Masthead header

the world’s best vacation. part 1

I am almost hesitant to share this wonderful little secret I have tucked away in my back pocket. This place is my heaven. When I am in Montana, there is a different pace of life that is so enjoyable. I am not worried about emails,texts or phone calls. I am not worried about social media or the news. The only thing I am doing is just simply being. Have you ever realized just how difficult it is to just simply be. As adults, we are pulled in a thousand different directions on the daily. We need to volunteer at school, take kids to soccer practice, do homework, cook, clean, have that conference call, make that meeting…the list goes on! I feel like the queen of being a busy bee. I have always been that way and I thrive being busy BUT for once, it was nice to let go and simply be. Whether you are going on vacation to beautiful Montana or you are at home, I encourage you to carve out some time in your day to just be.

This post will be lengthy with pictures. I have never considered myself a writer. I still don’t, even though I blog. I much rather tell my stories through images. So many so that I am breaking this into two parts. I want you to see what our week was really like and it truly was too magical to leave any one part out.

We discovered Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge in 2013. We went as an entire family (18 of us). I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I did this vacation because I was having spine surgery a week after I returned home. I was very limited. So this year, we returned with the whole family and adding my step dad’s kids and grandkids, so 24 of us. This dude ranch has it all….horses, archery, watersports, crafts, yummy food, beautiful lodging. There isn’t one thing I could recommend for them to add….well other than me and Steven so we can be staff photographers for them there in the summer 😉 So take a peek into our week adventure of true paradise. We already have it booked to return in 2017 and I am counting down the days.

P.S. as a disclaimer, I am letting you know now, when we are on vacation I don’t help my kids pick out their clothes. They do their own thing. I am just saying, you might notice that.

Canoeing on Flathead Lake with the view of Blacktail Mountain in front of me

montana dude ranch vacation_0001

the water is crystal clear. cold but crystal clear. we went in July and the high’s in the day were 80’s and lows at night 50.

montana dude ranch vacation_0002

every afternoon, the kids would all do watersports. They loved to SUP or in this case, sit down paddle board 🙂

montana dude ranch vacation_0007

montana dude ranch vacation_0006

My youngest nephew is 4 and they even have horses he can ride. You say the word horsey around him and that is ALL he talks about! He loves it here.

montana dude ranch vacation_0009

Riding with two of my oldest brothers, Hank Jr and Bill aka Catfish

montana dude ranch vacation_0010

The wranglers take the kids on the trails while the adults eat, so we all get breaks! We ran into Ellie and my oldest niece Alex coming back in.

montana dude ranch vacation_0011

Nature is everywhere. We saw so many deer and elk while riding. This one stood complete still and let Steven grab a picture. What a great model.
montana dude ranch vacation_0013
The group trail ride. Seeing this view was everything.
montana dude ranch vacation_0015

montana dude ranch vacation_0017

When Steven said “smile for the camera” the horse apparently thought she should too. This is Daisy, the horse I rode all week, such a good girl. But the hot blonde in the picture is my sweet momma.
montana dude ranch vacation_0020

montana dude ranch vacation_0022

montana dude ranch vacation_0024

montana dude ranch vacation_0025

My mom and step dad. Two of my most favorite people.

montana dude ranch vacation_0027

After our group ride that evening, they had live music and a campfire down by the water. I am pretty sure Montana doesn’t have a bad sunset….
montana dude ranch vacation_0028

We had a the cutest cowboys around in our group.

montana dude ranch vacation_0030

montana dude ranch vacation_0029
montana dude ranch vacation_0031

Ellie made everyone “very toasted” marshmallows. She is truly my little cowgirl. I could see her working here in the next 10 years as a wrangler, no doubt.

montana dude ranch vacation_0034

montana dude ranch vacation_0033

montana dude ranch vacation_0036

Everytime we try and take a “good” picture of my family…..this is what happens. Wendy looks great though 😉

montana dude ranch vacation_0032

The next day we planned an outing to go white water rafting. I haven’t been rafting since I was a Girl Scout and ten years old. We had a blast! I got thrown out of the raft in the cold water and I completely panicked. When you fall in apparently you shouldn’t start kicking your legs, well, guess what I did? Yea, and I slammed into a rock and thought I fractured my shin but I didn’t care. I was having way too much fun to let that stop me. I got right back in the boat as my kids were screaming, “go get my momma!” haha I am sure they saw the panic in my face.

montana dude ranch vacation_0039

montana dude ranch vacation_0040
That afternoon, some local cowboys and friends came over to the lodge and showed us how to rope. There is a lot of skill in it. The cows don’t get hurt, of course that is what I was concerned about but I was reassured.
montana dude ranch vacation_0046

montana dude ranch vacation_0044

Mr. Averill takes kids on his horse as he is explaining things. Ellie really felt like a pageant queen in a parade. She was waving and smiling at people like she was the star of the show.

montana dude ranch vacation_0045

my sweet and beautiful Lilly. A couple years ago she had an accident on a horse and since then we are working on gaining her confidence back but they are scary. They are large, unpredictable animals so I totally get it.

montana dude ranch vacation_0048

I am completely smitten with my youngest nephew, Cade. This boy has me wrapped around his finger.

montana dude ranch vacation_0047

montana dude ranch vacation_0049

My little cowgirl practicing her lasso.
montana dude ranch vacation_0051
montana dude ranch vacation_0054

She thought Mr. Brian needed some of her curly hair.
montana dude ranch vacation_0056

Sweet Ellie

montana dude ranch vacation_0057

Lilly was a champion lasso{er} totally not a word but ya know what I mean.

montana dude ranch vacation_0058

montana dude ranch vacation_0059

Again, sorry but I can’t keep my camera off his beautiful little face.

montana dude ranch vacation_0060

Two of the horses just became momma’s literally the week before we got there. We loved seeing their sweet babies.

montana dude ranch vacation_0067

montana dude ranch vacation_0069

montana dude ranch vacation_0064

A couple pictures my sister in law, Wendy took of us in that gorgeous light!

montana dude ranch vacation_0074

montana dude ranch vacation_0072

This is the inside of the main lodge where you eat dinner.
montana dude ranch vacation_0077
The lodge is very intimate, I believe between 80 people are there a week at a time, so you get to make friends. The kids always make such sweet friends there. They were all teaching each other new songs on the piano.

montana dude ranch vacation_0078
No electronics. No tv. Nothing. Just purely nature and being kids outdoors. I love it. By bedtime, they passed out!

montana dude ranch vacation_0076

Come back tomorrow for part 2 🙂


lucy signature


  • September 16, 2015 - 5:34 pm

    Krystal - This looks like such a fun trip! Got me thinking ahead for our next vacation!ReplyCancel

  • September 16, 2015 - 8:40 pm

    Steve - Your photos look like they came out of ourfamily albums…with different faces.
    Our family started vacationing at Flathead Lake Lodge in 1965, when I was one year old. We went every year for about 25 years, at which point my parents retired to a house on the lake about a mile from the Lodge. That became our second home. I still have family in Bigfork.
    Everything you show and say about Flathead Lake Lodge, and the people, and the magic, is true. It is as close to paradise as anyplace I’ve ever been, especially for a family vacation.
    After spending two weeks every summer there with my family growing up, I spent three months every summer as a wrangler/waterfront guy during my High School years. I think I made about 14 cents an hour back then(mostly tips), but I wouldn’t change a thing. My sisters also worked there for several years.
    And I noticed that you have small children in your herd, so I feel compelled to let you know that both of my sisters met their future husbands at Flathead Lake Lodge, and I was actually married there. So…don’t say I didn’t warn you. 🙂ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *