Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Back in Billings

Billings, MT    High 93  Low 60

It was finally time for us to move on from Helena. The smoke continued to be terrible and breathing was difficult.

This is what our view from our spot was in 2015

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This is what it looked like when we left Helena. You can’t see the mountains at all.

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Today it has been really smokey in Billings. Air quality for the entire state is ranked as unhealthy. But there is good news in the weather department. The state is supposed to get rain starting tomorrow and snow at the higher elevations. Hopefully this will put an end to the fire season up here and most of the firefighters can go home.

We have been busy since we’ve been here. Monday the truck went in for oil change, transmission serviced, alignment, air conditioning checked out, and a couple of other things.

Tuesday the Bungalow went to Jim and Tracey’s to have both axles aligned. Good thing we did that because they were really out of whack.

Wednesday morning we were at the DMV office at 7:00 a.m. to get the title work done on our new Cottage. Then I had my eye appointment. In the afternoon I got together with the Class Reunion committee to see if there was anything I could help with. The Reunion starts Friday.

We’re also going to try and make time to visit with friends this trip. We’ve had dinner with Todd and Michaela a couple of times. They are doing great which makes us happy.

Jim’s Velcro Dog

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Shortly after I wrote this post, the wind started to blow and the dust was so bad I thought we were back in Arizona. The cold front is starting to move through. Please bring rain.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Scenes From The Road

Helena, MT  High 94  Low 60

We are finally back in Helena and our solemn vow is that we will never, ever, make that kind of trip again. We took four days to return which was easier on us than the two day trip down. But we are still exhausted and are going to take a few days to recover.

I must admit, we were almost ready to just stay in Arizona. Sure do like our new home even though it was 110 both days we were there.

This coming week, Jim will once again start playing phone tag with Camping World about the oven. My hope is that it is repaired by Thanksgiving so I can fix a turkey. Wish us luck.

I took a few pictures along the way and for you to enjoy.

Smoke from a fire in Idaho.

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Beautiful blue skies not filled with smoke.

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Scenery worth looking at.

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If you look really close at this picture, there are about 25 paragliders sailing over this hilltop. It was really neat to see all of them.

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This is 9:30 traffic through Salt Lake City. But I was happy to see that most of the road construction is done.

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That’s it gang. Time to recover and get ready to move on in another week.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Oven Saga Continues

Page, AZ   High 101  Low 81

The mobile repair guy showed up Tuesday morning a few minutes early for our appointment. He was a really nice guy and also pretty honest. He told us that he was doing this repair as a favor to Camping World because he quit working on stoves 10 years ago because they weren’t worth the time involved.

Okay – so what next? He lit the oven, it heated up to temperature, and when the burner went out so did the pilot light. Exactly what Jim told him and exactly what the first repair guy said. This guy wasn’t sure what was causing the problem so he called Suburban and talked to one of their techs. They said he needed to replace the pilot.

That was a good thing because the first guy thought that was what was wrong and had Camping World order a new pilot and a thermocouple back the end of May. This guy had the parts but when he opened the box, there was no pilot. Camping World ordered the wrong parts. Nothing that could be done so he packed up and left.

We also packed up, switched boats and headed north Wednesday morning. Even though it was really hot while we were in AJ, I didn’t want to leave our home. But leave we did.

Tonight we are in Page, AZ.  We about killed ourselves getting to Arizona in two days and we just cannot do that. We are taking four days to get back to Helena. Much more reasonable for us old people.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Really Long Trip

Apache Junction, AZ   High 111  Low 88

Yes, you read that right. We are in Arizona – BUT only for a couple of days.

We had two reasons for making this trip.

1. Jim decided that he wanted his good boat, the Lund, down in Arizona rather than in Montana. He spends more time fishing in Arizona so it just makes sense to have the best boat down here. So we will be taking the Arizona boat back to Montana with us.

2.  The oven in our new trailer has not worked since day 1. Camping World finally (Jim had to go down personally to resolve the problem with them not returning phone calls) sent a guy out and he thought he had it figured out but they needed to order parts. Of course the parts wouldn’t be in before we left for the summer but they were going to call us when they came in. Yea right! Jim finally called them – and got no return call. Had to call the Service Manager and finally got a call back saying the parts were in but they forgot to call us. After several more calls, Camping World arranged for a mobile repair service to look at the oven while we are in town for two days. We’ll see what happens.

We left Helena Friday morning with our destination being Nephi, UT for the night – about 585 miles. Not our normal way to travel and believe me it won’t happen again.

We were doing great until we got as far as Blackfoot, ID. The truck started to shake really bad. Jim thought we had lost a tire weight but the shaking got worse. I found a tire shop in Pocatello, ID (Brian’s Tire and Repair Shop) and they were wonderful. The guy came out and took one look and showed Jim the problem. The left rear tire had a huge bubble on it and the ply’s were separating. Two other tires didn’t look good either so we replaced all four tires. The tires we had on the truck were only about 3 years old. After a 3 hour delay we were on our way again and finally reached Nephi, UT about 9:30. Exhaustion doesn’t begin to describe how we felt.

Saturday we got another early start because we had another almost 600 mile day to Payson, AZ. Thank goodness the day went without any problems. We were so tired but our good friend Paula came to the motel and took me out to get dinner. It was good to see her but I don’t think we were very good company.

Sunday morning we had the short drive down the mountain into Apache Junction. Jim got the electric hooked up so we could get the air turned on and the slides out. Unloaded the truck and relaxed.

Went to dinner with George and Melva at the Chinese Buffet (used to be called the #1 Eastern Super Buffet but I don’t know the name of it now). Sure was good to see them again. And we really love our house. Just wish it wasn’t so blasted hot. Tomorrow is going to be 110 and the same on Tuesday. And that is why, as much as we love our house, we do not spend the summers in AJ.

Keep your fingers crossed for us that we get our oven fixed tomorrow.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Boone and Crockett Club

Missoula, MT - actually turned out to be a pretty clear day but you could see the smoke pouring over the mountains from the Lolo Fire Complex.

We had one more stop that we wanted to make while we were in Missoula.

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When I was checking online for places to see in Missoula, the Boone and Crockett Club popped up. I had no idea what this club was, but the minute I mentioned it to Jim he knew all about it.

20170814_133439Teddy Roosevelt was one of the founding fathers of the Boone and Crockett Club.  In December 1887, a dinner was held by Theodore Roosevelt at his home in New York City and was attended by 10 of his friends, all hunting enthusiasts. Among the attendees were Dr. George Bird Grinnell, then editor of Field and Stream magazine, Roosevelt’s cousin, and Roosevelt’s brother. At the dinner Theodore Roosevelt proposed that the guests form an organization to promote sport with the rifle and work for the preservation of the large game of North America. The  men feared that America’s large game was being overhunted to the point of extinction.

The first formal meeting of the Boone and Crockett Club was held in February 1888. Those present elected Theodore Roosevelt as President of the Club.

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In 1947, the Club formed a Conservation Committee which was instrumental in saving the Florida Key Deer from extinction and establishing a Key Deer refuge in 1957.

20170814_134136The Club held their first annual Big Game Competition in 1947. Winners were chosen by a judges’ panel based on skull length, antler or horn length, and basal circumference. The popularity of the competition and the records books led the Club to consider establishing an objective scoring system that could be used by trophy holders to measure their own specimens. In 1949, the Club developed the Official Scoring System for North American Big Game Trophies.

In 1992, the Boone and Crockett Club purchased the historic Old Milwaukee Railroad Depot on the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana, and relocated its headquarters there from Dumfries, Virginia.

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The Clark Fork River in front of the depot.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Model 18 Twin Beech aircraft.

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

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1942 Ford Jeep

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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.

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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.

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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.

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This is a dress decorated with elk teeth.

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

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They have a trophy elk display.

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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.

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And this is the sunset.

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Have a great eclipse tomorrow.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Smokejumpers

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.