Sunday, August 14, 2005

Montana: Day 3

Sunday evening was the wedding, so we had some time during the day to see sights or otherwise kill time. While Evelin's parents and siblings headed into Billings to wander around downtown, we headed out to Pictograph Cave State Park. Driving over the butte to Bitter Creek Valley, we passed a big tower farm on the rimrocks overlooking the city; we also had a good look across the valley to the butte that's home to the airport.

The caves were pretty neat, although the pictographs were hard to see. It was a short paved trail up the butte to three indentions/caves, only one of which had cave paintings. The rest of the walk highlighted the natural and archaeological history of the site. Celeste did a little walking on the trail, but had a much easier time going downhill than uphill.

Afterwards, we decided to grab a quick lunch before Celeste's nap. We headed into Billings to the Montana Brewing Company, the local brewpub. It was pretty tasty: I had a white pizza (which Celeste stole some mushrooms and artichokes from) and Evelin had a burger. The sampler of their beers had a mix of the good (the Fatbelly Amber and Scotch Ale) and the bad (the Huckleberry Hefeweiße).

Apparently, huckleberries are quite popular in the Rocky Mountain West. They were available in everything from candies to jam to syrup to hefeweiße, but we never saw any plain huckleberries. I asked our waitress at the brewpub, and she said she didn't think she'd ever had a plain huckleberry, but products made with an extract or concentrate. It seems they have a very short season and aren't really cultivated domestically; people have to harvest them in the wild. In any case, some of the huckleberry candies were good, but huckleberry hefeweiße is a definite no.

While we were finishing up our lunch, G--- and G--- (Evelin's brother and his girlfriend) wandered down the street. We called them over and chatted for a while. Celeste was a little wary of her uncle, but she really seems to like his girlfriend. As we left and headed to our respective cars, we passed a few of the Bighorn Magic sculptures [gallery]. I know it's not high art or anything, but I still like the trend of temporary public art installations like this.

The afternoon was spent with a good nap for all three of us and then Evelin and Celeste gave the hotel swimming pool a try. Evelin's been meaning to take Celeste to the pool all summer, but just hasn't had the chance. It turns out Celeste liked the water. She didn't try to swim off on her own or anything, but she did some splashing and kicking, and she enjoyed watching the older kids running and splashing around the pool.

After cleaning up, we got ready for the wedding, arriving at the church in Laurel a little early. We got to see some of Evelin's family that we hadn't yet run into, and Celeste enjoyed herself walking around from person to person to person. She didn't want to be picked up by anyone else, but she like having Evelin's or my hands to hold on to while exploring.

We started the ceremony with Celeste in the chapel, but she started to get restless, so Evelin ran her out to the nursery. About half-way through the ceremony, I switched off with Evelin so that she could see the rest of the wedding. Celeste probably would have been fine in the nursery with the babysitter and two other kids, but we're overprotective or something ...

During the reception, Celeste continued her walking around, which was endlessly fascinating to some of the 4- and 5-year-olds who were there, too. She also danced a little with her grandfather. We ended up cutting out fairly early in hopes of getting her to bed before she was too overtired, but it ended up being a rough night with her waking almost hourly.

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