Monday, July 30, 2012

Keeping it Weird...Missoula & More

Matt and I have spent many a weekend in Missoula...always a good place to get away, eat some good food and just chill.  This weekend we took the girls along for a mini-vacation.  (You can say that for one night away, right?)  Since we spent Spring Break in Florida, we didn't do a summer vacation.  That bummed me out, even though our trip there was amazing. satisfy that need for a family vaca, we opted for a weekend away that didn't involve camping.  It worked just fine for me.  We got to stay in a hotel, eat out every meal and enjoy all that the funky city of Missoula had to offer and the girls were all about it.  I think the tone of the weekend can best be summed up with a sunglass photo montage of our trip to a vintage shop in town...

It was a very silly, laid back weekend indeed.  We got up early Saturday and hit the road.  As soon as we got to town we parked the car at our hotel and didn't get in it again until the next day when we left.  That's our favorite way to travel...when you are someplace that you can either walk everywhere that you need to go or take public transportation.  Maybe cuz it's the urban and green thing to do or maybe cuz we can then have a few cocktails at dinner and no one has to drive...either or.  We wandered through the farmer's market that was going on, took in all the delicious smells of fresh produce, veggies and food trucks and listened to the various bands playing throughout.  We made our way over to the carousel that we have been wanting to take the girls to.  Found out it is the second fastest carousel in the U.S.  (fastest is somewhere in New York)  We bought some tokens and got in line.  After watching it go around a few times, we decided that maybe we would ride along with them so no one went flying off the thing.  I was a little concerned that I would throw up half way through the ride, but we all made it.

After the whirl wind ride, we stumbled upon a Fairy Tale and Super Hero Festival that was happening right next to the carousel.  Talk about little girl heaven (and big girl...I totally dug it).  There were fairy wings, face painting, ice cream, and people dressed up everywhere.  Kinda like Disney World but without the crazy lines to meet the princesses.  However, Ava informed us that it was NOT the real Rapuznel and Snow White...guess once you've met the "real" ones in DW you cannot be fooled.

By the end of the festival and an incredible lunch (coolest little outside garden patio where we could listen to the music of yet another festival going on in their downtown, chowed on a roasted artichoke sandwich that was amazing and some cold local beer) we were ready to cool off in the hotel pool and relax before dinner.  These little fish that I call my children could just live in a pool.

Usually when Matt and I are in town we have a couple of favorite restaurants we go to.  This trip, I wanted to find something a little more family friendly so of course I thought pizza.  I found a place downtown that cooks everything in a wood burning stove, tries to use only local ingredients and was just fantastic.  Biga Pizza...I highly recommend it.  We had a perfect little table right outside where we could watch the city go by and seriously stuff ourselves on pizza.  Since we couldn't come to a family consensus we had to divide the pizza in half...the girls-artichoke hearts and kalamato olives. Ours-chopped spinach, roasted red pepper & garlic and ricotta cheese.  I have never put ricotta on my pizza's and realize we have been missing out by neglecting this sweet delicious cheese.  I ate so much that I wasn't hungry again until the next evening.  (I pushed through and had ice cream and breakfast at our favorite spots...I'm good like that)  I love the carefree feeling of being someplace else and dining outside with my favorite people in the whole world.

The girls were itching to go to Big Dipper for ice cream because they have heard Matt & I talk about how yummy it is.  So, that is where we headed after dinner...with a little detour to a park we came across on our stroll.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped to check out the Celtic Music Festival.  It was fantastic...there were this chick band and they rocked out hard.  It was very entertaining and we were all up and dancing.  You just couldn't help but get caught up in their enthusiasm and we were all so bummed when they were done.  Not quite ready to call it a night we went down to the river to splash around a bit.  Every time Matt and I visit here we spend a lot of time walking along the river, but this was the first time to actually go down and get in it.  I was quite jealous of all the sunset floaters lazily going down the river.  We made do with just putting our feet in the warm water and watching the sun glisten on it.  The girls took it one step further by just getting right in the water.

The next day we spent at the water park they have there.  I didn't take my camera because I didn't want to have to worry about it.  If I had taken it,  this what you would have seen.  Happy girls who's faces lit up as they took in the pool with all the water features, the lazy river and the water slides.  Squeals of laughter as we hopped on tubes to float the lazy river and waterfalls dumped on you.  A reluctant Ava as Matt took her up to go down one of the water slides.  A very happy Ava as she realized how much fun water slides are.  Matt and I myself acting like kids as we took turns going down each of the the three water slides and rating which one was fastest, scariest and funnest.  Happy Mama as I saw that this place didn't just offer junk food at their cafe, but homemade pizza and a veggie tray that consisted of more than just baby carrots.  Sun kissed and water soaked little girls crashed out for the car ride home.
It was a very nice mini vacation. digress a bit from the week before.  We had a fundraiser for my sister and it was fantastic.  We had an awesome turnout...lots of lovely ladies all out to enjoy some food, drinks and to support one amazing sister Kori.  It was heart warming to see so many people who love her and wanted to come and help in some way and see how she was doing.  We all got the opportunity to catch up with friends and family and as the party came to an end and it was just my mom and my sisters I felt so happy to just sit together and enjoy three women who mean so much to me each in their own unique way.  The party was on all accounts a success...we raised some money for her benefit and had a lovely time.  The kindness of people shined throughout the evening and I managed to get through with minimal tears.  (I had a little trouble during my speech keeping it together...didn't expect to get emotional, but the scary moments of this whole ordeal are all still so fresh)

To further digress the night before we had friends over for an evening of appetizers and drinks.  There were six little kids running around crazy, playing in the sprinklers, spraying each other with water, laughing and six adults enjoying some catching up, and quite a spread of food.  We had an assortment of cheeses, bread, olives, homemade hummus, and what I like to call Montana garden pizza cuz all the toppings (except for the artichokes!) came straight from the garden....
I started with my usual dough and sauce and went crazy from there.  Cauliflower, beets, Swiss chard, basil and spinach.  Some I threw on artichoke hearts and garlic stuffed olives cuz they are family favorites.  All turned out really good...I was surprised.  I like weird pizza, but wasn't sure about this as I made it.    

Now, I come back to the present, ready for another week of summer.  They are slowly slipping away.  August is usually one of the best months in Montana but I can't help thinking that by the end of it, the girls will be in school.  We have a lot of things to still cross of our summer list.  Thankfully, Amy helped us with that today with an impromptu invitation to the splash park.  When she called and said we should join them, we left lunch dishes where they were, threw on suits and were there in ten minutes so the kids could cool off in the water and Amy and I could catch up on our how our weekends were.  It's the kind of non-stop conversation that happens when you haven't seen your best friend in 5 whole days. 

The Sweet Pea Festival is this week...a longtime favorite of mine and I look forward to it.  One more of the reasons to gush about summer in Montana.  

Hope your week is happy..

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