The Land of Big Sky.

Ah, Montana.  It didn’t disappoint.


I’ve always dreamed of a trip to Big Sky Country–well, since moving to Denver, at least.  I think often of the Tetons and Yellowstone and wide open spaces.

So when the opportunity came up to join Chris, Ludi and Amy and a few of their friends on a fly fishing trip a few weeks ago near Cascade, Montana, I jumped at the chance.  Chris drove up with Ludi and Amy on Tuesday and I flew up to join him late Thursday night.

Just like any trip with Ludi and Amy, an adventure ensued for those three on their drive up toward Great Falls.  A large screw in one of the car’s tires (which was towing a UHaul with fishing gear) ended up becoming a bigger deal than just changing the tire.  Helena, Montana, had little in the way of services to fix the issue in one or two days.  And so the crew ended up renting another UHaul pick-up truck, which they used to tow the UHaul trailer for a few days (stock in UHaul anyone?)  As Ludi so appropriately put it, “You know, at least we weren’t chased by an elephant.”  He’s very good at putting things in perspective.

On Friday, Chris and I stayed at the rented cabin while the rest of the group went off to fish different parts of the river.  We took a long hike down some abandoned railroad tracks in the morning with the dogs.  It was lovely – hot, but lovely.


Montana3 IMG_2405

*Can you spot the doe under the trestle in this photo?

When we arrived back from the hike we made some lunch and I plopped a lawn chair in the rushing river and settled in with my latest novel, Frances and Bernard (read it!)  I promptly dropped the book in the river when I went to put my feet up (sorry, Denver Public Library!)


Chris put on his wading outfit and fished for HOURS.

Montana5He is into it.  And looks the part, right?

The next day we went with the rest of the group to another part of the Missouri.  I started my next book, the new Jeanette Walls, The Silver Star (meh is my complete review) and took the helm while Chris and Bill fished.  It was another blue sky, hot day.


IMG_2438Lots of moo-ing cattle were taking a dip near the boat put-in.  Quite the busy scene!


We drove home on Sunday.  By the time we got to the border of Wyoming, I was praying for teleportation to be invented.

Overall?  Simply stunning.  Montana rocks.


I needed a break from the snowy west and booked a trip to Kinderhook via Boston a few weeks ago.  Micaela picked me up at Logan and we drove south for a relaxing weekend.

It was nothing short of perfect.  I slept until 10 on Saturday and then we took a long walk on the beach and through quaint seaside towns.  We shopped the rest of the day away and went out for a quiet girlfriend dinner.

On Sunday we slept in again, then took a walk (this time in the rain) on the beach after morning tea and oatmeal.

When I’m away from the ocean for more than a year, I forget the sound and the smell.  From M’s house, you can hear the waves.  All night long – those lovely, lulling, rolling waters.

I could not get enough!




South Africa Story: My first ele.

We arrived at Mpila Camp at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, checked into our site, dropped bags and got back in the bakkie (South African slang for pickup truck) for some late afternoon animal viewing.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, except that we’d gotten a poor report on what animal viewing was like at Kruger National Park from Ludi’s brother two weeks before  we arrived in KwaZulu-Natal.  Being summer, and the wet season, animals are less likely to come to watering holes in the reserves where often, there are hides, or places where people can quietly observe them as they drink water.

I also wasn’t sure what to expect because I hadn’t yet seen the African bush in its glory.  Everything was new to me.  The landscape, the sky, the heat.  We were hours and hours away from the city.

Because it was my first time looking for animals, Ludi and Amy insisted I sit in the front passenger seat.

“Now Bridget,” Ludi started, “because everything is new to you, it’s going to be hard for you to spot animals in their natural habitat.  Remember, they look like the landscape.”

“I see an elephant!” I yelled.

“Exactly,” said Amy calmly from the back seat.  ”When you see something wandering around, just yell it out.  Let us know.”

“I SEE AN ELEPHANT!” I yelled again.

“Oh for real!  There it is!”

And Ludi put the brakes on the bakkie, threw it in reverse, and we watched quietly.

This is what I saw.


But he was there.  He was a really real wrinkly elephant.  And then he saw us.


And he said hello.  And we said hello.  And I fell in love with him.  He followed us for nearly two kilometers down the dirt road as the sun set on Zululand.


He was a little shy at first.

Then he stopped at a puddle and muddied himself to cool down.  And then he got back on the dirt road and continued to follow us.

ele4I really wanted to get out of the bakkie and hug him.  He probably wouldn’t have liked that.

ele5Bye, bye, lovely.

Winter layover in Paris.

We flew through Paris to on our way to Johannesburg in December.

There is just nothing like Paris in the winter – except, I imagine, Paris in the summer, spring and fall.  And even though it rained nearly the entire time we were traipsing across the city’s ancient cobblestone, it was still well worth the ride on the RER from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris.  We had twelve hours to soak it all in.

It was kind of a love fest.  We were married.  We were in La Ville-Lumiere.  We were on our way to Africa.  Pretty romantic.

Paris1Tres adorable.  I learned in Paris that Chris has an EXCELLENT French accent.  So many talents!

Paris2Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris.


Un artiste.




Un ecrivain de fumer.


Pour un appartement de jardin.


Musee du Louvre.

Paris6La Tour Eiffel.


Chris and I are home in Mile High after three weeks in South Africa with our good friends Ludi and Amy.  We were in Cape Town, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve and Durban.

I have come back refreshed, inspired, humbled and hopeful.  It was a wonderful trip.  The people we met and spent time with in Africa are adventurous and incredibly hospitable.

This weekend, we’ll get our photos off the cameras and on to hard drives and start sorting.

We’ll also finish the rest of our laundry.

St. Augustine and A1A.

We drove back to Jacksonville by way of Saint Augustine and up A1A along the Atlantic Ocean.

Saint Augustine was a lovely town that smelled like the sea.  Our favorite part of our brief visit was the Castillo de San Marcos, a historic Spanish fort large and beautiful and full of ghost stories.

We were able to stop for a 20-minute swim as we drove north toward the airport through beach and forest preserves and small cottages next to large homes facing the wide ocean.

Our swim was quick but lovely and warm and very wave-y.  We laughed a lot in the water. There is NOTHING like the sea.

C loves swimming in the ocean so much you’d think he was born on the coast in a seashell.

The beach was very lightly dotted with people’s clothes and towels and everyone was in the water.  It was a perfect day.  We could have used RIO beach chairs and six more hours in the sunshine at the water.

So long for now, happy Florida!

Florida Dream Wedding.

We had an incredible time in Florida at Devon and Patrick’s wedding.  The weather was beautiful and the whole scene was just plain welcoming and relaxed.

Devon is C’s very good friend from his days living in D.C.  She was the property manager of the building C lived in at 14th and P.  C told me that when he went for a visit to choose a place to rent before moving, he was in a unit in the building with Devon and said to her, “Well, I’ll continue looking around and see what else is out there.”  Devon looked at him and said, “This building is one in a million.  This unit will be gone tomorrow.”  He wrote her a check for the deposit 10 minutes later.

On Friday afternoon we arrived in Jacksonville.  After a long drive through Ocala National Park, we arrived at the rehearsal at the plantation house where the wedding was held and where we were lucky enough to be staying with other wedding guests and the bride (and eventually groom, after all the vows were delivered)!

We got dressed and headed to Devon’s mother’s home for the rehearsal dinner.  Two weeks before the dinner their contract with the barbecue company who was supposed to cook was broken and Devon’s mother threw herself into a frenzy, cooking an INCREDIBLE Italian meal for 45 people.  She did an amazing job.

Devon’s mother’s house is just adorable.  It’s a little camp built in 1915 across a country road from a lake.  There are very large trees in the yard covered in Spanish moss and a big, comfortable porch with lots of wicker furniture.

The inside is just as lovely.  The cottage is rustic and homey at the same time.  Devon’s mom and late father bought the place nine years ago in the hopes of restoring it together.  They did quite a bit of work — peeling off bell-bottom era paneling, shoring up the foundation, moving a staircase and replacing windows.  There’s more to be done now that Devon’s father has passed away — enter the newest member of the family, Patrick,who has already built some shelving in the kitchen.  The newlyweds are moving into the tiny guest house on the property and sweet grandma is moving in with Devon’s mother in the main house.

The next morning, back at the plantation house, from our large bed up on the second floor, we woke to the BeeGees playing somewhere downstairs.

When we walked into the dining room, Devon was sitting at the table, calmly sipping tea and reading the news online.  She had set out breakfast on the buffet and asked us if she could get us anything.  She was so relaxed.

We walked for a bit out in the yard with mugs of coffee.

And then we saw a little ‘gator swimming in the lake.  He was just a tiny thing, as people kept telling us, only ’bout five foot.

I set to work on a banner for the photo booth for the reception and Rob helped me “improve” it.

Then outside folks started arriving — hair and makeup and photographers and family members.  The girls showered and got dressed on the third floor.  Devon’s darling [precocious] niece was charged with “watching the baby” – her brother – to make sure he didn’t roll off the bed.  This also ensured she wouldn’t continue to muss her makeup and princess hair.  After she was caught in the backyard being pushed on the swing by C, she was immediately called upstairs.

“I don’t care to watch him,” she said.  ”Can’t a girl just play?  I want to swing on the swing outside with Mr. Chris!  I want to watch the ‘gator!”  It was pouty and so cute.  Her mother just thought it was pouty.

The sun was bright and beautiful by the time Devon and Patrick became Mr. and Mrs.

The cocktail hour was in the front of the house and there were lawn games and lots of cocktails.

I love this photo of Devon and C!  Hooray for good pals!

After dinner we danced.  A lot. The band played all our favorites.

The sky got dark and the party kept going.

By the time the night came to an end with sparklers, my flip flops were on and my hair was a disaster.  Humidity and swing dancing will do that to a Yankee.

Cheers to the happy couple, Devon and Patrick!




A weekend with Granny.

There is a list of reasons one mile long on why I love Granny Stroh.

One item on that list is her storytelling.

She tells witty, funny stories about Chris’s dad, Jeff and Jeff’s brother, Alan, as boys growing up in a small town where Grandpa Stroh was a sheriff.  There were some really good short stories not necessarily appropriate for public consumption that I’ll keep to share with our children.

And then there was this one.

Grandpa had arrested a fellow in town and was responsible for transporting the prisoner down south to Canon City, to the big prison there.  I guess because it was the 1950s and rules were a little more relaxed in western towns on the eastern plains of Colorado, Grandpa decided to drive the prisoner to Canon City in the new family DeSoto he and Granny had purchased.  And what with Granny not too busy, she came along for the ride too.  Three and a half hours one way.  One Grandpa, one Granny and one hand-cuffed convict in the back seat.

They stopped once along the way so they could all get a hamburger and use the facilities.  All went well at the restaurant and Grandpa re-cuffed the convict’s hands behind his back.  The trio got back in the Desoto.  They were on the road for a few miles when the trouble began.  Perhaps it was the energy from the hamburger lunch.  Maybe it was just a last-ditch effort to make a break for it.  On a deserted highway, the prisoner started kicking at the front seat in an attempt to knock Grandpa out of control of the vehicle.  Then, he leaned over and started kicking in the direction of Grandpa’s head, much to the horror of Granny.  A scuffle ensued and Grandpa kept driving as the convict wriggled all over the back seat trying to get Grandpa to drive off the road.  Granny panicked as she tried to figure out how to stop the fight.

She thought of smacking the convict with her purse, but was instantly disappointed when she realized she had chosen to wear a straw purse that day — of all days!  She then remembered a giveaway from a sheriffs’ convention a few weeks earlier that was in the glove compartment –  a flashlight!  As Grandpa swerved the DeSoto on the highway and the convict continued to flail from the back seat, Granny reached for the flashlight, gripped it tight and turned around and hit the convict over the head, several times, until he passed out.

She got him good!

When they arrived at Canon City, the convict was groggy but calm and in good health.

Of course, my first question was, “Did Grandpa charge him with assaulting an officer?”

“Oh no,” Granny smiled.  ”But later, the prisoner did write a letter to me and Grandpa thanking us for saving his life.”

People certainly did have good manners back then.

Every moment of our weekend with Granny was a highlight.  From tooling around Tubac to reading and napping in the living room to playing dominoes and drinking Moscow Mules on Saturday night.

She’s so easy to love.

So is that Sonora Desert.

Kinney Road, Tucson

C’s favorite. Saguaro cactus.

My favorite. Tubac.

Just leave me here. I’ll be fine. Really.

Grove after grove in pecan country.

Barn swallows love August in Green Valley.