Sunday, July 15, 2012

Montana, Mountains and Mud

A quick weekend trip to Montana would clinch our 44th state, but it would be one exhausting, crazy and fun weekend!

We arrived late Thursday night (Friday morning almost). Got up early and began with an early morning, 2-hour drive from Billings to Bozeman. Montana countryside is really quite breathtaking - wide open areas, green fields and mountains looming in the background. Bozeman is so quaint and looks just like a ski town should, loaded with boutiques, great restaurants, craft beer and sports-minded stores. After finding a great little Terry cycling dress for 40% off, we settled on lunch at MacKenzie River Pizza Company. I had the Bozeman Honey Ale using local Montana honey and it was simply delicious and the pizza was outstanding! All four of us rated this place two thumbs up!

After enjoying Bozeman, we headed an hour south to Yellowstone to see the geysers. Such an amazing site - we are very fortunate to have so many wonderful, and protected, national parks.

The drive from Yellowstone back to Billings was pure hell though. Greg had read the map and thought he was routing us the shortest, more efficient distance. Instead it was full of incredible altitude, narrow lanes, harrowing switchbacks and a moment of me melting down that I had had enough - 4 hours of cliffside driving with no guardrails was too much for me!

We finally made it back to Billings for a late dinner at the Montana Brewing Company and, let me tell you, I was thrilled with a beer and their yummy sweet potato fries.

Then, pouf! Race day was here. We were scheduled for a 10:00am start, but still needed to get our packets. The race start was at the Metrapark and the location would not disappoint. We had no idea what to expect and were so impressed with many levels of challenges!

Each race wave had about 100 people (including our wave) racing around the track. About a quarter mile in, we would face our first challenge - a series of 4 hay stacks about 4-4.5 feet tall. It was comical to see how unladylike I was scaling these big-ass bales of hay! Phew-glad that challenge was completed. And wow did I get a lot of haystack-related scratches! Ouch!

We then ran in and out of 4H stalls greeted by two separate large nets which required us to crawl under. If you had allergies, I hope you took your Claritin. Horse hair and hay were abundant.

Next up, our first mud hole! We had to shimmy Navy Seal style under a series of huge pipes, then crawl out of the mud while trying to keep our shoes on. About 40 feet outside of this mud pit was a giant slip n slide. We had to take a running start then drop down sliding head first to the bottom. Awesome!

We had about another quarter mile before another mud challenge. We had to crawl through giant sewer pipes, then crawl out of the mud pit. But guess what?! We had another set waiting us about 100 yards away!

Around the bend, just when you gained a little bit of speed and started to enjoy being vertical, we had to climb three sets of four foot walls that we had to heave ourselves over. With my arm strength, this would be tough in grass, but became further difficult in ankle-deep mud. Greg propped me up for the first one, I crawled under the second one after seeing several girls doing the same (huge mistake because mud would invade every part of my body), then Greg offered his knee again for me to scale the last one. Thank goodness Greg had enough arm strength to propel himself over because I was of no help on this challenge!

We couldn't see what was waiting for us on the next challenge, but saw people slowing down. Uh oh, not a good sign. We first had to wade through hip-deep muddy water with goodness only knows what swimming around us while we waited for the next challenge. Holy crap! The next challenge required us to climb up a wall with a knotted rope, flip our bodies over the wall, then scale down. Uhm, I'm not a fan of heights and was not happy that this wall was about 10 feet! Greg climbed right over with the excitement of a 12-year-old boy. I began climbing to the top, then reconsidered this craziness. I came back down and said I couldn't do it. Oh man, there was a fence between the climb and no way to get out of doing this obstacle. I manned up, climbed up the wall, and with Greg's coaching, I slung my body over with all the clumsiness of an ox, and shimmied down. And wouldn't you know it, there was another wall with ropes awaiting us. Sigh...but I did it.

On to the next challenge - monkey bars with water shooting out so that you couldn't possibly get across with the bars being wet and your hands muddy, but it was so funny to try! The next challenge was perhaps my favorite. It was the Natty Light station. Yep, we had to down a can of Natural Light, then move on to the hurdles. I have to admit I liked that Greg said I hopped over these light a ninja. It had to be the magical powers of Natty Light!

Our final "big" challenge was climbing a rope net, flipping our bodies over and climbing back down. The first set was about 8-10 feet tall. The second set was probably 14-16 feet high. Thank goodness I had been rock climbing a couple months ago or I would have never been brave enough to do this one!

Finally, we encountered the last mud pit as we were closing in on an hour of running and obstacle challenges. The kids got to throw water balloons at us and I couldn't believe how much giggling I heard from both Bridget and Megan! Up and over a little mud hill and back into the final mud pit, then we crossed the finish line. And that, boys and girls, is how we finished our 44th state. And the above picture will be going on our mantel as our 8th Anniversary picture as it was my present from Greg. Love how droppy our shirts are from being filling and soaked with mud!

And Meg, who has ALWAYS love mud, jumped in, too!

But Bridget refused to get muddy. She said she was a girly girl and mud was not going to happen!

What a whirlwind of a weekend enjoying Montana, mountains and mud!


  1. man that sounds like a tough course!! But it sounds like a blast. Your post made me want to see Montana even more than I already did, which was a lot. Only 6 states to go!

  2. 44 states! holy cow you guys have been busy! i miss you and can't believe Meg is already in college!