Nothing Fishy About It

Back in July (wow! Has it been that long ago?!?) I mentioned how rare it is for us to make reservations. There are a lot of reasons for this, and we were about to be reminded of one of them. But sometimes there’s a spot in this country (you full-timers and frequent RVers out there know what I’m talking about!) when you *have* to make a reservation or you’re not going to be able to spend any time there.


A few years ago, traveling off the beaten path in western Montana, we came across one such spot… Trout Creek, Montana. It’s a tiny town (not even a stoplight) along the Clark Fork River and wedged between the Cabinet Mountains and Bitterroot Range where the Kanikso National Forest and Lolo National Forest merge. Popular with people who fish and hunt, the few places to park an RV fill quickly and for long stretches. We reserved a spot for three weeks about nine months in advance.

We arrived a couple of weeks into August, glad we’d reserved a spot. A large bicycling group was in the area:


But that wasn’t all.


Wildfires. As the sun set our first evening, the hazy smoke gave the sky a pretty glow. The RV park managers said the smoke levels varied from day to day, depending on the wind, moisture in the air, and how successful the firefighting was. With so much to see, we decided to take it day by day, scouting out places we hoped to eventually hike…


…and exploring when we could:


Every morning we checked the weather forecast and the latest wildfire reports, made complicated by being on the edge of two states, which meant checking InciWeb for Idaho and Montana as well as two different national forest Websites to check trail conditions (don’t you love government bureaucracy?).

The maps told us one thing…


…and looking out our RV window told us another:


This was a “sunny” day…


…and this was often our view driving along Route 200 (yep, it
really looked this yellow):



We tried a couple of methods for adapting, including purchasing breathing filters from the hardware store in Thompson Falls — not attractive at all, painful to wear, and they scrunched my glasses:


What seemed to do the trick best of all was the old-fashioned handkerchief:


Several locals said, “I’ve got to do that!” when they saw us.

So, given we live in an RV and can leave anytime we want, why did we stay? Why did we put up with this? The answer to that… next time!

About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
This entry was posted in Bicycling, Hiking, Interesting Stories, RV Parks & Lifestyle and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Nothing Fishy About It

  1. I suppose you stayed because you had already paid for your three-week reservation. So what if the air burned your eyes and your throat was constantly irritated! Or the wind could’ve suddenly shifted and cut off your only avenue of escape! Hey, I KNOW the real reason–it was fodder for one of your upcoming mysteries! See, I told you so!
    Happy Trails,

    • Ellen says:

      Hi, Mike! Actually, the managers/owners would have refunded our remaining reservation money — very nice people. Nope, we stayed because we truly had few other options. But you’re right. A great adventure like that one does become fodder! (Hmmm….. fire… smoke… )

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