Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer Fling

Steve left on a backpacking trip a few weeks ago, and we girls decided to have a last fling of summer in Missoula while he was away. It's not that summer was ending just then (thought it feels like it is now, when I am getting around to posting it!) but we knew we'd be out of town towards the end of summer and wanted to do it up right. Our first day we spent at Splash Montana, our local water park. We stayed for our longest stretch ever (about five hours!) slathering on sunscreen, floating and playing tag, practicing the swim lesson skills, and making frequent snack bar runs. The girls' favorite was their first experience with Dippin' Dots!

The next day we headed about 45 minutes south to Stevensville, MT for their annual Creamery Picnic. 

Local history time - according to the Creamery Picnic website: "In 1907, over 50 local dairymen formed a cooperative creamery, with manager John Howe establishing the creamery's "Gold Bar" butter and ice cream as one of the state's outstanding dairy products. 
When in June, 1911 fire gutted the creamery, Howe told the community that if they could rebuild the business in 30 days, he would host the biggest celebration they had ever seen."  Howe was true to his word, even though it took 39 days to rebuild, and the town has continued to host this huge event ever since.

The day of the picnic starts with a parade, full of funny floats - the girls' favorite were these horses (can you see what is so funny about them and why they fit at a creamery picnic?).
Christina's favorite was this - though she didn't get to visit this store who wouldn't want to after some advertising like this?

They don't call it a Creamery Picnic for nothing - there were dairy products being thrown (sometimes literally!) around at and around the parade all morning.  After downing a local fudegsicle and several cartons of chocolate milk we were ready to head in to the actual parade.
We started at the mammoth bounce house, which was made up of six combined bouncing structures.

Then we headed over to the beer garden (okay, it had been a long morning as a single parent!) where the girls played with balloons and ate candy while Mom had a little refreshment.

Then the girls picked some special refreshment of their own - we never let them have these, and they always ask for them, so on this day they got the special "sugar water" in the fun packaging.  (Hey, at least they had several days worth of dairy ingested already!).  We also found fry bread and other delicacies to have for lunch as we wandered around the grounds for hours.
Since both Clara and Elena claim that they will be Ambulance Sisters when they grow up (both driving an ambulance) they were thrilled to meet this woman who currently holds such a position.
What was even more thrilling?  That they got to blare the sirens - "surprising" mom was probably the hit of the day.
More along the dairy lines - the girls were given ice, rock salt, and cream and told to shake and shake.
The resulting ice cream?  Not a winner in their book!
Clara got up her nerve to be in the water balloon throwing event, even though Elena did not accompany her. She might not have actually completed any passes, but this girl loves to be part of a team.
Elena watched from the sidelines with the loot she'd taken in (including several slap bracelets!) at another booth where you were to throw beanbags into holes.  She absolutely rocked that game!
We finished off the day watching feats of strength and heroism from firefighters all around Montana.  Apparently this is an annual show-down where they compete to see who can barge through an iron door the fastest, pull a coiled rope up from the elevated basket most quickly, or can spray water from the hose with the most force.  It was really something!
We were at the parade and picnic for about six hours altogether, and would have stayed longer if we didn't have a scheduled dinner date.  It was an absolute blast.  After our pizza dinner Christina took the girls to the grocery store for a re-enactment of something her father did for her when she was younger.  At about their age he took her into a grocery store and told her she could take home any one thing - poor Christina was completely overwhelmed and bewildered by all the choices, and doesn't remember ending up picking anything.  Clara and Elena are VERY different children.  They made a beeline straight for the stationary aisle and picked out little stuffed animals there, and were absolutely certain of their choice.  It is very fun and enlightening to parent little humans so different from oneself!

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