Saturday, August 23, 2014

Smoke jumpers and (what else) a brew pub

It was a fun and interesting day in Missoula.

First we stopped at the Missoula Smoke Jumpers Visitors Center, home of one of two smoke jumpers bases in the country.  Smoke jumpers are firefighters who parachute into remote ares of national forests to fight wildfires. Their goal is to quickly get to a wildfire and put it out before it has a chance to spread. We saw their equipment (they carry 120 pounds on their backs); the portable shelters they climb into as a very last resort if they get caught in a fire; one of the planes that drops them into the wilderness; the Pulaski, an implement with an ax on one end and a hoe on the other and much more  Jim fought fires with the Oregon State Department of Forestry, plus he had an uncle who was a smoke jumper, so he was especially interested. Great tour.

After that we wandered around Missoula, stopped at a couple of antique stores (I didn't buy anything, Mom. Addies Antiques in Wellington is still my favorite antique store, closely followed by the Medina, Ohio, Antique Mall), had a beer at another local brew pub, and went to an art and music festival in downtown Missoula called the River City Roots Festival. 

Nice Day!
Our smoke jumpers tour guide, Caylin.  She's not a fire fighter.  Instead, she's a graduate student at Montana State University studying creative writing with an emphasis on poetry.  That seems to require additional commentary, but I'm at a loss other than to say she was terrific.
This is where Missoula-based smoke jumpers pack their parachutes.  The guys/gals also sew/repair their own fire fighting clothing (that's what they are doing here) and other cloth items they need except parachutes.  

After the smoke jumper tour we drove around Missoula.  Near the Rattlesnake Canyon area we saw deer everywhere...
...including this baby who was resting not far from Mom.

Next we went to KettleHouse Brewing Company.  Some nice folks from Colorado (they had just dropped off their only child at Montana State) took our photo. 
A photo I took while walking in a Missoula neighborhood near the brewery.
Pretty flowers in metal baskets in downtown Missoula.

Jim with his beer glass and wrist bracelet waiting to get a brew at the free River City Roots Festival.  Bev looked at the jewelry and bought a necklace.
In the distance behind us is the stage where we heard a local Missoula bluegrass band called the Lil' Smokies. 
This evening we are back at our campground, Jim and Mary's RV Park on US 93 in northwest Missoula. We usually stay at state parks, but lately we've been camping at private campgrounds like Jim and Mary's.  This campground has huge sites and flowers everywhere -- the above garden gnome in a barrel is next to our rig.  Prices at private campgrounds are often higher than public campgrounds, however. We're paying $37 a night with a Good Sam discount but get the convenience of full hook ups (water/electric/sewer).

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