The best laid plans of mice and vacationers oft go awry. Instead of enjoying the day at Yellowstone today and most of tomorrow, we found ourselves driving up to Bozeman, MT today. The reason: smoke.
On our way back to the hotel last night, the sky looked odd and we thought there might be a fire somewhere. Turns out we were right. It now has a name: the Madison Arm Fire. It’s in West Yellowstone, MT – yes, that’s where we were staying. It’s along the Madison Arm of Hebgen Lake. Last night my husband found out it had burned about 90 acres and was under control. Wrong! This morning we went for a drive and the smoke was awful. We both suggested leaving, which made it unanimous. First, we found a hardware store to by me a particle mask. I know, it sounds crazy, but there’s a history here.
Our last vacation was to Orlando, FL in early May. While walking around Disney, I asked my husband if he smelled smoke. His reply, “Not really.” Well, it turned out that there were wildfires burning in northern FL and southern GA. There was also a sub-tropical storm off the coast. The resulting swirl of winds pulled all the smoke down into central FL – right where we were. I have never had lung problems before, but apparently the air quality was extremely bad and I had problems this time. A cough, scratchy throat and shortness of breath turned into bronchitis by the time I got home. The doctor said it was basically smoke inhalation. It took a month to get it to clear up!
So here I am, a few short weeks later, with another wildfire spewing smoke in my vicinity. I remember how lousy I felt. Don’t want that again! So we decided to leave a day earlier than planned, with my trusty mask making a new fashion statement for me. We had two routes we could take: either through Yellowstone NP and out the North Entrance or north through West Yellowstone via Rte 191. We opted for the Yellowstone Park route and as we drove, we began to doubt our choice. It was clear and not very smoky as we went north through the park. We stopped for lunch at Mammoth Hot Springs. I didn’t need the mask at all.
Halfway to Bozeman, we knew we had made the right choice. The smoke was coming up from the south, making everything look hazy. We checked into our hotel and set up the computer. Checked the Bozeman newspaper and were in for a shock: the 90 acre fire had spread to 1500 acres this morning and 2800 acres this afternoon!! Talk about smoke potential!!
Am I ever glad I listened to that little voice in the back of my mind! Ever have that happen? You get an idea and don’t know where it came from, but it keeps coming back if you ignore it. It happens to me a lot. I just seem to know things without knowing how I know them. Not psychic. Intuition, maybe. I’ve learned that things go much better in my life if I listen to that voice – even if I look silly at the time.
If you pray, say some prayers for rain in the west. The drought is really bad here. Too bad we can’t find a way to take the excess water from some places (like Texas right now) and bring it to the areas that are in dire need. I guess that would make us too much like God for His/Her liking, eh?
I am a little worried about my next trip, in October, to Nebraska to visit our Lakota friends who are moving there from the Pine Ridge Reservation. I certainly don’t want to be the harbinger of a fire there! At least we know we can adapt our plans when we need to and still have a good time. One more day to plan so I’m off to the map and brochures. There’s got to be some direction around here that the smoke won’t be drifting to.