Our 10th Anniversary trip to Montana

Ten years just flew by since we first met and got married within a month. We shared so many laughs and memories over the years but the best part was that it all seemed relatively effortless. Our common love for travel & adventure played a huge role in our marriage and I always feel that our relationship comes alive during our travels, especially during our anniversary trips. So, we wanted our 10th anniversary to be really special and I booked a 10-day RV road trip in Iceland, my top bucket list destination. However, a couple of months before our anniversary, it became clear that we cannot travel to Iceland or anywhere outside the US due to COVID-19. We have traveled quite a bit in the US in the last 10 years, but there are certain gems such as Glacier National Park on my bucket list that we were yet to get to. So, I started checking out Montana to see what else we could do and came across a stunning tiny cabin in a forest setting that was available partially during our anniversary week. It also helped that Montana has some of the least number of COVID-19 cases in the US. Thus began the planning for our 10-day trip to Montana. It turned out to be such a wonderful trip and I am so glad we chose Montana to celebrate our 10th anniversary. 

The word "idyllic" comes to mind when I think of Montana and the entire state seemed to have such a relaxing and peaceful vibe. We stayed in 3 gorgeous locations throughout the state during our 10 day trip and each one was quite special in its own way. 

Our first stay was at a friendly house in the Hungry Horse community, which is ~15 minutes from the west entrance of the Glacier National Park. We booked it for its proximity to the Park but were taken aback as we entered its backyard. It has a lovely backyard facing the scenic Flathead river with a perfect setting of a hammock between the trees where you can enjoy reading your book while listening to the sweet music of the singing birds and the flowing river. The backyard was so inviting that we cancelled our plan to hike in the Park that afternoon and  decided to spend the evening relaxing in the backyard by the river.




We headed out early the next morning to Glacier National Park and spent the next 4 days completely entranced by its abundant beauty. You can read all about it in my blogpost on 'Our 4 days in Glacier National Park'.

After spending 4 blissful days in the Park, we headed to our next destination - a tiny cabin in a 100+ acre forest, 30 minutes outside of Missoula. When I stumbled upon this gem in a blog, I instantly knew I had to stay here. The tiny cabin was so beautifully and thoughtfully constructed by a couple in their 30s, to let people savor the Montana bliss at their own pace in a wonderful setting. It is off-the-grid and the bathroom and kitchen are a few minutes walk away but one look at the pictures and I was completely sold. I have to mention about the outdoor shower on the Property that runs on solar, which made for quite an interesting experience on cloudy days :) 


We spent 3 memorable days and nights at that tiny cabin in that forest. With no agenda or wi-fi to distract us for 3 days, we simply allowed ourselves to sink into the Nature and absorb the surroundings slowly and thoroughly. When we first entered the cabin, it was still hot and soon after we opened the huge glass window, there were bees and bugs. The first couple of hours were a bit uncomfortable until the sun set and the stars slowly began to appear. Soon after, the Milky Way appeared and you could see the stars from your bed through the huge glass window. Some things are hard to describe in words and even harder to capture in a picture.


I woke up early the next morning to the singing of the birds and saw that it was drizzling. As I cleared up my eyes, I saw this huge 180 degree rainbow through the glass window. I was ecstatic. I immediately ran out to the deck and enjoyed watching the rainbow with a beaming smile till it disappeared. Rainbows give me the greatest joy and I always count my blessings when I see them. Knowing the science behind them doesn't make them any less magical to my hopelessly romantic heart.


As I settled down by the huge window and started to read, lovely butterflies came by to say hello. The morning was so calm; all we could hear was the pattering of the rain and singing of the birds; all we could see were the trees and butterflies in the forest and the blue sky. It is settings and moments like these that allow you to connect with your inner self, to pause and listen to your heartbeat, and to truly feel your soul. The calm and tranquil setting gives you the time and space to untangle your emotions, to understand their source and interpret their nature. In those beautiful moments, I made peace with my past and enjoyed just being present. 


Both of us continued to read late into the day and then decided to pay a visit to Missoula for late lunch. Missoula had a decent downtown with lots of restaurants and shops. We picked a place with spacious outdoor seating that is maintaining COVID-19 distances and enjoyed our lunch there.

The next morning, there was a yoga session led by one of the guests in another cabin and attended by me and Alla, our host. There were a few bugs that joined our session and our yoga teacher encouraged us to embrace the outdoors, all the elements of Nature and the bugs that come with it. By then I had realized there won't be butterflies without the bugs and rainbows without the mud and beautiful clear nights without the hot mid-days. And no yoga classes in scenic locations without a couple of bug bites. Embracing Nature is very much like embracing life; you enjoy it more when you stop resisting and start accepting :)

After the session, we made lunch for us and our hosts, Alla and Garrett, who were  quite an interesting couple in their late 30s. Garrett loves Indian food, so he watched and documented the preparation process, identifying the various ingredients and making us feel like celebrity chefs for a short time. We had lunch in the open area and chatted for the next few hours while sipping on a variety of beer supplied by Garrett. He is a beer connoisseur and even brews beer in his apartment in South Korea where he and Alla live for 9 months of the year teaching English. They spend the summer on this property where they own and manage 3 secluded cabins, that they constructed on their own. As we shared and listened to each other's stories, time passed by so quickly. We played some outdoor Jenga, hand-made by our hosts, and called it a day as the sun began to set. The day was so relaxing and felt like we were catching up with some good old friends.

I spent some time on the deck that night watching the millions of stars and the Milky Way and it was a perfect way to end a relaxing day.

The next morning, we participated in an interesting scavenger hunt designed by our hosts that allowed us to explore their Property and do some fun things such as using bow and arrow to hit certain targets, drinking stream-chilled beer at a shaded spot, gold panning at a river stream and hiking through forests. We then bid them good bye and headed to Missoula for lunch. 

After late lunch, we headed to our final destination in Montana - a mountain top cabin in the Big Belt Mountain region. The Big Belt Mountains are a section of the Rocky Mountains,  situated mainly in the Helena National Forest. We did not know what to expect from this region of Montana but as we got closer to our cabin in Cascade, there were rolling hills and meadows that started to look like a painting. When we reached our secluded cabin on a mountain top with 360 degree panoramic view of some of the most picturesque surroundings, the sun just began to set with an orange glow illuminating the already picture perfect setting and left us completely lost for words. 



We spent most of the next morning on the deck, which was our Anniversary day, exclaiming 'This looks just like a painting'. We sat on the deck and read, wishing we had wine and chocolate to savor the views. There was no wi-fi, so nothing to interrupt us from staring at this view the whole day.


We had a photo session in the evening where my husband patiently took several pictures of me and for once seemed to enjoy doing it, inspired by the beautiful surroundings. 


After enjoying the sunset, we had dinner and packed our stuff for our return journey the next morning. 

With its effortless and unpretentious beauty everywhere we went, Montana touched our hearts in a way we will never forget. It made for such a relaxing yet inspiring trip that exceeded our expectations. We were lucky to have found such beautiful locations to stay and thank Airbnb and our hosts for sharing them with us. There was one thing, however, that I missed doing on this trip - rolling over on one of those large round hay bales that we saw everywhere in the fields of Montana. Something for the next time :)

Comments

  1. Rekha, it has been our absolute pleasure to host you while on your wonderful 10 day journey through Montana. We love meeting people like you and Sri, who are super down to earth, very worldly, love the outdoors and are great cooks! My husband still raves about the dishes you've made and we got to try if it wasn't for your pressure cooker and all those wonderful spices. We also felt like we reunited with old friends while chatting with you over beers and Jenga one afternoon, glad the feeling was mutual. We wholeheartedly hope to see you both again, either in Montana, Arizona or maybe even India (post Covid-19 of course). I love your blog and hope to read more about your exciting adventures!

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  2. Hey Alla, it’s great to hear from you! You guys were a great part of our Montana experience and it was a pleasure meeting both of you. Would definitely love to meet again! We would love to host you guys in Arizona and I am hoping to make another trip to your place. Stay safe!

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