Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Smokey-the-bear was asleep on the job...

The drive from Boise through northern Idaho and western Montana was uneventful until we neared the many wildfires burning in Montana. This was our first experience with forest fires and we were quite surprised just how much of an effect they can have on such a wide area. (picture is a fire in the distance) Driving near a wildfire is strange, obviously quite smoky all around you and the sky takes on a deep mustard/brown color. We drove through this for about 100 miles since most of the area north of Missoula all the way to Whitefish was smoked out… visibility was about 2 miles which obscured most of the Flathead range and the large lakes. We stayed in Whitefish in a state park, which was on a lake just north of town. The park was nice except for its proximity to the railroad tracks. The train came through every 30 minutes all night long and blew the horn about 300 feet from our campsite. Loud. Interestingly enough as the wind died down and the humidity went up a bit, the smoke cleared and we had a semi-clear night. The next morning we awoke to a large amount of ash on the tent which was fun to clean off. My aunt and her family lived in Whitefish several years ago and I believe at the time, it was a sleepy little town. I am quite confident they wouldn’t recognize it or Kalispell. Whitefish has a “dining guide” and million dollar ski chalets, Kalispell has a Target, Starbucks and every other standard convenience you would need.

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