Yes. Yes, I am. That was the bit south of Missoula, not north of it. Oh well, too late now. In any case, the route down the east side of the Flathead Valley was mostly empty and contains three villages in ninety miles and lots of trees, oh yes. And a 35 mph speed limit either side of Seeley Lake because of the thickness of the smoke. Try to imagine this on a nice sunny day:
|Flathead Lake, with added smoke|
That was 2010, when it was raining. In 2009 they were digging it up. In 2017 they were doing neither, although the unsporting Idaho side has a 50 mph speed limit. Fortunately Mr State Policeman was parked on the far side of a corner so he merely gave an admonitory flash of his blinkenlights rather than chasing me down the road and throwing me into gaol. On the rare occasions when the sun managed to break through the smoke a bit it looked like this:
South of Kooskia is a bit I've not been on before; the river valley is a good deal wider and has a bit more traffic on it but nothing to raise the blood pressure. I was in danger of being early arriving here because of the hour gained by crossing into the Pacific time zone at the top of Lolo Pass, so took some pictures of bridges to pass the time.
|Not a bridge, but rather the meeting to the Lochsa and Selway rivers, forming the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River|
|Bridge of the Day: leads to the Post Office at Lenore ID. US-12 on the opposite bank.|
I came through these parts two years ago when it was gloriously sunny and the view from the top of the valley was quite spectacular. Today you can't see the top of the valley sides. And I have an horrible feeling that fings are not going to get much better. I chatted with a Nice Lady in the car park shortly after arriving. She'd driven up the Columbia River gorge from Portland today. The word "beautiful" was mentioned a Several of times, but then so were "smoke", "flames", "road closure" and "evacuation of whole towns". "I've never seen it this bad" she opined. Guess where I'm going tomorrow?