As we drove up to the lodge the first day, we could see that the hills on one side of the road were charred and black.
"Oh, look! There's been a fire since we were here last year," my mom said.
The burn line came right up to the road across from the lodge and we commented on how nervous it probably made everyone.
Later we found out that the fire had actually come through there only a few weeks before. In fact, it was burning when our caravan-o-broken-vehicles came through Billings on our way back from California.
The fire crews had kept it away from the lodge by lighting a backfire. Pretty exciting stuff at the time, I'm sure. Altogether, the fire burned around a thousand acres, but is now fully contained.
Before we left Sunday morning, I walked across the road to take pictures of the burned-out area. It had rained all day Saturday and now the hills were covered in a heavy mist. I was wearing white flip flops, not exactly the appropriate footwear to go hiking through soot!
There was a little blue bird house right at the edge of the burned area. As late in the season as it is, I'm pretty sure the babies were all out of the nest at that point. But I hope someone fixes it before Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird arrive next spring.
After the final meeting and a hurried clean-up of our room, we headed down into the town of Red Lodge. It is an absolutely charming old town, full of shops to explore. We didn't have time to explore much, given the 6 hour drive ahead of us, but we managed to find our way to the candy shop.
So did practically everyone else from the retreat.
It was like our 20-minute reunion.
We drove through the residential area on our way out of town. The beautiful, stately, old homes are worth a trip to Red Lodge in and of themselves.
The attention to detail is amazing. After three years, I'm still struggling to get my house painted all one color, let alone painting intricate designs on it!
A lot of the houses had deer grazing in their yards. I guess deer-resistant vegetation must be really big in Red Lodge. I never got a good picture of one because they stayed too far away.
This car was a little more cooperative then the deer about holding still. I can't decide which I like better....
or Black and White...
With photo editing, why choose?
One of my favorites, this house was built in the first decade of the 20th century by a cattle baron and his wife (well, technically, they paid someone else to build it). It was called "ostentatious" in its day, but I think it's perfect.
The couple had no children, but built a house with five bedrooms and who knows how many other rooms besides. It was their summer home; in the winter they stayed in apartments above the bank they also owned.
Not bad for a quaint little summer cottage....
It's easy to feel envious when you think about the kind of people who have a house like this---FOR A SPARE!
But you know, I wouldn't be surprised if, at the time, they felt like they didn't have enough. That they just needed a little bit more to attain perfect contentment. It's so easy to say, "Oh, if I only had __________, I'd be happy." But stuff (even stuff like a fully-functional house) can never fill us up. There will always be something else we "need".
I'm grateful that God is there to fill the emptiness that things can never satisfy. And He's available to everyone, regardless of the state of their checking account.