Friday, September 30, 2016

Dam, It’s Time To Leave

Libby, MT  High 78  Low 49

Libby Dam that is.


Seventeen miles upstream from Libby, the dam holds back 90 miles of water in Lake Koocanusa. Forty-eight miles of the reservoir lie within U.S. borders, the other 42 miles are in Canada. Lake Koocanusa received its name in a contest to name the reservoir behind the dam. Alice Beers combined the first three letters from KOOtenai River, and the first three letters of CANada and USA.


Libby Dam was completed in 1972 in an effort to provide flood protection and to generate hydroelectric power. The Kootenai River fluctuated wildly in the spring causing flooding in Montana, Idaho and British Columbia.


“The dam is 422 feet tall and 3,055 feet long and was built to withstand an earthquake of up to 6.5 on the Richter scale with no structural damage. Forty-seven monolithic sections make up the dam, each one designed to stand on its own like individual dams. If one section were to fail, the other 46 would remain standing. Seismic monitoring equipment carefully monitors the dam for movement and structural integrity through one of the most thorough instrumentation systems in the United States.”

Kootenai River


After visiting the dam we stopped into the Cabinet Mountains Brewing Company for some great blue chips and salsa.


Our site at the Two Bit RV Park was a nice pull thru. We were visited every morning and evening by this mama and her two young’uns.


It’s now time for us to stop going north and move south a bit. But before we left Libby, we found a great RV wash bay and Jim scrubbed the Bungalow down.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Walk Among The Ancient Cedars

Libby, MT  High  66 Low 47

Not far from Libby are the Ross Creek Cedars which is a grove of western red cedars. Many of the trees still growing in the grove were here before Columbus set sail for the new world.


Some of these trees grow up to 12 feet in diameter and 175 feet in height. There is some question as to how old the trees are but they are at least 500 years old and some may be 800 years old.


The four mile road up to the grove is pretty much one lane so I was sure glad we didn’t meet anybody going up or down. Saw some beautiful fall colors along the way.



There is a mile long trail through the cedars with a few benches along the way. This grove is like a rain forest and even though the pictures look sunny, the sunshine did not reach the ground and it was cold (at least for me).



We got off the main trail a couple of times but eventually found our way back and continued on. These trees are amazing and I had never heard about them til I started researching the Libby area.


We were the only people on the trail and it was quiet and peaceful. Heard birds chirping but couldn’t ever find them in the trees. Three people were starting on the trail as we reached the end.






I know I’m short, but wow.


A view of the mountains coming down out of the cedars.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Out and About–Libby, MT

Libby, MT  High 66  Low 47

After leaving Kalispell we headed further north and west to Libby, MT. Libby has a heartbreaking history.

Libby is located in northwestern Montana where the Cabinet Mountains meet the Kootenai River. It is so beautiful but looks can be deceiving.


In the early 1900s vermiculite was discovered in the area. It was a product used in insulation, plaster and to lighten garden soil. The vermiculite mine in Libby provided hundreds of jobs, as well as over 70% of all vermiculite sold in the U.S. between 1919 and 1990. And while vermiculite itself isn't known to be harmful, the Libby mine also included a large deposit of something much more dangerous: asbestos.

The City of Eagles – There are eagle sculptures all over the town. This one welcomes you to downtown.



Mining the vermiculite that lay alongside asbestos released harmful asbestos fibers into the air. The asbestos appeared as a fine dust that coated the entire mine — it got everywhere — and caused harm not only to the mine workers, but to their friends, family, and other town residents as well.

Several beautiful murals on the buildings in town.



Fast-forward to today: An estimated 400 people in Libby have died from asbestos-related diseases, and more than 2,000 have been sickened by the asbestos. Hundreds more deaths are expected from these diseases, as they can take decades to manifest.


Records show that W.R. Grace (who owned the mine) knew about the adverse health effects from asbestos in the mine many years before the mine's closure in 1990.

In 1999, the EPA responded to widespread concerns surrounding the asbestos in Libby. The agency collected hundreds of samples from around Libby. In 2002, the site was declared a Superfund site, and cleanup began. It was a project unlike any that the EPA had ever seen. Vermiculite needed to be removed from Libby homes and businesses and the mine site needed to be addressed.

Riverfront Park pavilion is dedicated to the victims of the asbestos disaster. 


The asbestos risk may be under control (or close to it), but that doesn't mean the people of Libby have forgotten how W.R. Grace changed the course of their town's history. Residents have been trained to recognize asbestos because even the EPA admits that even after the job is considered to be finished contamination may still remain.

The Kootenai River from Riverfront Park


Downtown Libby


Monday, September 26, 2016

Friends and Family

Kalispell, MT

We got to spend some wonderful time visiting with friends and family and we got to eat out often.

We used to live in this area several years ago and have good friends who still live in Kalispell. We went to dinner with Judy and Dave but I forgot to get a picture. They own a 39 Chevy that Jim would love to have.

jillJudy and I also drove down to say hi and bye to our friend Jill. She finally sold her house south of Lakeside and is moving to St. George, UT.

She was having a huge garage sale and no I didn’t buy anything. We don’t have any room at all to put one more item.

This is Jill getting ready to take a picture of me.

We also went to dinner with Jerry and Janice to celebrate Jerry’s birthday. They were staying at a campground near Hungry Horse but drove down to  Kalispell for dinner at the Montana Club. Once again, no picture.

Jeri and Terry arrived and we got to enjoy a couple of great meals with them. This is them with Jeri’s nephew, Mike. Mike lives in Columbia Falls and we went to one of our favorite restaurants – the Back Room. Ribs and broasted chicken.


My cousin Jana joined us at the Back Room. I only have two first cousins on my Dad’s side of the family so she is very special to me.


We were able to meet up with Jeri, Terry, and Mike for one more dinner at Scotty’s. Jim had elk; Mike had buffalo; and the rest of us had steak. It was wonderful.

After ten days it is time for us to move on. We said goodbye to everyone and got to see David one more time.


Skitz is not looking forward to moving on and would prefer just to lay in front of the heat vent,


Or under the blankets.


See you on the road.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ronan, MT Harvest Fest

Kalispell, MT

Driving through Ronan on our way back to Kalispell, we saw all these straw bales decorated for Harvest Fest. There are some really creative people in Ronan.

Todd – this one is for you.


The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes won first prize with their Mindians at the Peoples Center.

Peoples Center

Smokey came in second


It’s was hard to get pictures of all of them because there is just too much traffic on the highway. But here are a few more that I thought were just wonderful.







Saturday, September 24, 2016

What Happened To the Bison?

Kalispell, MT 

Jeri and Terry arrived in Kalispell and the next day the four of us headed down to the National Bison Range. This is something that has been on my bucket list for several years and I was really excited to share it with good friends.


We drove down the east side of Flathead Lake with a brief drive through Bigfork. We stopped in Charlo to get some lunch before getting to the Range. We stopped at the Branding Iron and got burgers to go. Jim got something called cheesy spuds and said they were excellent. So were the burgers.


We were ready to see some bison. I was really expecting to see herds of bison and was totally disappointed. We saw maybe 20 bison total on a 26 mile loop drive.



There were some gorgeous views of the Mission Mountains as we climbed up to 4700 feet.



We did see some deer and pronghorns.






Finally a few bison.




We had a great time even if we didn’t get to see bison. And that item is crossed off my list.