Missoula Redux: July 27 – August 3, 2011

Reminders: 1. Posts are in chronological order with most recent on top. 2. Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them and then using the back button (not close) to return to the text.

By deciding that we owed it to Lewis & Clark to transit Lolo Pass, we would up back in Missoula. This time we selected a campground about five miles from town, and were we rewarded. Jim and Mary’s RV Park, purchased by Jennifer Graves, Judy Luebek and Wal Luebek when Jim and Mary retired in 1999, was the gem that we rarely find. The sites were large and ideal; the atmosphere oh so positive, and the plethora of flowers an olfactory delight. We stayed for a week, giving ourselves an opportunity to get Teddy’s blood work updated by Patty Prado, one of his favorite vets, and giving me an opportunity to go back down to Traveler’s Rest and see that special rifle that went on display on July 1. For more on that rifle, please review our original visit, 4/30 – 6/12, for all the details. It has challenged contemporary thinking on the armament that Meriwether Lewis purchased from the Army Arsenal in Harper’s Ferry in 1803.

The trip over the Bitterroots was fraught with difficulty, though hardly comparable to the Corps. The trip on the Idaho side was a challenge of hills and curves, but we handled the miles with little difficulty, oohing and aahing at every rise and every valley. About 20 miles from the peak, a couple on a motorcycle passed us and waved and pointed. We thought they were pointing at the life size Schip on the side of our truck. But when we met them at the NPS Visitors Center at the peak, they walked over and reported that they were pointing at the airless condition of one of the tires on the left side of our trailer. Amazingly, we not only made it but never felt it. When the repair service got up there, the tire guy credited our deluxe trailer hitch for supporting the unit without it. A new tire was delivered and installed at Jim & Mary’s the following day. The hitch, which weighs 2.5 time a “regular” one and cost 2.5 times as much, is the creation of the same company that made the hitch we had on our earlier “tagalong;” that one negated the sway effect of a semi passing us at highway speed!

Those of you who took in our Salem, Oregon segment (June 22-25) are aware of the fact that city resident Hazel Patton visited Missoula in 1995 and was so taken by its carousel that she motivated the Oregon capital to build their own. I had never seen the original, so I took this opportunity of a return visit to take it in and photograph it.

While I was downtown I took the opportunity to visit an old friend, Dr. Patrick Weasel Head, director of the Missoula Indian Center. We had wandered into the Center on our first Missoula visit, thinking it was a museum. We quickly learned it was a help center, but Patrick spent a long time chatting about our trip and his work. I returned to give the Center a donation.

We had one final thrill on this return visit. One of the campground’s visitors was a team of exhibition showpeople , led by Bill and Sara Berg. Rockabilly Racing’s prime exhibit is an IH truck that will go 300 miles an hour, thanks to the jet engine that monopolizes the chassis behind the cabin. I spent more than a half hour learning about and going over the rig, which appears at air shows, car shows and the like. With a runway at hand, she can make her maximum speed. She spews flames during the day, and at night, she blows off the most incredible pyrotechnic show you’ve ever seen. They were on their way to Spokane for a show that weekend and towed it with a simple truck camper. We reviewed their website and asked why their appearances weren’t published. The reason: other shows try to come in and undercut them. In any event, we got an inside contact in the hope that we will be able to see them somewhere near our winter digs.

We love Missoula. We will be back again some day.

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