Monday, August 7, 2017

of Livingston Montana and Married Life

And as if by magic (or Delta Airlines) we were transported from 96 degrees and humidity of the same at sea level, to the land of the arid mountains and smoky air at 4,200 feet.

We departed Tallahassee, Florida arriving to Salt Lake late at night their time and early in the morning our time.  We arrived to the downtown Hilton hotel, tired as can be and slept soundly till 8 a.m.  EST.  We arose and had a bite in the Hilton Executive Lounge, then strode off to pick up our rental vehicle.  Alas, the reservation was made for the day before we arrived, and now the same vehicle would cost six times as much.  Avis prices were crazy, and I am an Avis Wizard Member!!!

Upstairs to hit to see if they could save us.  And even more magic happened.  We got a Nissan four door truck for $200 less than our original reservation!  Thanks Budget!  After a forty five minute wait, we were off to the Hilton to retrieve our bags and start the drive to Livingston, Montana.

The google maps said a mere 6 and 1/2 hour drive through Utah and Idaho, then over to Montana.  The time frame did not include rest breaks or food breaks or road maintenance. The actual trip was closer to 8 hours.  Most of it was through valleys that paralleled rivers, or maybe, the roads were built next to the rivers... don't know the answer.  But, it is serious agricultural land.
 Cows, corn and silos everywhere.  Potatoes growing in neat rows, greenery a nice break from the dry mountains above.  The fires burning in several states make the view a smoky red color.  Still, it was a pleasant drive, rich in color and so different from where we live.

We finally arrived in Bozeman thinking we were close.  Close is never close enough on the last leg.  Livingston was yet another 30 minutes.  We arrived to a pleasant AirBnb accommodation, which had everything we needed.  We settled in, then walked the main drag in search of food.  We settled on a Mexican restaurant, which was not really what we needed after sitting all day, but it was easy and we were tired.

Up the next day and off to the fly fishing event.  The Flyfishers were gathering for the annual event.  The local high school provided the venue.  The rooms were afloat with Columbia shirts and Simms hats.  The land of sensible shoes and comfortable pants.  Fly rods bobbed in every back pack as people wandered in and out of the lobby.  We had registered for a couple of classes.  Mine was a casting class, learning the basics of the roll cast.  Must say the gals (and Frank) in my group were pretty good.  The instructor was very experienced and she kept things simple to make practice easier.  I was particularly good at the side cast, which is handy in Florida.  I enjoyed the time.  It is a lot standing and casting, but once you get something right, you get a little smug.  Casting on grass, and no fish in sight, you can sort of huff and puff about what might have been!

Class over, it was time for lunch and a big Montana nap.  The Fish Fest Hoot was the entertainment of the evening and the music was fun, the weather fine and the crowd very relaxed.

We sipped wine and beer, ate smoked trout and lamb, and swayed to the music in the street.  We also bought new boots and waders for me!  Dan Bailey was fab and my new boots were only $25!  Many a fly fishers dream, I might add.  I also got killer waders for less than $70 bucks.  Thanks to you Dan!

Next morning cooking class was the order of the day.  We got up and slipped out to Gil's to grab a pastry and coffee.  Hurried to class, as to not be late.  However, shouldn't have done so, as the instructor did not arrive for another half hour and then didn't start for another.  He was a large cowboy looking type with a well worn hat, a big mustache and a large belly.  He was teaching dutch oven cooking with charcoal, a camp style cooking.  He promised peach cobbler and cowboy eggs.

He read his instructions in a very deep voice, with authority they way one might talk when narrating a movie.  The recipes were all simple and he had the ingredients with him.  Well, most of them.  After reviewing the process, we all donned aprons and proceeded to begin the chores.  He insisted all eyes be on him, and all hands be on deck for prep work.  Coals in the chimney for warming, we proceeded to cut onions and beat eggs.  He forgot the peppers, so he had to leave us and the group of eight began chopping and beating eggs.

Then, he had everyone gather round him to take a bite of the same peach.  I did so, but very reluctantly.  Fortunately, I was  second.  He handed out peaches and we began cutting them for the oven.  There is a short distraction as the coals are poured onto the flat grill bed.   Butter slicing resumes and the mix is put on the peaches.  The butter was not to his liking so he took over placing the butter on the mixture.  The recipe would take 45 minutes and all of that would be listening to him regale us with his prowess in canning, smoking and bar b queuing.  My best take away was how little charcoal it takes to make a cobbler.  The heavy cast iron dutch oven with legs is a mighty grilling tool.  To be able to make desert at the same time as ribs, is simply freeing.   A very valuable lesson indeed.  Luckily, the class over, I found the little park where we assembled to be charming.

A very pleasant ending to a very different kind of morning!