When planning our summer road trip this year I had grand plans of an RV packed with kids visiting multiple national parks, including Glacier National Park in Montana. It was going to be amazing, but it didn’t end up happening. We were invited to Lake Powell and instead of loading up kids, we parked it on a houseboat for a week. But the pull to travel to Montana was strong because my grandma was turning 99 this summer and 4 of my 5 kids had not met her. My kids pray for this woman on a daily basis and they didn’t know her. I was determined to get them all up there this summer and then prayed that she would live long enough to meet them. (She is more frail than ever and every health scare makes me hold my breath)

After Lake Powell, I made the six hour drive up to northern Utah and stayed with my brother for a couple nights. We then caravanned the 7 hours up to Missoula. We rented a little cabin in the middle of nowhere which just so happened to be just a few miles from my grandma who lives outside of Missoula.

Our time was short – shorter than I had originally planned. But my kids were able to spend some time with her, I was able to say hello and goodbye one more time and we were able to celebrate 99 years of living. There is something uniquely special about spending time with someone towards the end of their life. Even though her memory is gone and her hearing is failing, I can hold her hand and feel of her love.

She has years of experience and wisdom and interests and yet is confined by her physical abilities at this point. We took her outside in her wheelchair to take some pictures one afternoon and as we were getting ready to take her back inside, we asked if she would prefer to sit outside for a bit. She recognized the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and chose to stay outside. She’s a woman familiar with the outdoors and I’m sure marveled at the beautiful flowers and hummingbirds that afternoon.

Our four generation photo – Now and then!

It would be impossible for me to travel all the way to Missoula and not take the kids to my favorite carousel. If you ever find yourself in this part of the country, you need to pay a visit. Read up about how it came to be and the history behind it – it’s quite interesting. However, for the kids nothing is as interesting as the coveted gold ring. They fight for the horses on the edge so they can have a shot at pulling rings from the dragon’s mouth in hopes of grabbing the last ring from the mouth which is gold. (I wish they could keep the ring, but instead they give it back and get a free ride in exchange – don’t worry, we bought a gold ring from the gift shop!) Twenty dollars bought us more rides than we needed and even at the end I was pulling kids off!

Bennett had his shot at grabbing the ring but his horse was on it’s way down and his arms just weren’t quite long enough.

Hunter snagged the gold ring on his very last ride (which consequently then became his second to last ride!) riding my very favorite horse – I love it in all is patriotic glory.

The kids found my grandpa’s name, purchased in his honor, outside the carousel.

Steve thought I was crazy driving so many hours on my own for such a short visit. But I got out of it exactly what I was hoping for – worth every hour of crying kids in the car. I’m just mad I didn’t go just a little further north to Glacier. My kids are confident there will be a 100th birthday and if that’s the case, we will be there, and Glacier will be there as well!