After having lunch with Auntie, Nolemana and I headed back into town to buy a pair of much-needed new windshield wipers. No way I was gonna have a repeat of the night before!
The snow was coming down pretty good in downtown Bozeman. I was grateful that Cousins had offered to let us stay there that night.
I really liked downtown Bozeman. I wished we’d had more time to explore, but this trip all about ‘ohana. No like “waste time” exploring the town when we were only going to be here for such a short time.
Somewhere around here is a wonderful yarn store. But I didn’t want to take time away from Auntie.
I loved all the old buildings. We found out that night that on March 5, 2009, a horrendous explosion happened right here in downtown Bozeman which killed a woman and destroyed several buildings. It was a terrible catastrophe, but by the time we got here there was no evidence of it, but then we didn’t know to look for where it had happened. You can read about it here.
Here’s a photo of the church from the opposite direction from before.
I loved this statue, especially covered with snow.
Every time we’re somewhere and see old cars like this, I always take photos of them for my brother, Kaniela. He and I share a love for them, though he is much, much better at identifying them than I am.
Montana Ale Works. Really neat building!
After getting the new wipers… and oh my gosh, what a difference, we headed back up to Auntie’s place. It was still snowing, but almost trying to rain as well. I loved it! There’s Auntie’s place up on the hill.
It was so incredibly beautiful! This photo was taken from the parking lot at Auntie’s place.
Auntie lives really close to the hospital, which is situated just down the hill. The mountains are visible from everywhere. I’m an island girl to the core; I’m used to ocean and beaches and Hawaiian kine mountains like the Ko‘olaus, but Bozeman’s mountains are so majestic that I spent a fair amount of time just looking at them, even standing out there in the cold and snow.
We spent more time talking stories with Auntie, and then it was time to go back to Cousins’ hale. Cousin is an amazing cook! For dinner he made a bison roast, which was absolutely delicious. We’d never had bison before; it was tender and delicious. You know, last time I’d seen Cousin he was only about ten years old, and now here he was, cooking up a meal that could’ve been served at any upscale restaurant! Amazing!
I don’t know exactly how to describe our second evening together. Wonderful and fabulous just aren’t enough. I think I’ll head over to visualthesaurus.com and see what I can find.
Well… I still can’t find the right words. Fantastic. Yes, it was that. But it was so much more! Here we were, all five of us, ‘ohana together for the first time in decades, some of us together for the first time, and it was as though we’d never been apart or just met. I loved what Auntie had told me earlier when we’d figured about it had been almost fifty years since we’d seen each other, ‘way back when I was a kid. She said, “Fifty years sounds too old… let’s call it thirty!” So from then on, that’s what it was!
In a way it was kind of bittersweet, because I felt like I’d missed out on so much! At the same time, I was incredibly grateful that Auntie and Cousin were so open about the things that had happened in our family during the years we’d been apart. Auntie had so many stories to tell, like about the time my dad set out to hike around O‘ahu when he was only twenty years old. I knew he’d planned on doing it, I knew he’d gotten rained out around Kailua and had to turn back. But what I didn’t know was what he looked like when he left, with so much stuff loaded on his back that Auntie and Uncle didn’t know how he could even move! And he hiked all the way up the Pali and down again over the old Pali Road (no, he didn’t carry any pork with him!)! One of these days I’m going to type out the journal he kept during that time and post it here.
I was able to share more about my side of the family, and they learned things that they’d never known about either. Our words were flying at warp speed, and the house echoed with our laughter as well as “Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that!” I felt like I was in a kind of golden fabric that gently wrapped all of us together in its warmth. I felt like we just sparkled like diamonds, and as though the energy in that room could’ve set off a dazzling fireworks display.
I learned more about my other Cousin, too, who lives in another state. When I was eight years old and my folks sent me to the mainland to visit family, that cousin was only about three years old, I think; I have photos of him and me together, both draped with plumeria lei. It’s a good memory.
I learned that both cousins are writers, and that our two dads were much alike in many ways. When I see our dads in old home movies (I’d made a DVD for Cousins and Auntie of them) it’s really easy to tell that they’re brothers. I learned how Cousins came to live in Bozeman and about their journey getting there. And I found out that I have a niece that I didn’t even know about, who is an incredible artist. I felt like I’d been given a treasure whose value was so great that even Southeby’s wouldn’t have insured it. Several times my eyes just filled with tears at the joy of seeing and experiencing all of us sitting around the table together.
I know I’ve used a lot of superlatives about the evening, but that’s how I felt. The good, the wonderful, some skeletons in the closet, were all out in the open, and for the first time in my entire life I had someone to talk to about our family. My parents wouldn’t talk much about it, not even about the good stuff, so I felt like I’d hit the motherlode.
All too soon, it was time for Auntie to get home and the rest of us to bed, so while Cousin took Auntie home, Nolemana and I showered and got ready for bed. Kukui and Cousins’ cat, who is really the Queen around there, got slightly acquainted. But only slightly. The Queen was not amused.
The next morning, ho da cold! Cousin said it had gotten down to about twenty degrees the night before, but the house (which Cousin had built!) was warm and cozy. Cousin’s wife had already left for work, so we’d said goodbye and aloha to her the night before. She is absolutely delightful and we bonded right away from the first few minutes on. Mostly she and Nolemana just listened to the wild conversations going on… and perhaps found out more about the crazy families they’d married into!
Outside it was just beautiful; it had snowed more during the night, and I was grateful that we’d been able to stay here.
Remember how it was when we first got here? How you could see all green? No? Well, go back and try read da previous post den, k? Well, now try look!
Auntie and Cousins had told me about how sparkly the snow gets sometimes, and we got to see it in person.
View across the valley from the dining room.
I’m trying to capture the sparkles in the snow. I think I caught them small kine.
Another view across the valley.
…as well as a beautiful moon still in the sky.
Cousin fixed us coffee and breakfast, and we had more time to talk stories with him, which was wonderful. How do you ever catch up on so many missing years? On this trip, we just couldn’t; there simply wasn’t enough time. And all too soon, it was time to leave. I was getting pretty teary about it, too. When Nolemana and I had planned the trip, I thought we’d have a couple of days with Auntie and that would be all. And now, here I was, trying to say “aloha ‘oe” to someone I hadn’t seen in so many years but with whom I felt such incredible kinship.
We hugged tight, and he echoed my thoughts exactly when he said to me, “I feel like I have a whole new family!” I told him I felt the same way, and it wasn’t till I was writing this that I got in touch with the fact that had it not been for my mom’s death, this incredible reunion would never have happened. It eased the pain of her loss and gave me the knowledge that even though I’d begged her to tell me our family history and she wouldn’t, I ended up getting the stories anyway. Ironic, yeah?
As we backed out of the driveway, I snapped this photo of this tree in Cousins’ front yard. Ho da nani, yeah? I love how the red fruit stands out against the snow.
I had tears in my eyes as we drove away, waving to Cousin as we left. This was a hard leave-taking, yet I was so grateful for the time we’d shared together.
There was a magpie in the road; we don’t get to see them where I live, so I took his photo too.
I looked across the fields to Auntie’s place. We’d said “aloha ‘oe” the night before, and I still felt a pang at leaving her. I didn’t know if I’d ever get to see her again.
Ho da cold, yeah?
We headed east out of Bozeman along I-90. East, you ask? Why east? Well, that was because Cousin had suggested that we take the scenic route to our next stop. Nolemana and I planned to see some long-time friends of ours in another town on this trip; they don’t let us out of the
Red Roof Inn the workplace very often and we wanted to see our friends really bad.
Try look da snow! Try look da mountains!
Wide open spaces beckoned us onward.
Eh, I get video foa u folks! See Musubi? And the spinner is still there! And yep, we’re headed to Livingston, Montana. At first, we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to go this way because of all the surprise snow that the area had gotten, but Cousin had checked road conditions for us and said we should be good to go. And what a beautiful day we had!
Snow-covered mountains surrounded us, and the sunshine made everything sparkle.
It’s almost impossible to get the full effect of what the mountains looked like; I hope another video helps.
We began to climb a little bit. The wind was blowing, but inside the car we were all warm and toasty.
How many times can you say “the road stretched out before us”? But it did! And it was so incredibly beautiful! (How many times can Mokihana say that, too?)
Somebody’s fancy kine hale up dea.
We were climbing even higher now.
Again, around every curve were new and beautiful vistas.
The trees still had snow on them.
Absolutely breathtaking! We were thoroughly enjoying this scenery!
Then back onto the flat lands we went.
Oh eh! Wat? Get bears? Bears??? No way! But really… I no like seeyum in captivity.
So far today, we’ve come this far. Didn’t see any bears though. Except on da sign.
Ho da long post, yeah? But even now my heart is spilling over with gladness for the time spent with my very, very special ‘ohana, the purple mountain majesty, and our journey of exploration.
Amazing story and the warmth that poured out of your words was certainly felt by me. Yes! Your little mystery time turned out to be such a ‘soul journey’ that was much needed after the trip you took when your mom passed away. What a difference, huh? I’m so glad it turned out this way. Can you imagine that God knew exactly what it was that your soul needed? You are loved, I tell you 😀
The mountains! I thought they were something else when you photographed them before, but with the snow? Oh my gosh! The beauty goes without saying. I’m sure that the pictures and even the video can capture only so much of its beauty and awe. But let me assure you that your efforts in capturing them curled my toes! Amazing they are. Breathtaking even!
I have to admit that I did get misty-eyed when you mentioned that you gazed up to where your auntie was and sort of said good bye. I could feel your heart right then wondering if this excursion was the very last time you’d see her or not. I do hope that she’ll be there for you on your next trip. I’m sure there is just so much more she can offer you in way of stories and even just being in her presence as you two exchange energies. And of course, that means we’ll get to tag along like this again perhaps?
All I can do is to again say mahalo for sharing this adventure with us.
Wow, laulau, what a great journey! Family can be such a blessing, even if it doesn’t feel that way some times. Thank you for taking us along with you, through all the beautiful snow and the beautiful experiences.
I think you saw more snow on your adventure, than we’ve had all winter here!