Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 18-Missoula, Montana

Contrary to the first part of the trip, we didn't have anything planned for our time in Montana.  In fact, we spent some time the other morning completely revamping our itinerary for Montana.  We were originally going to use Bozeman as our 'home base' for the week but then decided to scratch that idea and book hotels in Butte, Missoula, Kalispell in order to visit Glacier National Park.

Some brief research showed there were a few things we might want to check out in Missoula.  But it seems we are a little early in our trip as most places up here don't open until Memorial Day.  Nonetheless, we left a few messages to see if by chance they were open and then hit the road.

Be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge.

The blue skies were back!

Throughout our travels we have seen many of these old barns and houses.  I wonder why the owners don't just tear them down, since most of them are falling apart.  But I'm glad they don't.  These structures are beautiful and the backdrop of the mountains, the rolling hills and green fields make the most lovely pictures.  

Our first stop was the Smokejumper Visitor Center in Missoula.

Check the website for the history of Smokejumpers.

This is an example of a smokejumper in full gear.  To ensure the details are correct, please see the Smokejumper website for a description of what these men and women do to. 

Some of the tools smokejumpers use to stop fires. 

Yep, those are sewing machines.  Before becoming a smokejumper, each person is an experienced firefighter.    And each person learns how to sew...parachutes, fireproof jumpsuits, etc.  It gives them the opportunity to customize their suits as well as make improvements, etc.  In fact, during their downtime, they also fix parachutes and uniforms for other branches of service.

There was a practice jump this morning and these parachutes are being inspected inch by inch.

If you click on the picture, there are numbers on the ceiling that correspond to lines along the wall and the parachute.  (We didn't get to spend too much time in the area because there were people working, but there's a system and it works for them.)

Locker room for all the jumpers.  The suits in the middle are for the jumpers that are next in order to go.

This is where the parachutes are laid out, inspected and meticulously packed.  There is a very lengthy training, practice and testing process in order to pack a 'chute.  (It can be a number of years before someone is qualified to pack a parachute.)

These paintings depict how the parachute/jump works.  Because they are dropped relatively close to the ground (1500 feet), the yellow line is attached to the plane and when they jump, the parachute pack is opened.

These packages contain things like tools, food, emergency kit, etc.  The green pack on top is a parachute for the packages as they too get dumped out of the plane.

All the things that fit inside the boxes.  (The food items are non-perishable, 'just-add-water'/dehydrated or canned.  Apparently we should by stock in SPAM as it supposedly is one of their favorites.)  :)

All of these people jump out of and things get dumped out of a plane into the forest.  What gets dropped in, gets packed out.  (Yes, they have to pack up parachutes, gear, tools, and supplies, which could be 100 pounds or more.)  And there isn't always a road nearby.  So, they have to schlep it out of the woods to a point where a vehicle can come get them.  (Could be 200 feet or 2 miles.)  All that after fighting a fire.

Molly (our tour guide) and her husband Dan.  He's a real life smokejumper, just returning from a practice jump!

What a great experience!  Not only are these folks firefighters and some are also EMTs, they also have to know forestry.  Thanks for all you do!

Our next stop was the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula.

Upon entering the museum, you are invited to watch a brief video on the history of Fort Missoula in a room surrounded by artifacts and documentation in a "special exhibit from the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center featuring some of the Portland individuals taken by the FBI. A relatively unknown aspect of the internment experience, this exhibit features the stories, artifacts, and memories of prominent members of the Portland Japanese community who were arrested just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Held in separate "special" camps, these individuals suffered a wholly different and unique experience both here at Fort Missoula, as well as other relocation camps." (copied from the Museum website)

We had no idea there was such a connection between Portland, OR and Missoula, MT!

Here is an explanation of the exhibits.

After walking through the galleries and displays, we ventured outside to walk the museum grounds.
Quartermaster's Root Cellar
The black vents on top allow the air to circulate and kept the cellar temp constant.

Noncommissioned officers quarters

Broad view of the grounds.

Homestead cabin

Grant Creek Schoolhouse

St Michael's Church

Alien Detention Center Barracks

Monument recognizing those held in the detention center.
(click to enlarge)

A chisler....

Drummond Depot and Tipi Burner

Tipi Burner and Engine 7


Sliderock Lookout and Miller Creek Guard Cabin

Frank's checking out the train.

For only having a few hours in the city, we feel like we covered a lot of territory.  Even got trips to REI and Target in.  :o)

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