2017 Sept 11 – Bozeman, MT to Kalispell, MT

We woke up to thick, heavy, smelly smoke.  Even in the truck with the windows up I could smell it so I spent most of the day wearing my mask. There are hills in the background behind the fields; though you can’t see them.

Today was purely a driving day.  We have been to and through Montana quite a few times.  Our son spent 2 1/2 years in Butte getting his Petroleum Engineering degree so we were here moving him in, going for a visit, attending his convocation and moving him out again.  A couple of our road trips have taken us into parts of Montana as well.

When we were looking at the map we were able to find some roads that would take us from Bozeman to Kalispell that we had not been on before.  Both were smaller, secondary roads and there were no tourist attractions or canyons, or waterfalls, etc.  Our only entertainment on the drive was to stop every hour or so and find a geocache.

Our first cache was hidden at a boat launch at Toston Bridge.  Despite the smoke it was a pretty spot and this lady and her dog had a great place to sit and read. I liked the relief carved into Montana’s historical marker frames. We stopped here to also find a geocache which we assumed would be on or at the base of the sign.  My phone compass said it was off in the field behind the sign.  We looked near some rocks on the left with no luck and finally decided to see if it was indeed in the field.  Can you spot where it was hidden?The container was like a large peanut butter jar and it was buried in the earth right up to the bottom of the lid.  After you removed the rocks the lid was exposed and you could unscrew it to get the log paper to sign.We drove through MacDonald Pass and had a nice view at the summit. The historical sign below is interesting (especially the last bit):See the burn on the hill top? And the retardent?  We passed two other burns, both in the ditches right beside the road which show that they were started by cigarettes being tossed out a window.  Idiots! The fire hazard down here is extreme just like at home.  You can see in my photos how dry all the grasses are.Several large fields in one area had these huge haystacks.  There were also the big round bales, but we saw several dozen of these big stacks.   We don’t know if they are hand thrown or if this apparatus is used to make them. There was a cache overlooking Nevada Lake at one end and another one on top of the dam at the other end. The cache container was tucked behind a rock under the big pipe.

The lower side of the dam was just a small outlet making a stream through the field.We stopped at another historical sign and beside it was a fire status information board.  One of the pages showed the fire, called the Rice Ridge Fire, which, on Sept. 4 was 101,424 acres.Take note of the population details on the town of Ovando sign.Our route on Highway 83 took us right past the burning area.  It is hard to see with all the covering smoke but if you look closely you can make out plumes rising from the forest on the hill.  We had 35 mph speed limit for quite a few miles and there were portable water tanks set up in the yard of every house that could be used for sprinkler protection if the fire came over the hill.  We also passed signs regarding staging areas.  Seeley Lake was looking pretty and there were a couple of boaters having a good day. The community of Seeley is the staging area for the firefighters.  I snapped a bunch of photos as we went by but they were taken without looking through the viewfinder so I didn’t get good shots to show how large the command center and rest area was. There were dozens and dozens of small tents for the firefighters to sleep in. Once we were north of the fire area the sky cleared and I was able to take my mask off.  By then we only had about 70 miles to get to Kalispell. (We traveled about 290 miles today so I was not mask free for very long.) There was a cache – our final find of the day – hidden off in the bush inside an old abandoned outhouse.  How do people find these places anyway? We arrived in Kalispell at 6 pm and, once again, our hotel has a restaurant so we did not need to go out after checking in.  Tomorrow we cross the border into Canada and the next day we should be home.  So…this will be my final blog post since all the rest of the journey is familiar territory.  Thanks for riding along with us.

And John achieved his goal of finding geocaches in 16 new states.  As a matter of fact, tomorrow we will go into Idaho which was not originally part of our route plan, and that will give him a bonus state, making it 17.  We will then have found geocaches in 25 of the US states – that is halfway.  We are just over halfway at 6 out of 10 Canadian provinces.  We may just get them all yet.

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