I’ve been busy….

August 26, 2016

working some fat off! This is me in my school group picture. I cried when I saw it and immediately made a copy, cut out the kids, and kept this in my planner for “inspiration”, I guess you could say. I wasn’t ready to do anything about it then. I was still struggling daily, hourly, it seems, with depression. It took another few months and literally climbing a mountain to finally pull out of that dark place and start living again. The right side is me last night. I feel so much better!

before after midway

So, what is the secret? I wish I could say that it’s easy.

1. Keto. I cut the sugar completely. My sugar, I mean my daily Coke habit, sweet tea, most fruits, and all other sources like stress jar candy. (yes, it’s a thing. Don’t judge Winking smile )

2. I am eating/drinking a lot of FAT. Good fat.

3. I do not think or count calories. I just eat protein, vegetables, and fat. I will occasionally add some starchy vegetables like potatoes.

4. I walked a ton and ran a few miles a week. I did not up my running mileage but I did greatly increase my walking.

As an avid Whole 30 and Paleo fan, I’m ashamed to put these pictures out there. I was at my healthiest weight and loving a 2 year journey with those 2 approaches to health. After we lost the baby, I kept thinking the depression would gradually go away and it DID NOT. A year and half later, I finally started to see and feel some changes mentally, emotionally, and physically.

So what’s next? I have a ways to go. These pictures are a great starting point, but I’m not done. The weight fell off so fast with the first weeks of keto and now I’m slowing down to 1-3 lbs a week. I’m also not strict keto because I’m adding more starchy carbs as my half marathon training is ramping up. I also know from experience that training for a race can cause my body to hold on to every calorie. I won’t panic over stalls and plateaus but I’m so glad I’ve now removed 30lbs of weight off my frame.

I’ll share more as I start posting more. I have recipes and book reviews and racing tips and training plans to talk about. I also plan to start the very large September Whole 30 that’s coming up soon! More details soon Smile

Thanks for reading, those who still check in!

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Trucks by the Tracks

August 25, 2016

One of the things I’m ecstatic about seeing around town is the increase in food trucks! I have seen them at farmer’s markets in Birmingham and they are a mainstay in markets out west. I thought it would take a few more years to see Tuscaloosa and Northport allow food trucks to operate, but they have gained a steady popularity this summer. While Tuscaloosa is still meeting and discussing the downtown district, Northport created a local event once a month just for food trucks. A few weeks ago, I got to visit Trucks by the Tracks and I am hoping for a few more dates this fall.

The “Tracks” refer to this wonderful section of train trestle at the end of historic Main street in downtown Northport. The live band played right along with the whistles and the sounds of trains on a wood trestle.

Trucks by the Tracks 3

Several different varieties of food trucks lined the large area down the street. There were some seating bleachers and picnic tables in the shade.

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Two of my favorite food trucks. Tea Town Alabama and Local Roots. I can not say enough about Tea Town. I have a post just for my favorite food truck in the works. There have been some hints about their store front fall events. You want to get in on that, trust me!

Trucks by the Tracks 6

A hot summer night with some cold Watermelon mint. I might drop by later and see if the Gardners can make a Peach mint for me.

Tea Town Alabama

I have major love for Local Roots. They have a great menu of a few key dishes that rotate depending on their ingredient availability. The “local” part is legit. They source from area farms, which is right up my sweet southern sustainable alley. I love reading that my arugula came from the same farm that I get my CSA basket from each week.

Eat Local Roots

This is a thing of beauty. This is the Honey Pig (no bun..gluten…a big nope). I’m not sure which part was my favorite. The homemade pickles stood out first and then the sauce and pork took me to happy places. My only regret was not ordering 2 so I could have it for lunch.

local roots tuscaloosa

Even though the weather was sweltering (as is common in July in Alabama), this food truck event was fantastic. I certainly plan to be back and to stay a while to take in the changing of the seasons and the simple pleasures of good food with good people. That’s the Alabama way.

Trucks  by the Tracks 2

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Whole Foods Favorites

August 23, 2016

whole foods finds

Vacation is over, so it’s time for the post-vacay, return-to-real-food, shopping spree at Whole Foods. Traveling an hour to the closest store is a great excuse to visit Pepper Place market, Trader Joes, and Lush. A girl’s gotta have some me time, you know. I did pull out an older shirt that now fits me!

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My list of staples from Whole Foods has evolved over the year. With the growth of our local farmer’s market, I’m no longer filling my cart with produce. Most of it is more regional, not local. And a large portion of produce is not regional at all. Unless I see some greens from this area of the state or sweet potatoes and peaches from Chilton county, I usually move on to the rest of my list.

Tessemaes is still a big favorite in my house. I can do many things with chicken, vegetables, and a bottle of Tesses. That lemon chesapeake is great with shrimp, too.

Tessemaes

Next on my list is a new company in Alabama called Harvest Roots. I first heard about them from Jonathan over at Tea Town Alabama. He had some of their kombucha on tap and it was an instant favorite. Harvest Roots is the first legal wild fermentory in Alabama. True story. Fermented foods are a crucial for healing the gut. So much research is pouring out lately about the gut-brain connection. With Celiac disease, I’m always mindful of taking steps to keep my gut lining happy and fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc are great sources of fermented foods. And they make a fabulous elderberry kombucha. I also found some these to try. I look forward to sharing some recipes using these.

Harvest Roots 2

Harvest Roots

When I turned the corner and saw this Wall of Magnificence, I think I squealed a little. I’ve been buying Steve’s Paleo Goods online for a few years now and I was so excited to see it in a store. Stephen always keeps a bag of granola in his lunchbox because “a handful goes a long way”. Protein, my dear. Protein. This store had a limited variety and the nice guy I talked to said they are pleased with the demand so more items should be coming this fall.

steves paleo

The other staples I stock up on include frozen vegetables (check the labels for grown in USA), bulk packages of chicken and beef, gluten-free cider, almond butter, coconut butter, Amazing Grass greens powder, coconut aminos, fish sauce, sunflower butter, olive oils, and the occasional huge jug of cold brew coffee. Today’s haul was not very big, but it was hefty in flavor and nutrition.

Whole foods haul

The next stop was the hot bar. Bacon-wrapped jalepeno cream cheese chicken things. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE??? I added some collards, spicy chicken and a piece of fried plantain.

whole foods bar

These are some favorites and I’m sure I’ll have another list once fall gets going and soup season arrives. Have a great week!

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Morning miles

August 22, 2016

Now that I live closer to the local park, I am trying to work in my morning running. I was  little worried that I might be alone out here at daylight, but I was one of about 8 people taking trips around the track. There is a quiet solitude about running at dark. I actually like it more than I thought. It brought back some happy memories of my first years of running Smile

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After my shower, I needed my coffee fix. This is the second full week of kindergarten and I’m definitely feeling better without all the sugar that I depended on my previous years of teaching. But if I don’t have coffee….

Image result for sweatpants and coffee

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This afternoon, I finally checked out my CSA share from Snow’s Bend. During these few weeks of hot summer, the shares are a little smaller because only kids and kudzu love this heat. Vegetables are not a big fan. I’m ready for the abundant fall crops to harvest! For this share, I’ll make the okra for Stephen. I’m making eggplant lasagna, an arugula sauce to go with something roasted, the peppers are for stir fry, and the cucumber is for my face and for dipping into some herb dip mixes we bought in Colorado. I may make a yogurt tzatziki sauce with some leftover cucumbers.

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Happy Monday everyone. May it be kind to all. Open-mouthed smile

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A sure sign of creeping closer to fall is when I start race training. June, July, and most of August are miserable and I’m usually maintaining mileage on a treadmill or getting in some dawn miles. I HATE training in humidity, but there is not much I can do about early humidity training except move and well, I love living in Tuscaloosa. This weekend, I finished my first long run to train for Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah in November. I’m also going to make a trip to St. Louis in October for a remix. I’m running the 5K and the 10K back-to-back days. It’s my first remix and I’m so excited about trying this. If anyone wants to join me, use the code KATRINARUNS to register at a discount.

Because it’s the first long run, I had to join the masses at the Riverwalk. I love this stretch of running path. I just wish it was longer or that it connected to longer paths. I can run the loop twice and get 8-9 miles so I have a few more weeks to enjoy this route. Then, I’ll pick up trail training at Lake Lurleen. The long loop is 16 miles.

The trees are green for now. But I know soon, I’ll enjoy tons of great color. The city planners used a wide variety of beautiful trees to line the entire path. I’m so ready for those colors!

Riverwalk2

Riverwalk3

riverwalk

First week of training is in the books. Bring on week 2!

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The Power of the Plank

July 15, 2016

I often hear various reasons or barriers of why people do not want to try CrossFit or other heavy-lifting classes. One of the most common is the idea that people MUST already be in great physical condition before trying a class. I know there are many different CrossFit franchises and each one is different. One thing they should have in common is the ability to scale ANY workout for ANY fitness level. If your CrossFit gym is not beginner-friendly, it’s time to find a new one.

That being said, I understand that inner voice that says “you don’t want to be the (insert adjective)______ in the room”. It should be that way. We should feel confident and confortable taking those first steps into a new fitness journey. But if it was that easy, everyone would be joining us. So what’s something we CAN do?

power of the plank

If there was 1 exercise that works many different muscle groups, it is the plank. It won’t get you ripped in 2 weeks, but it does something even better that the mirror won’t immediately show. CORE STABILITY. Just a few minutes a day works on strengthening the core ab and back muscles. You NEED those for CrossFit. You NEED those for posture, walking, breathing. You NEED core stability for injury prevention. So while you are working up the brass tacks to walk into a new work of fitness/strength training, grab 5 minutes in the bathroom if you have to, and drop into a plank. You will be AMAZED at the muscles you’ll feel the next morning.

The BASIC forearm plank is a great place to start. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t hold it long. Get your phone timer and time your first attempt. Rest 1 minute. Repeat. Do this for 5 minutes. RECORD your times. Nothing and I do mean NOTHING is more motivating than seeing rock solid proof in print that you are improving. Those non-scale-victories will happen sooner than the ones measured by compliments or mirrors. Better yet, you’ll feel awesome because you’ll be walking taller with a stronger core.

 

source

Jazz things up with a straight-arm plank. Follow the same workout as the basic. WRITE IT DOWN!!

source

By the time you are ready for this variation, you should be consistently doing strength work (home, gym, class, etc). This is so much harder than it looks. And it is absolutely a goal to put on your vision board and strive hard to reach.

source

The power of the plank is usually realized a few weeks of steady use. I love heavy lifting. I love using weights for legs. What I lack the most is core stability and I know from previous experience that the powerful plank is the first key to improving that stability.

Happy Friday!

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runcation eagle creek

One of the best parts of being a lifelong runner is taking advantage of the infamous “racecation”. That is a getaway for the purpose of running a race. It can be a one-night stay in a budget hotel filled with band campers or biker convention participants or it can extend to weeks-long trips to exotic places. No matter which form of racecation you choose, packing is an endeavor. Packing for a race can be like packing for a month with 5 toddlers. There are bags. And lists. And “must not forgets”. We runners are a superstitious breed. Leaving the house without the lucky socks is tantamount to athletic treason.

After 10 years of running and racing, I finally have the whole thing nailed down.

Check out this display of beauty.

Eagle Creek 2

That, my friends, is a clever Tetris of packing cubes. I am very new to this way of packing and I will NOT be going back to the dig-and-hope method. A few weeks ago, Eagle Creek sent a sample of some of their packing cubes to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Ambassadors. What better group to try out travel cubes? At the time, I had just returned from Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville and my suitcase was a giant mass of shame. And of course, I left my favorite running shirt behind so I had to buy a new one at the expo. I wish I had these with me. A shoe locker is perfect for keeping the sweaty shoe smell (the true sign of a perfectly broken-in shoe) away from the clean clothes. It’s also great for packing the muddy shoes for the ride home.

Eagle Creek

After my race, I had to pack for a trip to New Orleans. I had already ordered more cubes because I wanted to try packing this way before our month-long trip out west. As you can see above, keeping all my clothes organized is WAY better than my previous method. I ordered even more sets for the Colorado trip.

Eagle Creek 3

Eagle Creek packed

What I loved best about the cubes and sleeves is the organization. I could easily roll up my clothes and then FIND them easily when I’m digging in the dark or just plain trying to find the bottom of a massive suitcase. For shorter trips, these cubes organize race clothes, street clothes, and keep wet clothes separate.

The next racecation for me is Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis in October. If you want to join me or register for any remaining 2016 races, use the code KATRINARUNS for 15$ off.

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beat the heat

 

We’ve all heard of the usual things regarding working out in the summer. No-brainers like drink water, dress for the heat, etc. This list is not that different except this is my brutally honest advice. Expert level: Absolut…

1. Just don’t do it.

Stay inside between 10am and midnight. In fact…just stay inside during waking hours. If you MUST workout or run outside, do it between 2am and 6am. If you live in the south, give up the dream now. Resurrect it in October when the humidity will not melt the pores off your face.

2. Drink vodka.

No, not while working out. Save the alcohol for those lazy summer nights when you regret not risking boiling bones to get that training run in. Soak your pity in blueberry vodka. Promise to try again tomorrow. We all know tomorrow is full of promises and the whispers of previous failures. That means that tomorrow is just as hot and miserable as today so save some shots for tomorrow night.

3. Dress in appropriate clothing.

The advice to wear “wicking” and “breathable” clothing is valid for most months of the year. But during the hottest parts of a southern summer, no amount of wicking is going to lessen the severity of that dog-breath feeling that happens while trying to breathe outside.

However, those crazy UK people have an idea..

Ice bras.

 

4. Move

Antarctica. Canada. Greenland. Iceland. Take your pick. Pack your essentials and move.

5. Get up off the couch and woman up.

This is the honest-to-goodness truth. I’ve lived many summers in the south, and most days I just have to ignore the wailings of my previous unhealthy self. Excuses are everywhere and I’m not letting the weather be one of them. I stay hydrated. I wear as little as decently possible. I choose less-miserable times of the day. I go out and get it done and then I drink my nightly cocktail or…..crash for a nap.

Happy Monday everyone!!

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Mt. Evans Colorado

June 20, 2016

It took 3 years of trying, but I finally climbed my first 14er. On our last week in Colorado, we attempted to summit this one with the shortest, but steepest route. And many times, I thought I couldn’t do it, but Stephen kept telling me I could. And I did!

Mt. Evans 1

Mt. Evans 3

Mt. Evans 5

Summit Lake

summit lake storm 3

Mt. Evans summit marker

Mt. Evans descent

Mt. Evans descent 3

Mt. Evans summit lake

summit lake storm 4

Summit lake storm

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The climb back dow, was harder in spots because of sliding rock. I got more scrapes from the descent than I did on the ascent. We drove out of the park area and ran into some hail, sleet, and snow. We stopped into Echo Lake lodge for some ice cream and hot chocolate. After a hard climb, it was well worth the calories.

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Now that I’ve done 1 14er, I’m not sure I’ll do another. Stephen is great at these and he’s made the summit to 4 of them. We will see how next year plays out.

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This morning, we got a late start but decided to do a big hike up to Grinnell Glacier and back down and out to Grinnell Lake. Round trip was about 10 miles and it was OUTSTANDING!! It was another day of blue and green crystal lakes. Some of these look like they were taken in the tropics.

lake josephine 5~

lake josephine 2~

lake josephine 4~

Hotel~

Hotel 3~

grinnell hike 7~

This bridge was tricky! It was a true suspension bridge and it was wobbly. 

grinnell hike 8~

hike to grinnell glacier~

grinnell hike 4~

grinnell hike 3~

lake josephine 3~

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This morning, we struck out early for West Glacier park. We drove up to Polebridge and Kintla lake. These lakes are breath-taking!

kintla lake~

kintla lake 5~

kintla lake 6~

mccarthy house 2~

mccarthy house~

polebridge 7~

polebridge 8~

Before we got to the Kintla Lake, we drove through this small patch of awesome called Polebridge. I loved this store. Over our 9 day stay, we came through 3 times. I got my mug and ornament from this store.

polebridge~

polebridge mercantile~

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After we finished at the lake, we saw this sign…

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Let’s cross the border.

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And maybe fish in Canada.

canada~

After our adventure (10 minutes waving at the sign and surveillance cameras…we didn’t have a passport and it was an abandoned customs outpost. But we knew we were being watched), we hightailed it back down the road to go back to Whitefish. Sunset brings out the wildlife.

deer~

polebridge deer~

It doesn’t get dark until 9:30 ish here. We are close to the Pacific time line and we are very close to the top of the US. These were taken around 9:45.

montana sunset~

montana sunset 2~

montana sunset 3~

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The drive from Whitefish to the East side of GNP takes about 2 hours to arrive at the gate. The drive is long, but it is definitely worth it. I can’t get over how the colors of these waters.

Flathead river 2

flathead river 4 ~

Flathead river 6 ~

Our first stop in the park was Two Medicine lake and we also viewed the Two Medicine campground. The lake is crystal clear!

2 medicine 3 ~

2 medicine campground ~

2 medicine campground 2

After lunch, we drove on up the East side to St. Mary.

St. Mary lake ~

St. Mary lake sunset ~

One lone Kayaker on the lake. This was right before we saw the bear. The BIG bear.

St. Mary lake kiyak ~

This guy. Right here in the water. He was no baby bear. We had driven down to the pier to see the lake from that view. Just as we got our of the car and stood at the bank, park rangers came rushing down and told us and the kayaker to get in our cars and leave asap. They were chasing a bear out of the campground and over to our area.

Of course, we weren’t just going to leave. We stayed out of the way. Lucky for us, the bear jumped in the lake on our side and I got this with my zoom.

bear

Beauty at sunset.

St. Mary lake 3 ~

Glacier National Park 1 ~

east glacier 4 ~

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Whitefish Montana

June 6, 2016

If you need me, I’ll be right here for awhile.

This is the gorgeous Flathead Lake between Kalispell and Whitefish Montana. The water in this lake is tropical blue and mesmerizing.

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Flathead lake 1

Flathead lake 2

Flathead lake 3

Flathead lake 6

We stopped for lunch at Bonelli’s Bistro in Kalispell. It was an open bistro that had plenty of gluten-free options. This was a Greek Panini with artichoke soup. I would definitely recommend this. I was very hungry but this didn’t weigh me down to the point I need buffet britches to walk out. I aim to re-create this soup!  Stephen had a veggie sandwich with salad.

Bonellis Bistro

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After lunch, we finished the drive to Whitefish. It was hot and we needed a treat before we met the owners of the condo. Sweet Peaks Ice Cream was perfect. Salted caramel and double chocolate. They were extremely helpful when Stephen asked them to wash the scoop before they used it. This helps prevent cross contamination. Places like this really help ease our minds.

Ice cream

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For the next few days, we stayed in a townhouse at Whitefish Mountain Resort. It is a ski resort high above the town. So peaceful and beautiful! We had a full kitchen, 2 bathrooms, and plenty of living and sleeping room. The king bed with a 4 inch memory foam top was our favorite. In fact, we are looking for something similar for the new house.

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Tomorrow, we venture into the Glacier National Park.

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Whitefish Montana

June 6, 2016

If you need me, I’ll be right here for awhile.

This is the gorgeous Flathead Lake between Kalispell and Whitefish Montana. The water in this lake is tropical blue and mesmerizing.

flathead lake 7

Flathead lake 1

Flathead lake 2

Flathead lake 3

Flathead lake 6

We stopped for lunch at Bonelli’s Bistro in Kalispell. It was an open bistro that had plenty of gluten-free options. This was a Greek Panini with artichoke soup. I would definitely recommend this. I was very hungry but this didn’t weigh me down to the point I need buffet britches to walk out. I aim to re-create this soup!  Stephen had a veggie sandwich with salad.

Bonellis Bistro

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After lunch, we finished the drive to Whitefish. It was hot and we needed a treat before we met the owners of the condo. Sweet Peaks Ice Cream was perfect. Salted caramel and double chocolate. They were extremely helpful when Stephen asked them to wash the scoop before they used it. This helps prevent cross contamination. Places like this really help ease our minds.

Ice cream

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For the next few days, we stayed in a townhouse at Whitefish Mountain Resort. It is a ski resort high above the town. So peaceful and beautiful! We had a full kitchen, 2 bathrooms, and plenty of living and sleeping room. The king bed with a 4 inch memory foam top was our favorite. In fact, we are looking for something similar for the new house.

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Tomorrow, we venture into the Glacier National Park.

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The road to the West

June 4, 2016

It’s that time of year. This is what I think and dream about beginning in February after football is over and the long stressful spring semester at school beckons.

Go West. This year, we are NOT camping. Living in an RV seems to make us crave the space of hotel rooms and condos. We are also NOT going to several places within the next 3.5 weeks. We are spending our time in 2 places. Whitefish, Montana and Glacier National Park and the rest of the time in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Since Montana is first, we took off around 8pm and finally stopped 24 hours later in Biskmarck, North Dakota. This was by far our longest non-stop leg of travel in all our years of tag-teaming behind the wheel. Check out the scenery.

Do I look like I’ve been riding or driving for 18 hours? I need coffee.

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North Dakota is flat but green. I was expecting something similar to Kansas but the green fields were beautiful here!

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No mountains yet…

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The next day, I dug into the snack bag for this. I love this stuff by Meat ‘n’ Nuts. Between this and truck stop coffee, I’m good for another 10 hours.

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We made it to Montana! We stayed in Missoula, which is just a few short hours south of Whitefish.

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As far as travel eating, we are sticking to things that we know are safe. Cracker Barrel, Wendy’s, grilled meat and baked potatoes at local restaurant. So far, so good.

Tomorrow, we should see mountains!! I can’t wait. I need to get high.

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