Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mountain Flying Museum

Missoula, MT  - Clear but smoke coming back into the valley. We are actually back in Helena but I still have one more post after this one from our trip to Missoula.

Hey Gary – thought you might really enjoy this one.


From their Mission Statement: To preserve for future generations, the legends, lore and historical legacy of pilots and other individuals whose pioneering aviation exploits helped bring America’s Rocky Mountain West into the Air Age.


The Museum was established in 1993 basically because three guys wanted to honor and preserve the history of the Johnson Flying Service. The Johnson Flying Service was a premier service in the Northern Rockies from the late 1920’s to the early 1970’s stationed in Missoula.



Like all small volunteer museums, this museum has struggled to stay afloat but with help from several people and the airport (which is where they are located), they have been able to grow and raise the money they need to stay open.


A Model 18 Twin Beech aircraft.




This is a metal windsock used at Dixon, MT back in the early 1930’s.



1942 Ford Jeep


This DC-3 was flown by Johnson Flying Service and was used to drop 15 Smokejumpers into Mann Gulch on August 5, 1949. Eleven of the smokejumpers and one Fire Guard were killed fighting this fire.







There is so much more information in this museum and if you are a pilot or just enjoy planes, it is a great place to spend a couple of hours.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Missoula, MT   Still smokey

The second place that you should visit while in Missoula, is the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.


The RMEF was founded in 1984 by four elk hunters who recognized the need to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and hunting heritage.

They have a habitat diorama that was really well done.

These are elk dew claws which were used by Native Americans as a musical instrument during ceremonies.


This is a dress decorated with elk teeth.


The foundation has four core mission programs: (1) permanent land protection, (2) habitat stewardship, (3) elk restoration, and (4) hunting heritage.





They have a trophy elk display.


This is the place to visit if you want to learn about how hunting is conservation.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunrise, Sunset

Helena, MT  - so much smoke who knows what the temperature is

This is what a sunrise looks like with so much smoke in the air.


And this is the sunset.



Have a great eclipse tomorrow.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


Missoula, MT   High 89  Low 61

No visit to Missoula should be complete without a visit to two special places. The first one is to the Smokejumpers Base and Visitor Center for a tour.


Back in 1910 a series of wildfires roared through the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains burning 4 million!! acres of land. These fires started in remote areas where firefighters didn’t have the resources or ability to contain them. This devastation brought about the idea of men parachuting into remote areas to suppress small fires quickly before they could spread.

fireHowever it wasn’t until almost 30 years later, after a fire in Shoshone National Forest, WY, burned for two days before being discovered and eventually claimed the lives of 15 firefighters and injured 38 others, that the first smokejumping organization and practice jumps were made in Winthrop, WA. On July 12, 1940, the first operational fire jumps were made by Earl Cooley and Rufus Robison into Martin Creek on the Nez Perce National Forest.


In 1952 Congress authorized the construction of the Aerial Fire Depot in Missoula and on September 22, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower came to Missoula to dedicate the first Aerial Fire Depot.

There is way too much information for me to put it all in a blog post so I just want to hit a few highlights.

20170814_100148When the alert siren goes off, smokejumpers grab their gear and suit up and are ready to go in less than 10 minutes. This gear includes their jumpsuit, two parachutes, helmets, survival tent,  food, water, a bag to pack their jump gear into, and firefighting equipment. I’m sure I’ve forgotten the rest of the equipment they pack. They have two big pockets to carry personal items.

Other gear such as chainsaws, first aid kits, etc. are air dropped in separate containers.



This is the sewing room. There are fewer than 500 smokejumpers working today (and fewer than 6000 ever). As a result, the gear they need can’t really be found at the local Walmart. They have to make all their jumpsuits, harnesses, and gear bags themselves.Quality control is maintained by people who truly know the stakes.


The smokejumper in the above picture talked to us and showed us some of the material that is used. He also said that when he jumps with guys or gals from other parts of the country, he checks out their equipment to see if they have something new that he can use. (There are 27 female smokejumpers in the United States.)

The smokejumpers do not make their own parachutes but they do their own repair work on them. Each parachute that is packed has an expiration date when it is taken out of service and rechecked for anything that might have happened to it.


These tables are used for packing parachutes which are then stored on the wall with the name of the packer and the date.



This has been a very busy fire season in Montana and the Smokejumpers had jumped into 18 fires so far this summer. The tour guide told us what kind of planes these are but I was overloaded with info and don’t remember.



An interesting fact about smokejumpers. During the Vietnam War, the CIA recruited more than 50 smokejumpers who participated in covert actions in Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Nine smokejumpers died while working for the CIA.

Friday, August 18, 2017

St. Ignatius Mission

St. Ignatius, MT    High 84  Low 57  Smokey

A little background. I was born and raised in Montana. Left Montana when I went to college. After a year of college, decided that was not for me and headed to Salt Lake to attend LDS Business College. Lived and worked in Salt Lake for a few years and then decided to move to San Diego where I went to work for the IRS. After a few years, transferred back to Montana. From there I got a position with the IRS in Washington, D.C. When I was living in Virginia, Jim asked me to dance. That led to marriage and Todd and several years later we moved back to Montana. Retired from the IRS in Billings, MT and started RVing.

The reason for this long intro was to show you that I have lived in Montana many, many years. But until we started RVing, I never did much exploring in my own backyard. Now we are slowly checking things off my Montana list. 

(The speck of blue is Dianna)


On that list was the Mission at St. Ignatius. The Mission was built in the early 1890’s at the site known as "Snyeỉmn"--a Salish term signifying "a place where something was surrounded". The Mission is surrounded by the beautiful Mission Mountains.

The church is unique because its walls and ceilings have 58 original paintings by Brother Joseph Carignano an untrained artist who worked as a cook in the mission.

They were holding mass when we arrived so we explored the other buildings on the grounds.



This house was built in 1864 and was the first residence of the Providence Sisters. They were the first Catholic Sisters in the state of Montana.


Fr. Peter De Smet who founded the Mission.


The people started exiting the church after Mass and we were able to go inside. It is beautiful. I love visiting old churches. (I’m not good at taking pictures of ceilings so I hope you figure out what these are.)




The priest photobombed this picture.



Located at the back of the Mission are two paintings of the Salish Lord and Lord’s mother (in Native American form).

St. Ignatius

The Church is trying to raise money to save the frescoes in the church which are starting to fall apart. It would be a horrible loss if they cannot restore these paintings.