Sunday, September 02, 2007

Follow the Salmon River

We woke up still exuberant about our previously fabulous day in Blaine County. We love this little piece of Idaho. So naturally, we couldn't wait to see more. We left beautiful Ketchum to take the scenic rode to Salmon, Idaho. And it was picture-perfect scenic. Every mile following along the Salmon River was breathtaking. The river is shallow so it's always rippling over the round rocks that make up its bed. I hung my head out the window like a dog lapping up the fresh air, trying to snap photos. I wished Robert could hang his head out too, but somebody had to drive. We should have just stopped and camped for the night, but the drive was so exhilarating we just kept going and going. Hours and hours. Not knowing any better I kept urging us on to Salmon like it was the Emerald City at the end of a long winding road. Was I wrong. So today, I added another new nugget to our travel wisdom bag: Don't pass up a good thing believing a better thing awaits you just a tad further down the road.

When we finally got to the town of Salmon we were met with two disappointments: The beauty of the drive suddenly dissolved into an unattractive town, and, there was a heavy smoky haze in the air. We wondered if it was smoke from the central Idaho fires just blowing up the state, but it only got worse as we kept driving. We asked someone about it and she shrugged, unconcerned. "We have fires all the time. Sometimes it's smoky. If you'd been here this morning you'd seen clear skies." Well, then.

We passed up North Fork as too claustrophobic with the dense forest and heavy fire smoke. If there is a fire nearby, we'd like a good vantage point to see it from and a quick route to escape. Suddenly we were climbing over the Bitterroot Mountains. The smoke was so thick that the sun turned red. Next thing we know, we're in Montana, (probably the ugliest entrance, too with all the burnt trees) and wondering where to find a campsite. This corner of Montana seems to be a center for logging and businesses related to the building trades. Also we noticed quite a few chiropractic offices tucked between the casinos. Logging has to be hard on the back.

So here we are in a campground south of Missoula I don't even know the name of. We pulled in at dusk and didn't bother to unhitch. We'll sleep, get up early and head north to Glacier Park, hopefully to clear skies.

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