Monday, September 15, 2008

Catching Up - Our July Vacation Part 1

As Ginger soaks her feet (seriously) as part of our Gulf Island recovery plan, I thought I'd catch up on our Montana vacation from way back in July. The first half was the inaugural Garff family reunion at Grandma and Grandpa's cabin, built in 1947 near Hebgen Lake.

(The lake most recently made headlines for a "malfunctioning headgate" which forced the evacuation of the Madison River below the dam. The dam is older than dirt. And filled with dirt. Grandpa Garff used to say he "went to the dam to get some dam water. But the dam man said I couldn't have any dam water. So I told the dam man to keep his dam water. And I didn't swear once" to wide eyed nephews. How could Grandpa say that? WOW!)

We've attended many reunions here with extended family, always a blast, but this time it was just the FOURTEEN of us + Lola the sole attending species of Canis familiaris. Grandma Judy, the Hawkins, Fosters and Garff's (Me and Ginger). It was seriously fun.

The cabin played a huge role in my formative years and there is not a corner of the house, garage, the surrounding landscape and even the outhouse(!) that doesn't have a vivid memory attached to it. We went to the cabin every summer no matter what and played in the boats and on the beach with the cousins, 2nd cousins, great aunts and uncles, regular aunts and uncles, cousins once removed, Grandma and Grandpa. Sometimes we'd go early in the spring before you should really be recreating at 7000 feet in the Gallatin National Forest. A few times my Dad and I would sneak away after the cabin was closed in the fall and launch the fishing boat into the cold water for one last fishing trip. And we'd launch that little boat with the black velvet upolstered '77 Pontiac Catalina - a car I would later crash at age 14 with my cousin Ben at where else, but the cabin.

The cabin makes you sick (dry heaves twice), the cabin burns your skin (no ozone in Montana), the cabin gives you rashes, splinters, a billion insect bites and the occasional close call with a bear. But the cabin pays you back with the clear sunsets, amazing scenery, unrivaled wildflowers, amazing hikes and incredible memories that fade far slower than anything else.

We spent 4 days eating too much, playing crazy games (Pit is still my favorite) and beating up the neices and nephews behind the boat. The mosquitos were horrible this year but who cares, you're at the cabin.

Kate on the player piano (Sorry Kate, but I am still the best at making the old instrument sing!)

That's Ellen and her prized Vaccinium membranaceum cobbler. Some call it Mountain Huckleberry. Some say it's the state fruit of Idaho. Others call it the best part about the cabin.

Leah did a lot of this. And Sam sort of did the opposite. Who was more enjoyable to be around?

Costco gave us the HO GT3! Are you sure you want more speed, because I can (and did) flip this thing over! Sammie, Adrie and Nick.

Nathan conquers kneeboard.

Kate is screaming for me to slow down. I can't hear you over the roar of the V8 sucking gas!

Sammie pulls a deep water start.

And Uncle Mark loves to drive the boat. Really loves it. As long as Grandma Judy buys the gas. Which she did, at only $4.75/gallon.

After 4 days of fun, cobbler, food, boat, noise, hikes, family, food, little sleep, noise, food, games, water, sun, food, sand, tennis ball w/ Lola, food, noise and fun we bid farewell and headed off on the Montana backroads to Troy, MT. Population: more ungulates than people. This would be a far calmer 2nd half of the vaca. Coming up in July Vacation part II.


  1. Loved every word. Good times, good times. Think your boat will ever grace Hebgen Lake? We'd all love to see it.

  2. Hi Laura! Sadly, the Swietenia will never make the trek to Montana. She's 30 feet long and weighs almost 4 tons. There's no trailer for these boats and we would have to ship it on the back of a semi-truck. We wouldn't do that to the boat (I can't imagine 900 miles of road vibrations, gravel, and dirt - yikes). The boat is much happier in her barn on Lake Union. You'll have to come visit us in Seattle!


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