Perfect Ten

Even though we did plenty of celebrating during our time in Austin, Evelyn officially turned ten on June 1st. We started the morning with pancakes and presents. Jack gave Evelyn a valuable Pokémon card and five dollars; James gave her some bird stationary. Jim and I gifted her with a pair of birding binoculars, a new watch, a paintable birdhouse for the game Wingspan, and two books.

Presents with the brothers

We celebrated the day by visiting the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City with friends Frankie and Claire (and Claire’s mom Megan), followed by lunch at Cafe Molise.

The day ended with flowers from her Daddy and a board game. It was a great day!

Cities and Knights, flowers, and Daddy

We also decided to celebrate Evelyn turning two-digits with a five-day trip to Montana. We visited Red Rock Lake National Wildlife Refuge in the Centennial Valley of southwestern Montana.

This area is part of the greater-Yellowstone watershed and known for its variety of birds, namely trumpeter swans. We stayed in Cabin 5 of Elk Lake Resort. The resort is owned by Jake and Laurel, who have lived in this remote location for ten years. There was no internet and phone service (which turned out to be awesome).

Elk Lake
Elk Lake Resort

Trip highlights included:

Seeing (and hearing) trumpeter swans. We re-read the book The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White, which inspired the trip in the first place.


Boating on Elk Lake. Evelyn and Jack were kayaking, while the rest of us were in a row boat, one morning when rain clouds headed in. The weather changed quickly and the temperature dropped. Of course, the kayakers were quite wet and had to work hard to get back to shore to warm up. Character-building experience!

Watching the trout head upstream to spawn. The kids were playing near the stream watching the trout when a visitor’s (very well-trained) yellow lab (Bodie) came over to greet them. Jack jokingly told Bodie to “get the fish,” and Bodie promptly dove into the stream and came out with a fish, dropping it at Jack’s feet. Jack was so shocked, Evelyn (quite the animal-whisperer) had to come over and throw the fish back in, at which point, Bodie again retrieved the fish and placed it at Jack’s feet. After throwing it back in a second time, the kids ran to the lodge to tell me about it. We were laughing and talking for a few minutes, when we saw Bodie come out of the woods with something in his mouth. Yes, he had retrieved another trout and was proudly bringing it to us. It was so funny!

Hiking (with a very large pistol). We did several hikes, including the Odell Creek Trail and some cross-country hikes around Elk Lake. Because we were in grizzly country, Jim and I both carried bear spray, and Jim carried an extremely large 454.

Riding horseback. During the ride, Jack’s saddle, which wasn’t cinched tight enough, came loose and slid off the horse — with Jack on it! He was pretty spooked, but he got back on and finished the ride. Evelyn has always loved horses and hopes to continue horseback riding back home.

Playing boardgames and enjoying Laurel’s cooking and Jake’s jokes. We spent quite a bit of time playing Wingspan, Qwirkle, Set, and Splendor in the lodge. We enjoyed meeting other guests, most of whom were older, bird-watchers and loved talking to the kids about birds. We also loved all of Laurel’s breakfast and dinner dishes; the kids even tried (and liked) new foods like sauerkraut and lemon cheese-cake. Jake, Laurel, and Kris (their helper) were very gracious hosts who made us feel right at home.

Jake, Laurel, and Kris with the kids

At one point, James asked, “Is this real life, or is this a dream?” I think that sums up the trip pretty nicely.

I’m so thankful for my wise, beautiful, and joyful ten-year old daughter, Evelyn, and I’m very glad we could take this wonderful family trip to celebrate her!

3 thoughts on “Perfect Ten

  1. Hi, just love Texas Time and Perfect Ten! All these wonderful family times, Evie’s 10th birthday! , special memories in the heart forever 🙂 The wildlife refuge is beautiful. The grizzly bear area really scared me. The saddle slipping off with James! I’m so glad he was ok. Just love your new friend Bodie!! I agree with James too!

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