East or North?

Easter is our time to get out into this beautiful world, and see it for it’s true simple beauty. We usually head North or East, there really isn’t an explanation or a reason behind this, it just seems to happen that way. This has pretty much been our norm for 18 years or so. No matter were we are living, Mother Nature never disappoints.


We start at home with an early Easter morning romp in the yard, breakfast, and packing.


If we somehow don’t leave until the crack of 10am or so, we stop at Mark’s in Livingston. Hands down my kids favorite!

marks - Livingston


We like to travel on back roads as much as possible. We find that we see more, experience newness,  and it’s truly an intimate way to see an area. And you are guaranteed to run into something bizarre at some point.  It’s simple, we open a map, find an interesting name of an area, and head there. We have never been disappointed in the adventure department, and always, absolutely always have a great time. We leave our day open to new options and detours. Nothing is set in stone.



This year we decided to explore the area around the Big Snowy and Judith Mountain ranges, and a little beyond. We’ve driven through on the highway for sheep herding clinics and things like that, but have never really explored the area. The Crazy Mountains were first, incredibly gorgeous.

The Crazy mountains

We had some rain, lots of wind, gorgeous sun, and a bit of everything in between. We almost depend on this variability to be honest. Spore found a county road he wanted to explore, the dogs needed to get out, and the kids were ready to blast.



These are my 3 Musketeers! $eeker is always with the kids, and the kids with him.


We went through the Invenergy Wind Farm by Judith Gap. I wish we had more wind harvesting in this world. Montana has wind to spare, and it just makes sense all the way around. And personally, there is something about wind farms, when they are in motion, that I like.


Sunset in Judith Gap

Roadside lunch for the crew. Olive oil and rosemary roasted gizzards and organ meat. And then off for another walk in a new area.



Some of the places we wanted to go were up too high and it was still too snowy, so we pulled out the map and noticed that there was a State Park in the middle of this area, Ackley Lake State Park, who knew? Spore is a State Park junkie by the way, he feels that since we pay for them, we should visit them, appreciate them, and explore them. So off we went. What a treasure is all I can say. There was one, just one other car in the State Park while we were there. It was freedom, airing out, running, and playing at it’s best. This was a true find! And for about one hour the sun came out. Smiles all the way around. I can only imagine that this lake is packed in the summer time!


Beach parking, this was so cool in and of itself!



Franny ran and ran and ran. She enjoyed herself more than any of us I think. The soft ground, the openness, no stress, just running. I couldn’t stop smiling. Her joy was palpable.



$eeker won’t go swimming unless Ocean goes in first. If alligators don’t get Ocean, and no giant octopus tentacles reach up and suck her under, well then he considers the adventure all good and will take the plunge!




First swim of the season. This is Ocean’s true love, well really anything that puts her in motion is, but she LOVES to swim above all else. The windier and wavier the better! She will be 11 years old in just three months, and this girl still has such amazing drive and power.


Story. He is so true, honest, powerful, and present. And I think these photos capture HIM as I feel him.





Playing. We all needed it!




And then, we try to find some place that’s open for dinner. Harder said than done in super small back roads towns on Easter evening.

Spore and I have eaten in a lot of crappy little dives, on four different continents. We consider it part of the adventure and truly have very low expectations, and a pretty good tolerance for crappy little dives. There always seems to be some redeeming quality, even if it’s super small, and that is what creates that great memory. Maybe a great view, maybe a cardboard shack of a place but awesome food, maybe the food was inedible but the coffee was amazing, maybe a great fun server or eccentric cook, there is always something small that is great. Out of the way is fun, in the middle of nowhere you can sometimes find the best pancakes, food adventure is part of traveling in my book.


Spore and I agreed on the final stretch of our drive home, that the diner we stopped at in Harlowton, now tops our list of the crappiest of diners we have ever been too, during all of our travels, spanning 18 years together. That is saying something. There was nothing that was redeeming. Not the service, not the view, not the decor, and least of all the food. Again, we are not hard to please, it’s an adventure after all. You have to work at making us not like a place.

Was it a great Easter? Yes. Everything I love more than anything else in this world was packed into our car. A big mosh pit, my mosh pit. And we were out exploring little places in a big world together.






18 Comments Add yours

  1. cat says:

    What a lovely post…………………every picture was a “i love life” moment! Thank you for sharing it !

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Cat it was so fun …!

  2. Marie Tanner says:

    Nancy and Spore, your sure do know how to create memories. A real family time together. Everyone looks so darn happy. love you

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Mom, you would have loved this lake, your kind of sun and beach and just enough shade if you need it!

  3. mtwaggin says:

    Ahhhh what a marvelous day and thank you so much for taking us on your adventure. That is an area of the state I have yet to explore (but getting there) and I’m with Spore, State Parks and Fishing Accesses often are hidden treasures! I’m a gazetteer junkie in the summer as my Mom will attest! 🙂 Love the MT folks in down coats and shorts! LOL

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Sherry I want to pick your brain about some of the places you go. Your posts with your dogs are awesome. You seem to find places I have never ever heard of. We shall have coffee, chat, and mark maps!

      1. mtwaggin says:

        Any time! Some are actually between here and there so we should just meet up and go!

  4. 1cruzdelsur says:

    Nancy, a very interesting story, many beautiful photographs and lots of love can be seen in all team members. I congratulate all the team members.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Cruz, I Love my TEAM!

      1. 1cruzdelsur says:

        Contagious much love in your narrative, it is very nice to read your story. 😉

  5. Seems you all had a wonderful Easter journey, even without skiing… 😉

  6. Kim says:

    What a great journey on an amazing Montana Sunday 🙂 I hope the whole state was feeling the joy of spring yesterday!

  7. Cheryl Farmer says:

    Lovely story and great photos! The smiles of you all showed you had the best time. It’s a pleasure to see you and your loved ones enjoy and celebrate life. You all have the adventure spirit.

    I think getting out and about in Montana in the best! Well, Montana and Yellowstone! Ron and I have been all over the state and enjoyed it all. We only got “lost” a couple of times on dirt roads. Eventually you’ll end up somewhere! Thinking of you and your beautiful dogs: last May we went to Bannack State Park. Have you done that? Dogs are allowed but the park manager told us the dogs can go inside the buildings! Which I thought was really fun. We walked the street and took Wren in to visit some of the old buildings. Fun photography with the old buildings. Grasshopper Creek right there. Not many people in mid May in the park, but we did run into snow storm and snowy trails on the back roads getting there. It’s open all year. Cheryl

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Cheryl, we have not been there yet but talk about it often. It is definitely Spring Break worthy! Wren has such a great life with you!

  8. steve askay says:

    It is stories such as this one that make me smile when I see a new blog posted on your site.Your joy of life and your family is very contagious . Your adventures become my adventures and for that I am very grateful. We leave for Montana on Monday and we hope to ” snag” some of your positive energy while we are there.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Steve so looking forward to seeing your family, being some sunshine with you.

  9. dorannrule says:

    I felt like I was right alongside you all on your mini vacation. What fun and how adventuresome you are. I especially love all the photos of the dogs at play and enjoying the water and the freedom. What a wonderful life! Thanks you so much for sharing.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      It was another great Easter adventure. We for sure will go back to visit this area again some day …

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