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.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

Arlee, MT  -  High 83  Low 58

Just north of Arlee, MT is the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas. This destination has been on my bucket list for several years. Our friend, Dianna (who sold her home in Phoenix and moved to Missoula) went with us.

The garden is on the property of Ewam Sang-ngag Ling and sits in the Jocko Valley between the Mission Mountains and the Jocko River. Established as an international center for peace in 2000, the 750-foot circular monument sits on ten acres.

The Mission Mountains are incredibly beautiful but they were not visible today. This is the picture I took. Yes there are really tall mountains behind all the smoke in this picture.


This is what they are supposed to look like. I found this gorgeous picture on the web. Not sure who to give credit to but they captured their beauty.


The Purpose of the Garden (The following is from their website.)

Dedicated as an International Peace Center, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas supports people in cultivating inner peace and in preserving the ancient culture of Tibet. The mission of the Garden is to provide visitors of all faiths with an opportunity to generate profound merit, to reduce global negativities, and to bring about lasting peace. Through the use of the ancient symbols of Buddhism, the Garden awakens one’s natural inner qualities of joy, wisdom, and compassion.

Yum Chenmo – the Great Mother of Transcendent Wisdom



The one thousand images of the Buddha (which were made in Montana) are arranged in the shape of an eight-spoked Dharma wheel encircling Yum Chenmo.




The Dharma represents the teachings of the Buddha on the path to Nirvana. The directions in which the eight spokes radiate represent the Buddhist noble eight-fold path of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.


I found this picture on their website and it shows exactly how the garden is laid out to form the Dharma wheel.


There is a path that you can walk (clockwise) around the garden, however we did not walk that far.

There are many stupas (a dome-shaped structure erected as a Buddhist shrine) throughout the design of the garden.


The thousand Buddhas are said to represent the 1000 Buddhas that will be born in our religious age.




A fascinating place to visit and learn.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Moving Northwest to Missoula

Missoula, MT   High 82  Low 56  Smoke everywhere

We left Canyon Ferry heading for Missoula. But due to my lack of planning, we couldn’t get into Jim and Mary’s RV Park in Missoula until the next day and we couldn’t stay at the Canyon Ferry KOA any longer because they were booked. So what to do? We were able to get one night at the Riverfront RV Park in Garrison, MT which is about half way to Missoula.

Took cloud pictures cause I love clouds.


We had a few reasons for wanting to visit Missoula. Our good friend, Dianna, sold her home in Phoenix and moved to Missoula to be closer to her daughter. I also have a classmate who lives in Missoula with her hubby. I wanted to catch up with her and meet Mike. There was also a bunch of sight seeing I wanted to do.

Another old building


Our travel day was 60 miles up and over McDonald Pass. Pulled into the Riverfront in the early afternoon. Nice park. The camp host greets you and helps get you parked. Then they take your payment right there at the site so you don’t have to go to the office. Site was long enough we didn’t need to unhitch.  Lots of empty spots but by night time they were all full. Saturday morning they had a ham and egg breakfast with hashbrowns for a donation. Jim was so excited because he didn’t have to fix breakfast.

That’s smoke ruining my picture.


The one bad thing about the campground was the fact there is no over the air TV. It just isn’t worth it to set up the dish for one night so we both did some reading. Took our time getting ready to go because once again we only had about 60 miles to go and we couldn’t check in until after 12:00.

Almost everybody we’ve talked to that have stayed in Missoula has stayed at Jim and Mary’s RV Park. It is a beautiful park with lots of flowers and well maintained sites. We were in the back row which was nice because the trees weren’t as thick back there. I prefer open spaces. And this is my personal opinion – I would prefer a not so fancy park and a less expensive price. The site was almost $42 a night. But that is pretty typical for an RV park in Montana cities.

Had dinner with Dianna and made our plans for the next day.