As John said in a previous post, we had mixed emotions when we left “Camp Beaver” in Oregon. We were definitely happy that John’s health crisis was over and he seemed solidly on the way to a full recovery. We were slightly nervous because we were leaving the vicinity of the smartest guys in the universe, with respect to the workings of our RV. We were excited about getting back on track with our travel plans and looking forward to a month at Glacier National Park. So with all those emotions swirling in our hearts, we headed east from Bend Oregon on 6/28/2013 – 43 days after our arrival.
On Day 1 I had a little extra nervousness of my very own – i wasn’t sure how John would feel about the physical drain of driving the RV. Remember, he had recently been attached to oxygen 24/7. If driving the RV proved to be too taxing for John, we would be up the creek without a paddle because I can’t even begin to drive it. Luckily John rode easy in the Captain’s seat again, for a long-ish driving day from Bend Oregon to Hermiston Oregon. It was during this long-ish, hot-ish day that we discovered the A/C doesn’t work in the cab area of the RV. It works just fine in the “home” part of the RV, but doesn’t work in the “vehicle” part of the RV. Hot, very hot – it’s like being in 1960 on a family vacation. But we managed to avoid squabbling about “Are we there yet?” I remember very little about Hermiston Oregon. The RV park was small, we had a space right up front, it was so hot that we didn’t go outside at all – just stayed huddled in our blissfully cool “home” air conditioning.
On Day 2 we would stick our toes (and everything else) in Idaho again. We had reservations at an RV park that was recommended by some folks we met at “Camp Beaver”. I expected good things from that place. However, we found an exceedingly narrow entrance to the park – the most weirdly narrow entrance of any RV location we had seen. But once inside the park, the RV spaces were plenty fine and there was a nice view of mountains. And we repeated our mantra, “It’s OK. We’re only gonna be here one night.”
Day 3 would bring us to Montana. When I began thinking about this RV trip and the places I wanted to go, I looked at a map and realized the hugeness of Montana. I decided then that we should spend a big chunk of the summer in Montana. I was mighty excited about finally getting to Big Sky Country. Our first Montana destination was Missoula. We had reservations at an RV park that had terrific reviews and we were extremely pleased upon our arrival. Simply put, it was a swell RV park – grassy lawns, big shady trees, many flowers, a reasonable distance between the RV sites. I was sorry we were only spending one night there. We arrived early enough in Missoula that we could go have some fun. We went to the Missoula Smokejumpers Visitor Center. The tour was informative and left us in awe of the work that Smokejumpers do. First of all, the minimum physical requirements are demanding: minimum age 18 years; minimum height 5 feet; maximum height 6 feet 5 inches; minimum weight 120 pounds; maximum weight 200 pounds. Also, the Smokejumper candidates must be able to do 7 pull-ups, 45 sit-ups, and a 1.5 mile run in 11 minutes. That’s just to set foot in the Smokejumper Academy door. The Smokejumper rookies must carry a 110 pound pack over flat terrain in 90 minutes. I can’t remember how far they have to carry it – who cares how far, the dang thing weighs 110 pounds! If/when the Smokejumper rookie graduates, their normal smokejumping day would start with a call to a fire. They put on a jumpsuit, strap on a main parachute and a backup parachute, and tote their 110 pound gear bag to the plane. After flying to the fire area, they jump out of the plane, then their 110 gear bag is tossed out of the plane with a parachute attached to it. They land, hopefully not in a tree. If they do land in a tree, they need to cut themselves out of their parachute, climb down the tree, and remember where the tree is – because they need to come back later and retrieve the parachute. Yes, that’s right, when they are all done fighting the fire, they get to come back to climb a tree and retrieve the parachute if they were not fortunate enough to land on the ground. Once on the ground, they locate their 110 pound gear bag, take off the jumpsuit they wore while parachuting, put on the big heavy fire retardant suit that they wear when firefighting, put the 110 pound gear bag on their back and walk three miles through the forest to the site of the fire. Presumably this three mile hike is over uneven, forested terrain. Three miles later, at the fire location, they begin their day of cutting firebreaks with a Pulaski axe/hoe. For ten hours. It takes a highly motivated, physically fit, nature-loving guy or gal to be a Smokejumper.
On Day 4 we drove from Missoula to Hungry Horse, to the RV park where we would be spending a month near Glacier National Park. The scenery during this day was spectacular, so we were certain we’d enjoy our time in this part of Big Sky Country. The RV park was a real gem, with a huge spot for our RV far away from other RVs, a huge grassy lawn all of our own, nice shady trees, and flowers nearby. Yup, this is what RVers appreciate in an RV park!