Ms. Montana and Ellen

Ms. Montana invited us to kick off a new guest post series on her site featuring people who have done a mini-retirement or a flexible life option. I feel our story easily falls into at least the second category so I happily agreed.

But wait, why did Ms. Montana invite us? It beats me, but it certainly wasn’t because of this website.

I discovered Ms. Montana’s blog through her guest post over at 1500 Days and I was hooked. I read several articles then I didn’t just subscribe to her site, I immediately added her site to my select ‘Favorites’ folder in Feedly and haven’t missed a post since.

Since I knew our road trip for our 10 year anniversary was going to be taking us through Montana in August, I considered reaching out to her. I quickly dismissed the idea though because I know Montana is a big place. English people like to joke about Americans always assuming they know everyone in England. I didn’t want to be the Montana version of that guy.

“Ooooh, you sound English. How posh. Say chap, do you know my Uncle Dwight, perchance?”

“Hey, Ms. Montana! I’m going to be in Montana too! We should meet up.”

Instead, I just dismissed the idea of trying to meet up with her altogether.

Fast forward to July.

I was perusing the Rockstar Finance Directory trying to determine what I would or wouldn’t be ok with sharing (net worth or not, city or not, etc.) and I decided to review other bloggers’ profiles. Ms. Montana’s profile said she lived in the Flathead Valley. I had somehow missed that even though she shares that on her own site as well.

Wait a second! Not only was I going to be in the Flathead Valley, we were planning to spend several days there meeting up with some of our closest friends! Our friends Chad & Emily were doing a month-long house sit in the area and we had planned to meet up with them and get in some joint camping time.

I reached out for Ms. Montana about it in early July but didn’t get a response. I quickly realized the whole thing may have sounded a bit creepy. Still, as our 3-week long road trip took us into Montana, I decided to reach out one more time. This time, I promptly heard back!

Sorry, I never saw your other email, apparently, it was buried in my spam folder! I’m so glad you opted to send another one! After a month of remodeling, we have dubbed this the week of fun. =)

We agreed to meet up at our campground so our kids could play together in the lake while we visited. I wanted to give Jillian and her husband my undivided attention, but I kept finding myself obsessively counting and recounting all of our kids. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. No sooner than I checked on the seventh one, it felt like about the right time to check on the first one again. Even with my shepherding tendencies, we all had a great time. Here are a couple photos that our friend Emily took while we were all hanging out.

Photo credit: Emily Picha

Photo credit: Emily Picha

Photo credit: Emily Picha

Photo credit: Emily Picha

Afterwards, Ms. Montana invited us over to their house for dinner. Their family had just picked 60 pounds of cherries at one of the many nearby cherry orchards for $1 per pound. So Jillian treated us all to delicious cherry pancakes for dinner. Did I say delicious? They were every bit as good as you’re imagining.

Once again we all talked while the kids played but away from the lake I was freed of my compulsive need to count and recount children. I settled into a nice conversation with Adam in the backyard while Ellen and Jillian talked inside.

Once the pancakes were ready, we all reconvened at a large picnic table in their backyard, with beautiful mountain views in the background. The weather couldn’t have been more cooperative and I quickly understood why they decided to call the Flathead Valley home.

If you haven’t already, go check out our guest post over at Montana Money Adventures. In my next post, I’ll do my best to summarize the mind-blowing craziness that was FinCon.

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