Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sat, Sept 26: On the road trying to get out of the smoke!

It is so nice to wake up to blue skies!There is a little flea market setting up as we leave the campground so we wander through itthen hit the road. We are still following the Lewis and Clark trail and are also in the Nez Perce heartland. Their history is very interesting and sad. History seems to indicate they were mostly a friendly nation, but were caught up in the rush for gold and land from the 1850's to the 1880's.

We stop at the Nez Perce National Park Heart of the Monster siteand listen to the story of the beginning of the people. It is an interesting story and the rock does look like the heart of a monster. For the next 100 or so miles we follow the Lochsa Riverthrough a wildness area. It is a pretty drive with several trailheads going off into the mountains, some with foot bridgesacross the riverAfter we cross the Lolo Pass and head into Montana we turn south on Hwy 93. Here we encounter a raging forest fire to our west.It had been a little hazy earlier in the Lochsa River canyon, so we guess this is the cause. Though today the wind is blowing hard toward the east and pushing the smoke and fire toward Montana. Once in Montana we head down to the Idaho border. Near the border, we cross over the Lost Trail Pass and turn east. Our goal is the Big Hole National Battlefield(Smoke from the earlier fire can be seen at the top of the picture) also part of the Nez Perce National Park. This is where in 1877 the non-treaty Nez Perce tribes fought the army to a stand-still and escaped after capturing a canon and losing some 90 of their people. Later, some of the Nez Perce were sent to Oklahoma for some 20 years. Ultimately, the tribe was reunited on much reduced reservation lands in Idaho.

At the battlefield visitors center, we can see yet another fire raging to the east.The rangers say one fire started on August 13 and the other just last week. They are being allowed to burn, but hopefully there will be rain and snow by Tuesday that will help control the fire.

We are planning to spend the night in Andaconda and then drop down into West Yellowstone tomorrow about 150 miles away. Leaving the visitors center we head north between the two fires. It is nearly 5PM and about 60 miles back up to our stopping spot. However, the smoke just gets thicker and thicker. It makes for some interesting pictures (first two pictures looking west third picture looking east),but we have no desire to camp in it. Instead of turning turn off for Andaconda, we go on up to I-90, a smokey sunset on I-90 near Butte,and head east till we leave most of the smoke behind us. We wind up stopping at 8PM in Bozeman about 100 miles down I-90.

It has been a long day and we are a little road weary so we watch the Stepford Wives while we fix dinner.

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