Mountain Retreat Vacation House in Big Sky, Montana

The Big Sky Mountain Retreat House, also known as the original Montana Escape, is located directly in the center of Big Sky, Montana. In November 0f 2003 the home was selected to be featured on Fine Living TV’s 10 Perfect Winter Wonderlands. At that time the home was lacking a master tub and a bit more space. Over the years the owners have had the pleasure of working with Alan Roos of Coyote Creek Construction in expanding and enhancing the living space – all the while keeping within a reduced footprint and budget. The end product is 3700 square feet of a perfect Big Sky Mountain Retreat House that all guests will continue to appreciate.

Big Sky, Montana is considered one of the Coolest Mountain Towns and one of the top 10 ranked by the Mens Journal.  Is it that fact that there’s no waiting in long lift lines or the crisp and fresh thin mountain air? The views? The thousands of skiable acres? Whatever the reason, Big Sky Montana is a great place to live the high life.

Visitors come to Yellowstone National Park looking for wildlife. Many will have their first and only encouter with wildlife in their lifetime. The Mountain Retreat House sits in a prime wilderness zone in Yellowstone County. It’s far enough away from the summer crowds of The Park, but remarkably close to 5 star fine dining and world class sking. Visitors to the Mountain Retreat House and to Yellowstone may find wildlife such as moose just outside The Park, in Big Sky, Montana. When Yellowstone is the busiest, is also when the wildlife population of the villages of Big Sky, Montana increases.

This home’s location, nestled among old growth trees overlooking breathtaking views of Big Sky, was selected for the easy drive to the Gallatin River, Ousel Falls as well as the Ski Runs from the Yellowstone Club to Moonlight Basin. Its located in Aspen Grove, a development of one half to three acre home sites closest to the Town Center and both Big Sky Mountain and Meadow villages. When you are at the Mountain Retreat House, you’ll feel like you’re miles away from the rush of day-to-day life, yet it is conveniently located less than a hour from the Bozeman airport – It’s only a 40 minute flight from Salt Lake City!

Whether you and your family enjoy world class powder skiing or fishing for that trophy rainbow trout, Big Sky is the place and this is “The House”. It has 4 private suites, each with its own bath; one with a wet steam room and one with a huge soaker tub and a walk in shower. All bedrooms have mountain and forest views. The main master bedroom is steps from a private 5 person hot tub. Enjoy spectacular night views that include shooting stars and the milky way. The hot tub and steam shower are perfect after a long day of carving the ski slopes.

This little guy was born on the property just steps from the patio!

This little guy was born on the property just steps from the patio!

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (23 of 40)

boatin through the delta

boatin through the delta

delta blues…
“woke up one morning, do do do sat right up in bed, do do do pour myself some whiskey, do do do i look over and kiss my baby still asleep in bed, and then i cried ive got the delta blues,  the delta blues baby  oooh ive got the delta blues.

we’re traveling to the mekong delta to a home stay on a fruit orchard. locals have been starting an ecotourism on the islands of the delta  where you arrive by boat to rustic bungalows on their property. the average costs are around 7 to 10 dollars a night and the dinners are usually a set menu.

a 400 lb catfish was caught here last year (biggest ever!)

a 400 lb catfish was caught here last year (biggest ever!)

in the delta the local specialty is the elephant ear fish. first they cook the fish on the grill which they fuel with the husk of the rice, giving the fish a flakey crust. then they stand the fish up in between some wooden dowels so you can see the fish (i couldn’t see an elephant ear). next they bring you an assortment of fresh greens and herbs with a plate of rice noodles and rice papers. you place the greens first, next some noodles and top it of with the flakey fish. roll it up and savor the fresh creation.

we chose a home stay on a fruit orchard which proved to be difficult to reach on our own. we tried to do this without a tour company so we could move on our own schedule. we first booked a 1 day tour of the mekong to reach one of the islands (this was recommended to us so we could see a few diffrent things and also advance further along)  we were planning to get off the tour half way through and catch a ferrry to another island. the remainder of the group would return to saigon.

taking a rest

taking a rest

on the tour we first visited a local coconut candy shop where they make a delicious coconut taffy. then we took the boat to a bee farm where the locals capture the queen bee to produce honey. another attraction was the pythons which you can hold and take your picture with. if you wish, you can stay here at their home stay – we thought it might not be such a good idea to sleep at a home stay with with snakes and bees.

so here is where we decided to travel by the seat of our pants.

picture stacy and i with our packs (that weigh around 60 pounds each). our boat guide tells us it’s around ten km to the boat ferry, so we catch a local horse and buggy taxi to the dock (turns out the 10 km was only about 1 km).  we reach the ferry only to find out it was the wrong one. our ride cost us 6 dollars – looks like the driver will be eating steak and lobster tonight.

mekong canals

mekong canals

so then we had to hire motorbikes to take us to the bus stop, which scared the shit out of stacy. with the heavy packs, we were on the scooter with some random guy, zooming along a large bridge that went up and down like a roller coaster – we held on for dear life. were dropped off on the side of the road and greeted by the local vender who offered us a chair and some shade. at this point no one spoke any english so we just smiled and let the trip unfold.

soon after, the shop vender yells out at a mini van passing by to negotiate our bus ticket. seconds later were stuffed into the minivan. one thing about bus travel is that, when we get on, they make the locals get out of their seats so we can have the seat. we feel a little weird, but since we’re paying more than everyone else its ok. the driver gives the local vender a little kick and away we go.

now the stares begin…everyone usually turns to you smiles and laughs and talks in vietemese. our minivan cargo consists of 12 people, 1 motorbike, lots of boxes, and us. eventually one of the girls started a conversation of broken english to get our story. come to find out she wants stacy to find another boyfriend and she wants me (understandable –  i’m pretty damn good looking).

river house

river house

i have to decline but she still continues to share her fruit and coffee with us. 5 hours later were dropped off at the bus station (the wrong one again). here we have to hire another motorbike to the car ferry. we get on the bikes and away we go to the wrong ferry. the guys are gone before we realize and now we need to get to the car ferry to reach our orchard island. lucky for all travellers, help is always one step away (for the right price).  we’re now the most frustrated we have ever been. we must hire a boat to take us directly to the family ranch or take another scooter ride to the right ferry.  once we calmed down, we bit the bullet and hired the boat ride directly to the orchard guest house.  this $7 a night room has just cost us a total of $35 to get there.

looking through out boat

looking through out boat

after spending two relaxing nights, a day of boating around the floating market and canals, we left on our way to the cambodian border.  another motorcycle ride on skinny little pathways and bridges and we made it to our bus – a local bus. once again the seats were cleared for us and we were on our way to chau doc.  we were told the ride should be about 4 hours long.  after the first hour or so we hit traffic.  we were at a dead stop on the road behind a line of working trucks, minivans, and other buses.  the roads beside the bus are filled with scooters and people.  the scooter guys are poaching people from the buses and vans, and at this point we don’t know whats going on.  ladies are walking up to the windows selling everything from cold water and towels to grilled corn, sticky rice, gum, you name it.  we sat in this traffic line, moving slowly – inch by inch – for at least an hour until we reached a ferry dock.  we realized what the scooters were doing now.  in the distance you could see major construction of a massive bridge.  until it gets completed, this ferry line would be a daily activity for most.

coconut candy makers

coconut candy makers

finally we had fresh air blowing in the bus again (local bus means no AC, just hot sticky and sweaty – smells real good).  an hour later we stop for lunch.  we take a seat and realize everyone’s looking at us again.  guess we’re in an area where not too many westerners pass through.  we sit down sipping our pepsi over ice and take in the silent stares.  i (jeff) begin rolling a ciggy and an old man with ho chi minh characteristics, who has been sweeping around us, takes notice.  he stops.  he stares. he smiles.  we come to realize, maybe he hasn’t seen a rolly since the last time he came across americans some 30 years ago.  jeff offers him one and he smiles and sits down in acceptance.  by now, he’s smoking in silence with a smile, others from the bus are circling around us in silence, and we just sit there and take it all in.  very much like when robin williams returns to neverland in hook and all the lost boys surround him in curiosity staring and touching.  finally the old man says two or three words softly and kindly (we have no idea what he said).  but they were probably the softest words we’ve heard in all of the vietnam language.  after this surreal moment, we load back on the bus and in a few more hours we arrive at our destination.

coconut candy...like caramel

coconut candy...like caramel

we hop on the back of a bike – with both our bags and both of us…major weight – and the guy rides us around from hotel to hotel until we find one that fits us.  now we’ve settled in, we have a great balcony to watch the kites fly in the sky, the mellow traffic below and enjoy the 24 pack of beer 333 that jeff bought and the many mangoes stacy bought.  we’re happy campers.

wo here we are, do do do do, ice cold beer in my hand, do do do do, killin them mosquitoes to survive, do do do do, hopin my next ride will be alright, do do do do , cause that’s how the mekong delta blues carries you through the night, do do do do…

xo”

honey bee man

honey bee man

mekong bees - can you find the queen?

mekong bees - can you find the queen?

wildman jeff

wildman jeff

water buffalo - keeping it cool

water buffalo - keeping it cool

starting to charge a bit now...

starting to charge a bit now...

$6 horse and carriage ride - what a rip off!

$6 horse and carriage ride - what a rip off!

boatin it - its been a looong day

boatin it - it's been a looong day

typical mekong scene

typical mekong scene

cute little whiskers!

cute little whiskers!

wood

wood

watermelon

watermelon

stacy

stacy

jeff in front of our homestay

jeff in front of our homestay

mekong cathedral

mekong cathedral

canal scene

canal scene

boy peeling fruit

boy peeling fruit

floating market

floating market

house

house

schools out

school's out

arriving in chau doc

arriving in chau doc

jeff + beer = happy camper

jeff + beer = happy camper

moon rising

moon rising

dusk settling from our balcony view

dusk settling from our balcony view

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (22 of 40)

chna beach surf

china beach surf

where to begin?????
“let’s see, we spent 8 days in china beach which is located half way between danang and hoi an. and we loved every second of it.  the only reason we left was cause we’ve now started a bit of a schedule to meet my mom.  but, open long beach, very similar to hosugar (sp?) of southern france according to jeff, just not quite the waves right now. though, we did get one day of surf there. that’s right, WE.  i kinda freaked and came in fairly quickly though cause it was getting too big for the likes of me.

jeff or mike, i think mike (new friend)

jeff or mike, i think mike (new friend)

our little hotel was quaint, on a dirt road that led to the beach where two little seafood restaurants were.  the first few nights the vacant pine forest separated our hotel and the beach filled up with hundreds of high schoolers (you can see it in some older pics) going crazy with karaoke, games, singing and dancing…the vietnamese girls know how to get down.  we were pulled into a few little dance circles not sure what to do, and both of us were pretty seductively ‘freaked’ by the locals… pretty funny. we have it all recorded (with sound)..classic.

from china beach we chose to stay one night in hoi an; a beautiful city with plenty of old architecture NOT destroyed by the wars past. we rented a motor and went a few days from china beach, but chose not to stay cause it was pricier than where we were anticipating and hot, with no beach at your doorstep.  we got some clothes made, had some traditional foods and then were on our way south to jungle beach, another beach paradise north of nhe trang by 60km.

stacy - surfs up!

stacy - surf's up!

our clothes and a pair of sandals turned out pretty good and we were on our way, back on the night bus onward south.  we heard about jungle beach through our china beach place owner, hoa (a very nice guy who loves his beer).  we got on our bus, got some cozy beds, and at 4:30am we were dropped off alone in the middle of nowhere at a gas station. we made it.

to our surprise, but not really cause we’re in vietnam, two guys came out of the bushes and offered us rides to jungle beach, which is a 30km ride from there.  after some negotiating we were on our way, once again on the back of a scooter with our way-too-large of bags (we weighed them and they are each teetering on 60lbs!!!).  we had an amazing cruise, starting in the dark with the stars, then watching the sunrise over these beautiful landscapes of rice paddies and what smelled like cow fields.  we hit the water, went through a small village, and voila, we were at the jungle beach.

china beach sunrise

china beach sunrise

an amazing place. it really was a backpackers resort.  a private-ish beach, white sands, warmer water than where we had just come from (not that it was cold by any means, even up there), beautiful landscapes of jungle and hills with boulders and monkeys, great little rustic bungalows, play areas with a ping pong table, and some great food. it was ‘all inclusive’ per se – 22 bucks each, which included all meals and housing.  alcohol was extra. overall a bit pricier than we were used to, but the experience was great and worth every bit of it.

it was really something out of ‘the beach’ but all positives… there were around 20 of us for the three days we were there.  you get up around 7 or 8ish, walk around the beach, come up for a delicious breakfast that you get to pick (great scrambled eggs, the best yet, pancakes, frenchtoast…) then you do what you do best and hang on the beach. we all have our own little shades made of bamboo and we laid out, read and surfed. thats right, surfed!

morning volleyball sessions, china beach

morning volleyball sessions, china beach

jeff finally had his moments. me too! it was great.  we showed up in the morning, everyone already down on the beach, but nobody was messing with the shitty, but workable surfboards.  jeff picked up the long board, hit some waves, showed me how, and then everyone was out wanting to learn – it was great and hilarious. jeff was pushing german guys bigger than him on the board into a wave.  everyone else was from europe so they had no experience but were dying to learn. it was so much fun!

at lunch we’re all summoned from the beach by the nice ladies and served a family style meal that is absolutely delish.  we go back to the beach, repeat, the ladies bring us amazing juicy fresh fruit in the afternoon, beach, then dinner at 6ish…amazing food again.  and then it’s back to the beach for party and bonfires with guitar and singing galore.  it just felt so good to be surrounded by people of like minds doing what we do best…chillin. we listened and sang and just had an awesome time with great people.  it was one of those moments where we were waiting for something bad to happen cause everything was so great. even the local guys were singing on the beach and sharing some local folk songs.

another china beach sunrise

another china beach sunrise

after a few days though, we had to depart.  sylvio, the canadian trippy owner booked us a night train to saigon and we were on our way. coincidentally, 10 others were leaving so the timing was right.  hopefully we’ll run into some again on the road…. the travel road always seems to be smaller than it really is.

we arrived in saigon, now ho chi minh city at 4:30am after a well rested train ride, bed and all, got a hotel and started our exploring.  we ended up getting a cyclo, a three wheel bike and drove around town.  our driver was hilarious and even famous; he got his photo taken riding his bike in some tourist mag. he wooed us with his charm and we were on our way.

little girl, wish we knew what she was saying

little girl, wish we knew what she was saying

first to the war remnants museum, the last of our war visits.  a moving, depressing, amazing museum, definitely from the VC prospective.  the favorite part of it was the section dedicated to all the correspondence/photographers that had lost their lives in the war. an amazing photo collection…the most moving part of the museum. american, french, english, japanese, korean, and vietnamese photographers. such telling stories.  there was also a section on agent orange (appaling pictures and even two or three you could call it, real babies kept in liquid so you can witness the atrocities the poison causes), the tiger cage jails that the south used, one containing an old french guillotine (old school be-header) that was used through the early 60′s, old weapons/bombs, and alas, a beautiful display of local children’s artwork on how they see a peaceful world.  great museum, but we’re done depressing ourselves.

hoi an river

hoi an river

we then moved on the cho’lon, the old china town. it’s not much of a china town now as many migrated/fled during and after the war.  now it’s all in construction with whole blocks being demolished to create new streets. we saw a cool pagoda, lady in the sky , that was built in 906AD.  then he took us for lunch, some delicious pho, our best yet. and he told us more of his past.

oh before that, the best part – he was telling us he has 4 kids (3 boys and 1 girl) where he lives and so forth. he recently found a baby at the rail station. crazy saigon.  no one knew where he came from so he took him home and has been raising him for the last 8 months.  he was telling us this story and then kept saying something but we couldn’t really understand. then it came to us:  he was asking us to take this baby home as our own!!!!!!!!!!! he said he’d accompany us to the police station, get all the paperwork figured out, and then we could take him back to the states with us. he then started pulling out pictures of this adorable little boy. we said thank you but no thank you.  but throughout the day he kept asking…. any takers???

hoi an lanterns...everywhere!

hoi an lanterns...everywhere!

so, we had lunch, he told of us his fight with the south from 68-71ish, he was shot twice but just barely, showing us scars above his eye and on his thumb. one of his two brothers disappeared in the war. the remaining of them served in prison for four years, at the end of the war, until they memorized the words of communism and were able to convince them of their dedication.  now he still isn’t allowed in northern vietnam for his past southern alliance.

it was a great day spent with our friend. now we’re ditchin this massive city and heading south to the mekong…land of fruit and mosquitoes!

i’m sure there’s a lot more to be said, but jeffs waiting patiently outside so its time to go…. plus these computers are so damn slow you have no idea how long this takes just to do this and upload a measly 15 photos….when we have so much more!

peace and love”

hoi an streets

hoi an streets

hoi an alley

hoi an alley

carving station

carving station

old french style building walls

old french style building walls

view from back of our hotel hoi an

view from back of our hotel hoi an

jungle mountains

jungle mountains

campfire singing

campfire singing

our jungle beach bungalow

our jungle beach bungalow

bungalow inside

bungalow inside

classic watch dog

classic watch dog

hoi an market

hoi an market

eggs

eggs

lettuce

lettuce

jungle beach - to the beach

jungle beach - to the beach

path from dining to bungalow

path from dining to bungalow

cyclo with our famous driver

cyclo with our famous driver

ho chi minh sity

ho chi minh sity

our could be son

our 'could be' son

wishes and prayers

wishes and prayers

incense prayer to last a month

incense prayer to last a month

pho lunch with our driver

pho lunch with our driver

our famous driver

our famous driver

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (15 of 40)

bike ride

bike ride

mountain bikes…
“we decided in the morning to rent some mountain bikes and go for a ride to to numerous caves and blue lagoons that lie within the limestone mountains.

we spent the day swimming in the blue lagoon and lounging in the shade. we then completed the ride it was around 30km and took us  into different villages and across many rivers.  i must say the next day we were sore and i think that was our first bit of exercise in months.

everyone comes to this town for one thing:  tubing.  you rent a tube take a tuk tuk up the river where you are dropped off at the first bar. spring break here we come!  ’i remember back in 1989…’ oh sorry that’s another story.

blue lagoon

blue lagoon

lots of loud music ,drinking and a giant rope swing - its a great place to get lubed up and watch the daring tourists swinging out of a tree to drop 30 ft into the river. lots of good laughs watching everyone. one thing they do is write on themselves with a permanent marker [see the blog pictures for more] everyone is just having fun in the sun.

by the way we didn’t rent a tube we just swam the whole way. the tube rental is about $10 us dollars with a $5 deposit and we thought the money was better spent on alcohol. next you swim to the other bar where they greet you with shots of whiskey and a chance to ride their rope swing. so by now im feeling pretty good so i try it out. we spent the next hour jumping off the platform and riding the cable swing into the water.

next across the river to another bar and rope swing.  now both stacy and i  are ready for the rope swings. we had lots of fun and good laughs as we swung across the river into the water. i don’t have to tell you that we had a good buzz by now. so off to the next and here we have a giant concrete slide that launches you into the air and down into the river.  this is a blast but very dangerous. i think i cracked a rib or something – the next few days will tell. stacy launched herself into the river and came up with a huge smile…always good to see.

cool tree

cool tree

everyone at this point is feeling great and the party still going strong. we stuck it out till the sun was going down and grabbed a tuk tuk back to town. its funny to watch as the people come back you see some really drunk people. some don’t even know where they are or how they got here!

we ended the evening after a nap with a cool couple we met up in luang prabang.  she was from ecuador and her husband from switzerland where they now lived.  had a great time comparing countries, travel experiences, and the everyday life.  hopefully we’ll see them again down the road.

we may leave tomorrow down to vien tiane and then work our way to vietnam, we’ll see.  first another swim in the river with the local kids before the sun goes down.  if we don’t get out of town now we’ll coaxed into doing the tubing again with one of our new friends, celebrating his 30th b-day tomorrow. it’d probably be in our best interest (and safety) to get out while we can.

thanks for keeping up with us, we love reading your comments and emails!

peace and love and tubing!”

jeff & spanish friends

jeff & spanish friends

giant limestone rock

giant limestone rock

lots of cows!

lots of cows!

kids splashing

kids splashing

swimming

swimming

river crossing with our bikes

river crossing with our bikes

locals crossing

locals crossing

zipline
jeff jumpin

jeff jumpin

jeff smiling

jeff smiling

sunset

sunset

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (14 of 40)

crossing the river in protest of the toll bridge

crossing the river in protest of the toll bridge

party on the river…
“blazing through the towering limestone mountains of laos to the river town of vang vieng we arrive in our mini bus.

so we’ve been taking lots of minibuses and each time you think your going to be riding in the brand new one sitting at the bus station, but when the time comes they always bring the old van around from the back. well, our luck has changed and we finally had the pleasure our of riding in a new minivan with a great ac and plenty of power.  since the car was so new our driver was a litttle timid and liked to brake when diving up hill.  oh well, the ac worked great.

our bungalows, jeff and his beer

our bungalows, jeff and his beer

the landscape is beautiful here in laos.  we loved thailand but here it’s all blue skies and greenery with the classic limestone giants towering in the air.

we found a nice bungalow across the river down towards the end of town.  when we arrived at the bridge to cross, they wanted 4000kp to cross, so we decided just to walk across the water instead.  having to wade across the river each time you want to go home makes for a great adventure – plus you can go for a swim and cool off!

our first night we joined our travel friends for a great meal on the streets.  we tried the fried morning glory and fired noodles with chicken and chased it down with a large beer lao. then we went to the bucket bar for a bucket of wiskey.  in asia it seems to be your best value but the hangover is very bad.  even worse was the dj who was playing at the club.  so we sat and watch 3 boys that look like girls dance and grind on the pole – not a pretty sight.  it seemd to work because every 10 minutes or so you would see a guy walk up and go for a hug, then jump back 5 feet and run away while his buddies would laugh.

more about our mountain bike excursion next time…”

sunrise

sunrise