We first saw it in Outside Magazine: a carriage house, lovingly transformed into a studio apartment, situated on 107 acres of ranch land in Bozeman, Montana, available for booking as an airbnb. The magazine clip promised bubbling creeks, swimming ponds, and pristine land to explore.
Staring at the photo, we dreamed of a few days surrounding by nature’s beauty with our twins. Let’s go there!
We usually spend months ruminating over a potential vacation spot. But, for some reason, we felt compelled to book it the day we saw the carriage house in the magazine. Something about the carriage house and the ranch land spoke to us.
And so, we packed our bags and flew into Bozeman, MT, ready to explore with our kids. On the 30 minute drive from Bozeman’s quaint airport, we passed grass-grazing cows, alpaca, and horses. Our kids looked out their windows, saying, “Oh! Look! Cows, Mama!” and “Daddy, I see horses!”
As we navigated the rolling hills and dirt roads, we approached the carriage house. Oftentimes, we dream of grander things than the reality. But, in this instance, the carriage house and its surroundings blew us away. It was perfect.
After meeting the land’s owners (Mary and Ken), our kids quickly changed into their water shoes and started to wade through ankle-deep water in the nearby creek. They collected rocks in little buckets, splashed us and each other, and played until they started shivering. We headed back into the cabin, gave them a warm bath, and spoiled ourselves with hot cocoa on the picnic table. We filled ourselves with simple pleasures.
Over the next couple of days, we hiked up a hill onto the biggest alfalfa field we’ve ever seen in person, surrounded by mountains; we hiked up to a waterfall; our kiddos made houses “for bunnies” with grass and sticks; we threw stones into a swimming pond; and just followed our kids’ lead. They usually found the good stuff. Kids are natural explorers.
As we packed our bags at the end of our stay, we knew that, someday, we’d be back with our kids.
Our next trip to the carriage house will be different, if only because our kids will be a year or two older. They may return to their old stomping grounds — the creek, the tall grass, and the swimming ponds — but I suspect they’ll find new places to explore too.
And we’ll be with them. Exploring Mary’s and Ken’s ranch land with the fresh eyes of childhood.