It took a marathon drive to arrive at our Christmas destination this year. On Thursday, we picked up the kids (except Christian, who was at home because of a low-grade fever he woke with) from their school Christmas party, and were on the road by 5:00 pm. With the help of my dad, who was traveling with us, we were able to drive through the night with only bathroom, gas, and snack breaks. The roads were perfectly clear, and the mountains of Montana came into view just as the sun was rising.
We made it to my sister Jenna's house about 3 pm on Friday. Jenna and her husband have been building a new house for two years (while staying first in a large shed with living quarters, and then in a small camper trailer). They finished it just in time for our visit. The final result was worth the wait. They designed and built most of the house themselves, and it really is a Montana dream home. The 27-foot ceiling in the living room is a bank of windows overlooking a river. The Christmas tree they cut this year was 24 feet!
After oohing and ahhing over the house for awhile, my parents, Jenna and I went to hear some Christmas music. Jenna knew all of the musicians. One of the violinists, who was a former member of the Seattle Symphony, was my niece Elsie's violin teacher. Another was a semi-retired music producer who produced records for the likes of Johnny Cash and many others. Quite a lot of talent for a town with fewer than 300 residents. We realized later that this was the first time just the four of us have been anywhere together since 1994. Even though I look a little bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, it was a lovely evening.