Ennis, MT 2018 travel blog

Libengoods, GA neighbors

Ed & Julie O'Connor (Atlanta)

"Hey Cowboy!"

Andrew, AJ & Heather (Athens, GA)

Cowboy up: AJ on Solo, J. on Skeeter

Smoke from Monument Fire, Gravelly Range

August 12, 2018 Ennis, MT

For six days she was unseen, unnoticed. No one knew she was there. Hundreds of people passed by her every day fishing and floating the Madison River and driving forest service roads. That was until Saturday, Aug. 11th when she made her presence known with a huge plume of smoke. They call her the Monument Fire. For the past three days the temperature had pushed well into the nineties - and Sat. the wind picked up. That combination got the attention of everyone in the county. She went from 3/4 acre in size to 2,000 acres on Saturday.(**see below) We joined our neighbors that morning to paddle the Madison River just east of the rising plume at 10,000 feet. (probably 7-8 miles into the forest.) By the time we got off the river, the wind had carried the thick smoke clouds across the valley, creating it's own weather system and it sprinkled on the windshield. A lightening strike, they say. Hummm, sometimes I wonder if it's mother nature or a careless camper. What we do know it that fire it not threatening any structures, so it will be "monitored." It's about 18 miles from our house as the eagle flies, and hopefully the only issue we'll have is smoke in our valley erasing our gorgeous views. We were cranky several weeks ago because we were getting smoke from the California and Idaho fires...now we're just plain crabby! This fire and a smaller fire in our county can only be "monitored" because there are NO available hot-shot teams to be deployed here!! They are all in California, as we are aware. The earliest crews are 4-6 weeks out. That leaves any firefighting to our local structural crews and small forest service crews. Crossing fingers for the safety of all.

(**There's something about using a female pronoun in reference to a fire. Yes, I could refer to a fire as "it", but that doesn't capture the power, the strength, the heat and the rage of a fire. It's a female, and needs a female pronoun!!)

On a much brighter note, we've had plenty of visitors and more to come. The Libengoods, our former neighbors, came around Memorial Day. The O'Connors shared the 4th of July festivities with us and the Sussman's from Athens, GA just left. Grandson Andrew, at age 12, is only 1/2" shorter than Jeffrey. When did that happen?? He used to be playing t-ball, and now he's winning division Little League games. We have a hunch Andrew enjoys visiting here because he gets to drive the 4x4. Shush, don't tell anyone. AJ and Andrew floated the Madison River with a fly-fishing guide one day while Heather, Jeffrey and I floated another section in our kayaks. Throw in a little horseback riding, picnics and muck-racking to equal a great visit!

Speaking of muck-raking, I'd better wrap up and get to some chores. Our wonderful 17 y/o 'ranch foreman' has been involved with the county fair all week and we miss him! He's showing his pig and hopes to score about $3600.00 when he sells it. Holy Pulled Pork, that's pretty dang pricy per pound... but it's a contribution to 4-H as well. Learn something new everyday.

Enjoy the final fleeting weeks of summer, we sure are! Mary Ann and Jeffrey

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