Where did we leave off? Oh yeah, we finally made it to Montana!
This is our home for six weeks while Jason completes his internship. Seeing as how we had never laid eyes on the “Magic City” before arriving here, we quickly had to brush up on our Billings trivia. For example, did you know:
- Billings is the largest city in Montana (but the capital is actually Helena).
- It is the largest metropolitan area between Denver, Colorado, and Calgary, Canada.
- The population is
105,636105,640 (now that our family of 4 arrived!).
- The average summer high is 87° and average low is 32° (apparently Oklahoma followed us here, though, because it’s mostly been in the upper 90′s the past week).
- On a clear day, you can see six mountain ranges from Billings.
We were lucky to find this amazing loft apartment in a historic building in downtown Billings. The owners lovingly renovated the old meat packing warehouse about 3 years ago and incorporated green building practices, earning the project a LEED platinum rating. Best of all, they are cool with big dogs (although, that may no longer be the case once Denver and Ollie are done terrorizing the place!). The loft suits us perfectly and already feels like a home away from home.
However, besides hanging out in our cozy loft, there isn’t a ton of stuff to do in Billings so we have to get out on the weekends to explore.
Before coming to Montana, my friend Sarah suggested we visit Red Lodge, a cute little town about an hour from Billings. So, for the 4th of July, we hopped in the car to check it out. We arrived just in time for their parade. The whole experience was very patriotic and Norman Rockwell-esque….that is, until the band marched by. Turns out, Denver is terrified of drums! Who knew? So we made a quick escape and drove further up the mountain to do some hiking in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. The temperature was in the 70′s up there and it was a gorgeous day for exploring the great outdoors. The perfect 4th of July!
I failed to mention that this whole time we were driving a rental car. If you remember from my last post, our car broke down for the third time and was still in the repair shop. Because nothing is ever easy, last weekend we had to drive back to Colorado to pick it up.
Poor Mazda. She was a great car for 108,000 miles, but after that little episode we felt like we could no longer trust her and the time had finally come….we had no choice but to trade her in. Fortunately, we had been researching and saving for a new car for a while, so this didn’t come as a complete surprise. Still, it was sad to turn over the keys!
Tear. Let’s have a moment of silence for the Mazda.
We left Colorado with a very expensive souvenir – a new car. Meet Susie the Subie, the newest addition to our family! Isn’t she cute? She is a graphite gray Subaru Outback with black leather interior. She’s sporty, yet practical and drives like she’s right at home in the mountains. I think her best feature, though, is the divider that separates the cargo space from the backseat which is handy for transporting dogs….and criminals. Susie is all about versatility, you see.
On the way back to Billings from Colorado last Sunday, we took the scenic route through Wyoming to see the Big Horn National Forest. Wow, pictures really don’t do this place justice. We were there right before sunset and the light reflecting off the canyon was absolutely amazing! I’d love to return someday when we have more time to spend there since we were in a hurry to get back to Billings for work the next day. It’s no wonder how we put 700 miles on Susie the very first weekend we got her!
Loft dwelling. Parade crashing. Mountain traipsing. Tri-state roadtripping (twice!). Vehicle purchasing. All in all, I’d say it was a pretty eventful first week in Montana!