To the Treehouse!

I would’ve loved to have stuck around Moss Mountain way longer, but I had plans. These plans included a 4am wakeup on Saturday and a 5-hour drive to Bozeman to pick up Allison and Kacey from the airport. I took the scenic Swan-Seeley Highway, perfect with tunes and a quick lakeside stop to eat my yogurt – provided by Chris and Dave at Moss Mountain – and struggled to stay awake.

My first task was to drop the rental car at Bozeman airport, and then get in line at Budget to pick up Car #2. The thing I learned this summer is that car rentals are EXPENSIVE. And if you drop off the car anywhere except the pickup location, it’s even more crazy expensive. The cost to drive my Kalispell rental to Salt Lake City was over $1,000, so I had to drop the Kalispell car in Bozeman and pick up a new car in Bozeman. Sigh.

Kacey and Allison were post-flight hungry, so we cruised into town to the highly-recommended Jam! for brunch. Jam! was packed, so we waited across the street in a bookstore until our table was available. Yay, we thought. A fun breakfast!

No. Jam! was so jammed (ha, ha) that their waitressing policy was to place your food in front of you, then conduct multiple rapid flybys of your table so that, as you placed the very last bite of your croissant into your mouth, your plate was seized and whisked away so quickly you barely noticed. It was not my favorite breakfast.

Our second stop was Walmart. As depressing as Walmart is, we knew it was necessary to gather food and supplies for the next three days, as our AirBnBs were pretty isolated and camp-like.

More exciting was our third stop, the trailhead to Grotto Falls, a chilly hike that began with a bear warning and involved us panting and talking the entire way up to frighten away bears. We did not see any, but we did see snow. That was unexpected and chilly and exciting.


The falls!


Hiking with friends is more fun. Especially in bear country.


It was a brisk, fun hike to contrast our sluggish morning, and a good bit of outdoors before we drove out to Bridger Canyon for our first AirBnB – a treehouse. Yup. Living out childhood fantasies, right here outside of Bozeman, Montana.

We pulled up and the owner, Jackie, greeted us.

“There’s been a bear around the treehouse lately, and a moose with her calf,” Jackie told us. “I made the mistake of calling the last guests to let them know that the bear was under the treehouse. You know, I thought they’d want to see it. But they panicked and begged me to come out there and walk them back to this house safely.”

“Please, oh please, call us if the bear is there,” I pleaded, imagining us safely in our treehouse, glimpsing a bear below.

The treehouse was a short quarter mile hike from the main house, and it was adorable. A novelty was the composting toilet, where you scooped wood chips in each time you peed. Inside the toilet was a garbage bag, which Allison expertly shifted from the toilet hole into the prescribed bucket when it was time to go.

We passed the afternoon playing exciting games like Yanev, and an improvised game called Guess the Scat, where I’d read a description of animal scat from a pamphlet and they’d have to guess which animal made the scat. The things you do on camping trips.

From the wrap-around treehouse porch, the views and the sounds were spectacular. Unfortunately, they did not include bear OR moose, but I liked the idea of being off the grid and in the woods, so I can’t complain.

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