Friday, March 16, 2012

Montana Roadtrippin'

When I still lived in Florida, Jacob sent me this book for Christmas (along with Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail: 1972 Election):

(He also did: Roadside History of [Insert Your State Here])

Since Jacob and I love to drive around, see things, and take day-trips in the summer, A Roadside History of Montana is a battered book that lives in our car and we read whenever we pass through some part of Montana we've never been before. Interesting factoid about Billings: People who arrived by train were greeted by people who had been lynched and hung alongside of the train track. It was also littered with garbage so the smell of rotting remains and waste alerted new residents, visitors, and people just passing through that they had, in fact, arrived in Billings. We're actually surprised at how many towns we read about are known for their lynchings.

Last Saturday marked the middle of March and it reached 75-degrees outside. You could say we've pretty much had no winter, and anything that happens now is just considered spring. We decided to take advantage of the nice, sunny day and take a day trip. And since we didn't have a lot of time or monetary capabilities, we decided to check out a few sights around Billings that Jacob has been wanting to see since he was a youngin': Pictograph Caves State Park and Pompey's Pillar National Monument.

 Daddy dressed us in jeans before heading off. Of course, then the posing started:
(Daddy puts her in the cutest outfits; you'd think it would be me who did that but, nope, Daddy is very toddler-trendy)

 Two servings of fruits and veggies in a squeezable pouch with Princesses or Winnie the Pooh on the front, yes please!

 The model's "artsy" shots.


 I tried to make it a picture of the two of us but she's already mastered the art of taking pictures of herself. My brother doesn't understand how I can do it and have the picture turn out relatively ok and non-nasal-invasive. The trick is to have long, monkey arms.

 I look at this picture and think, she looks so much like Jacob! He says, "she looks so much like you!" I'll concede, at a quick glance it looks like similar pictures of Jacob and I.

 It's crazy that just two minutes outside of Billings (literally) is this: nothing (well, ok, except the entrance to the Pictograph Cave State Park).

 The view from the parking lot. There is a walkway that leads to the start of various caves housing pictographs. The walk is nothing strenuous but we were still impressed that Zoey walked all the way up and all the way down and didn't complain one little bit. If you picked her up, however, she'd scream bloody murder to be put down so she could walk.

 All leashed-up and ready to go. Seriously, can't say it enough - greatest invention ever, especially when walking through nature.

 Scenery along the walk-way. I wish things were starting to show signs of life but maybe it's still early; that whole April-showers-bring-May-flowers thing....

Zoey is not a hand-holder so this lasted as long as it took me to take the picture. It's a shame, too, Jacob and I love holding her tiny hand but she'd rather roam unfettered (besides the leash, I mean, which she loves).

 Getting close to our first pit-stop along the walk.

She had - HAD - to stop at all of the pictograph pictures and information signs.

 As we were walking up to the large cave, it lead to various other caves on the left. We didn't explore much else since the walk was a bit long and uphill, but we decided we'd definitely come back later in the summer when everything is (HOPEFULLY!) a wee bit greener. In between the caves is a valley where they've put picnic tables. Aside from having lunch there one day, it would be an awesome place for a birthday party.

 The caves weren't very protected and used to let any Tom, Dick, and Harry into them to explore so it's difficult to see anything besides a deteriorating cave wall.

 The faint red markings highlight the pictographs.

 It's a shame there is little semblance of what used to be here, but it's still a piece of history and that alone makes it cool.

 I love that I get two irritated faces for the price of one. :-)

Our little Magellan, has to explore absolutely every nook and cranny. It's a lot of work to rein her in but her interest in everything is totally worth it.

 This looks like a sweet picture mind. I'll just continue to let you think this is a sweet picture.

 We forgot her baby sunglasses so that was another reason we cut our exploring short.

 From the opening of the cave, or giant hole in the side of the rims would probably be more of an accurate description.

  Zoey and I have started doing Yoga on the days I'm home and on the weekends. I noticed one day that my leggings left a red ring around my waist (yay!) and immediately decided that whatever weight I was gaining, I'd tone and use it to bulk a few things up, mainly my butt. As we walked along, Zoey had a moment of impromptu-Yoga. She also liked to watch the bugs go into the cracks. (P.S. Yes, I also cannot believe that I'm wearing a tube-top dress in the middle of March. In Montana)

 It was time for lunch after our history lesson so we mowed down on PB&J while Daddy tried to figure out how to get us to Pompey's Pillar.

 Can't forget the banana!
 (In case anyone happens to be wondering, yup, she's still a rear-facing child. The Administration that Decides Those Things recently upped the rule to 2-years old for a child to begin facing forward in the car. Rear-facing children are some-such statistic (I wanna say 5-times) safer than forward-facing children and - although this is quite surprising - there have not been any cases of rear-facing children damaging their legs in an accident, whereas forward-facing children have. They recommend children remain facing the back until they can no longer fit in the car seat or have reached the car seat's weight limit. There's my trip to the soap-box for the day)

 Unfortunately Pompey's Pillar didn't get the memo on the incredibly nice day and was still closed for the season so this was as far as we got. Jacob told me that Pompey's Pillar was taken care of much the same way the Pictograph Caves were. It does, however, hold the only physical evidence of Lewis and Clark's exploration in Montana.

 Your history reading for the day.

 About a mile west of the monument is the town of Pompey's Pillar, or what it used to be. At least we assume it was the town since it was just passed the railroad platform. We didn't venture beyond the highway exit where all of the dilapidated buildings sat so there could be an entire leper colony down there, we have no idea. But what we did learn was that Spotted Ass Honey was sold there. A trip to google and I learned this was a bar, and Spotted Ass Honey seems to be the town secret. (Psst. It's not honey)

Any good trip in the car always ends with McDonald's for dinner. We don't usually succumb to our McGurggles cravings unless we want to meet up in the bathroom at 3am, but sometimes it beats cooking and there is at least some part of it that's food. Thankfully they've really taken strides to improve the food for kids and - BONUS - they brought back the old Happy Meal container!

 I haven't seen one of these since I was Zoey's age!

 She likes the chicken nuggets....

 But, of course, is the newest fan of the McDonald's fries.

 This is her 2nd Happy Meal and I learned from my mistake: I give her what I want her to eat first, the chicken. If I lay it all out for her, she'll eat everything but. On a related note, she figured out how to play on our meal-time-stresses by tricking is into thinking she was eating by repeatedly asking for Saltine crackers. Well I flipped the script and when she asks for a cracker first thing in the morning I tell her we don't have any. She must remember and doesn't ask for one the rest of the day and eats her meals like a champ.

Already master of the patented fry-dump.

Yes, I'm a nervous wreck when she drinks the milk that comes with the meal. And she thinks its the coolest thing ever so she has to have it, and there is no hope of me hiding it because she repeatedly asks for it. I have to stop her drinking so she can eat more food. She's very slow and methodical and does a good job. Towards the end, though, she gets a little bit excited and ends up splashing it all over herself.

It was nice on Sunday - as was the rest of this week - but we didn't go beyond the backyard or the neighborhood playground. Our best-ever neighbor gave us two trash bags filled with toys and a bucket filled with blocks that she had for her grandson but was planning to donate. Zoey loves everything, of course, and her and Jacob built the Lego race-car set while I made breakfast so it was like Christmas morning.

It seems like everyone is having unseasonably warm weather - tornadoes, WTF?!? Except for those poor bastards in the northwest, sorry Cousin P.J.! Jacob doesn't think it will snow again but last year it snowed beginning of May. There's still hope! But we'll take advantage of the nice weather while we have it. I want to mini-roadtrip somewhere tomorrow or Sunday.