We got home from the NILE on Sunday, and I am so, so glad we went with Clint.
It was a fun show to be at, and for me personally - it was good to have a little break from work and just spend time with my family.
We wrapped up the week by watching the Angus, Red Angus and NILE Merit Heifer shows, along with the selection of Supreme during the Saturday night rodeo performance.
The NILE Merit Heifer program is really neat - and a great opportunity for kids. They started out the show by having previous heifer recipients come back, and display their heifer (now cows) and their progeny, loose, in the ring. The past recipients then gave a presentation over the microphone about their project and how it has evolved over the years and were then judged by Clint & Jake on overall merit.
Following those presentations, the 2016 Merit Heifers were judged on conformation by Clint, while Jake judged showmanship from the sidelines. The kids knew that someone was judging showmanship during the confirmation class (but didn't know who) and that made all of the kids work for it during the confirmation class. Once the champion heifer was selected, they announced call backs for showmanship, and proceeded with the final drive.
I wanted to note here, that there was a young lady who was showing a Braunvieh (I think) heifer who got called back into showmanship, and was selected as reserve champion. In no offense to the ranch that donated it, her heifer was tough to show and her effort was a true demonstration that you don't have to have the best heifer, to do well in showmanship. Her parents were standing in front of me ringside and when she was selected, her mom burst into tears. Not in a cocky, overly dramatic way - but in a sincere way that just showed how proud she was of her daughter. That young lady took a heifer who others might have not put a lot of effort into; and made it in a project and display of showmanship that she can be REALLY proud of.
This guy just went, and went, and went some more.
I think with everything going on, he had a tough time shutting down and taking naps. We'd walk, and walk in the stroller - but he'd still be awake, lol. But he was a trooper, and minus a cold he (actually all three of us) came home with - he did so well with how little sleep he got.
The last night in Billings, the judges select a Supreme Female and Bull. Everyone who stayed (or came back for Supreme, if they were local) went into the ring in the livestock barn at 5:00 and Clint, Jake & Steve each cast a vote for their favorite bull and female. Then, at 7:00 in the rodeo performance, the judges were notified with had won (it was a secret who each judge voted for, so no one knew until that night) and Clint and Jake slapped the supreme's.
The Angus heifer won, and the Hereford bull won - they were pretty excited!
We stayed for almost all of the rodeo, and then headed for the hotel. The next morning, we were up early to pack and head for home. Chandler did so well on the 11 hour drive home - but we also tried to stop every hour or so when he was awake so he could stretch his legs. Clint came up with the genius idea to let him play in the back of the pickup, which worked so well since it was clean and we could contain him.
The suitcases as an obstacle course were a bonus. :)
A few final details to note:
We ate out twice in Billings, and hands down the best meal we had was at Jake's. Most of our party got the Baseball sirloin, but I got the steak caprese pasta and it was the best pasta I've ever had! Chandler agreed - I think he ate as much of it as I did. One thing to note about Jake's is that is a "nice" place to eat, but is still affordable - which I thought was nice.
We stayed at The Northern, which is Montana's only 4 star hotel and it was AMAZING!
Besides not having a bathtub (Chandler got to take his first shower - not sure he was a fan, lol) the accommodations were first class. The bed was super comfortable, and the rooms were well appointed. All parking was valeted and the staff were cheery and personable, even early in the morning. :) I would HIGHLY recommend staying there, and I know we would stay there again if in Billings.
All in all, it was just a great trip as a family.
It also made me realize (again) that Clint and I have great jobs, that let us spend time together as family doing things that we love. My job can be really stressful (and has been lately), but having the flexibility to take vacation and just get away for a few days was really good for me personally.
.....now to just catch up on all of the laundry, lol.