaks.

Jade documenting our trip.

Jade documenting our trip.

The view toward the park's peaks from the North Fork. One word: incredible.

The view toward the park from the North Fork. One word: incredible.

From the air, you can see peak after peak after peak.

From the air, you can see peak after peak after peak.

After one of the best hours of my life, we loaded up our rig and made the scenic drive along Highway 2 and into West Glacier. And you know we stopped for the obligatory tourist photo.

This group is full of hams.

Fact: this group is full of hams.

Lake McDonald from Apgar Village.

Lake McDonald from Apgar Village.

After dipping our toes in the chilly water at Lake McDonald, we continued east on Highway 2 to our lunch destination, the Izaak Walton Inn. All I’m going to say about that is this: if you have not had lunch or dinner at the Izaak Walton, put it on your agenda.

With full tummies, we cruised along to East Glacier Park. Growing up about two hours south of East Glacier, it has a sweet spot in my heart. We checked into our accommodations for the night at Glacier Park Lodge. When I was a wee little one, we’d come to Glacier Park Lodge nearly every summer and stay the night. To this blond-haired girl, it is one of the most special places in the world to me.

The view from the deck at Glacier Park Lodge.

The view from the deck at Glacier Park Lodge.

Our shared balcony was the perfect place to greet the morning.

Our shared balcony was the perfect place to greet the morning.

After a good night’s sleep among fresh Rocky Mountain air (I swear to you, there’s something about mountain air that will make you sleep like a well-behaved baby), we filled our tummies with huckleberry pancakes at Glacier Park Lodge and then headed for Two Medicine for a morning boat tour with Glacier Park Boat Company, followed by a quick jaunt to Running Eagle Falls.

Even with the overcast skies, the boat tour was lovely.

Even with the overcast skies, the boat tour was lovely.

Running Eagle Falls was named in honor of Running Eagle, a female Blackfeet warrior who had a vision quest here.

Running Eagle Falls was named in honor of Running Eagle, a female Blackfeet warrior who had a vision quest here.

We then continued on to our final destination of Many Glacier, but not before fueling up at the Park Cafe in St. Mary. Trust me on one thing: the pie is as good as ever. After again filling our bellies, we continued to Many Glacier Hotel for an afternoon hike with Glacier Guides. Along the way we saw ridiculous views, fresh bear poo and a few lingering piles of snow.

Oh, hey gorgeous mountain.

Oh, hey gorgeous mountain.

Lake Josephine in the park's Many Glacier Valley.

Lake Josephine in the park’s Many Glacier Valley.

This is how much we love Glacier National Park.

This is how much we love Glacier National Park.

In case you're wondering what tough Montana girls wear hiking, our attire consists of hot pink workout pants.

In case you’re wondering what tough Montana girls wear hiking, our attire includes hot pink workout pants.

After a gorgeous hike, we made our way back to Many Glacier Hotel for dinner.

Soaking up the view from my room.

Soaking up the view from my room.

The Ptarmigan Dining Room at Many Glacier Hotel.

The Ptarmigan Dining Room at Many Glacier Hotel.

Catching the last light from the deck at Many Glacier Hotel.

Catching the last light from the deck at Many Glacier Hotel.

Ending the night with a delightful drink, the Huckleberrry Smash.

Ending the night with a delightful drink, the Huckleberrry Smash.

After a cozy night in one of the park’s most magnificent lodges, we packed up the car and started making the drive to the airport. The biggest disappointment for some of my pals? We hadn’t seen any wildlife. However, I’m happy to tell you that en route to the airport we saw a moose and a bear. My response? That’s Montana for ya.

Waving goodbye to Many Glacier.

Waving goodbye to Many Glacier.

"Oh, it's a moose," was the direct quote from Spencer's mouth when he saw this guy.

“Oh, it’s a moose,” was the direct quote from Spencer’s mouth when he saw this guy.

Don't worry, when I saw the bear I properly alerted my group by saying, "Bear, bear, bear, BEAR!"

Don’t worry, when I saw the bear I properly alerted my group by saying, “Bear, bear, bear, BEAR!”

Saying our goodbyes in the only way we know how: a giant group selfie.

Saying our goodbyes in the only way we know how: a giant group selfie.

Somehow during our week of exploring Montana, the song “Meet Me in Montana” became our jam. So much so that we practiced the words and even recorded a video of our crew “performing” it.

To the #MT6Pack, miss you and your cute faces. Come back soon, okay?

xo,
TT

PS: For more from our group’s early summer jaunt through Western Montana’s Glacier Country, check out our time in Missoula, our day in the Seeley-Swan Valley and the fun we had soaking up the great outdoors in Montana’s Flathead Valley.

Playing in Montana’s Seeley-Swan Valley

*Earlier this month, five friends made the trek to Western Montana to explore the region with me. In our seven days together, we had numerous adventures. So many in fact, that I’m breaking the trip up into multiple blog posts. Read about the first leg of our journey here

After our quick day and a half in Missoula, we loaded up and started making our way north. Our destination: Montana’s Seeley-Swan Valley.

Nestled between the Mission Mountain Range and the Swan Mountains, the Seeley-Swan Valley is a little piece of paradise. The valley itself is home to a few small towns (including Seeley Lake, Condon and Swan Lake) and ridiculous amounts of outdoor recreation.

One of my favorite things to do in the area is paddle the Clearwater Canoe Trail, located just outside of Seeley Lake. The trail starts a few miles north of town and meanders its way through a dense willow marsh before entering the north end of the lake. On the morning we paddled it, we were the only ones on the trail. It was just the six of us, three canoes and plenty of sunshine.

To sum it up: it was pure perfection.
Insider tip: If you want the trail to yourself, plan to go in the early morning. During the summer, it has a tendency to get crowded by late morning/early afternoon. 

Jade and Spencer taking in the view.

Jade and Spencer taking in the view.

My paddling partner, Kristin.

My paddling partner, Kristin.

One of the most peaceful ways to spend a morning.

One of the most peaceful ways to spend a morning.

At the take out for the Clearwater Canoe Trail.

At the take out for the Clearwater Canoe Trail.

After getting our paddle on, we continued north on Highway 83. As with any good road trip, it’s imperative to get off the main road and take the road less traveled. Which means we took a little detour over to Holland Lake for lunch…and some stretching.

Holland Lake. If you look closely, you can see Holland Falls across the lake.

Holland Lake. If you look closely, you can see Holland Falls across the lake.

Kristin practicing yoga on the shore of Holland Lake.

Kristin practicing yoga on the shore of Holland Lake.

Our last stop of the day was an afternoon trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters, located just south of Swan Lake. I’ve been on quite a few group trail rides and I have to say that hands down, this was my all-time favorite ride. The wranglers were skilled, the horses were lovely and the views were stunning.

As the tallest in our group, Spencer was (appropriately) paired with Jumbo.

As the tallest in our group, Spencer was paired with the biggest horse I’ve ever seen, appropriately named Jumbo.

The beginning part of the ride took us through forested terrain.

The beginning part of the ride took us through forested terrain.

My favorite view.

My favorite view.

It was the perfect day. I’ve just got one question: When are we going back?

xo,
TT

Exploring Missoula, Montana

You guys, I just had one of the most fun weeks ever. Why? Because I was able to spend it exploring Western Montana with five of my favorite humans.

Meet my lovely friends: Spencer, Caanan, Kent, Kristin and Jade.

Meet my lovely friends: Spencer, Caanan, Kent, Kristin and Jade.

For some background, this is a trip that the six of us had been planning for the past 18 months. You see, Spencer, Jade, Kristin, Kent and Caanan are some of the busiest people I know. But even with everyone’s vastly different schedules and obligations, the stars aligned perfectly for all of us to come together and meet in Montana. We had seven days to explore the region and let me tell you, explore it we did. We packed countless adventures into our time together and it was a week that left me feeling happy, full of joy and completely re-energized.

The first stop on our trip: Missoula. Missoula, for those of you who may not be familiar with it, is perhaps Montana’s coolest city. It’s this beautiful combination of a strong urban core (full of darling shops, locally owned restaurants and a lively music scene), stunning scenery and outdoor adventure.

We only had about a day a half to play in the Garden City before heading north, so I put together a slate of some of my favorite activities for all of us to do together in Missoula. Our “must do” items included…

Going on a pedal-powered tour of downtown Missoula with Thirst Gear. If you are visiting Missoula, I totally recommend checking out the city on this bike. It was an absolute kick in the pants. Plus, all of their drivers are awesome (and cute). Our reward for pedaling through the city? Big Dipper Ice Cream.
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Fueling up at a few of my favorite local restaurants. Topping the list: Scotty’s Table, The Catalyst and Lolo Creek Steak House.
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Shopping the cute boutiques in downtown Missoula. My favorites include The Green Light and Cloth & Crown (which is where I scored the cute gray jacket below).
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Perusing the local farmers markets. On Saturdays during the summer, Missoula has three markets: the farmers market on North Higgins, the People’s Market on Pine and Higgins and the Clark Fork Market under the Higgins Street Bridge.
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Exploring Missoula’s craft breweries. After perusing the local markets, we headed out for an afternoon brewery tour with Tap Room Tours. If you are a craft brew lover, this is the tour for you. Tap Room Tours offers behind-the-scenes looks into Missoula’s local breweries and distillery. Plus, the owners Phil and Cate are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

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Group_Tap Room Tours

To my Montana loving friends, thanks for letting me share some of my favorite Missoula moments with you. And Missoula, thank you for being so awesome.

Your turn: Where would be on the top of your list when visiting Missoula?

xo,
TT

PS: I have way too many stories from our adventures to fit into one blog post. Stay tuned for more posts about our time playing in Montana’s Glacier Country.

A Montana Girl’s Love Letter to 2013

Well, another year has come and gone. And to be honest, I can hardly believe it! It’s like the older I get, the faster time seems to go. (Side note: I’m beginning to sound like my mama!)

While time continues to sprint away from me, I can say with much satisfaction that 2013 was a wonderful year…one I’ll remember fondly. From start to finish, it was full of adventures, celebrations and spectacular Montana moments.

Here’s a look back at some of my favorite moments of 2013…

January, February & March

Winter beauty in the barrow pit.

Winter beauty in the barrow pit.

Exploring one of my new favorite places--Kerr Dam in Polson.

Visiting one of my new favorite places–Kerr Dam in Polson.

Exploring the Swan Mountains.

Exploring the Swan Mountains.

Dog sledding (my first time!) on Swan Lake.

Dog sledding (my first time!) on Swan Lake.

April, May & June

Marveling at the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Marveling at the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Visiting my hometown. Go Elks!

Visiting my hometown. Go Elks!

Celebrating the 80s with these lovely ladies.

Celebrating the 80s with these lovely ladies.

Soaking up the beauty of Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge.

Soaking up the beauty of Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge.

Meeting this sweet nephew.

Meeting this sweet nephew.

My favorite view...in May.

Having my breath taken away by the Mission Mountains in St. Ignatius.

Hiking to Avalanche Lake in the rain.

Hiking to Avalanche Lake in the rain.

Striking our best "Bridesmaids" pose at a perfect summer wedding.

Striking our best “Bridesmaids” pose at a perfect summer wedding.

Taking in a small town rodeo.

Taking in a small town rodeo.

July, August & September

Catching the sunset at Placid Lake.

Catching the sunset at Placid Lake.

Eating as many Flathead and Rainier cherries as possible.

Eating as many Flathead and Rainier cherries as possible.

Visiting Waterton Lakes National Park with my baby brother.

Visiting Waterton Lakes National Park with my baby brother.

Celebrating a Missoula wedding.

Celebrating a Missoula wedding.

Soaking up the grandeur of Glacier National Park.

Soaking up the grandeur of Glacier National Park.

October, November & December

Exploring a Montana backroad.

Exploring a Montana backroad.

Spending time on the Blackfeet Nation.

Spending time on the Blackfeet Nation.

Kissing my newest nephew as much as possible.

Kissing my newest nephew as much as possible.

Taking in a bird's eye view of Western Montana.

Taking in a bird’s eye view of Western Montana.

Welcoming winter.

Welcoming winter.

My first rod.

My first fly rod.

Ending the year in St. John, with my 406 hat.

Ending the year in St. John, complete with my Montana-lovin’ 406 hat.

As for 2014? I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

Wishing you all love, joy and happiness as you journey through 2014.

xo,
TT

Montana: Here’s Looking at You

This summer, Montana has been showing off in a big way. With her big blue sky and wide-open spaces, it’s no wonder. Let’s face it—she’s kind of the perfect package. She’s gorgeous, cool and unpretentious, with an enthralling history that leaves you intrigued and wanting to learn more. And if you find yourself falling in love with Montana more than ever, I’ll tell you one thing: you’re in good company.

One way to keep an eye on Big Sky Country is through webcams. Numerous wecams are located throughout the state, with each offering an up-to-date view of what’s happening at that very moment.

Here are some of my personal favorites…

Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.

Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.

St. Ignaius in Montana's Mission Valley.

St. Ignaius in Montana’s Mission Valley.

Looking into the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Looking into the Bob Marshall Wilderness.


Flathead Lake.

Flathead Lake.

Happy viewing,
TT

Direct links to Tia’s favorites:
Lake McDonald: Glacier National Park webcam
St. Ignatius: St. Ignatius, Montana webcam
Bob Marshall: USFS webcam
Flathead Lake: KTVQ webcam

Montana: Sometimes There Are No Words

Every once in a while, there are moments when this girl wonders if the last few days have been real. Once such moment happened last week.

I’d been on the road for work for several days and had seen some pretty amazing Montana moments along the way. As I was searching for the words to describe what I’d seen and felt, I realized that sometimes no words are needed.

This my friends, is one of those times.

Taking in the view at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Taking in the view at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

 

Watching the sunrise at Tally Lake.

Watching the sunrise at Tally Lake.

 

The view from a Montana backroad.

The view from a Montana backroad.

Watching the next generation marvel at the majesty of Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park.

Seeing the next generation marvel at the majesty of Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park.

American Indian dancers in Glacier National Park.

American Indian dancers in Glacier National Park.

The early morning mystery at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park.

The early morning mystery at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park.

Greeting the day with a red bus tour in Glacier National Park.

Greeting the day with a red bus tour in Glacier National Park.

The view toward Logan Pass from the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The view toward Logan Pass from the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

xo,
TT

Exploring Montana’s Rocky Mountains

Last weekend, I headed for the land of my birth: the Rocky Mountain Front of Montana. Because let’s face it, every once in a while a girl needs to make a break for it and head for home.

Going home is like bringing peace to my heart. I’m not sure if it’s the land opening up into a wide expanse as I’m coming off of Roger’s Pass or seeing the rolling plains run smack dab into the Rocky Mountains. Maybe it’s the rush of memories that remind me of all the hours spent adventuring into the mountains with my grandparents and cousins. Whatever it is, it makes my heart happy.

Making our way into the Rocky Mountains and passing Castle Reef.

Making our way into the Rocky Mountains and passing Castle Reef.

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En route to Gibson Dam.

Regardless of how many times my family has made the trek to Gibson Dam, we've always stopped to look at the Indian handprints. They serve as a reminder of the incredible history of this place.

Regardless of how many times my family has made the trek to Gibson Dam, we’ve always stopped to look at the Indian handprints. They serve as a reminder of the incredible history of this place.

Gibson Dam overlook.

Gibson Dam overlook.

My baby sister hoping to get lucky with a fish. (The fish were playing hard to get).

My baby sister hoping to get lucky with a fish. 

We met a friend on the trail and named him Mr. Bighorn.

We met a friend on the trail and named him Mr. Bighorn.

The next day, we ventured back into the mountains for some rock climbing. This little guy made it up the rock face TWICE.

The next day, we ventured back into the mountains for some rock climbing. This little guy made it up the rock face TWICE.

The view on the drive back to Augusta.

The view on the drive back to Augusta.

It was a good weekend.

xo,
TT