Sunday, August 17, 2008

Floatin', Fishin', & Taking It Slow

Each year about this time it seems that I'm late in updating our blog. This year is no exception, it's the dog days of summer and we've been taking things easy. This year we volunteered to staff the Refuge booth at the local "Creamery Picnic", a family-type festival held in the nearby town of Stevensville. At the same time that the Missoula paper was encuraging people not to attend the Rock Creek Testicle Festival (a "drunken debauchery festival") and warning about the influx of Hell's Angels, the Creamery Picnic was a shining example of a small town America get-together, complete with great food (ah, the homemade apple dumplings with ice cream!), games for kids, and booths for local vendors. We enjoyed meeting folks as they stopped by to view the animal furs and bird wings, and met many people who had visited the refuge and our attended our tours. It was a beautiful day, and the backdrop of the Bitterroot Range and St. Mary's Peak provided a great setting. As you can see by the picture, it was necessary to post a law enforcement officer near Brenda to keep her from continually raiding the Methodist Ladies' apple-dumpling booth.
We've waited all summer for the Bitterroot river levels to drop enough so that we could float the river. Finally, the day came and we joined our neighbors Tom and Cara for a day on the water. We launched at the Stevensville bridge for an 11-mile float downstream to the next bridge in Florence. The trip was relaxing, and at times, very exciting as there were still rapids and in one location, trees stacked up and nearly blocking the river entirely. We saw a mink hunting along the bank, osprey and kingfisher in the trees, and HUGE trout in the crystal clear water. As I found out later fishing the same area, I found out that those trout didn't get to be that big by being stupid; in two trips I managed to catch only one 16-inch cutthroat. After a little over five hours, we hauled our boats out, sunburned, tired, and amazed at the beauty of the river.
We're starting to wind down our stay at the refuge; only two more Behind-the-Signs tours and one program at the Missoula KOA. It's been over four months since we arrived here but seems like a much shorter time; we still have so many things we want to see!
Much of our recent time has been taken up by our decision to trade for a larger motorhome. Although we loved our Allegro Bay, our certainty after three years on the road that we would continue this lifestyle as long as we're physically able drove our decision to purchase a larger, more durable coach. We came across a motorhome that fit all our needs, with a very "residential" floorplan (including a fireplace!), large kitchen with dishwasher for the cheesecake goddess, and a higher carrying capacity. It's a 2006 Itasca Ellipse (made by Winnebago), barely used with only 10K miles, 40' long, with four slides. It truly is an upscale condo on wheels & we'll post more pictures as we finish moving everything in.
Finally, on one of our Behind-the-Signs tours we came across this pond scene with white pelicans with a double-crested cormorant in the middle drying it's wings. Brenda framed the picture and it sits on display in the visitor center with the title "The Lee Metcalf Choral Group, conducted by Andre Cormorant".
Have a great Labor Day weekend & come back and see where we're going!