Wow, colors

Behind our house, in the portion of our driveway we call the “turnaround area”, we have a bunch of weeds that are actually really pretty. There are hundreds of vivid purple flowers, with a few white ones scattered in for good measure.

Furniture, finally

After a two-month marathon, with several false starts and broken promises from the furniture store, we finally received the last of our new furniture. We wanted to replace the old mint-green couch the former owners of the house had left us, along with the heavily-worn area rug, ancient kitchen table, and the black headboard for our bedroom. Although it was nice to move into a house that had all of those, over time we decided it would be good to move beyond the “late 90’s” look the former occupants had used in their decorating.

Now we have a beautiful walnut headboard, complete with some nice storage nooks:

A nice little counter-height kitchen table, perfect for the two of us (well, three, since Kyra’s living here for the summer):

And a gorgeous new couch that’s easily the most comfortable couch I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting in:

Oh, and notice the new area rug, which actually matches quite well. Considering we’re not interior decorators by a long stretch, I think we did a decent job finding three different pieces of furniture (table, couch, and coffee table) as well as a rug that all go well together.

Also, we’ve blown our furniture budget, so I hope we’re good for many years now…

Fish Lake

Dave and Jeanele definitely wanted to visit Glacier while they were in Montana. I’m guessing pretty much everyone who comes to visit us will want to head up there, so we’ve kind of resigned ourselves to a lot of trips to the park. But hey, it’s my third-favorite place on earth, so I don’t mind going back there over and over. There’s so much to see, and even when I see the same things, they seem to be just a little different each time. I love it.

The road to Avalanche Creek was temporarily closed, so we decided to take a hike on a nearby trailhead. Fish Lake, said the sign. Sure, let’s go, said we.

So much green!

The three-mile trail was steep at the start, but eventually leveled out. There were some fun streams and bridges. We were shadowed by a deer, who sort of walked slowly alongside in the woods and occasionally popped out onto the trail behind us.

Eventually we reached Fish Lake. I suppose it has fish, although a more apt name might be Lilypad Lake.

The clouds kept threatening to rain on us, but we lucked out and stayed dry. They gave the day a very moody feel.

After six miles of hiking, we returned to find the road was open, so we continued on to Avalanche Creek. The river along the road is really cool, with a lot of pullouts to stop and take a look.

Finally we made some stops along Lake McDonald, as usual, and watched as the clouds continued to gather. One of these days it’ll be nice to actually see blue skies over the mountains!

I can’t get enough of this place.

Back to Holland

No, not the country… Holland Lake. When Pepper’s other sister, Jeanele, came to visit immediately after Cil, we asked what her family wanted to do. They had a few things in mind, but left it to us to recommend some local hikes. We’d really enjoyed Holland Lake a couple of weeks earlier, so we decided to head back there. Once again, it didn’t disappoint.

Here’s my beautiful girl on the shore of the lake.

The weather was more overcast than it had been during our first visit, so there weren’t as many kayaks on the water. I liked this shot of a lone paddleboarder.

Holland Falls was just as magnificent.

For some reason, the mist wasn’t quite as strong (maybe a lack of wind?) so we didn’t get drenched when we stood too close to the falls. So we struck up some poses.

Dave was practicing his photography technique, and asked me for some tips. I was flattered. I found that most of what I told him started with, “Well, my brother told me you should do this…” It was kind of fun being the teacher instead of the perpetual student.

The lake overlook is awesome. We took a lunch break and snapped a few pictures.

A chipmunk visited us. He was clearly not afraid of people… not a good thing.

He even begged for some nuggets from Jeanele. (“Hey lady, got any nuts for me?”)

That tells me he’s pretty used to getting fed by people on the trail. It makes me sad when people feed wildlife, since the food is generally not good for them, and it makes them dependent on handouts.

I found a couple of cool trees along the trail.

Luke was practicing some photography as well.

Yep, Holland Lake is a good one. I suspect we’ll take a lot of our visitors there.

Marble FTW

After our “black to white” transformation of the kitchen, we decided to update our bathroom as well. Like the kitchen, it had a countertop (and backsplash) of black granite tile. Ugh.

We found a remnant slab of marble that was around 40% of the original retail price. What a steal. We liked how the grey and white complemented the existing grey and white in the floor and shower tile, so we grabbed it and picked out some fun tile to use as a backsplash.

More demolition work was needed. We ripped out the black granite, tore out the backsplash– and the accompanying drywall– and then had to install new wetboard. My first time working on drywall actually didn’t go too badly!

Once the new countertop was in, we hired a “tile guy” to take care of the backsplash. I installed some new vessel sinks, and we were in business. I think the results look fabulous.

Here are close-up views of the marble and backsplash:

Once again, triumph over black granite!

Swan River Trail

Today we decided to check out the Swan River Trail, also known as the Bigfork Nature Trail. It starts at the edge of town and meanders along the Swan River, overlooking the river from cliffs a hundred feet high.

The trail is very flat and easy– a hundred years ago it was the only road between Bigfork and Swan Lake.

The first stretch runs along what’s called the “Wild Mile” of the Swan River: a crazy rushing whitewater area. Right now, with spring snow runoff, it’s probably running near its high point, and I don’t think it would be navigable by anyone but the most skilled rafter or kayaker. Here’s one of the “tame” sections:

We went as far as the Swan River Dam, and decided we’ll definitely be back (with bikes, probably).

Green Glacier

Now that the National Park Service has opened additional roads in Glacier, we can travel beyond the end of Lake McDonald. We headed up with Cil and Jim, who have been visiting for several weeks and just waiting for a chance to go there.

I loved how green everything was! We’d been to Glacier several times over the winter months, and even in the spring, but now that we’ve officially hit summer, the park is awash in shades of green.

Walking along the Trail of the Cedars was a treat. The huge cedar trees provide a lot of shade, making the colors darker and deeper.

Avalanche Creek is really cool. Here it tumbles over some rocks along the trail:

I couldn’t resist a shot along the road showing the green trees, blue sky, and distant grey mountains.

And there was water. SO. MUCH. WATER. The spring snowmelt causes all the rivers and streams to run high, and it was amazing to see all of it rushing and crashing along.

I grabbed some neutral-density filters and tested long-exposure shots, hoping to get a “flowing water” effect. On the bigger rivers, it was impossible to capture anything other than pure white madness. But on a slower, wider part of Avalanche Creek, I managed to get a decent shot of flowing water:

Here are my two favorite gals.

And two crazy sisters.

It was another amazing day in the park.

That’s a lot of daylight

I’ve never lived this far north before. And I’ve never lived this far west in a timezone. So it’s kind of an awesome new experience to have so much daylight this time of year.

According to the almanac, today the “official” day will be a hair over 16 hours long. But when you include twilight, the day will be 17 and a half hours. Going even further, considering the times when the sky is illuminated at least a little bit by the sun (astronomical twilight), we clock in at 22 hours 46 minutes… just over an hour of “true” dark.

I’m sure in future years it won’t be quite as novel or exciting, but for now, we’re commenting almost daily about how bright it is (“Can you believe it’s still light out?!”). I’m writing this at 9:30pm and the sun is still above the western mountains. Cool.