{Spring Trip 2014} Blackfoot Rest Area

The boys and I are on the move. For the next three or four weeks we are traveling around southern Utah and northern Arizona. I won't tell you where we are until after we've left, and I'm sure our Internet access will be spotty (I hope!), but you can follow behind us here, on Facebook or on Instagram @TravelingMelMT.

(If you are really into this trip -- hi mom!-- Instagram and Facebook are your best bets as that's where I post most often.)

I don't normally write about rest stops, but the Blackfoot Rest Area on I-15 is one of my favorites. Not only are the bathrooms clean and the drinking fountain water cold, there is a paved interpretive trail that leads into an old lava flow.

Actually, there are two trail choices, a 0.25-mile trail, and a steeper 0.50-mile option. We chose the longer path, stopped to read every interpretive sign, climbed into cracks and collapsed areas, hopped over cacti, and marveled over being able to wear short sleeve shirts. If you travel with people who have a lot of energy and like to climb on everything, this is your stop. If you are one of those people, this is your stop.

Unless it's really hot or windy. In that case, keep on trucking.

Henry and Finn have been talking about plate tectonics, so this was a great place to expand on that. This area of Idaho used to be over the magma plume that now heats Yellowstone National Park's hot springs, geysers, mud pots, and fumeroles. The plume, or hot spot, is responsible for the Yellowstone volcano thats been in the news lately.

Prior to our continent moving southwest, the Blackfoot Rest Area was above the magma plume. Magma was pushed to the Earth's surface through cracks and fissures before cooling into basalt lava. We learned a lot about this on our trip to Craters of the Moon a couple years ago, but I am the only one who really remembers that outing. (Anders is wearing clothes in those pictures that now barely fit Finn. Excuse my mommy moment, but geez, where does the time go?)

If that wasn't enough to lure you to the rest stop, there is also a big grass hill that no one can resist rolling down. I was too bust rolling to take photos, so you'll have to check it out yourself.

Plan Your Own Trip

What: Blackfoot Rest Area
Why: Clean bathrooms, water, paved trail through lava
Where: Near mile marker 101 on I-15 between Idaho Falls and Pocatello. There are rest areas on both sides of the highway. I've always stopped at the southbound stop, but they are probably the same.
Who: Anyone who needs to get out of the car. Both trails are paved for wheelchairs and strollers, and the 0.25 mile path is fairly flat.

Permalink 04/22/14 06:40:00 am, by Mel Email , 473 words, Categories: Idaho, Roadside Attractions, Anders, Finn , Leave a comment »Send a trackback »

Field Trip Friday: Montana Grizzly Encounter

At the top of the pass between Bozeman and Livingston live four grizzly bears. They started out in horrible conditions--one lived 18 years in a tiny box. Another was part of cub feeding program (and as soon as the cubs couldn't be bottle fed by paying customers, they were killed).

Now one is a movie star, and all are living in comfort and security at Montana Grizzly Encounter.

Our homeschool group took a field trip to learn about grizzly bears and how to avoid them in the wild. We learned how to tell the difference between a grizzly and a black bear, why these bears don't hibernate, and what to do if you forget the rules to avoiding bears and run into one.

Learning about grizzly bear paws.

You don't need a field trip to check out Montana Grizzly Encounter.

Plan Your Own Trip

What: Montana Grizzly Encounter
Why: Learn about grizzly bears and see them up close. These bears can't be released into the wild, but they can teach us about their wild cousins.
Where: 80 Bozeman Hill Road at Jackson Creek exit off I-90.
Who: You! Find hours and entrance fees here.

The Bozeman Trail Connector adventure

He wanted to go on an adventure, he told me. He wanted to explore unknown places, climb dirt piles, and find out what hides behind the willows.

It might be all those Magic Treehouse books he read when he was younger. Or it might be the Adventure Series he just finished. I hope it has to do with all the times we explored trails, lakes, and mountains together.

We decided the Bozeman Trail Connector was just the place to start. It's in town, it's short, but it has hidden trails through willows and little cliffs. There are ponds where you aren't expecting them, and maybe, just maybe there is something to discover.

We started on the trail, but quickly dropped into the willows. We crouched under bushes, and climbed over logs. We interrupted the quiet paddling of mallards, and stumbled upon a beaver lodge. Anders led the way as we post-holed through crusty snow and ran up dirt mounds. And we talked about all sorts of things, and only a little bit about Legos.

It was just the adventure we needed.

Plan Your Own Trip

What: Bozeman Connector Trail (Find other trails in Livingston)
Why: It's close to town, great views of surrounding mountain ranges, mini-adventures
Where: Northern Lights Road, west of Star Road, between Jack Weimer Memorial Park and Mountain View Cemetery.
Who: Anyone, stroller and wheel chair accessible. Dogs must be on leash.

Permalink 04/02/14 12:48:00 am, by Mel Email , 235 words, Categories: Montana, Hikes, Anders , 1 comment »Send a trackback »

My favorite tea shops in Montana

I love tea. Black teas, green teas, herbal teas, even a rooibos on occasion. So, whenever I am in another town I look for a teashop. I almost always buy an Earl Grey, but I often branch out (a little) and try what the tea expert/proprietor/dude behind the counter recommends.

Here are my favorite teashops in Montana, in no particular order. If you know of others, spill the beans (or leaves) in the comments.

I’ve also listed my favorite tea from each shop, but I haven’t tasted nearly all the teas from any shop, and I have a strong preference for Earl Grey.

Boston Harbor {Billings}

Boston Harbor sells over 300 types of loose-leaf teas, herbs, and spices. They also have a teahouse for on the spot drinking and a tea garden in back. Plus, lots of accessories—teapots, strainers, etc.

The shop is amidst a bunch of strip malls and bland stores on one of Billings’ busy streets, but is charming on the inside. Keep an eye out for the big black shop dog, Bob.

The owner writes, “Boston Harbor was created to help others. Through various mishaps with western medicine I decided it was time for a change and to take my health in to my own hands. I then found a homeopathic that changed my life. He opened my eyes to what the other side of what supplements and medicines mask. That is what led me to find herbs which I had good success with and wanted to share with everyone.”

They hope to have a website by July to sell tea online. Currently, you can order tea over the phone.

My favorite teas: Earl Grey Bush (rooibos) and Rose (black).
Find it: 1028 Broadwater Avenue, 406.248.1075

Nature’s Topicals and Teas, Inc. {Helena}

This cute shop sits on the walking section of Last Chance Gulch across from a yarn shop and up the road from Big Dipper Ice Cream. It’s a trifecta of things I love.

The woman who was working the three times I’ve been to Nature’s Topicals is so nice, and really friendly with the boys. In addition to teas, they sell skin care products and tea accessories. And they don’t mind if you bring your own containers to bring tea home in.

Order tea online if you can’t make it to Helena.

My favorite teas: Earl Green (green), Earl Gray Lavender (black), and a special Valentine’s blend they only sell in February (black)
Find it: 436 North Last Chance Gulch, 406.443.3671

Butterfly Herbs {Missoula}

I’ve been frequenting Butterfly Herbs since I lived in Missoula in 1994-95. Now every time I’m in Missoula I make a stop there.

Butterfly Herbs was established over a quarter century ago to provide whole herbs and bulk teas to Missoula and the northwest region. Over the years they have become the largest bulk tea and herb source in the Northwest. They have also branched out to include bulk spices, brewing accessories, hand-made jewelry, gifts and the largest collection of freshly roasted whole bean gourmet coffees in the region.

Missoula’s oldest Espresso Bar and café makes up the back of the store.

Order online, or look for their teas in stores around the Pacific Northwest. Or go to Missoula, there is a lot to do there .

My favorite teas: Montana Gold (herbal) and Morning in Missoula (herbal)
Find it: 232 North Higgins Avenue, 406.728.8780

Red Lodge Books and Tea {Red Lodge}

This shop is a nice combination of tea, books, toys, and games. Of course, there are plenty of tea accessories and loose-leaf sold on bulk. The best part is that they have a whole menu of Earl Grey teas and they are all delicious.

The kids like the shop because it is so close the Candy Emporium. We also like many other activities in Red Lodge.

You can shop online for both teas and books.

My favorite teas: Coyotes of the Purple Sage (black), Jasmine Earl Grey (green), and Green Darjeeling (green).
Find it: 11 North Broadway, 406.446.2742

Permalink 04/01/14 07:29:00 am, by Mel Email , 658 words, Categories: Montana, Eat , 2 comments »Send a trackback »

{this moment} otters and kids

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. via soulemama

Permalink 03/28/14 12:31:00 am, by Mel Email , 32 words, Categories: Museums/Nature Centers, Wildlife, Anders, {this moment} , Leave a comment »Send a trackback »

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 ... 170 >>