Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sunday Picnic with Wendell and Jennifer

Sunday was our last day with Wendell and Jennifer, and what a wonderful way to end our visit with these two sweet folks.  We started off with morning service at their lovely little church--anytime I go to a little country church and sing those old hymns, it always brings me to tears, bringing back childhood memories of going to the country church in rural North Carolina with my grandparents.  Just something about it that touches a deep spot in my heart.

After church we came home, changed clothes and headed out to their favorite picnic spot, at Stillwater, down by the river.  What a beautiful site for a Sunday picnic!!  Rushing water, fed by snowmelt, with that beautiful blue-green glacier color; lovely breeze blowing as we sat in the shade under the trees, with the sun dappling through--just gorgeous!  We spent the rest of the afternoon driving through the surrounding countryside, with Wendell being the perfect tour guide.  This Montana scenery is just so beautiful--don't think we'll ever get enough of it, and it's no wonder that Wendell and Jennifer chose this as their summer home.  We drove through so many of the tiny little burgs here, some you can miss if you blink!  But they all have such interesting character, it's just so cool.  And Wendell was doing his best to find us different wildlife species to see--I know he tried so hard to find big horn sheep, since we so wanted to see them.  Alas, all the big horn sheep and moose in Montana had apparently gotten the memo--Trisha and Jack will be leaving soon, so stay hidden until they're gone!  But he has such an amazing eye, and as we drove along, he spotted white tail deer, mule deer, elk, pheasant, hawks, marmot and coyote.  And he has an unbelievable knowledge of the history of this area--he has read so much and can give you remarkable details about the different Native American tribes, their battles, the coal mining, the farming and ranching history of the area--just amazing how much he knows and retains!  I'm jealous of his memory!  But it was so wonderful to just drive through the countryside with his commentary--so much better than if we had just done this on our own.

Of course we never would have been able to find most of the places he showed us had we just been wandering on our own.  We went to Mystic Lake, in the Rosebud Valley, just a really picturesque setting, with mountains rising above this gorgeous lake--cabins around the lake in a settlement that's been there since the mid-1800's.  There was a fly fisherman plying his craft---made us think of the movie A River Runs Through It--which was filmed in Montana.  Then they drove us to this quaint little Lutheran Church set out in the vast countryside, a place they had just discovered on some of their early meandering around the area when they first came out to Montana.  It's a lovely little white, wood frame building, St. Olaf's, the building was built in 1921, but the church was first formed in 1904.  Though it doesn't say specifically, from the name and the names on some of the gravestones in the cemetery, it looks like this was a Norwegian congregation in the beginning.  We loved looking at the headstones, finding at least one of someone who lived to be 100!  Other, more recent stones had pictures or scenes engraved on them, which was really interesting as the pictures told something of the story of that person's life, e.g., a sheep farmer, a rancher, etc.  They weren't sure how often they hold services there now, but apparently they still do, however infrequently.  Just imagining the scene on a Sunday morning, of these folks coming by horseback, or buggy, and looking at the view they had as they came out of the church--just amazing.

We are so grateful to Jennifer and Wendell for showing us such a great time in this glorious country.  They went out of their way to show us the sights, especially the places that most folks just wouldn't see.  And Jennifer went to such efforts to find and make vegan dishes for us--and still have enough non-vegan things for them--Wendell loved teasing us about the way we eat!  They are such incredibly interesting people, and we will always treasure this chance to spend so much more time with them and get to know them better.  Thank you Wendell and Jennifer!!

Some scenes from our Sunday excursion--and, by the way, just so everyone knows, Trisha deserves a lot of credit for lots of these shots--she often takes a lot of the pictures that are posted on the blog, and she does a super job of getting good shots, and often captures lots of things I would just overlook or miss.
 A waterfall off in the distance, among a thick growth of pines

 The dogs enjoying the shade as we picnicked

 Nye, MT is so small, they made this one sign--what a hoot!!
 These houses and barns are just so cool!

 Sand hill cranes that Wendell spotted as we drove along--love the red head!

 Mystic Lake

 Jennifer and Marti in the background--some folks who had been out on the lake were pulling in their boat
 Sophie wanted to get to the water--until she discovered how cold it was!!

 Just a spectacular setting!

 At first Sophie was afraid to walk on bridge where you could see water below!

 More sand hill cranes--they are always in pairs, serial monogamists, as they say!

 Coming up on St. Olaf's church--isn't this just the quintessential little church in the valley??!!

 This one's for you, Jim Weiland!
 The gate to the church property was open, but the church itself was locked; tried to get the sun shining through the other side to show how beautiful these stained glass windows are

 Looking out over the cemetery
 Note the chimney--probably the source of heat on really cold days
 An angel watching over a grave
 How would you like to see this on your way out of church on Sunday morning??

 She's watching us!

 Peter rabbit, running across their drive as we came home

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