As large storm clouds settled over Yellowstone we decided to give the tenting a break and instead headed to Macks Inn; a gorgeous village of log cabins nestled into the wilderness, located in Idaho about 30 minutes from West Yellowstone.
Here we stayed with Hayden (Cam's friend from university) and his wife Alicia in their family cabin. After several cold and damp nights we were grateful to stay in this gorgeous warm log cabin complete with fireplace, hot tub and kittens.
Cam and I spent the first couple of days adjusting to the altitude; feeling light headed and a little nauseas we took most of the weekend fairly easy. On Sunday we woke to a lovely Fall (autumn) day and enjoyed a delicious brunch (cooked by the boys) on the dock in the sunshine.
We then got a tad adventurous and hit the motorbike (or snow mobile in Winter) trails for a couple of hours. Expertly lead through the maze of tracks by Hayden, we arrived home safely for a spot of baking and relaxation.
During this time we were visited by two large male moose who casually wandered past the cabin, stopping to eat the grass and weed in the river. These animals are amazing; very large when you are standing only several metres away and even better when they just choose to cruise past at their leisure.
We also had a hawk hanging around very close by, who kept an eye on Tucker the dog. Such amazing wildlife that people pay to see and we had it on our own back door, literally.
The weather forecast looked dicey on Monday so we left the Cabin and headed 3 hours west to Challis, where Alicia’s family ranch is based. We spent several enjoyable days on the ranch taking in the incredible scenery by horseback and on the ATVs.
We also did a hike to some nearby hot springs located on the mountain side. Armed with chocolate, jerky and bear spray we headed for the hills in the cold mist and were rewarded with gorgeous warm pools and incredible views over the valley.
We managed to squeeze in a night out in Challis; (population approximately 1,000) enjoying enough pizza to feed 10 people and several games of shuffle board at the local pub. Cam and I felt extremely spoilt during our time at the ranch; a few special days of great food, accommodation, and company. Thank you so much to Steve and Lyndalla for their generous hospitality.
Leaving Challis on Thursday we headed back to the cabin for the night. Again making the most of a stunning Fall afternoon we took the ATVs up a mountain side which provided spectacular views of all three states; Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. That evening we enjoyed yet another incredible dinner with Alicia’s extended family and watched some college football on TV. Gradually we are growing to enjoy (and beginning to understand) this game!
The next morning we all packed up and headed north to Big Sky, Montana where Mr Willie Nelson himself was playing for the evening. The concert was fantastic; with cowboys and cowgirls galore we got amongst and enjoyed the stunning mountain surroundings. This guy is old - 77 in fact, so we should not have been too surprised when he did not sing but merely talked the words to his many songs we had come to know and love...it was hilarious!
Saturday morning arrived and we were hurting slightly. After a week of complete indulgence of both food (including; elk, trout, buffalo and halibut), and beverages (including samples of local beers, wine and whiskey), we were well ready to raise the heart rate and get a sweat on.
A 6 mile hike to a nearby lake at the base of a mountain soon cured that. We all slept very soundly that evening, especially after another lovely home cooked meal of steak and potatoes. Thanks Bob and Nancy for your hospitality in Big Sky, we had a great time!
As our adventure must continue, we left Mojo, Alicia and Tucker early Sunday morning. After an incredible week with these guys and their family we found the goodbye rather tough. Thank you so much for the incredible time, we are looking forward to seeing you all in NZ sometime soon!
Next stop the Redwood Forest on the West Coast.