After a bit of shut-eye in cousin Keith's cabin, I woke to nature's dramatic opening act, a brilliant sunrise peaking over the mountains. As Travis still wasn't feeling up to par, he slept-in while I went on a hike in the crunchy snow. I swear, my love for mountains was born in this very spot! After my little jaunt I began packing for home, thinking the hubby would prefer feeling nauseous in his own chateaux. But just as we were about to take an ill Travis back to the comfort of our own bed, the Dayquil & Gatorade must have kicked in cause he was starting to feel a bit better. Like a wilted flower getting a drink of water, he became -dare I say- perky?
We opted to stay a little longer and had lunch outside the cabin, in the warm sun, right under the "Clayton's Gold Rush" sign. I've sat on that deck a million times, but I gotta tell ya, in recent years I've seen a whole lot more than just Emigrant Peak in front of me! Funny how a person can look at a familiar view over & over, but "see" something different each time. On this afternoon, I had amusing visions of Grandma squatting behind the garage when the climb to the outhouse became too treacherous, Great Uncle Elvin's animated mountainman antics with an accent that always made me chuckle, & ol' cousin Jimmy who cussed like a sailor but made a point to tone it down in my presence while playing cards one evening. Such fond memories in this lil remote corner of the world; from Uncle Frank & Pa diligently transforming the rugged shack into a comfortable cabin to GOLD FEVER striking the men of this Clayton clan. And especially, the time my dad & I coasted all the way from Huckleberry Cabin on his trail bike that quit on us! Oh how we laughed!! And let's not forget; Pa & I making kool-aid out of the natural spring, Ma & I watching hummingbirds, and Travis & I having our very first Valentine's Day here with some delicious steaks. Ah, swells my heart with tenderness! But sadly, with the good comes the bad. And this mountain has a not-so-pleasant history too, like the tragic year my dad's cousins were caught in a fatal avalanche. -That remembrance will really stick with me, as the funerals were on my 25th birthday. It does coincide with a joyful memory, however, of Aunt Karen & Uncle Frank surprising me with a cake that day. Oh, Emigrant Peak, you've got a lot of stories on your hillside! (Thanks, friends, for traveling down my memory-lane-tangent with me. Really, I could just go on & on!)
Back to the recipe we experienced on this lovely day..... We had a delicious Caesar Salad, jazzed up with chunks of pork chop left over from Chico's Restaurant the night before. The setting we ate in made it taste even better, I’m sure! To our suprise the air was not nearly as crisp as the salad, and we were able to shed our winter attire. In February! Since it was such a beautiful day, the type of feel-good day that really lifts your spirits, we decided to go on a little drive further south (after we'd visited with the neighbors & chased some chickens). We found ourselves in Gardiner, MT, the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, in the mood for some exploring! And is it just me, or was the sky extra blue this day?! Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. We saw some deer, elk, & bighorn sheep during our little excursion. And the unseasonably warm weather felt so good, we ate ICECREAM! By the way, for those of you perched in a more tropical climate wondering exactly how warm is WARM in wintery Montana; it was nearly 50 degrees. Reason to rejoice!
~Rating of Casesar Salad: 7 stars (out of 10) We were delightfully surprised, the anchovies/dijon mixture in this dressing was actually good.
~Quote of the day: "If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere." Vincent Van Gogh
~Music while cooking: Emigrant Creek