Montana Is a Pretty Place + Tuesday Links

 montana beauty, helena hike

montana beauty, helena hike

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

I'm coming to the end of a journey through this new, beautiful, big skyed state and I can't help but look back with a pinch of curious regret. Did I buy enough copper earrings? How many hikes did I not have time to do? Is it possible to be sent a baby mountain goat by mail, since I didn't get to see any on my trip!? 

I can honestly say Montana was not pinned on the adventure map I keep in my room with rainbow colored pins of all of the places I want to go (fun fact: this pin board only exists in my mind). I had never given it a second thought, really. The Canada-bordering states that haven't had lots of hipster-related press sort of slipped under the radar of my awareness. When we dropped into Great Falls, on our way to Helena, I found myself surrounded by huge mountains, sky spread out in an unthinkably large blue sheet above my head and pressing out towards infinite horizons. I realized I had never had a single question about Montana. And so my brain configured at least twenty within a five minute period to make up for lost time. What do people do in Montana? Is it a desert? Does it snow? What kind of flowers grow here? What's it known for? Do Native Americans live here still? And on and on and on, like a little kid.

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana-beauty-byrd-2014-7372

montana-beauty-byrd-2014-7372

 montana-beauty-byrd-2014-7376

montana-beauty-byrd-2014-7376

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

On another note, I feel like I never stop eating when I'm traveling away from home. There are just soooo many things to eat: new foods and old-standards that require "quality checking" so as to see how they measure up to home. Montana isn't what one might call a "food mecca" -- unless you're trying to eat wild game and fish -- but it has its pleasures just like any place. Beer is huge here, as are cherries and huckleberries and everything that can be made with them. Folks are into their coffee too, which I fantasize has something to do with the cold Winters the first adventurers and treasure hunters endured on their long-ago journeys. Coffee is the best portable luxury you can take with you to a damn cold place.

Here's what I did in Montana, in numbers:

Read four books (working on the fourth now).

Ate one pound of cherries.

Collected fifteen tiny blueish huckleberries (they're really hard to find and forage out in the wild and the season is sadly at an end, as Fall approaches much more quickly there than on the East Coast).

Drove 800 miles to and through Glacier National State Park (more like rode, as Logan's dad did the driving).

Floated along one glacier fed lake in a little wooden boat straight out of a Wes Anderson movie.

Drank at least 10 gluten free beers (Montanans are so on the ball about gluten free awareness!).

Slept in two different wooden cabins surrounded by pine trees.

Borrowed 5 items of Winter clothing from my (almost) sister-in-law to combat the unusually rainy, wet, cold late-Summer weather.

Made one giant pot of chili that fed us for two days, 15 hummus-stuffed zucchini blossoms, one batch of kefir cornbread (recipe soon I promise), and two giant green salads. And that was the extent of my cooking, this trip. Too much traveling for kitchen wizardry.

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana beauty | will frolic for food

montana beauty | will frolic for food

 montana-beauty-byrd-2014-7577

montana-beauty-byrd-2014-7577

 montana-beauty-byrd-2014-7580

montana-beauty-byrd-2014-7580

 montana-beauty-byrd-2014-7585

montana-beauty-byrd-2014-7585

 (Dirty hair, don't care)

Now on to rad links!

Logan and I have been gorging on figs since they're so much cheaper in Montana! So these Chai Spiced Coconut Fig Popsicles are even sexier than they might be otherwise right now. Of course, I'll have to make them for band practice because birdman haaaaates popsicles. And our banjo player is oddly a HUGE popsicle fan.

I know what this Sunday's brunch is going to look like: this heirloom tomato harissa bloody mary, avo toast with cilantro lime cashew cream, and millet baked with berries, spices, and nuts.

Berry shortcakes are gonna be my new go-to dessert through my birthday (september 18th!).

Speaking of birthdays, how do I convince my myriad friends to make me tomato galettes and miso basil eggplant with never ending pitchers of peach/plum bubble tea for my 25th? (Or maybe we'll just order pizza for a crowd and pop some sparkly white wine...)

And then I can eat a massive bowl of warm puy lentils with spiced cavolo nero to combat the inevitable hangover the next day (topped with an egg... or three).

<3