All right, kids. Fasten your seatbelts. It’s time to blog.
This is a big one. Potentially my biggest. You might want to sit down with a…case of energy drinks before you attempt to read this behemoth.
I left for Montana on Tuesday morning May 16. My parents were at the conference in NC, so I had to take the train up to BWI, which meant that I had to get a taxi to get to the train station. I’d never taken a taxi in Virginia, so I was a little bit anxious about it and whether they’d be on time and be able to find my house and all that, but it worked out perfectly – although the dude did call me to ask for directions. I got to the train station with no problems, except that there was no train. It ended up being an hour late, so I plopped myself down on the platform and worked on my correspondence course. I wasn’t too concerned about the time because I was going to have to wait for like 2 1/2 hours once I got to the airport anyway. Working on my courses worked out beautifully. I ended up working pretty much all the way to Montana, and got like 2 1/2 weeks of work done. Sweet. So, train to BWI (that’s Baltimore/Washington International airport, for the uninitiated). (Sidenote: I’m currently in the car, driving home from Ontario. We just crossed the border from PA to Maryland, and all of a sudden we hit a torrential downpour. Just as the rain started coming down we passed an exit sign for “Falling Waters.” That’s about right.)
My plane left from BWI and flew to Minneapolis/St. Paul. Oh, the irony. Coming into the Twin cities was awesome. I was really struck by how green everything was. The suburbs around the airport were full of pretty little houses – and they had TREES in their yards! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in any major city I’ve flown into. It’s always just asphalt and houses. I was like an awed foreign tourist flying into the US for the first time – nose pressed to the glass, mouth open. Cooooool. It made me really excited to be moving there. I still don’t know much about the city or the area, but it looks very green and I know there are a lot of lakes, so that makes me happy. Once I landed it struck me – why did I not plan my flight into the city early, and my flight out late? That way I could have actually left the airport and driven around to see the area. Not knowing anything about the city has really been cramping my ability to find an apartment online. I’m doing everything blind. I’ve talked to a grad student who’s recommended general areas to live in, and I’ve finally figured out where the grocery stores are, but I still have no idea what to expect in terms of quality of housing and walkable distances to campus and things like that. During this whole apartment searching process I’ve been complaining that if ONLY I could just go to the city and drive around, this would be so much easier. And suddenly I found myself in the city but without an ability to do anything about it. Agh. I called my mom and was like, “Why did I not think of this before??” Her answer was smart enough: “Because you booked your ticket before you even knew you were going to Minnesota.” Oh. That’s why. Well, it’s still frustrating.
Apparently the MSP airport is known for its restaurants and shops, and I was duly impressed. I ate dinner at a little organic foods restaurant, then got back on the plane to fly to Great Falls, Montana. I got in around 10:30 local time and was met by very tanned Pat and Jenny. One of the first things out of my mouth was, “Did you hear Karl and Tristan and Charles are coming early??” (I’d just talked to Karl a few hours earlier and he’d said that they’d be able to leave earlier than they thought.) Jenny’s response was, “Karl’s coming?” I was like, ohhhh no, was that supposed to be a secret?? I determined that it was, because Jenny seemed to have no clue about it. I was like, great, it was supposed to be a surprise, and I killed it within five minutes of my arrival. Good job. Later on I found out that Josh had told Jenny several times, though, and she either had forgotten or just hadn’t been paying attention 🙂 We girls piled in the car to head back to Helena. I got in the back so Jenny could sit in the front, but then Jenny got in the back as well. She said she hadn’t been able to experience the back yet, so I switched around to the front so Pat wouldn’t feel like she was our chauffeur. As I got in the front Jenny was like, “But Annette! We could cuddle!” A tempting offer, indeed 🙂 The trip to Helena is all through the mountains, but it was dark and I couldn’t see them and didn’t know were there. At one point I actually asked, “Are there mountains around here?” Pat was like, “We’re in the mountains.” Oh. Once we got back we hung out at Jenny’s house for a few minutes and talked with her family, then Pat and I headed back to her house to sleep.
Wednesday Pat went to school and then drove back to Great Falls to pick up David. Jenny picked me up at the Glatz’s and we headed downtown to grab lunch and have a quick tour of Helena. It seems like an awesome city. I really enjoyed my time there. It’s the capital city, but it’s still small and intimate, and has quite the hippie aesthetic, which I enjoyed a lot 🙂 Jenny and I picked up gyros on Last Chance Gulch (that’s so cool), then walked to a park, ran into her dad, chatted for a while about how Jenny’s storage unit was probably locked up with a My Little Pony lock, then walked back to the car. Jenny had a bit of running around to do, so we did that (I got to go into a ranch and home supply store for the very first time…oooh), then headed back to her house. That afternoon we tried to pack her stuff up some more, but really only managed to redistribute it in piles around her room. We also worked on some weddingy stuff with her mom and grandma. I got to roll plastic cutlery up in napkins and tie them in pink bows 🙂 Ooooh. That afternoon we had a pre-rehearsal rehearsal with Jenny’s dad, the wedding singer (ha ha), Jenny’s aunt Susie and the sound guy, just to try to figure out timing for everybody walking down the aisle. Once that was figured out Jenny and I ran off to meet up with Pat, Ryan Christianson, David and some of Pat’s hippie high school friends for a game of Frisbee. We didn’t know what park they were at, though, so we drove all around Helena trying to figure out where they were. We called Ryan and found out that he and David had gotten separated from Pat, and they didn’t know where she was either. Our two cars ended up passing each other, so we pulled over, I attacked David through the car window, he got out and spun me around, and we went on our merry way. Partway down the road, though, the boys decided to drive right next to us so David could throw water from a Nalgene at us through our open windows. Niiice. Stupid boys. We found the Frisbee kids out at Carroll College, a plush-looking Catholic school on a hill with very nice green grass – perfect for Frisbee playing. We had a good game there, then headed back to the Glatz’s. We helped Jeremy Glatz prepare dinner, then Paul showed up with Dani. That night David and I got edjumacated regarding artichoke-eating by Dani, and we finally ate our steak dinner around midnight. Jeremy’s cooking lived up to its reputation.
Sidenote: You may notice a strong reoccurring trend of meat-eating throughout this trip. Keep in mind that I normally eat red meat about once a week, if at all. The trend actually started before I even left for Montana. The weekend before I left we were in New Jersey for Mother’s Day. We had barbequed burgers on Sunday. On Tuesday when I was flying up there I stopped at Taco Bell (which is unusual for me, because Taco Bell can be pretty nasty), and had ground beef in my lunch. On Wednesday at lunch I had Jenny and I had lamb gyros. On Wednesday night we barbequed steak. On Thursday night we had a barbeque of burgers at the Marshall’s. On Friday night we had a barbeque of burgers at the Glatz’s. On Saturday night we had a barbeque of burgers with the Helena church. And on Sunday we had the leftover burgers at the Glatz’s. Can you say “overproteinated”? From Monday through Friday I was vegetarian.
Thursday morning at 7AM we had breakfast with Pat and her high school friends. Apparently they get together for breakfast every Thursday morning. This particular morning we were treated to chocolate cake. For breakfast. After that Pat went to school and David, Dani and I napped in the living room. In the afternoon Ryan, David, Dani and I headed downtown. We dropped off David’s suits at the drycleaner, then went and had lunch at the Windbag Saloon. In reading the menu we learned that it used to be “Big Dorothy’s,” one of the many raging brothels in Helena during gold digging times. I think this was the brothel that Jenny told me about – there’s a big building in downtown Helena called the Montana Club where all the millionaires used to hang out, and not too many years back they discovered an underground tunnel directly from the Montana Club to Big Dorothy’s. Ha. Busted. After lunch we strolled along Last Chance Gulch, went in a couple of the little shops, went down the Wong Street, and got tans. We left Ryan at one of the stores for his suit-picking-out date with Pat, then David, Dani and I headed over to a park to play Frisbee. We were playing on a hill, and the other two really enjoyed making bad passes so I had to gallop down the hill to keep the disc from rolling into the street. Ah well, I got my exercise 🙂 After a little disc David and I played a rousing game of flip-flop baseball. It involved tossing a flip-flop to the batter who would then hit the flip-flop with the other flip-flop, and try to run the bases before the other person grabbed the flip-flop “ball” and hit them with it. It was really entertaining. Pat and Ryan met up with us later, and we lazed about in the shade for a long time. It was beautiful. The weather was beautiful the entire time I was there. It was hot, but not hot enough to keep you from playing disc, and everything cooled off at night.
From there we went to a hippie coffee shop where Pat met up with some more of her hippie high school friends, we had some cold drinks, and then Pat, David and I set off for a trek across Helena. We were walking to a hippie grocery store to meet Pat’s friend Laura, but when we got there she’d already left. I was already starting to get blisters on my feet from wearing my flip-flops 24/7, so I hiked a good portion of Helena barefoot. What can I say, I was blending in 🙂 Our trek ended at the Staggering Ox, a hippie sandwich shop. There was a hippie poetry reading happening that evening, so we met up with some of Pat’s friends for that. It was interesting… It was very liberal, as Pat warned us it would be. I’m not a big poetry fan, but it was interesting to experience the whole situation. The three of us ducked out a little early when Ryan and Dani showed up so the whole group of us could head over to the Marshall’s for a barbeque. Partway there we got a call from Paul asking us to come back to exactly where we just were to help him get his girlfriend’s car started. We showed up just as he was coming back with a can of gas – apparently she’d run out. We all got to see Paul pimpin’ the cable company minivan. Ooh yeah. That’s quite a switch from his tricked-out enormously loud 70-something Nova 🙂 (Hi Paul :)) We headed back to the Marshall’s where we all finally got to see Josh and meet his parents. The Marshalls even made sure they had beets for the Kiwis to put on their burgers (weirdos ;)). After all was said and done we got a big ol’ group of us together to play Frisbee in the dark. That was AWESOME 🙂 We played in a park right in the middle of a neighbourhood, but I guess there weren’t enough of us to make a huge racket. It was an awesome, awesome game.
Friday was the arrival of Ben and Summer and the Perpetually Driving Boys – Karl, Tristan and Charles. They’d been calling me every couple of hours since they left on Thursday to let me know where they were. I got a state update every time they crossed a border 🙂 I needed to be over at the church helping decorate, but I didn’t want to miss their arrival, so I ended up waiting around at the Glatz’s until they showed up. They finally did, dirty, tired and raging with cases of car fever. We helped them get settled in, then Dani, Karl and I set out for the church. Josh, Jenny, David, Ben and Summer ended up passing us in J&J’s car on the way there, so David jumped out of the moving vehicle to attack Karl. Ben soon followed, and even managed to have his gum fly out of his mouth upon impact of running into Karl. Karl bailed on Dani and me at that point, but she and I kept walking to the church to help decorate the reception area. When we got there things were pretty well under control. They had lots of helpers, between Josh and Jenny’s parents, aunts, cousins, and other extraneous people. Dani and I helped as much as we could, though, and soon David and Ben showed up for the rehearsal (which I kept calling a “recital”).
It took us a while to figure out how the processional was going to work, as it seemed that Jenny had an idea of how she wanted it done, but the 15 other people there (including me) kept piping in with their own ideas and convoluting the situation (sorry, Jenny :)). Things eventually got figured out, though, and then the fun of getting to practice 10 times started. I’m really glad we did practice so many times, though, because we worked out a different bug every time, and it made the real wedding run very smoothly. I got to be escorted down the aisle by “pretend Paul” (a woman from church) because he was late getting back from work. The two highlights of the rehearsal (I almost said recital again) were Jenny being pushed down the aisle in a wheelbarrow, and those of us in the bridal party getting tired of just walking back out calmly, and deciding we should skip instead. Jenny thought it was hilarious, and even agreed to let us do it during the wedding 🙂 I couldn’t believe it. YOU’RE SERIOUS?! WE CAN REALLY SKIP??? Thanks, Jenny! 🙂 After rehearsal was over we all went back to the Glatz’s for a barbeque dinner. We had quite the crowd of kids. Winston showed up, as well as Marlin, and Ryan and Emil came over as well. After dinner we all sat around the living room for a Bible study with Mr. Glatz. After he spoke a while he opened the floor up for questions, and Marlin brought up the very interesting question of the significance of prophesying naked. I don’t know if we ever really got an answer on it, but it certainly made for interesting conversation 🙂 (“Can you imagine getting a sunburn??”) After most people went to bed, Karl, Charles and I went outside and layed on the driveway and cloud-gazed. It was a beautiful night. Although the occasional strange noises and the knowledge that Helena has a proliferating community of dog-gouging deer kind of freaked us out.
Saturday we had a lovely brunch put on by Winston and Ryan. Those guys can make a killer omelette, lemme tell ya. Church was held at the same church where Josh and Jenny were getting married, which was only a couple blocks away from the Glatz’s house. Despite being only a couple blocks away and actually walking to church, we were still almost late. David, Karl, Dani and I actually ran to church. Uphill. Dani and I did it in our bare feet. Aww yeah. Let’s hear it for another day in Montana of having extremely dirty feet. Pat and I were like dirty feet sisters. We just played too much Frisbee to worry about having clean feet. Oh well. Anyway, we had church with the Helena congregation, and Mr. Penman gave the sermon.
Afterwards the whole church got together at a park down the street for a barbeque. There was also a playground that we played in which was a lot of fun. The activities did make me think about appropriate and inappropriate Sabbath activities, though, like Ben and Summer mentioned. We were walking back to the Glatz’s after the barbeque when Josh and Jenny drove by. We decided we could certainly fit six more people in their little Legacy stationwagon, and we did. David and Charles locked themselves in the trunk, and Karl, Tristan and I shoved ourselves in the backseat, and Ben laid across us. I actually had to open the window so Ben’s feet could hang out. It was beautiful. At the Glatz’s we had a super-fast hymn sing courtesy of Karl (yay Karl!), then the boys left for their beer (and other vittles) and pizza bachelor party. Pat and I also left for Jenny’s to help assemble the boutenieres, corsages and bouquets. We discovered a few minutes into the actual assembly that we didn’t have any flower tape, and without it we were pretty much up a creek without a paddle, so Pat and I went on a Wal-Mart run. We got stopped by the train on the way there. The train was going by merrily…then it slowed down…then it stopped. Then it started going backwards. We were convinced we were going to be stuck there for days. Eventually it got out of the way and we were able to get our tape and get back to Jenny’s to put the flowers together. They turned out really nicely, despite Pat and me being flower-challenged 🙂
After that we headed back over to the park where we had played night Frisbee on Thursday for another game of night Frisbee. Oh yeah, we had light-up Frisbees, so that’s how we were able to play in the dark 🙂 We had quite a few more people than the last time, though, and a little while into it we got the cops called on us because we were being too loud 🙂 Thankfully the cop was cool about it and was like, “Why don’t you just go over to the field at the YMCA? There aren’t any houses around there.” So that’s what we did. I’d been complaining about the dewy grass being really cold on my feet, so Pat let me borrow her sandals. This initially was a really good idea, but after playing Frisbee for a few hours in her sandals which didn’t fit me quite right, I’d rubbed raw the bottoms of my arches. It was not a pretty sight. I was pretty gimped-out by the time we finished our game at 3AM 🙂
Sunday – the big day! Pat and I got up at the ridiculous hour of 9AM to shower so we could make our hair appointment at 10. I woke up barely able to walk from the crazy blisters on my feet from our Frisbee game. Thankfully things got better throughout the day, and I was able to make it down the aisle 🙂 All the girls met at the “Makeover Palace” to get our hair done: Jenny, Pat, Anna, me, and the two flower girls. Pat and I got our hair done first, which took about 45 minutes. The chick who did my hair was really snotty. We’d just woken up and were still really tired from getting less than 6 hours of sleep, so when I sat in the chair I answered her questions and then just sat there while she did her thing. Her first comment to me was, “Are you awake? Your head keeps flopping all over.” I’m pretty sure it wasn’t flopping…I was lowering my head so she could dry the back of my hair. Then, “Wow, you don’t look very happy. Oh, you look grumpy.” Then, “Oh, sweety, you need to get a TRIM.” Then, “This would be a whole lot easier if you had some bangs, but you just dont.” I wasn’t doing a very good job of not rolling my eyes. And then, oh my, I have never experienced such pain from having my hair done. I thought my sisters were bad (my oldest sister Arleen used to say, “It has to hurt to be beautiful!”), but this woman exceeded any pain I have ever felt on my scalp. Literally, a week later, my head was still sore. Pat and I, plus the flower girls, were in pain the entire day. Those hair stylists were brutal. Just go ahead and stick the bobby pin right into my scalp, I don’t mind. It was so tight, and so bobby pinned (I had 53 bobby pins in my hair), and just…ow. It looked pretty, but the cost was pretty deadly. Anyway, after Pat and I got our hair done we took a trek over to the gas station across the street to take money out of the ATM so we could buy ourselves breakfast. We felt pretty conspicuous with our fancy-dancy hair-dos, but at least we got weird looks together. We brought our breakfast back to the hair place and hung out with all the women until everyone’s hair was done. (Estrogen overload! :))
By then it was close to 1PM, and we were supposed to be at the church at 1:30 to help set up for the wedding which started at 3PM, and we were not ready at all. So we ran all over town, picking up water and yogurt for the bride, plus other miscellaneous things before finally getting back to Pat’s house, tearing through our stuff to find our wedding necessities, and running over to the church. Thankfully things were under control by the time we got there, so we were able to just start getting ourselves ready. You know, primping. Pat and I discovered we had really dirty feet from our daily Frisbee games. We tried to remedy it with paper towels and soap, then with wet wipes, and eventually Pat just ended up cutting her toenails because she couldn’t get the dirt out. Yeah, we’re hot.
Things were surprisingly and marvelously stress-free. I was really impressed with that. I think it was mainly because Jenny was so laid-back about the whole affair, it just all flowed nicely. We three bridesmaids got dressed, then helped Jenny get into her big poof of a dress. And her pink socks 🙂 The story is (I hope you don’t mind, Jenny :)), she bought the dress, but it was too long. Her choice was either to get really big shoes or try to hem up like 17 layers of crinoline. She opted for the shoes, smart girl. She got these huge Cinderella heels with a transparent plastic strap which dug into her foot when she walked. The solution? Fluffy pink socks. What? You never saw her feet anyway. And they were cute 🙂 So, they got Jenny dressed and the wedding started at around 3:10. Everthing went smoothly. Mr. Penman did the wedding. Josh didn’t break down (good job, Josh!), we didn’t kill ourselves in our heels, and we didn’t even trip over the white paper runner when we skipped back out 🙂 That was so much fun.
After the wedding Jenny’s dad brought in the big gun lights for our own personal photo shoot. The lights were so hot, though, we had to be periodically doused with a cold, wet paper towel. After the photos were over we headed downstairs for the reception. They had light snacks – sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, a chocolate fountain (that was cool), and awesome, awesome spiked margarita-type punch. Duuuuuude, that stuff was potent 🙂 Like Ben said, I had two drinks, plus the champagne, and was pretty good to go. No more punch for me. The speeches went well; they were cute and not too embarrassing. After the official wedding party stuff was over, Pat, Karl and I sneaked out for a secret shopping trip. It involved the three of us galavanting through Helena in our wedding get-up, a place called The Man Store, and a secret closet. I doubt you’ll ever hear about it from Josh and Jenny, but let’s just say we made sure they had what they needed 🙂
When we got back they’d already left and people were cleaning up the hall. We headed back to the Glatz’s, changed, and immediately Pat and I went to work on removing the ridiculous amount of pins from our heads. We actually had to massage each other’s heads because they hurt so much. It’s pretty pathetic that something as superficial as getting your hair done can incapacitate you like that. Was it worth it? Did we look fine? Ehh, you tell me 🙂 So we hung out at the Glatz’s, and had barbeque leftovers for dinner. Ryan had to head out for Butte to start his new job in the morning, so we had to say goodbye to him. I think we pretty much just hung out that night. Oh, and clarification about the Josh and Jenny thing. They’d actually said that if we were all going to be in town for their wedding, they wanted to be hanging out with us. They’d planned that after the wedding they’d come over the Glatz’s so we could all have fun together. Jenny had wanted to have a dance with all the young people, so I’d put together a couple hours of dance music. I thought the plan was that they’d just change and come over, but I guess they went to the hotel…and there’s no coming back from that 🙂 So anyway, we were calling them to see if they still wanted to come over, or if we should plan to do something without them. We weren’t just calling them to try to ruin their honeymoon 🙂
Anyway, they didn’t show up, so the rest of us went on a bit of a midnight hike. We climbed this big hill by the Glatz’s house that overlooks all of Helena. It was a really amazing view. The hike pretty much killed me, though, because I was wearing flip-flops, and still pretty much had open wounds on the bottom of my feet. I was fairly miserable by the end of the night. Pat, Dani, Ben, Summer, Winston and I stayed at the house that night, but David, Karl, Charles, Tristan and Marlin went out and slept outside somewhere under the stars so they could watch the sun rise.
There wasn’t a whole lot to Monday. We got up around 10, I packed my stuff, and Josh and Jenny came over to visit before everybody headed out. Goodbyes were said all around, then Pat, Dani and I headed out to Great Falls so I could catch my flight. We left pretty late because we wanted to visit with Josh and Jenny when they came over, but thanks to Pat’s stupendous driving we got there with plenty of time to spare 🙂 My flight back was pretty uneventful, except for the two big bald-headed dudes in front of me on the way to Minneapolis who kept kissing. I didn’t believe my eyes the first time I saw it, because they totally did not look like your typical gay guys, but I kept my eyes peeled and caught them locking lips a few minutes later. Auggghhhh. That was disturbing. It was quite a contrast between a gay relationship and the proper relationship that Josh and Jenny have developed.
Anyway, let’s not end the story on that. Hmm. I got in late, Mom picked me up from BWI, and the rest of the week I worked on school work but was fairly unproductive. I couldn’t walk for a week because of the blisters on my feet, so running was definitely out. I’m sure my endurance has dropped again, so hopefully I can start progressing again soon. That Saturday we were in Williamsburg, and on Sunday we left for Ontario. Whoo. But that’s another story 🙂