Sunday, July 7, 2013

Moose Drool country

Trips to the auto shop are usually not much to take note of. Except for the bill, these trips are sleepers. I bought two new tires at a Sears store and had a good laugh. That was before I got the bill.

This sears store is in a mall. I was killing time at the mall when the service manager called to ask me where the jack and tire changing kit for the truck was. I had asked them to swap out the spare for one of better tires I was replacing. They didn’t have the right tool for lowering the spare. I told them that it was under the back seat.

When I picked up the truck the young fellow complained about how they hid the spare tire kits on these trucks. He said that he was with a friend who had an F-150 out in the backcountry near Missoula when they got a flat. The tire jack didn’t fit the crank that lowers the spare. They spent an hour looking everywhere for it. They gave up, hiked ten miles, caught a ride and went to the Ford dealer to get the part so they could fetch the truck. The dealer told them the little tool they were looking for is fastened with tie-wires to the underside of the back seat in the F-150. 

This fellow got a little huffy and said, “You would think those ass holes could put something like that in a more obvious place wouldn’t you?” To which I told him I would pretend I was my wife and asked him if they had thought to look at the owner’s manual. He got a very strange look to his face and said, “Here’s your bill!”

We made it over the divide. 

We visited Moose Drool country. Non-beer-brewery enthusiasts know this area as “Missoula”. To folks with an interest in the local brew it is the home of Montana Brewery and its famous Moose Drool Ale.  We were introduced to this wonderful substance ten years or so ago and it is still a very fine beverage.

We visited Ron and Clara Erickson. For those of you who know Ron and Clara (and I think that is most of you) they are just fine. We’ve visited them several times in Missoula and always have a great time with them. Ron is still tying flies. Clara is taking piano lessons and making rhubarb sorbet – and doing a hundred other things.

Brenda at the Missoula farmer's market. 

From Missoula we drove over the Lolo Pass into Idaho. We stopped at Grangeville one night before pulling into Donnelly, Idaho, to spend the 4th of July with the Wisdoms.

Between Grangeville and the Wisdoms is the White Bird grade. This thing goes on forever and has some spots that hit 8% grade. Every time I drive this I get hemorrhoids from the pucker factor.

The Wisdoms are also just fine. They have the “cabin” up for sale – again.  We enjoyed seeing them up there again.

Although this picture doesn't show it well, Pine Bark beetle has started to kill the trees. In a few years most of these trees will be dead. 

The area has changed a lot since we were there a decade ago. In fact much of the area has ben drastically changed by a bug. The Pine Bark Beetle has devastated large tracks of land through Montana and Idaho. The loggers are happy, I guess, because the removal of dead trees has kept them employed and will for years. 

We were told that the favorite host of the beetle is the Ponderosa Pine. A ranger told us that what they have isn’t a beetle problem but a Ponderosa problem. Loggers replaced harvested trees with a cloned species of the Ponderosa. Needless to say when you have millions of copies of one plant and an insect that thrives on that plant you have big problems.

The trees in the background are dead because of the Pine Bark Beetle. We saw lots of these dead trees.

While in Grangeville I had to replace another tire on the trailer. I have to stop driving the trailer over curbs.  

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