ROAD TRIP UPDATES: Initially, I was a little disappointed to learn that several of the campgrounds inside of Glacier National park were closed for the summer camping season. Our first night camping in Montana, we stayed at a campsite just outside of the national park, called Dickey Lake – and holy cow, it was breathtaking – see Earl in Dickey lake below.
My husband’s parents and Auntie Bengie accompanied us on the trip and helped us set up camp that first day – and even cooked dinner that night according to the pre-made menu:
“The inconspicuous “Brisket Sandwiches with Caramalized Onions on Hoagie buns, with Au Ju French dipping sauce and San Pelegrino on the side.”
It’s safe to say my husband comes from fancy campers, and we were reaping all of the benefits of high society! We ate and talked, taking in the fresh mountain air, until nightfall – when the more mature among us took off to sleep in a motel and not in the tent – and we prepared for our first night in the wild, open, outdoors.
Our first night in the campsite (and we would come to find it wouldn’t be our last), we were not allowed to cook over a campfire, or even make one to keep warm, due to the smoke from nearby forest fires (to learn more, please check out the following article from MontanaFreePress.org: https://montanafreepress.org/montana-2021-fire-season-smoke-air-quality/ – and pay close attention to the dates on the ‘Last Update’ in the right-most column). If you’re looking further down the page on this same link (https://montanafreepress.org/montana-2021-fire-season-smoke-air-quality/), you’ll find the Air Quality ratings from 1-6; for most of our trip through the West, the air quality ranged from 2-4 (second half of August). It’s safe to say the air quality, and lack of forest fires (no s’mores?!) impacted our camping trip; not to mention the air quality of millions of residents in cities all over the western part of the United States. #ClimateChange
At any rate, the lake itself was serene. My husband were starting to get the idea when we crossed through the mountains ranging from east to west in the entire state of Montana – that this state was absolutely beautiful – but even so, Dickey Lake was truly a gem.
On our way in, we saw what we believe to be a Grouse (https://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=ABNLC09010) — see picture on the left, and during our first hike near the lake, we encountered a bird that resembled the Western Tanager (https://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=ABPBX45050), see photo on right. Please check out the photos within this post, and let me know what kind of birds you think these were in the comments!
As for the lake, the water was somehow clear and turquoise blue simultaneously (see photo on the left) – and very cold, even the first day we arrived when the high was in the 80s (degrees Fahrenheit). The second day the temperature dropped to a high of 55 degrees Fahrenheit (+/-10 degrees or so), and our lack in fires became a little more dire, so unfortunately we decided not to swim in the lake after all.
HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT UPDATES: So, I really didn’t want to tell Ally this, however at some point during the camping trip I had a bad dream about the house. In the dream, we came home and found weird chipped paint and rusty nails everywhere, a room had somehow been added(?), and then I had to sneak out of a new porch that had been added to get out of the back door. At the time, I did not relay this to Ally, because she might be tempted to end the surprise and send me evidence of the work done on the house – and thank God I did not ask her to either, as the surprise was definitely worth the wait.
Especially, since by this time, SUNTEX had completed the installation of:
- (9) brand new Elevate windows
- Power washing and Cleaning, the driveway, sidewalk and house; and completed the Exterior Paint including the Trim (SherwinWilliams.com, Rosemary Green (SW 6187) and Netsuke (SW 6134))
- Norandex Gutters surrounding the home, with well-thought out locations for the downspouts
- Fixing the back door so that it closes (fixing our DIY installation)
- Fixing our sliding barn-door project, which allows us more space in the primary bedroom, bathroom, and closet (fixing our DIY installation)
- Fixing the backyard fence which was falling down – including agreeing to fix my neighbors portion for congruence
While there’s certainly plenty to cover, allow me focus on the windows for a moment.
Our home was built in the early 2000’s, so it’s not very old – however the windows were certainly sub-par, and a couple had cracks from even before the winter storm tested their durability.
We initially requested the basic, Picture-style Elevate windows (inn white) – check out the features shown below:
For more information about the type of products SUNTEX offers for windows and window repair, please check out former Blog post on SUNTEX Window Products, here: https://suntexllc.com/product-deep-dive-energy-efficient-windows/.
Earlier in our search, we entertained one or two other window bids to see just exactly how window products compared. As new home owners, we had no idea what we were looking for at first.
The best windows we saw had a thick, five-layer custom design to trap heat and filter UV light. They allowed you to open the window pane in the middle of the window, so that you could lean it towards yourself and clean it, without removing the screen or going outside. Of course, there were likely tons of other features that I’m leaving out here – but the one thing I won’t forget was the price, which we unfortunately could not afford at the time. Thankfully, some time later, SUNTEX was able to step in and work with our budget, and find windows of incredible quality. The elevate windows Ally pitched me even had the key features I was hoping for: environmentally sustainable (thicker, more durable window panes), with the ability to open the window in the middle and fold it up to clean (admittedly, I am irrationally drawn to this feature).
That said, when Ally brought one to my house to familiarize myself with the look and feel, I knew these were the ones we were dreaming of! I couldn’t believe she could find them within our budget. It’s no surprise, well-knowing their work ethic and attention to quality, that SUNTEX would do an incredible job. What did surprise me however, was the amount of love in the work they did. You could see it in every detail of each project. In addition to the long list of completed projects above, Jose and his team added sealant around all of the doors – which we hadn’t even discussed – to help us out with energy costs, and mitigating pests coming in. Wood trim was also added to the garage door frame (unobtrusively) to mitigate light and air coming through, again leading to lower energy bills. Ally made sure that the team cleaned up both inside and outside after the work was done – to make sure that everything looked perfect for our arrival home. We weren’t sure what to expect when coming home, so this granted a breath of fresh air, and a warm welcome home – but more on that to come later.