Summer of the 3 F’s

By Covid Free Jim Dickens

Well it’s been a long while since I posted but that doesn’t mean its been eventless, quite the opposite.  It has been constant planning and doing for the past few months.   Luckily, in the crappy environment of 2020, some of my favorite activities are available.  Hence, I have had a summer of the three F’s, Family, Friends and Fishing.  For this post, I’ll share the family aspect.

Family has increasing complexity as you age until around 50.  When you are born there are only parents and siblings.   Then you get grand parents, then cousins, aunts and uncles.  There is a sea change when you add a spouse and a crew of in laws.  Along with that, you add your own children and their cousins.  It becomes a huge matrix of holidays and birthday events.  Throw in births, weddings, illnesses and funerals and your social card fills up crowding out hobbies and friends.  Unfortunately you lose grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles as you approach and pass 50 so the complexity levels off and I suppose starts to decline at some point.

For me family is foundational and as you plan your calendar family events become anchors that others work around.  So we had five family gatherings over the summer, all outdoors and within pandemic guidelines. Three in the Philadelphia area, one near Santa Cruz and one in central Washington on Lake Chelan.

Girl friends and sons

Given travel restrictions we didn’t break out until June18 and flew to San Francisco where we rented a car and headed to our Airbnb on the beach.  My two son’s and their girlfriends joined us.  The marine layer was thick and we had poor cool weather.  Luckily the area is beautiful and after being apart for months it was great to be together.

We cooked out and enjoyed our deck on the beach every time the sun threatened to break through.  Our son’s and their girlfriends are interesting, humorous and low maintenance.  It made the trip for us.  I went for a morning jog on the misty beach and suddenly ran into a giant male sea lion, big and bear like up close and less scared of us.  We stopped at the Moss Landing slough and saw the playful harbor seals and social sea otter congregations called rafts.  We hiked the Garrapata State Park costal mountain trails south of Monterey.  Steep paths made for a good work out and some nice periods of sun made for spectacular ocean views.

The following weekend 6/26, Lori and I went to Philadelphia to see my brother, his family and my mom and dad. My brother is a 1%er when it comes to golf and we played.  It was his first round in 2020 and despite my many days of 2020 practice, his talent overcame my preparation. Playing golf with him is in my top five.  We also had a nice cook out with my brother’s family and my mom and dad.  Absent was my nephew, his wife and brand new baby who needed to stay safe in crappy 2020. Frequent short concise visits before we wear out our welcome are the ticket.

A couple of weeks later July 15th-21st, Lori and I congregated with Lori’s family on Lake Chelan, Washington for an outdoor reunion.  There were 17 of us from small children to a grand parent. My niece’s fiancé’s family has a large family home with 6 bedrooms and we rented another 4 bedroom house nearby.  The lake is a mile across, 55 miles long and over 1000 feet deep however there are no myths of ancient large monsters in it. It was a fantastic pandemic friendly place to commune.

The Chelan reunion showed off family complexity.  With two houses and people of all ages and interests, the logistics, preparation, and meals were hard work.  Luckily my niece and her fiancé are meticulous planners, hard workers and good cooks.   The deck had 3 different grills including a griddle and a smoker.  The garage had a kegerator of craft beer.   The lake was crystal clear with a dock for swimming and a ski boat.  Nearby we had quality wineries where my niece and her fiancé plan to get married next July. The weather was bright sunshine and 90 dry degrees.  It was an awesome environment.

38 ft Pontoon afternoon

My personal highlights were champagne on the wedding winery patio with the adults.  Hanging with the children in the lake at the dock and swimming 500 yards each morning. Playing drunken chanting giant Jenga after a fine meal on the deck.  Being out fished by my daughter on the dock.  My nephew and I went on an over night adventure to the end of the lake on the edge of the Cascade Mountains and I was almost out fished on the Stahekin river.  My son and I golfed with the fiance’ and a nephew amidst beautiful mountain vistas.  I rented a 38 foot pontoon boat and we got all 17 on board with drinks, snacks and swimming towels.  My sister in law and  a 9 year old were the best captains.

In August, I returned sans Lori to celebrate 6 family birthdays, my parents, my sister Iaw, two nieces and one nephew.  Again my brother hosted a delicious outdoor cook out on his patio.  I got to meet my nephew’s brand new baby.  A niece, aka Copernicus, got out her telescope and showed me the 4 moons of Jupiter.  More amazingly she showed me Saturn and I saw its rings for the first time. My parents, 91 and 89, still live independently. It’s a great blessing to still have quality time with them.  Even though the visits are quick they are highly valued.

The Philly Dickens Frequently Visited

At the beginning of October, Lori and I returned again to Philadelphia.  Seeing my brother and his family is always great.  Lori and my brother have a bad habit of picking on me but I like the attention.  Knowing the number of times we can see my parents in good nick is limited, motivates us to return frequently.  My niece showed Lori the rings of Saturn and Lori was as amazed as I was.  Outdoor space heaters saved the evening.

In between all those family visits, I squeezed in the second F, friends.

Metamorphosis in a Pandemic

By Jim Dickens

I had this two stage vision of retirement where I would physically do stuff until I couldn’t and then I would watch and talk.  I have found it more intricate than that but richer.  It is not a steady decline with constant capability loss.  In fact I found myself gaining here and there, in addition to declines.  The absence of work is only that and you continue on as a human being just like when you were at work.  My focus recently has turned to the world my children will inhabit and my desire to be positive.

Since the beginning of the year, 2020, I have become a vegetarian.  And I plan on continuing.  I have done it for the usual reasons, health, being more humane, and positive environmental impact.  The overarching reason is environmental impact thinking of the future world.  I have seen the biased documentaries like Game Changer and Cowspriacy.  More importantly, I have read scientific materials like MIT Technology Review, Sapiens and Nature.  And I have been involved and in the field with Trout Unlimited.   According to the USGS being a vegetarian will save 50,000 to 100,000 gallons of fresh water per year and lower the amount global warming.  So now as I walk around claiming to care about clean water, I am actually doing something about it.  It makes me feel like a better citizen.  For me it is an easy change as I happen not to wake up dying for a rash of bacon.  It would be harder for me to give up travel and being mean to fish.

In addition to vegetarianism, I have added yoga started running again.  The yoga is beginning yoga for complete beginners but it feels very advanced to me.  Once a week for 30 minutes but it has a positive impact.  Due to worn out knees I stopped running 10 years ago.  But there is nothing like running to build leg strength.  Luckily there are now Hoka One Bondi shoes that are like wearing mattresses on your feet.  They aren’t built for speed but combined with a soft trail I can manage a few miles a couple of times per week.

Additionally, a  couple of walked rounds of golf, a 20 mile bike combined with continued shoulder rehab every week start to shape a healthier lifestyle.  The final planned piece is swimming.  Now with two good shoulders returning to a few thousand yards a week will really help. That will be added by year end.

MIT Technology Review at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 did a prescient and great job sharing insight on the danger of pandemics and how to live longer.  This prepared me to invest well during the pandemic.  I switched from investing for growth to investing for volatility.  In terms of living longer, new medication, emerging gene therapy and fasting research progress are all avenues to adding many productive years to lives.  I choose to fast over pills and gene therapy thinking it would have fewer risks and deleterious side effects.

During the COVID 19 pandemic, I have been very lucky to have an easy to handle situation.  We are not essential workers taking on significant health risk.  We don’t have jobs that potentially will be eliminated. We live in a less dense area with uncrowded large parks, close by golf courses and the ability to take day trips to the Wisconsin Driftless, a fly fishing mecca. Our only health risk is being over 50.

I was contacted by my Los Angeles friend and ex workmate, Dave Boden.  He was working for CORE, a non profit, that was setting up temporary COVID testing sites for first responders and health care workers.  I asked if I could help and received a real request.  I spent 60 hours in 4 days designing sourcing and building plexiglass and PVC tubing barriers to shield volunteers from the tested. Then I got to teach City of Chicago carpenters how to build them.  I was tired and sore afterwards but found the work invigorating and satisfying.  

I spent 12 days in late March and April in the Driftless area.  I learned the terrain and exploring without a guide book. It’s called the Driftless because in the last Ice Age it was the only part of Wisconsin that remained free of glaciers.  When the Ice Age ended it had no glacial flattening of the land and ground up rocks called drift.  The area has rolling hills of old limestone seabed laced with cool spring fed streams that support trout,.  There are over 5000 miles of stream much of it on private land and much of it polluted and devoid of trout.  Learning access points, finding fish and learning how to catch them was really a fun and rewarding challenge.

My sister in law became temporarily disabled for a couple of months.  She needed help with outdoor and yard maintenance.  I went over a half a dozen times to weed, trim, prune and hang lights.  At one point, I was trimming her bushes while a hired crew was trimming mine.  However, I didn’t look at it as trimming bushes but as helping my sister in law.  Again this was very satisfying.  I will now be on the look out for ad hoc opportunities to chip in and help my fellow man.

With the partial reopening the Ridgeline tour has resumed with no hugging or hand shaking.  All bars and restaurants are al fresco.  The new me is back on tour with a mask on.

Banging off the Walls

By Jim “Lazyboy” Dickens

It has been a long time since a post.  After shoulder surgery, I was in a sling for 5 weeks and learned the art of doing not much.   The holidays got me going for a while and I made my last post.   It was painful to type so I stopped.   I have used the pain in my shoulder as a crutch and my shoulder exercises as an excuse. Now with the Covid 19 Pandemic, I am banging off the walls and realizing my folly.

In January, I made it to Oxford, England for Uncle Peter’s memorial service.  As a senior researcher, professor and golf team coach/ manager at Oxford you can imagine we heard some impressive stories and met some cool people.  For example, my uncle’s lab produced people and science that led to the invention of the lithium ion battery and a 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for one of his students, Stanley Whittingham.  Or, my second cousin Priscilla is a medical doctor married to one of the top ten all time rugby players in the world. I decided to enjoy these stories instead of feeling pedestrian being the brother that didn’t earn a Blue in golf at Oxford.

While the passing of my uncle Peter was sad, it was great to connect with many Dickens’ relatives.   At one point, we even had a pub crawl past two in the morning.  With english pub regulations, it’s quite a feat to be included in the post closing party at midnight.  When my brother, Tim, starts talking with his hands above his shoulders nothing surprises me.  

Famous family members including cousins Rosie and Hugh

My cousin Simon, a fellow pub crawler, and I went to have lunch in the Cotswolds with my second cousin and other brother, Colonel Hugh Dickens (retired) of the Royal Lancers and his wife, Zeuss Books editor and horse breeder, Rosie DeCourcy.  Hugh and Rosie have 5 golden retrievers, a perfect black lab, Fiske, and we had lunch at a proper english upscale pub, totally great. Finally, many thanks to my Rome based cousin, Alison, who organized and oversaw a wonderful service and celebration of her father’s life.

So upon returning from England I took a woe is me attitude, binge watching TV, staring at my smart phone and occasionally doing something productive. As opposed to doing a real work out, I would do my shoulder exercises. Wife, Lori, and my physical therapist, Dr. Drew, my son’s Jack’s college roommate, were very forgiving.

Luckily, my wife got me to some warm weather in Scottsdale AZ for a long weekend. We attended our first spring training baseball games and hiked among the Saguaro cactus. We had a happy dinner under the starts with Denise, Darrin and some of their spawn. Friends, Barrett and Susie talked me through a rejuvenating five day fast designed to help us live longer better. Their humor and encouragement were appreciated.

My hiking buddy

I can now swing a golf club and cast a fly rod.  Strength and flexibility are improving with pain declining.  Though, sheltering in place, trips to California, Belize and Mexico have been cancelled with two trips to Florida in May in jeopardy.  New realizations are dawning on me.

I still sleep in late more often.  I catch myself looking at my phone or watching TV instead of reading, writing or speaking something substantial.  What to do for dinner has become a major daily item.  I now understand why some retirees get bored and go back to work.  I get why it seems older people are overly concerned about mundane things.  It’s happening to me.

Fortunately, I know how rewarding doing more with freedom is and going back to work will not happen.  It’s time to get back to great experiences with great people.  And, it will be done with greater appreciation.  Look for another blog post soon on a mild personal metamorphosis in early 2020.  Self pity and banging off the walls is over.

Sheltering in place is driving abnormal behavior

Joy to the World

By Jim Dickens

Now that I have retired, I am often asked, ” So what are you doing?” People want me to have a unifying purpose and something I am trying to accomplish. I think people see me as a little too young to be taking it easy and I should be working at something. So now in answer to questions like that, I tell people that I am bringing joy to the world wherever I go.

In that light, Lori and I hosted 7 parties of 10 or more people in December. Lori and I lost a sister and two uncles this year. It was healing to have family and friends around. In fact, it was downright joyful. We played games, exchanged gifts, had a drink, shared a meal, danced and watched movies together.

Family on Xmas Eve
Steak night: Series A funding

I tried a new party this year, Wine Day, and it blew up in my face. The idea was that as the holiday season was winding down, a highly casual get together might be welcome. Everyone could come bringing the extra bottle of wine and food from previous celebrations. You could hang out watch a game or play a game with no obligation to arrive or stay or do. Everyone was pretty much responsible for their own entertainment and sustenance. It all started out just as planned.

Kitchen dancing breaks out as Wine Day ramps up!

But it did not end as planned. I should point out the party was Wine Day not New Year’s Eve. It started at 2 PM with the idea it would end earlier and an older guy like me could get a good night’s sleep. Well the party did not end earlier and in fact seemed to gain momentum. I hit the hay around 1:30 AM. It was really fun though and we should try again. There’s no need to throw out the baby with the bath water. We need to keep the joy.

Less than three months of shoulder healing to go and the Ridgeline Tour will be back at full speed.

The Spaces In Between

By Jim Dickens

As you get older, your mortality becomes more evident. So time becomes more precious and keeps whizzing bye faster and faster. When you retire, the job no longer occupies the majority of you wakened hours. Learning to occupy your time well is paramount. The spaces in between adventures are now important. One of my favorite space occupiers this year was a day on the river, August 24th.

Daughter Emily (right) and good friend Olivia (left)

As I have said before, great experiences with great people is my best use of time. My daughter living in Cleveland and her ex room mate now from Cincinnati met me at a central point, a boat launch on Indiana’s St. Joseph river. They are great people and we were going fly fishing on a warm sunny day so it would be a great experience.

The pictures say it all. Getting days like this between adventures is marvelous. It’s now a cherished memory.

First Trip to Montana

By Guest Blogger Shelby Neville

Shelby fishing the Gallatin River near Big Sky MT

My first trip to Montana left me with a few lasting impressions. I was lucky enough to have Jim as a host and guide in a place he loves so much. I was excited from the beginning as we headed out in the Ridgeline straight for Yellowstone. What first struck me about Montana, looking out the window as we headed down US-89, was the vastness of it. Not only the open space, but a sense of the history of the land that surrounds you. It’s not often that you can picture a place that dinosaurs walked and native Americans peoples lived and horse and carriages traveled. The ability to picture history happening around you so vividly gives you a perspective on your time in that place. It makes you feel your own insignificance in the grand scheme, and for some reason that awareness is comforting.

My time in Montana also imbued me with an appetite for adventure and a sense of possibility. There are seemingly endless trails to hike and wildlife to see, and each experience made me hungry for more. Seeing how energized Jim was to get up every day and take a jog and start the day’s adventures really inspired me. It was very apparent how renewing a new stage of life in a new place could be. Montana gave me a sense of hope for a time when I might be lucky enough to work on hobbies, enjoy time outdoors and to pursue cultivating a sense of peace and contentment without the pressure of productivity. Montana is a truly unique place, and I can’t wait for my next adventure there.

Shelby, guide and boyfriend Jack Dickens, fall colors on the Gallatin
Ridgeline getting a morning visitor

Coast to Coast to Coast in October

by Jim Dickens

An unusually early and large snowfall in Montana flushed me out at the end of September. The weather was so derelict, I ended up driving 1100 miles from Gillette, WY to Naperville, IL in one day. Arriving scruffy and smelly, a shave, a hot shower and a stay in my home for the first time in a month was very welcome.

Home from Montana after being away for over a month.

However, there were friends and adventures waiting on either side of the country. The first weekend in October saw me off to Philadelphia and New York to visit parents and play in a golf tournament with old fraternity brothers, facilitated as always by our Stackloaf commissioner, Dave Marren.

It was good to be with old friends from back in the day. Many were footballers, wrestlers or rugby players at Bucknell. They had weathered the years well were often below their “playing weight”. A bunch had been to Wall Street during the hay day when volume exploded and traders weren’t electronic. They had also been there when the pits were automated and broker fees and markets crashed. Those tales brought home how innovation can be personal and hugely disruptive from rags to riches and back. It also confirmed my belief that there are lots of talented hard working people out there but luck is a big factor that creates a subset of those who gain great success. We unearthed long forgotten hilarious stories and enjoyed brotherhood. The young guys, my team, prevailed over the old guys. Remember what I said about luck.

The family with the addition of our sons’ great girlfriends

I left the old brothers in New York and joined family and youth in Aptos, California. We stayed a few blocks from the beach and got to see a few after dinner ocean sunsets.

Golf, kayaking, and hiking filled the days and the barbecue, foosball and billiards at the house made for spirited evenings. Lots of knowledge transferred from the young folks to the old folks and I really enjoyed listening to America’s future.

Then time to get back on the plane home for a couple days and then on to Naples, FL, three coasts in three weeks. Lori and I joined my good friends, Roger and Katie, and Roger’s brother and his wife, Pete and Patty, who have also become good friends.

Team Naples at a newly discovered italian restaurant with their owner.

We golfed, relaxed poolside and beachside, and took a rented boat down the intercostal for a day. The team humored me and let me fly fish off the boat for 40 minutes. I managed a small snook on the fly.

So I crammed in all I could going coast to coast to coast before getting my shoulder repaired November 1. The operation was a success; now six months of healing and rehabilitation before I can swing a club.

The shoulder was a put-off repair from a fall in Sun Valley in February. Thanks to a few jars of pain killers I didn’t miss the spring, summer and early fall. Look for a guest blog from my son Jack’s girlfriend, Shelby, with some insight on the last week we spent in Montana.

Bucknell Big Sky Fishing

By guest blogger and big game fisherman Jon Baum

Bucknell crew with guest blogger second from right.

I was an avid reader when I was a kid (still am today). I was a huge fan of Ernest Hemingway; I mean who wasn’t. So naturally I was exposed to the beauty and allure of fly fishing early on as a kid. Those of you who have read Hemingway know it’s a recurring theme in his novels. The way he described fly fishing brought all of the magic of the sport alive to me. So, I started to fly fish as a kid and really loved the sport. My dad took us on many trips to far away streams and rivers in both Canada and the US. I was hooked, so to speak, until my adult life caught up and got in the way. Don’t get me wrong, I am still an active fisherman and have been my entire adult life. But most of what I’ve done has centered around offshore fishing for big game. I really hadn’t gone fly fishing in many years. So, I was really excited when Slim (Jim) contacted me and said a bunch of old buddies were going to be heading to Montana for a fly-fishing expedition. He’d seen all my posts on social media of all the large pelagic fish I’ve been catching over the years, and he tempted me to return to the challenge and simple beauty of throwing a fly into a river in search of the ever-elusive trout. 

I will admit I was nervous to pick up where I’d left off, after all it had been decades since I tried my hand at fly fishing. But I bit the bullet and met the challenge and headed to Big Sky country to meet my friends in late September. Boy am I glad I went. As I floated down the Madison and Yellowstone rivers, I was reminded of all I had missed. The beauty of the landscape, the stillness of the moment and the rush of the crystal-clear waters. While I still love the thrill of targeting the massively large predators I fish for on the ocean on a regular basis, I forgot just how much a thrill it is to have an 18-inch trout rise to your fly. But fly fishing is so much more than that. Matching the hatch, tying the knots, communing with your guides, perfecting your cast and basking in the awesome solitude that is the majestic fishing haunts of our beautiful country. That is what fly fishing is really about. All of it is easily as satisfying and fun as actually landing the fish. Spending hours with my comrades, reliving stories from almost 40 years of friendship, cooking meals and sitting around the fire…that is what it is all about. Who knows what the future holds, but I can tell you honestly, my trip to Montana to fish the Yellowstone and Madison rivers are now a special memory. A memory that I will always look back on and smile. It was a special trip, and, in the end, it has reignited the passion I have for standing waist deep in a chilly river and hoping the fish will rise up to meet me. 

Floating the Yellowstone. Above: Scoop with a Brown and Girds embracing being a rookie.
Story telling campfire ready

Waltstock

by Jim Dickens

Three Sisters Ranch home to Waltstock

One thing about getting old is considering whether you will ever get the chance and be able to do something ever again. That came into play at Waltstock this year. At 58, how many more times will you ride a dirt bike up a boulder strewn mountain?

My great friend, Pete with the cozy Big Sky home, and my other great friend, Pete who is the best fly fisherman I know, are good friends with Walt who owns a cool ranch in the Big Lost Valley of Idaho. Every September, Walt invites a group to his ranch for fly fishing, horse riding and socializing. I have become a regular attendee over the past several years. This year the group included some talented musicians so the get together was dubbed Waltstock.

The Pete’s (Best fly fisherman on the right)

Every evening after dinner, the group dons cowboy hats and socializes under the stars around a large campfire. Guitars, mandolins, keyboard and harmonicas are manned by the musicians and various percussion instruments are given to the inept to keep them occupied. Pete, the best fisherman, is among the musicians and has a new album on Spotify, “Better Late than Never by Peter Perkins”. It’s easy to listen to and very professionally done so check it out.

Campfire pre concert

At one of these campfires, Idaho Wildlife manager and mountain of a man, Pat, suggested we ride motorcycles to catch some rare trout species in high alpine lakes. Pete, Big Sky house owner, another, Scott, and I agreed it sounded like an exciting expedition. And when would I get a chance like this again? Probably never!

Unloading cycles at trail head

So Pat gathered 3 motorcycles and loaded them into his giant Doge Ram Hemi pickup. I would drive the pick up to the trail head and he would ride the fourth motorcycle there. It was a challenge to take a six speed manual up 20 miles of mountainous dirt road with over a 1000 pounds of dirt bikes in the back. But it certainly wasn’t as challenging as actually riding the motorcycles.

Well, we greatly underestimated the difficulty of riding up to the lakes. The trail was steep, switchbacked and boulder strewn. Pat, an expert rider, spent his time getting us beginners up the mountain. He helped us right and position our bikes as we went down multiple times. It took all my childhood motorcycle riding experience and all my focus and still there were terrifying moments. Pete and Scott were without experience so I can’t imaging what they went through. Eventually I came around a turn and saw Pete lying still in the middle of the trail.

It seemed odd that there was no motorcycle just Pete lying still. But no limbs were bent in the wrong direction and eventually Pete began to stir. I then spotted Pete’s cycle higher up a switchback. Pete had high sided and fallen 10 to 20 feet down knocking the wind out of himself, bruising shoulder and hip, and cracking a couple of ribs. Pete toughly gritted out getting to the lakes and getting down the hill but could not fish.

On the way back, I managed to get a flat tire on the pick up and unwittingly drove on it until it was shredded. Pat ended up having to change a tire in the middle of nowhere. He had a long day taking care of us tenderfoots. We got a little too far outside our comfort zones. However, my son Chris says, if you never missed a flight you have spent too much time waiting in airports. So I don’t regret our decision.

With 20 excellent people having the time of their lives at the beautiful Three Sisters Ranch, the experience is unique. I anxiously look forward to it every year.

Illinois Pioneers

Guest Bloggers: Cris Kenny and Lori Dickens

Napervilians on Buck Trail Ridge

My name is Cris Kenny.  Jim asked me to write a blog post about our recent trip to Montana.  The trip included best friends since 6th grade, Lori, Denise and myself including our husbands Jim Darrin and Ron.  

Many songs have been written over the years to tell a story.  During this trip, one of our favorite things to do after each day’s action-packed adventure was to lounge about Pete’s cozy cabin. We would sing along with requested favorite songs (most often from the seventies), on Spotify, managed by D.J. Jim.  We would like to attempt to use some of those songs to tell our story.

Our first Big Sky adventure was to the Gallitin National Forest.  We were definitely not Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay (Otis Redding) when we went fly fishing on the Madison River.  Each couple had a boat and guide and competed to catch more fish than the master fisherman, Jim Dickens.  At the end of the day, Jim got 20 plus while the rest of us caught 2-5.  The winding river and vast vistas more than made up for our paltry catch. After a long day we worked up a “Big Sky” hunger and thirst and headed to the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill where Jim touted the best $7 Fried Chicken dinner we would ever have.  Nobody got the chicken but Jim. We all Drank Another Beer (Luke Bryant) and became best friends with our waiter Sean.

Our next full day found us driving The Long and Winding Road (The Beatles) in our ATV’s up Buck Ridge Trail. The trails were definitely windy and bumpy.  Once again, Big Sky did not disappoint. The views were incredible including the sighting of a black bear running through a meadow.  We wrapped up the night at Olive B’s where we dined on local delicacies including bison (fresh off the range).

Speaking of bison, our third and final day was spent In a Daydream (Freddie Jones Band) meandering through Yellowstone National Park.  Soon after entering the park, we came eye to eye with a big bull bison walking down the road causing a massive traffic jam behind him. While we couldn’t miss a visit to the iconic Old Faithful, we all marveled at the beauty and grandeur of Artist Point, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  Our newer visitors were surprised and impressed with the piping hot geothermal pools.  We saw some of the best Yellowstone had to offer, but all agreed another visit would definitely be in our future.  We headed back to Big Sky and decided to finish our trip at the Gallitin Riverhouse Grill where they serve the best $7 chicken.  Jim was the only one who got the chicken . . . again.

We ended the night back at Pete’s cozy cabin snuggled up to each other making our requests of our favorite songs to D.J. Jim and realizing, Life’s Been Good To Us So Far (Joe Walsh).