Christmas 2014!

Christmas 2014!

Thank you to the Maurais family for a wonderful Christmas, and for hosting and putting up with us!  We had a great time!

JR and I headed to Winter Park for Christmas to visit with Allison, Don, Olivia, Tyler, and Holly.  We lucked out on the weather heading down.  We took mostly two-laners and we had a beautiful travel day.  We saw several large herds of antelope, a small herd of big horn sheep, a beautiful little fox running as though he just got run out of the hen house, and of course, lots of deer.  Part way through Wyoming, I was hoping for a rest area with facilities on an order higher than the “porta potty” type.  I was beginning to count the miles to the next city on the map when lo and behold, the Sweetwater rest area.  It was a Christmas miracle!

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I kid you not, it was the nicest rest area I’ve ever been in – warm, bright, and clean.  Aaahhh….Back on the road and fortunately only the last sixty miles was a bit worrisome:

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If not for my experience with a Montana winter last year, this would have freaked me out.  Okay, I admit, I did have sweaty palms.  No white knuckles though.  I’m getting there.

This part of the drive was made much better by spotting four moose!  First we saw one bunch of three moose (mooses?) including two cows and a bull, and later on, one bull by himself.  I was gazing out the window, saw a bull moose lying down, and thought to myself, “wow, that is a really big cow….(and then out loud) MOOSE!”  Probably not a good idea to yell out MOOSE! while the driver is trying to focus on driving on a snow-covered, quickly-turning-dark road!  Those antlers were amazing.

Anyway, we made it safe and sound.  On Christmas Eve, we enjoyed a short walk around the neighborhood.  It was a beautiful blue-sky day.

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Tyler and Olivia plopped down in two feet of snow to make snow angels.

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I was about to do the same until Olivia got up and someone commented on the size of the imprint her booty made.  I quickly thought better of it!

Later that evening, we went to the “Ski Down.”  Folks gather at the base of the mountain around a big bonfire while something like 120 skiers come down the run holding lights (and no poles, I might add).  Santa comes down with his sleigh.

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That’s the moon!

The “75” is made of flares on the ground signifying the 75 years the Ski Down has been held.  I wish Red Lodge Mountain did something like this!  What a great tradition!

Fireworks are set off.

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Then came the snow plows.

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Short video of the Ski Down:

We had so much fun.  My cheeks hurt from laughing so much!  We headed back and Olivia got a lift.

Olivia on JRs shoulders

It’s good to be little!

On Christmas morning, the kids got a snowball and snow brick maker.  Olivia and I went outside and made around 150 snowballs.  Neither JR or I brought ski pants since neither of us planned on skiing.  Not smart.  I played outside in long johns and jeans like a true Montana redneck.  After two hours in knee deep snow, I was soaked to the bone!

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Check out that pile to my left.  There’s another pile to Olivia’s right.  Yes, we threw all of them!  Also, I think I need a snowball maker here at home 🙂  Look out JR!

In the meantime, JR and Tyler built the Lego Mountain Hut, all 550 pieces of it!

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It snowed on Christmas (my first!) and JR got out the snow blower and made a quick (but very cold) run of the driveway.

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On Saturday, JR and I went for a sleigh ride at Devils Thumb Ranch while the Maurais group skiied.

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The size of the hooves on these quarter horses was unbelievable!

We met Butters, some sort of Swiss breed of cow.

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Originally bottle fed, no one had the heart to make him part of anyone’s dinner.  It costs the ranch $1,800/year to feed him as a pet.  At Butters’ hips, he measures 6’1″ in height!  It’s hard to get the scale from the picture, but Butters’ butt is taller than JR!  We also saw Butters drop some “hot butters,” if you know what I mean 🙂  Yikes.

There were all kinds of horses on the Ranch, with clever names (Uncle Jesse, Boss Hogg).  The sleigh ride was a “feed” ride but I wasn’t able to feed.  Some city slicker was on the back of the sleigh but for some inexplicable reason he couldn’t manage to put out much hay.  We kept having to remind him to throw out more hay.  C’mon dude, get with the program!  Sheesh!  I wanted to climb to the back and show him how a Montanan does the job right!  A bit later a lady asked the driver if they had seen any bears around.  JR and I had to stifle our laughter.  Um, Winter, bears, hibernation?  Heard of it?  Giving the lady the benefit of the doubt, maybe she was asking about bears during the summer.  I’m pretty sure she was concerned about meeting a bear around the corner though.  JR and I felt like real Montanans on that sleigh ride!  City folk!  Ha!

After the sleigh ride, we met Allison and the kids at the movie theatre and saw Night at the Museum 2.  I highly recommend it!  Of course, it is “Secret of the Tomb” and I do love all things Egyptian.  At one point, JR says I turned to him with big eyes going, “OH MY GOODNESS THIS IS SO EXCITING!”  If I ever make it back to the British Museum, I might ask if I can stay until after dark 🙂

After the movie, we had dinner and played a round of pool.  It was an ugly game, but Allison and I were victorious!

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What do you mean the teams weren’t fair?!

Tyler rode home with me and JR and sang along to “Dumb Ways To Die” over and over again.  It was dark, but he was so sweet, I had to record him singing:

Thanks to JR for adding the video to T’s sweet pipes!

I’m sure we are late to the party on this, but it was funny.  “Teach yourself how to fly.  Eat a two week old unrefrigerated pie.  Eat a tube of super glue.  What does this red button do?”  Dumb ways to die…Yes, I’m still singing it.

We headed home the next day and lucked out with another great travel day.

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Hey, it’s winter, what do you expect?


We were lucky enough to go back the way we came and hoped to see more moose.  We thought we were nearing the end of the Arapaho forest and didn’t think we would see any moose, then BOOM!  We turned a corner and a mama and baby were in the middle of the road!  JR and I both screamed, “Ahhh!”  On that snow-covered slippery road, hitting the brakes was not an option.  The moose stumbled and slid across the road and got out of the way.  Whew.  I am not kidding you when I say the mama moose was as big as the Jeep.  Majestic animals for certain.

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Shortly after the forest, we spotted two bald eagles and many more antelope.  It was another great day for a drive.  Only the stretch through the beautiful Wind River Canyon was a bit sketchy.

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That is, until we got to Montana.  Shortly before Belfry, we hit snow.

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By the time we got on Hwy 78, the roads were covered and slippery.  The plows had not made it out yet.

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Um, the road is where again?

Once again, I made the clever decision to not stop in Cody for a potty break.  I thought, “oh, it’s only one more hour home, I can wait.”  Uh-huh.  Except that once we got to Scilley, JR had to get the plow truck out and make a few runs before we could get to our house.  Another hour later, we were home.  Check out the back of the Jeep.

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Let me tell you, we were thankful for the road markers and snow fence we put in!  Now, if I could just remember to go hit the potty at every city, we’d be all set for winter road trips!



3 comments on “Christmas 2014!
  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful Christmas story! So glad you could spend it with the Maurais! Loved the pictures and glad you are home safe and sound! Have a wonderful New Year! Hope this will be the year I get out there! Love and miss you both XO!

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