Friday, May 31, 2013



 We got an early start and dropped Luna off at doggie daycare and took off for Missoula, about 100 miles to our south.  In Montana, the major cause of fires is lightning strikes....most of the fires start in very remote areas, nowhere near roads.  Smokejumping began in the late 1930's.  The National Forest Service only sends these guys out for smaller fires; the big ones are too dangerous for this kind of operation. 
This is a model of what they wear when they jump; kevlar jumpsuit, helmet with cage mask, daypack, let-down rope (they often land in trees), and it all weighs about 80 lbs.  Yikes! 
 This is their sewing room where they can construct custom items they may need or repair their equipment.  I could really identify with this set-up! :)
 This is where the guys and gals head when an alarm sounds.  Their names are on rosters and they know exactly who is where on the list to go up.
 Parachutes hang in here to dry and get the lines untangled.

 This is where the chutes are re-packed.
 Smokejumpers only work in the summer, for obvious reasons.  They have other jobs elsewhere in the off-season.  They have to be in top physical shape for this job, since they can spend days in the wilderness digging fire trenches and hauling out their equipment.  Their carry-out pack weighs up to 110 lbs.  They had one there, and I could barely pull it across the floor.
 Pre-packed boxes of supplies to last them for up to 2 weeks are dropped to them after they land safely.
We didn't get to go in the plane that takes them up....our guide says they are getting older and they like to keep them out of the rain. 

Well, that's not very reassuring. 
All in all, it was a really interesting tour, we'd recommend it to anyone passing through!


 We get to Polebridge as often as time permits.  Lucky it's a long drive, cause their baked goods are to die for.
Here is the north fork of the Flathead River, looking towards the west boundary of Glacier.
 Beautiful meadows provide munchies for the deer.
 This waterfall is Hellroaring Creek.  Aptly named.
Our destination for today.  If we chose to, we'd go further to Bowman Lake or Kintla Lake.  For today, we grab the goodies and run.  (we did eat lunch first, though).  We both had hot baked sandwiches, the filling baked into a bread dough.  Mine was piles of smoked turkey with cream cheese and huckleberry jam, and Darrell had pastrami with pickles and horseradish.  I'm getting hungry writing this.  For dessert, it was huckleberry macaroons and oatmeal raisin cookies with cream cheese filling.  Yum!

Saturday, May 25, 2013


 So, it rained all night, temps dropped, and we woke to a snowy landscape! 



 Thompson Falls State Park is located southwest of where we are in Whitefish, and we had never been there before, so we wanted to see it.  This state park is located on the Clark Fork River, is small, about 17 campsites.  We visited with the hosts who we remembered meeting at orientation, and shared host stories for a bit.

Clark Fork River
 The city of Thompson Falls is a wide spot in the road, but looks nice.
Below, the Canada Geese gather their recently hatched family.

The park host said everyone asks where the "falls" are.....a dam was built years ago, and there are no falls. But, there are other falls in the area, so we went exploring and found Graves Creek Falls. 


 On our way back from Thompson Falls, we had to stop at Hot Springs to sample the geothermal waters.  We were both sore from new torture workouts at the gym, so it felt really good.  The springs are pumped into normal looking pools, all different temps.  And very sulphur-y.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Amber belongs to the Flathead Cycling Club, and wanted to participate in this race.  When a member does that, they have to find a person to help out for them during the event.  So, I volunteered!
Having never done this before, I don't think I was much help...but, I helped people sign up, get numbers, etc.
The single course length is about 6 miles going around one time....half of it pretty much up.... to the top of a mountain ridge.  Then, down again.  Amber likes the down part, she says.

Here the first wave takes off and up the hill.
 So, keeping in mind that one loop is 6 miles, there are 3 categories; Cat. 1 is 4 times around, cat. 2 is 3 times around, and cat 1 is once around.
Amber chose cat 2.

 I didn't get to the top of the ridge, where, Amber told me, is a series of rocky "drops" where you have to place your wheel carefully and sort of step down to proceed.  This is where I waited for Amber with an extra water hand-off.  A series of switchbacks can be tricky.

She placed first in her category!  Yay!

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Here I am wearing my favorite blue jumpsuit.   We gave the handicapped spot a fresh symbol so it was easier to see.  At the same time, Dave asked us to paint the hose pipe for better visibility.


 Balsamroot, above, and Larkspur, right, covered the hillside as we drove around the one-way road inside the preserve.

 We came upon a herd that seemed to be divided....boys on the right, and moms on the left, with their newborn calves. 

 They were on the road, and quite close to the side of our truck.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Turn your head to the side, please.....

I haven't mastered the details of putting pictures in places where I can orient them properly.  Putzy!  Anyway, I had an early Mothers' Day today!  We met Amber and Kent at the Kalispell Farmer Market (below), then she made us a delicious brunch of waffles, fruit and bacon.  Eric and Pam had sent a personally made picture frame and lovely card, and Amber gave me flowers.  Doesn't get much better, except to have them all in one room at the same time!

Early Mothers Day

Kalispell Farmers' Market.....this has grown from a 3 row event at the mall into a huge parking lot sprawl, with a great choice of natural foods from pork to pansies!

Back at the park

The swim platform needed re-sealing, so we took turns on that.  Done in a flash.

Glacier National Park in the spring

 After grocery shopping, setting up the trailer, etc...we finally had a chance to visit the park.  Beautiful weather and no crowds!
 Going to the Sun Road is only open up to Avalanche campground until they get the road plowed, so we took a picnic next to McDonald Creek.
 The creek hasn't quite reached its spring melt high level.
 One of many falls cascading down the mountainsides in the park from melting snow.
 Luna enjoyed a swim in Lake McDonald.
And I tried to get the stick from her.
 Now you see it.........
 Now you don't!
These butterflies blend in so well with the tree bark.  Mother Nature is such an artist!