Category Archives: Montana

The TeePee Shower at Yellowstone Undercanvas

My Favorite Day of Summer

Summer Family Adventure Part 2

It was on our way from Ruth’s to Jackson that we decided we would break up the trip and stop at Yellowstone Under Canvas.  We were kind of skeptical about this whole set up, but also curious so we decided to give it a shot.  It is essentially a camp of safari tents and teepees along the Madison River near West Yellowstone.  The setting is magical and the only thing that would have made it better was if we were totally alone, but then we would not have benefited from the teepee bathroom with which it came.  I have never been to Africa on safari, but I imagined that these accommodations might be similar and Earnest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro kept coming to mind.

Yellowstone Undercanvas

It was a simple day of swimming in the river, playing board games, not a lot of sibling infighting and minimal whining.  It was kind of like heaven really.  Just us being a family without any outside stress to mess it up.  No agenda, no plan, no schedule and it just worked. It topped off my cowgirl morning so perfectly that it was absolutely my most favorite day of summer 2014.

In the Madison River

Swimming in the Madison River

Wading in the Madison River

The kids tried to claim our bed upon arrival.

Safari Tent at Yellowstone Undercanvas

Dominos at Yellowston Under Canvas

Rinsing off the river in the teepee shower.

The TeePee Shower at Yellowstone Undercanvas

The TeePee Shower at Yellowstone Undercanvas

Rainbow at Yellowstone Undercanvas

Evening light.

Deck on Safari tent at Yellowstone Undercanvas

Morning Shadows.

Morning shadows at Yellowstone Undercanvas

I was kind of sad to leave this unique setting, but Jackson here we come.

The Tetons. I have been graced by their presence so many times, but they still take my breath away. I always imagine being a Native American living amongst the wildness of it all trying not to get eaten by a grizzly while fishing for my dinner.   The peaks of the Tetons resemble a child like drawing of a mountain range very specific and annunciated among the rolling landscape. When they come into view they always remind me to focus on the big stuff and let the small stuff float away and while making me feel lucky that I get to be inspired by their beauty.

The Idaho side of the Tetons.

The Tetons from Idaho

Our plan was to camp with Darren’s best bud from high school and his wife.  The first night we spent in Grand Teton National Park.  I could not figure out why people were not standing in line for these campsites.  This was our view.

Grand Teton National Park

Morning at Camp in Grand Teton National Park.  My big girl clearly needs a big girl chair.  We used it not too long ago and it was not until this trip that it was clear she no longer fit in the little kid camp chair.

Campfire in Grand Teton National Park

Buffalo in Grand Teton National Park.

buffalo in Grand Teton National ParkBaby Buffalo in Grand Teton National Park

Top of Rendezvous Mountain.  We road the tram to the top.

Family on top of Rendezvous MountainEnd of the Line Rendezvous Mountain

The next two nights we spent at Teton-Bridger National Forrest.  It was so lovely and off the beaten path.

Teton Bridger National Forrest

Camping in Teton-Bridger National Forrest

Our lovely friends that put up with our family chaos and showed us the ropes.

Friends at Falls

Family at Falls

Morning Fog Teton Bridger National Forrest

Bacon on the Wilson Grill.

Bacon on the Wilson Grill

Our departure on a rainy morning.  There is nothing more soggy than breaking down camp in the rain.

Rainy Morning Coffee Teton Bridger National ForrestBut we didn’t care.


Cowgirl in Action

Cowgirl Heaven

Summer Road Trip Part 1

There is something about Montana.  The sky just feels bigger and that is saying something because I am from Colorado, which boasts a pretty huge sky.  We finally reached  I-90  and headed west towards my dear friend Ruth.  She has been my friend since I was sixteen.  Back then we both lived in Chester County, PA.  She shared with me her wisdom of the world and I babysat her son.  We have both managed to move west, a little farther apart than I would like, but still only a days drive.  She lives on a ranch in Southwest Montana, a magical place that is alive with a love of the land, the critters that call it home and the energy of Ruth who, at almost 70, can still maneuver a pasture gate from the seat of her horse. We have not seen each other in a few years and for several months Darren and I have been talking about laying eyes on her.  So we made it happen.

Reuniting with old friends is one of the greatest things in life I think.  It’s a reminder that there are few things more valuable than a friend who loves you through the years and life’s changes. Geography makes no difference and you can pick up right where you left off with a little catch up and fill in the blanks while on the back of a horse or over wine on the porch.  We did just that.  She got to know my kids again (3 years older) and I got filled in on all the beautiful people in her life.  We spent 2.5 days chillin’, making meals, grooming horses, riding horses, collecting eggs, playing with Bull and Crew and swimming and fishing in the river.  And in the last hour of our visit something totally perfect happened…

Playing CardsJulietAllieElla_Riding LiamPop2


…the cows got out.  Three babes escaped the fence line.

As I packed our bags to load in the car, I heard Ruth yelling to get the horses ready. Now I know they did not need me for this little round up, but they indulged me nonetheless. I was in shorts and flip flops ready to jump into the car for part two of our summer family adventure, when Ruth yelled, “Leenie, get on your jeans. You’re gettin on a horse!” Darren was busy getting things ready to hook up the camper and said, “Go have fun, I will take care of this.” Oh how I love him.

I arrived in the barn smartly dressed in my running shoes and skinny jeans (FYI to non horse people – not the perfect outfit for herding cows) and Ruth handed me her personal cowgirl hat and her horse ready to go. Tami, Ruth’s friend and right hand, guided me out to round up the three little cows that were going to top off what had been an already fantastic visit with a little dream come true for me.  You see, I spent most of my childhood on the backs of horses.  I have managed to experience a lot but never moving cattle and never in Montana.   There I was atop a skilled cow horse, complete with appropriate hat (which distracted from my sneakers) in Montana rounding up cows.

Darren chased me with the camera and I was beginning to wonder if Ruth, always being an exceptional host, had let the cows out for my benefit and photo op. I didn’t really care though as I cantered down the field to heard these babies because you have to start somewhere.

As we latched the gate behind the happy babies whose mothers stopped whining, Ruth smiled knowing that those few minutes on the back of her horse taking instruction from Tami where a total thrill for me.



It could not have been a better ending to my reunion with my dear friend.  We left each other knowing that now that the kids were bigger the time between visits would be shorter.  Darren and I both drove away vowing that, when seventy, we would have Ruth’s same energy and love of life.  xo