Rejuvenation in a Lookout

“And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.” -John Muir

We needed a break. Just a short, little break. From work, from schedules, from things to do, and expectations. To check out. To be completely alone and think of nothing but trees and mountains and sky. To reconnect and disconnect and unwind. To have only one purpose…relaxation.

To achieve that we locked ourselves in a fire tower in Montana. 40 feet off the ground.

And it was perfect.

Have you ever been at that point? Where work stress and life stress and overall busy-ness just seems to be piling up? Mind you, nothing completely life altering was going on for either of us. Some changes in both our jobs that were occupying our minds, Derek’s intensive training schedule, my overly Type A brain, but nothing completely overwhelming or difficult. And although we’d booked our stay in the Up Up Lookout six months prior, it seemed to be the perfect trip that just happened to be at the right time to just hide away and feel restored.

We made our way to Missoula, MT Thursday afternoon and got in with enough time to enjoy some food and a cold beer at Desperado Sports Tavern, a rugged bar known for their chicken wings which we gladly ordered. We then moved over to Myrtle Street Taphouse (an alternate location for Kettlehouse Brewing that is way less touristy than their downtown location) were I ordered a flight of beers to try. Something I always look forward to whenever we leave Utah. We walked around the Main Street/Downtown area to enjoy the sites and make stops at Charlie B’s and Plonk for a nightcap or two. The following morning we had an incredibly delicious breakfast and coffee at Market on Front. It was a cool and overcast day, which made it nice to walk along the riverfront and check out some of the shops. We made a final stop at Imagine Nation Brewing to taste what they had on tap and enjoy their beautiful patio before packing up and driving the rest of the way to the lookout.IMG_E5604IMG_E5614IMG_E5573IMG_5576IMG_5608IMG_5619IMG_5633IMG_5634IMG_5635IMG_5668To rent a lookout you kind of have to be on the lookout (pun intended) or at least I had to. You have to rent the more popular lookouts through the National Forest Service several months in advance as they fill up quickly. Derek decided late last year that he wanted to stay in a lookout for his birthday which was in March, but the lookouts are closed then. So I booked our stay for this July last December. Up Up lookout is about two hours outside of Missoula in the Lolo National Forest. The Forest Service gives you a code to access a gate 3 miles from the tower and a lock that lets you in to the tower itself. We arrived at the tower after seeing a bear on the drive in and began making the trek 40 feet up over 3 flights of steep stairs multiple time to unload all our belongings and settle in for the weekend. There was a pulley system that helped.IMG_9408IMG_9407IMG_5677IMG_5705IMG_5709We had decided previously that this weekend would have no agenda. Although there was much to explore around us, we both wanted to get the most of our time in the tower. So the plan was to stay in. Which is rare of us, but was a nice change. The views were spectacular and the place itself is cozy, not a bad place to lock yourself away for weekend. The tower is equipped with a twin bed, a table, a lot of cabinet space, gas lamps, and map at the center. No stove, no water, and the toilet is 40 feet below at the base. We stocked up on food we could cook over a camp stove and a lot local beer to get us through the weekend. We passed the time looking for animals, playing cards, talking, napping, and just looking out the windows. We enjoyed summer rain storms and bright sunsets over the mountains. It was light until almost 11pm which gave us plenty of time to enjoy the day.IMG_9477IMG_9474IMG_9473IMG_9452IMG_9419IMG_9436IMG_9377IMG_9400IMG_9384IMG_9403IMG_5716IMG_5733IMG_5785IMG_5799IMG_5744IMG_9397IMG_5724IMG_5696Sunday came too quickly and before we knew it we were packing up and saying good-bye to our peaceful mountain tower. I was sad to see the trip end, but we decided we would make it a yearly event and plan to be at Up Up next summer.IMG_9458IMG_9476IMG_9472IMG_9389IMG_2871IMG_5727

 

 

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Road-tripping through Canada

After a two week road trip through Canada, I am attempting to re-adjust to real life. I love vacation life. I think I could live in vacation life forever.

We got to see and do so much during our journey through the Great White North. We spent the first day in Missoula, MT and then drove through Glacier National Park on the Going to the Sun Road. We crossed into Canada and camped for the night at Payne Lake. The next few days were filled with exploring Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, Yoho, and the Canadian Glacier National Park. We drove the Icefields Parkway for a day and made various stops along the way to marvel at the scenery. Lake Louise and Moraine Lake took up another day. We then headed towards Vancouver with a stop in Kelowna, Canadian wine country in the Okanagan valley. Who knew Canada had a wine country? And a spectacular one at that. We stopped at Quail Ridge and did a tour of Mission Hills winery. Both vineyards overlook the massive Okanagan Lake. Picturesque is an understatement. We spent a few days in Vancouver, staying at a little Airbnb in Kitsilano near the beach. We ate sushi, ran through Stanley Park, tried poutine, checked out the Grouse Grind, walked across the Capilano suspension bridge, and stopped at several breweries. Our final few days in Canada were on Vancouver island. We did a kayaking trip in Telegraph Cove. We saw dolphins, bald eagles, and lots of jellyfish. One of the highlights for me was staying at the Free Spirit Spheres, these large hanging ball shaped tree houses. We spent a night in the Melody sphere, which was pretty amazing. Our last day in Canada we spent in Victoria before taking the ferry back to the U.S. We spent a day in Olympic National Park with stops at Ruby beach and the Hoh Rainforest. The final day of our vacation we explored Seattle, WA. We went to Pike Market, the Woodland Park Zoo, multiple breweries, Fremont street and the Fremont troll, the Ballard Locks, and ate delicious Thai food in Capitol Hill.

It was 15 days packed full of adventure and fun! Although we saw a ton, this was definitely just a taste of all the amazing things Canada has to offer.

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