We have had the busiest summer I can remember, in a long, long while. Nothing but one planned weekend after another with hardly any break in-between.
I have stopped a couple of times and talked about Montana and our camping trip on here, but I have not mentioned any of the other beautiful memories we have created this year. And just when you thought I was a slacker or a bad friend for not keeping in touch as often, let me just take you through our journey between Memorial and Labor Day this year.
Here we go ...
We kicked off the season with Parade of Homes. I had put three such events on our summer calendars (corresponding to various counties), but we managed to get in just one of them. The other two fell on "out of town" weekends. Bummer, but maybe next year!
This year's Parade's staples were funky light fixtures and beautiful views. The homes were almost always set in the perfect environment to make the most out of our backdoor backdrop.
On July Fourth, we had my mother in law visit us, and we spent the long weekend sightseeing around our town, which is nothing to sneeze at! We had dinner at Sundance, we climbed to the top of Snowbird's 11,000 ft tall Hidden Peak and we hand lunch at Highwest Distillery in Park City, before walking around the Silly Market.
Wandering in Park City, at The Silly Market
And what says "summer' louder than cooking outside? We had a cookout, too, that weekend and on Memorial Day, too.
Cooking out at home
July is also our favorite month for outdoor concerts. This year, we spent the night in Salt Lake City and decided to make a weekend out of it: we saw The Zac Brown Band at Usana Amphitheater and we spent the next day shopping and discovering new foods in the city: we ate at Mazza Middle Eastern Cuisine, which is a true must go to, if you're ever in the area. It stands out not only for the authenticity and freshness of the food, but also for the friendliness of staff and owners.
Zac Brown Band - the Jekyll and Hyde Tour - Usana Amphitheater
Mazza lunch - stuffed grape leaves, falafel over rice
We also went to our now yearly traditional summer play - Salt Lake Acting Company's The Saturday Voyeur - and got a good laugh or five after a delicious Thai dinner at Sawadee - another new find this year. Thank goodness for friends who enlighten us (both on the play and the food alike)!
Later on that month, we took a weekend drive through Solitude ski resort, and then through the mountains to Midway - both very picturesque settings in the Rockies, and must sees for those visiting. You forget you are in the US of A for a minute and the views and the architecture carry you to the European Alps. The food and the beers help that feeling, too. One full day ride felt like a whole week away!
This outdoor cafe in Midway, UT is welcoming and delicious!
During the last days of July, we got our fix for street food and more local vendors at Spanish Fork Fiesta Days. We did not go to the rodeo this year, but the fair grounds and the tacos, hot dogs and popcorn on the sidewalk did the trick.
Scrapbook 1: Spanish Fork Fiesta Days
More street food: the ribbon fries were another first food find of this summer, at the DIY Festival in Downtown Salt Lake
Speaking of tradition: we went to our second Payson Salmon Supper which is this huge cookout where the city of Payson (next door to us) flies in all the wild salmon they can catch in Alaska and cooks it on wood chips on giant fires in the downtown park. The food is delicious, and the feeling of community is hard to describe. The music, the people watching, the smells and the delicious food at the end make the sometimes 2 hour lines worth it. And I don't say this just about any line.
Scrapbook 2: Payson Salmon Supper
August was also Montana vacation time. This was my first time in Whitefish, Montana and Glacier National Park, as well as our first time in Cody, Wyoming. I have already talked plenty about how amazingly beautiful Montana was, so I won't detail it here. I could be writing several books about it. As breathtakingly beautiful as Montana was, Cody was just soaked in history: every street corner, the Buffalo Bill museum, the Irma Hotel - everywhere we stepped and everything we touched had some story to tell - about hardships, hope, carving a new continent, about true grit. I am so unbelievably lucky to live so close to (or right in the middle of) these spots that other people know about only from Western Hollywood movies and maybe books!
Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming
September was Canada mini-vacation month. We went up to Montreal to visit my sister. Montreal is always like a third home (I know, I know ... where does it stop, right?!) to me. It feels very familiar and very cozy. Maybe because I am seeing it always through the eyes of people I love, but it has a familiarity about it that makes every visit comfortable.
This year, we drove up to Mont Tremblant, a ski resort on the Eastern Coast, and we spent a day in Montreal's Old Port district, over brunch and visiting the St. Joseph Oratory - a rich architectural universe of the Catholic world.
St. Joseph Oratory - Montreal, QC
Of course, the best memory about Canada is just getting my fix of family and love that has real meaning. We loved seeing the kids and just having our fingers on the pulse of the passing time with them around. And how else would we learn about TrashPacks and Skylanders and stay "cool aunt & uncle"?!
Taking a pre-dinner neighborhood walk with the family - St. Basile Le Grand, QC
Oh yeah - and have I mentioned that we also bought a new truck and a new RV this summer, too? Yes - busy with what all that entails, too - and learning to use the RV and navigate it and care for it, and just own it, or be owned by it - I have not decided which.
We camped three times this summer - the most we have ever camped in one season during the five and a half years of being together. We actually had more camping trips planned before fall crept in quietly with its cold temperatures and more out of town activities. We closed the year with a wedding and with a visit to see dear friends who live far, too far away.
Summer also means "camp fires" and my husband makes the best ones!
Sometimes in there, we squeezed in some yard work time, too - we have the most green yard we have ever had - I guess after years of hard work and planting the right stuff and watering in copious amounts, something actually took root. We harvested and canned and tied all that up in bow, for the next year, almost (still have some tomatoes and peppers on the vines and some rosemary to dry up for the winter).
Grape leaves, raspberries, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are only a few of our garden's
harvest this year. Very happy with it!
Usually, I am so depressed when fall comes. I am simply never ready for the cold months, for covering up my toes and packing them in closed shoes for months and months on end. I know the months to come will be long and dreary. But for the first time (maybe I am getting older, truly?!), I really am looking forward to the winter, with the comfort foods and fireplace crackling, with the mulled wine and the copious amounts of baked goods in the house, the smell of cinnamon, spiced pumpkin and red apples candles, and later on of pine and mistletoe.
Time to close out the door for a bit and just take everything in. We've had a rich, happening summer and year, for sure. Looking forward to a temporary break and to recharge our batteries for what 2016 will bring, God willing.
I know "summer" means the ocean to most people out there - and we did get just a glimpse of ours, on our way to Montreal. I know: pretty bizarre, we flew over the Pacific (out of LAX) en route North East. Here's to happy plane wings to come and more restless summers ...