Monday: Rollin’ on the River

Both Joe and Brooke had Monday off, so we loaded up the raft and paddle boards, all piled into the two trucks (one to be left at the end of the float, and one to take us to the drop off), stopped at the store to fill our coolers with beer, more beer, a little more beer, and some chicken (ok, OTHER snacks and beverages of course!). Of the items purchased, there was shockingly little remaining of one specific item when we returned. I’m sure you can’t guess which. 

We’ve never done any river activities as a family, and J and I barely have as people, so this was super fun and new to us. Rudy had all the skepticism going into it, as the boys regaled him with cliff jumping stories, harrowing paddle board tales, and challenges for one another to do . . . ”if they dared!” Thrown head-first into the Tom-and-Huck of it, Rudy didn’t waste one second once we were there to paddle over to, climb up, then “3-2-1” himself off the first mini cliff. Immediate respect and points scored from the brothers, Rudy secured his place for the day as “one of them” and quickly acclimated to that river life. His paddle partner even tipped him a couple times (as did mine . . . (Jared interjecting in the blog here: Sorry, Sweetie.) ) and he jumped back up and handled it like a champ. I even offered him a seat on the raft, if that felt safer. . . I may has well have slapped him in the face. 

This was the start. It was so hard to get pictures of everything that Rudy did during the day, because it was typically pretty far away from where we were on the raft. I did get some videos for our family memories though.

Here we are having absolutely no fun at all.

At one point we found baby toads. Just to see what my son would do if I stuck one in my mouth, I did just that. 

Not to be outdone, he parried with this:

It honestly was one of my favorite days on all four tours we’ve done combined. We were with amazing company, in a gorgeous and powerful part of the earth, doing something so cool as a family that we’ve never done. Thanks so much to Joe and Brooke for showing us this beautiful part of our country in a fun and safe way. This memory will be treasured forever. 

Rudy and Dayden on the paddle board

Ps. When we got home, they made us steak. See. I told you they were wonderful. 

Stealing a moment on the river with my love. 

Tuesday: Our 4 “Sons”

Both Brooke and Joe had to work Tuesday, so we decided to be the crazy friends from WA and just spoil the heck out of the boys for the day! We began at a local restaurant for lunch and Mad-Libs. The boys had done them before, of course, but not for a while, so it was super fun, and funny with four little growing “boy” minds. A LOT of “balls, penis, butts, boogers, sweaty, etc.” A LOT of laughing. 

We then took them all back to Rockin Rudy’s, a favorite among them all, gave them each $10 and said, “Knock yourselves out!” When the maximum amount of squishy stress balls, gummy doughnuts, candy cigarettes, Fun-Dip, more Mad Libs, and who knows what else had been acquired, the oldest said, “Look what I found!” For $15, the 3 brothers pitched in to purchase the “Extreme Death Nut Challenge” kit. Essentially 5 packs of peanuts, ranging from “mild” (think Big Red gum) to “Death” (think multiple layers of missing tongue). The boys wanted to video themselves doing the challenge. I said, “Not on my watch. That is entirely up to your parents.” The first three levels was enough to make most everyone tap out. Kian alone went to the fourth. The verdict is still out on if they’ll make it to the “Death” nut. They’re all nuts, if you ask me. 

We then took them all to Big Dipper Ice Cream. I, unfortunately, did nothing get a picture because we got distracted chatting with someone and actually having human interaction away from my phone (I know, shock), but I’m sure you can imagine four little studs, all scrappy-like and tired eating ice cream in 90° heat. Norman Rockwell, I tell you. 

We closed our day with some much-discussed and anticipated “Hair Salon” time.  The boys wanted fun hair, and I KNOW fun hair!!! A quick stop to Sally Beauty and I had enough bleach and dye to turn the VonTrapp family into a Skittles pack for Halloween!! Each boy wanted something different and so it was fun AND a challenge. 

Kian wanted “Galaxy” hair

Jayce wanted “Ocean” hair

Rudy wanted “Fire” hair

Definitely one of my favorite hair projects to date. Now there’s an expectation, and I’ll have to start touring with my supplies!! 

Wednesday: The Final Day Together

Only Brooke had to work on Wednesday, but Joe had to work at home on and off. When he’s not saving the town from Rudy’s hair, he also runs a local moving company business. And business was busy. We had originally thought we’d hit the river again, but Joe had too much to catch up on at home, and, quite frankly, we were grateful for the break and some down time. Honestly, we just enjoyed each other in a really cool, old-fashioned summer day kind of way. Played some games, read, played with the animals, visited, got a little bored (like you’re SUPPOSED to do in the Summer) and then found new ways to not be. 

We passed the time just fine til Brooke got home and we had a beer, let her unwind from her day, and decided on the Top Hat in downtown Missoula for dinner. A 45 min wait found us again looking for something to do, so we walked to a nearby park, played tag (I mean, I didn’t play tag. That involves running. Running and Jessi haven’t been friends for years. But the kids played, and the grownups visited.)

Dinner was nice and brought with it a cool breeze and the need for cookies. We satisfied the cravings at Mary’s Mountain Cookies. A peanut butter and a chocolate chip cookie really did the trick (AND lasted well into the next day’s travels)

It was a really “sweet” way to round off our visit with an incredible family. We thought we loved them before, but now we are certain this will be an absolute 100% MUST on our tours. We’re even trying to plan a visit from them to Tacoma!!!

Thursday: Saying Goodbye and a New Tradition

Joe made us all Belgian waffles and sausages, Jayce made us coffee (4th morning in a row the 10 year old made our coffee for us!) and we packed up all our stuff, which all the boys helped to bring out to our car and load. We all kind of dragged a bit, knowing a “goodbye” was upcoming. 

When we came out in 2019, we gave the boys Champagne Sunday hats and had them stand on the steps to have them all be level. 


We thought it would be darling to recreate the photo this year, and any to come that they’ll still participate. 


This last picture I got of them truly shows a physical representation of my heart when being here. 

Thank you to Brooke, Joe, Dayden, Kian, Jayce, pups Ginger and Barley, and kitty, Miss Mishka, for an unforgettable time, with unbelievable hospitality. We can’t wait til next time. 

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