A few days after I graduated from high school this past May, I was whisked off to join my family for a rare, completely present nuclear family vacation (plus Grandma + Phillip) in Montana.
At my boarding school in cold, cold Ohio, not once during the three winters I spent there did we have a single snow day. I learned to appreciate and look forward to the warm springs on our very green campus when it wasn’t blanketed in white. So imagine my disappointment in leaving the finally warm state, diploma and freedom in hand- going to Montana to face my dreaded enemy yet again.
Since I stayed behind to attend some graduation parties and say a few goodbyes, my family had already been in Montana for a couple days. After Emily and Phillip picked me up at the adorable, log-cabin themed airport in Bozeman, we drove past countless ranches and cabins to the middle of seemingly nowhere.
(spoiler: an adorable giggling Grandma at the end of the rainbow)
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Despite my initial reservations about this trip (I can’t stress how much I wanted to get away from the cold), they went away as soon as I saw the house. It was a comforting kind of isolating and I was glad we had it all to ourselves for a few days.
The views were by far the best part about our seclusion.
Lots of taxidermy.
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Pray is a little place about an hour above Yellowstone in an area known as Paradise Valley set against the backdrop of those famous Montana mountains. It also hosts the freshest air I’ve ever breathed in my life.
Also, we rode horses! It was a total shit show in typical Wang family fashion with honorary mention Philip.
We got off to a rocky start because Philip was carrying around a GoPro camera mounted on a stick (a GoPole). While attempting to take a selfie by completely extending the GoPro, his horse, Frank the Tank, got spooked. This snaky looking object came down from above his head and he shot forward down the hill. Philip, still holding onto the pole above his head, attempted to hold on to the horse with his other hand. Sort of like he was Yeehaw-ing…but no.
Dad’s horse would not stop peeing. It was really shocking how much it was holding in. Then the rest of our horses proceeded to trek through it.
Later, we went to Chico Hot Springs to have a soak. The resort was only a 5 minute drive from our little cabin, or a 45 minute hike. The natural mineral water flows into two pool areas, the larger one reaching temperatures around 96° Fahrenheit and the smaller one reaching around 103°.
You can really see the GoPole getting some use in the following pictures, proving that it’s worth for something other than spooking horses.
This was a really great family getaway, and Montana is chock-full of natural beauty. I would have to say that the key to its success was that we rented such a great vacation home. Emily found the place off of vrbo.com, or “vacation rental by owner”.
The location was perfect: remote, but accessible from the Bozeman airport (an hour and a half hour away) with the Wyoming border/Yellowstone an hour to the south. The owner was really great to work with, the place- charming and clean. They even left a guide to local sights and restaurants. My grandma also left her leather jacket in a drawer, which she mourned over for several weeks until the owner kindly offered to mail it over to us.
If you’re interested, the listing is here.
Also, if you have more than 5 people, get a suburban. Our car was the perfect size to climb over the rough terrains in Montana and Yellowstone, and was perfectly roomy inside.