Monday, November 23, 2009

No Place Like Home

Tour de Pants: Fall into the Midwest has finally and sadly come to an end. We're back home in Montana and so thankful we live, work and play in such a beautiful place. With over 6,000 miles covered, it feels good to get out of the truck, unhitch Anthill one last time, and stretch our legs and lungs under the Big Sky.

Our most sincere gratitude to all of our family, friends and new Red Ants Pants supporters! It was quite a journey and we were most humbled by the genuine hospitality that all of hosts and guests showed towards us. The tour has certainly become a sisterhood and brotherhood of traveling pants. We're hoping that people not only find in Red Ants Pants a solid, quality American made workpant but a connection to the strengths of this small, honest company and also connections to newly forged friendships in their communities. Sometimes we think it's hard to believe that other folks get as worked up as we do over a pair of pants, but Red Ants Pants stands for more than an apparel item that allows women to get done what needs to be done, but a company that also stands for its customers, supporting them as they make strides in their workplace, in their homes and communities. And without all of your support, kindness and enthusiasm, none of this possible. We can only blush, feel a stir in our hearts and say, Thank You.

Again, great thanks to all of hosts and guests at the RAP parties. We look forward to coming back to the Midwest soon! We've truly enjoyed the view of the Great Lakes, much different than the great expanse of mountains and rolling plains of Montana.

Goodbyes are also in order as Sarah and Maggie part ways for the winter. Sarah nestles into her home in White Sulphur Springs, excitedly preparing for her Thanksgiving feast and one last week of hunting season. Maggie heads home to the northwest corner of Montana, hoping for lots of snow and a nice, long and powder filled ski season. She's also claiming her place behind the bar outside of Glacier National Park.

Once the holidays come to an end, Sarah will resume her planning efforts for the 2010 winter Tour de Pants schedule. Tour de Pants is making the rounds in the south and southeast. Check out the RAP website for more details!

And, one last story for all of you: we drove all Saturday from Minnesota to Montana. We kept pushing one more hour into the evening, just wanting to get a little bit closer to the state line. It was after 8pm and we were both hungry and tired and ready to find a rest area and pull in for the night. Montana lay just one more mile ahead. We pushed on, and just as we reached the state line a shooting star fell over the truck, illuminating the Welcome to Montana sign. There is no place like home.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Red Ants Pants Boys are Lush

The tour made it's final stop in Chicago for a fun Thursday night party at the hip and beautiful Lush Wine and Spirits store in Halstead. We were all too excited for the invitation! Great thanks to general manager and SCA alumn Rachel for hosting Red Ants Pants at Lush.

While sampling wines and chatting with folks about RAP and the tour, we were both thrilled to have the support of some of our longtime friends who attended the event! Sarah's college friends Brad and Jeremy who now reside in Chicago stopped by. And Maggie's Montana pal, Mark who's visiting family in Indianapolis, drove up from Indy to check out Tour de Pants. The guys loved the presentation and had a ton of fun trying on the pants and constructed a RAP pyramid at the store. Hard to believe that Lush wanted to remain open to the general public during these bouts of silliness!

We capped off the evening with a delicious dinner in Greektown. With great food and wine in our bellies, we shared stories from the incredible 2.5 week long tour and reflected on all the great memories! And our server, George, couldn't have been any more enjoyable with his great recommendations and sincerity! We continue to be so thankful for the support of all our dear friends.

Thank you again to the crew at Lush for a great night in Windy City. Tour de Pants: Fall into the Midwest has come to an end and we're headed back to the mountains.

Rolling Through Ypsilanti

From the shores of Lake Michigan we cruised south on I-75 to meet our host, Jesse, in Ypslianti. Our hysterical host threw us quite a house party filled with her REI co-workers and friends, and lots of sweet treats!

Folks enjoyed sipping on Big Sky brews and loved the Montana photos in the slide show. Not only are we providing hardworking women and men with quality workpants, but we just may be increasing tourism to Montana. It is, after all, The Last Best Place.

The event was a family affair and although our pants are designed for adults, some of the kiddos are all too excited to grow up just a bit more in order to wear Red Ants Pants when they're working and playing hard. The great thing about Red Ants Pants is that you technically don't have to grow up to wear them--we most certainly encourage playfulness and silliness!
Great thanks to our party host and our new Ypsi friends who are not bashful about posing for silly photos!

We've reached the most eastern point on the Upper Midwest tour and we're headed west to Chicago for our final party!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

High Times at Higher Grounds

Our Traverse City party was an open house at Higher Grounds Trading Company, a fair trade and organic locally owned coffee company. Great thanks to our hosts, Christina and Chelsea, and to Higher Grounds for the use of their gorgeous space. Christina also makes a mean black bean salsa using local Michigan corn!

On what has been an incredibly rare warm and sunshine filled November for this region, we enjoyed an afternoon in the coffee shop meeting lots of women interested in learning more about Red Ants Pants. Many of our Michigan supporters are great fans of goods made in the U.S., especially our American made workpants. The coffee shop was closed for business on Sunday but it has such a strong following that many folks stopped in hoping for coffee but were treated to racks of pants, t-shirts, and other RAP goodies. Lots of women left the event with a RAP buzz and new pants to get down and dirty in!

As our afternoon slid towards the hour when it's high time for a beverage a bit more potent than coffee, we wrapped our final orders and packed up the truck. Our local hosts wanted to take us out for a beer at Right Brain Brewery, a new and innovative brewery in downtown Traverse City. The hospitality was inviting and their beers on tap were creative, eclectic and delicious! We sampled a wasabi brew, beet beer made with locally grown beets, and our favorite that is only served in 6 oz mugs, Distill My Heart Bourbon Stout. We traded RAP bucking ant t-shirts for brewery t-shirts and said goodbye to our new friends in northern Michigan. Promises to visit Montana we hope will be kept!

And with seven house parties under our brass ant belts, we're taking a day off in Petoskey with Maggie's family. Our final parties await us the big cities of Ypsilanti and Chicago!

Your Mom Wears Red Ants Pants!

Anthill crossed the Mackinac Bridge, riding high above the Straits of Mackinac and we descended from Michigan's Upper Peninsula into Maggie's hometown, Petoskey. A warm family welcome was all we needed to get our house party started off on the right foot! We are so grateful to Debbie and Vince (Maggie's family) for hosting such a wonderful party with a great turnout and delicious food.

A giant thank you to all of our guests-many of whom Maggie hadn't seen in years and she was fondly reminded of some of her antics when she was just a child. And if you ask Sarah, she really hasn't changed that much.

The party was also a great opportunity to connect another RAP mom with Maggie's family. Our dear friend and supporter of RAP, Betsy, now lives in Missoula, MT and grew up in northern Michigan as well. Many of you have seen photos Betsy in our slide show and it was so wonderful to meet her mother, aunt and cousin at the Petoskey party.

We also want to share that the party captured an attendance record: 52 guests! A fall tour first and again, thank you to Debbie for hosting!

The party also boasted another first: three generations of Red Ant Pant wearers! Maggie, her mother Debbie, and her grandmother Margaret all wear Red Ants Pants. Debbie wears them while woodcutting and was able to share her field testimonial of how the double knee layer saved her leg when her pants caught fire from the hydraulic wood splitter. Once again, RAP saves lives and appendages. Margaret uses the pants for her adventures on the remote Marquette Island where she's called it home since the 1960s. For a woman who drives a 40 year old Boston Whaler, she knows when she's found a quality product that's made to last and that's why she loves her RAP.

Our Petoskey party went well into the evening and we're so thankful for all the laughs and support from our family and friends. There is no place like home.

We leave Little Traverse Bay for Grand Traverse Bay for an afternoon party in Traverse City.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brats, Bonfire and a Tiki Bar--Need We Say More?!?

It was a quick jaunt from Ashland to Eagle River and we met some wild women of the Wisco! Ann, EMT and Wilderness Medical Associates instructor extraordinaire, was our fabulous party host and did a grand job of welcoming us into her home. Her party included a killer trio of essential elements to any northern party: beer, brats, and a bonfire complete with an outdoor tiki bar, "Header In".

After a hike to stretch our road weary legs around the small lakes and bogs of the area, we set up our racks of clothing in Ann's home while Sarah and Eagle River friend and talented rustic woodworker and instructor Sandy decorated the tiki bar with green lights. Big Sky brews were set on ice in a red mini canoe provided by Wisconsin's own brewery--Leinenkugel! We tried really, really hard to convince the Leiny rep to give us the canoe, but no luck! Perhaps Big Sky will fashion a red canoe in the future...

Delicious brats and tasty treats were consumed during the hilarious slide show and then our new friends put on one great RAP fashion show! We even got one guy to try on the pants and he was sold from the moment he put them on! Both Steve and his wife Marge are one cute couple in their Red Ants Pants and we can't wait to get photos of the two cutting firewood in RAP.

The northern Wisconsin air was warmed by the bonfire and the flames reflected quite nicely off Anthill, parked just far enough away from the fire. We joked and shared stories well into the evening and had yet another wonderful evening in Wisconsin! We've been made to feel like old friends at each of the parties this fall! Thank you to Ann and our Eagle River friends for their genuine hospitality!

And now we're off to Maggie's homestate of Michigan. Our first stop is at her grandmother's house in the Les Cheneaux island chain area for the night and then to Petoskey for the family house party!

Darn Good Husbands in Ashland

From Minneapolis we traveled into northern Wisconsin to Ashland, along the beautiful shores of Lake Superior. We were not only in awe of the natural beauty of the area and the quaint brick buildings that make up downtown, but also by how one certain husband of Ashland followed us on our walk and tracked us down not just once but twice to inquire about Red Ants Pants for his wife! Great thanks to Leo for stalking us so his beautiful wife Teresa could attend the house party and come away with wonderful RAP goodies! Great husbands get their wive's into Red Ants Pants!

We are thankful for our host, Elizabeth, for hosting a fabulous party in her new home. We met a ton of wonderful women--outdoor education students, professors, Outward Bound alumni and sportswomen. And in staying with our great husband theme, another husband attended the party to see what all the fuss was and we're proud to repoort that Blaze is another eager RAP fan!

We're always amazed at how supportive our fans are but we're also touched by the newly forged connections that occur among our party guests. Not only does RAP provide women with the pants to work hard in, but also it allows for women in their community to connect with new friends!

Not only did we have a grand time making new friends in Ashland but there was a big announcement at the party: Sarah is November's "Women of the Wild" on Camp Wild Girls, the brilliant website of Terri Lee, a Ashland resident who provides hunting and fishing resources for women. Thank you Terri for this great nomination! Now it's really time for Sarah to get that elk...

Our northern Wisconsin tour continues on to Eagle River for a beer, brat and bonfire party!