Big Sky, Montana
Hey everyone! I am back from Montana and boy was it fun! I have never been to Montana before and neither had my husband so it was fun for us to explore a new place together. I had a few posts planned for you last week but I opted to take a real vacation and spent time away from the computer, sometimes Sassy has to take her own advice. I did share a few bits and pieces of my trip via Instagram and Snapchat (follow me @TheSassyRD) for all of you social media lovers, I hope you enjoyed the ridiculously beautiful views we enjoyed.
When we were on break during Christmas, JJ and I realized we had not been on a trip together, just the two of us since the honeymoon and we wanted to fix that ASAP. Since the weather in the northeast has been pretty lackluster this season (aka ZERO snow) we decided it was time to see what the West had to offer us. Both of us have been to Utah to ski a while back so we wanted to try something new. We kept tossing around the idea of heading to Big Sky, Montana and after we researched it, talked to friends and priced it out, it was a no brainer.
Montana is a state you see in all the backpacking and outdoorsy type magazines, the views are outrageous. When we were flying in, we were greeted with mountains all around us, it might have been the most gorgeous descent I have ever seen. The Rocky Mountains greeted us and did not disappoint us.
We decided to rent a car to ensure we could travel the scenic Montana area on our own time. We also wanted to be able to go grocery shopping since our room had a little kitchenette. I know you are all SHOCKED that Sassy was worried about her stomach at a time where the view was breathtaking, a girl has to eat you know!
When I go on vacation I do not see it as an opportunity to splurge on all things food. Instead, I go for the experience and if the food happens to be delicious, I enjoy it, take pictures of it, talk about it for days, but I move on and do not stuff my face. I know it’s not easy but who wants to come back from vacation feeling worse than when they left? I sure do not, although I feel a cold coming on thanks to this stuffy plane! Stay tuned for later this week when I dish about how to prevent or lessen the symptoms of the common cold.
Alright, so we went to Montana to snowboard, and snowboard we did. Before we went I did a bit of research into the different types of kit that I’d need and found the Best Hydration Backpacks for Snowboarding. It’s better to come prepared!! I cannot remember the last time that I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone that much. I talk about this regularly with clients and with members at my gym, however, I feel like it has been a while since I have really pushed myself to the point where I was a little almost-pee-my-pants nervous and in a good way. More on that in a little bit, but first let’s talk about Montana and Big Sky.
We first stopped at Albertson’s a local grocery store to stock up for the week. The nice thing was that where we stayed at The Lodge at Big Sky, they had a few rooms available with a kitchenette. The kitchenette had an induction stove top, a convection microwave and pots/pans and utensils so we would be able to cook, oh yeah and a full size refrigerator, jackpot! We planned to make our breakfast and lunch every day, which we did and then ate in 2 nights in order to save some money and to kick back and relax after a long day on the slopes. Nothing like a home cooked meal, miles away from home…
Bozeman-Yellowstone International airport is about an hour away from Big Sky Resort and the drive is pretty boring for the first 20 minutes or so. However, once you make your way into the mountains you are treated with quite the view. Mountains for whatever reason are incredibly majestic and calming. I loved winding through the valley to get to Big Sky. We actually saw two rams on our journey up the hill. I literally did not know if I would ever see anything like this in my life. They were right on the side of the road, and the good tourists that we were, we pulled a U-turn and headed back to get some pictures. JJ trusted me with his camera, so I opened my window, he slowed down and this was the result…
Note: this is NOT zoomed in or filtered…
…thank goodness the ram did not decide to ram into the car, even though JJ swears that would make a great story.
Anyway, we made our way up the hill and were treated with the unreal view of Big Sky Resort and the ominous Lone Peak. It took my breath away. Once I collected myself, pulled up my jaw and got my act together, I scrambled to get the camera back out to take 500 pictures to make sure I never would forget that view. The results (sorry Stan I stink at photography, clearly)…
JJ was also driving his dream car, a jeep, he looks so happy!
We did a lot of reading about Big Sky before going, but the reviews do not even do it justice. It is literally the biggest sky I have ever seen and the mountain is huge. We drive up to Green Mountains in Vermont and the Adirondacks in New York quite frequently, but these peaks are far and above anything we have ever seen. Lone Peak (aptly named) rises to an enormous 11,166 feet and stands there looking over the big sky that is Montana, I ogled at it and then all of a sudden got really nervous,
“Are we going to snowboard THAT?” I asked JJ.
He responded “Don’t worry about it sweetie, we will start small.”
Um, so not the response I was hoping for, did that mean Yes or No?!?! I tried to put it out of my mind because we had been awake since 3:30am EST and I clearly was in no state to be worrying about things I had zero control over, so we eneded up walking the village and getting our bearings until we strolled into Montana Jack’s at the base of the mountain to grab burgers and drinks. We went back there most days for drinks après ski (oh look at me all fancy!) as there was a fun crowd and live music most days.
We finally made it to our room and OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS THAT VIEW!! If you have been following me, you already know what the view from our room looked like:
Seriously, no filter and no zooming, this was the view every day!
If not, you are now welcome for that beauty. It was an unreal room to wake up in daily, seriously how do we return to our upstate NY view? Maybe I will just blow up a picture of the mountain, put it over our window and call it a day. If you are ever in Big Sky and need a place to stay, book a stay at The Lodge at Big Sky, they will take care of you and you will get a view of a lifetime.
We then spent the next 5 days, yes you read that right, 5 days snowboarding. We originally thought we would snowboard 4 out of 5 days and then relax and explore on the fifth day, well we were wrong. There is so much to see on the mountain that we could not turn down the chance to snowboard all of that terrain.
Jumping outside of my comfort zone
Okay, so I am not afraid of heights but this trip sure challenged that and made me question if perhaps I am fearful of really high mountains. We took it easy day one as we were a bit jet lagged and did not want to push it (18 runs later, we were pretty spent anyway). When it was finally time for day 2, JJ told me we were going up The Challenger lift (which lo and behond BROKE 2 days later) and I almost lost my breakfast (this was the first time…). The chair was a two seater with no bar and dumps you off at the top of a peak where there are only options for expert and YOU ARE A DAREDEVIL trails.
We went down “The Highway” and of course I followed JJ obligingly, trusting him to get me down safely, I mean trusting myself to get down safely? It felt like we were snowboarding on the edge of the world. I was shaking in my boots, which led to me yelling and laugh-crying and standing straight up (which is a no-no while snowboarding), it was the most uncomfortable I have been in a long while. JJ of course kept his cool, telling me to chill out and just remember the basics. Easy for him to say! I stayed on one edge and eventually made it down the hill, telling JJ there was no way I was doing that again, and unfortunately that lift broke down and so we were unable to go back up that hill, ask me if I was upset about that!
We were treated mid-week with a snowstorm, which made visibility difficult, but conditions amazing. Powder snowboarding makes you feel like you are floating on air, and bonus, when you fall, it really does not hurt! During the midweek, we were loving snowboarding what is known as “The Bowl” you can do bowl laps and each trail you pick is different every time which makes it fun and challenging. While this was technically the same pitch as “The Highway” I somehow conquered my fear of heights (for the time being) afterall, it’s all about perspective and believing in yourself, and just relaxing.
The Bowl starts about halfway down this picture (don’t worry Mom we didn’t go in between those rocks up high!)
At 11,166 feet we were literally in the clouds! I may not look it but I’m scared out of my mind…
When the snowstorm subsided, we finally decided to make our way on top of Lone Peak Mountain. We had seen expert skiers and snowboarders descending from Lone Peak all week and I know JJ was drooling over the top, of course I was like “eh, maybe tomorrow!” Well the sun was out and we only had a few days left at Big Sky so we hopped in line (which mind you was 35 minutes, yikes!) and made our way up the Lone Peak Tram. This was the only time all week we waited in line, which is unheard of in the Northeast.
The Lone Peak Tram packs you in like sardines at 15 people per tram and the ascent lasts only about 4 minutes or so, you are up at 11,000+ feet in no time, and now is not the time to be afraid of heights. You most certainly have the option to take the tram back down but I did not give myself that option as I knew I would be so disappointed in myself if I did not try at least one of the trails. We took Liberty Bowl down and while I was shaking in the beginning, I went down the slope telling JJ if there was no line tomorrow I would do it again (there was an even longer line the next day so he’ll have to take me up on that next time!)
While I was scared, nervous and all kinds of sweaty-uncomfortable, the feeling of accomplishment when I came down was pretty great. I know there are a lot of great skiers and snowboarders out there that would laugh at that trail but it is 50° at some points and to me was no joke. Thank you Lone Peak for pushing me way past my comfort zone, and to my wonderful husband for staying by my side and cheering for me.
Would you believe it that I became a more confident snowboarder after that? Sure I can’t spin 360s or jump off cliffs but I learned how to snowboard through the trees, which seemed like some kind of metaphor to life. You must avoid all the obstacles (trees), make your own path, and change direction when there are unmarked obstacles, all while flying down the mountain. Oh yeah and there are spots that have 3 feet of snow which will make you reconsider why you snowboard, until you roll free and get back on your feet.
While Big Sky was mostly about the adventure and spending time with my husband, we did eat some great food while there
Food at Big Sky
Maybe this is the only reason you are here, which is totally acceptable, so here are a few of the hot spots in Montana. Caution, there is not a big nightlife scene here, not that we would know since I am 100% sure we were asleep before 9:30pm every night, snowboarding will do that to you!
Montana Jack’s: This establishment is hopping at the end of the day, as it is right at the bottom of the mountain. They offer regular bar fare like burgers, sandwiches and salads. Not going to lie, their sweet potato fries are out of this world delicious. Yes, cat is out of the bag, every now and then I splurge! They tossed the fries in Italian seasoning which made them finger-licking delicious. Their burgers are great and they do not turn up their nose when you ask for a burger without a bun, that is a winner in my book. The waitress we had the first night was also super helpful when we asked about the mountain. She told us where to go and what to avoid, more than we expected, but very grateful for the tips. Oh, did I mention they have a side of broccolini on their menu? I was all over that.
Ousel and Spur: We never actually ate here, we just did take-out as they had gluten free pizza. The beautiful establishment is about 10 minutes down the hill where there are a few little shops and restaurants. This one had great reviews on Yelp so we had to give it a try. The pizza was delicious and I highly recommend the Hawaiian for anyone looking for something a little different.
Gallatin RiverHouse Grill: I kept reading about this BBQ restaurant as it had great reviews. We decided to stop in on our way out of town and boy were we sad that we did not stop in sooner. The grilled wings knocked it out of the park and the BBQ brisket and pulled pork were melt in your mouth delicious. If you are in this part of town, you must stop by, not to mention there are plenty of good signs on the wall to keep you entertained.
We did not explore much else as we made the rest of our food in our kitchenette (see JJ cooking bacon above), but next time I hope we can eat some bison and/or elk, seems like the Montana way.
Well, it was fun Montana, I will miss your big sky, your butt kicking ski slopes and your gorgeous sun rises. Until next time, stay rocky.
Well you cannot sit on a plane and not think, what’s next? For us, it is Vegas! Our good friends recently got engaged, Congrats Alex & Craig!! And we could not turn down a trip with them, since I have never been and feel like it is something you must experience. I really HATE gambling with a strong burning passion, so you will find me enjoying the food and spectating on the casino floors. Any food recommendations here are greatly appreciated!
We now have the travel bug and are looking to plan our next trip after Vegas, of course. Where have you been lately (or maybe not so lately) that you would LOVE to go back to? Would love to hear from you.
It’s good to be back!