Smoked out!

“Goodbye, McGregor Lake.  It’s been fun.  Maybe we’ll see you again someday.”

We leave McGregor Lake on August 6th.

Okay, all you mapsters, get out your maps or open your map app because we’re traveling today!  (Please note at top the ten-day delay of this post.)

~ ~ ~

The decision to leave our lakeside camp in northwest Montana is a reluctant one.

A few days ago, while swimming, I notice the trees on the far side of the lake look out-of focus.


Each day the smoke worsens and Saturday I wake with a slight cough.   Later my eyes briefly sting.

The camp host woman comes around to inform us we’re in stage 2.

Stage 2 means no campfires and no charcoal grills.  I ask her about the fire and smoke situation around the state.

“Seeley Lake is on pre-evacuation status,” she says.  “The smoke is all over, at Glacier, down in the Lolo area.  Northern Idaho has a bunch of fires going.”

Later, as if to confirm that it’s time for us to leave, a camper family — parents and a passel of children carrying various inflated toys — weave their way through the woods next to our campsite on their way to swim in “our” cove.

Roger is furious!  

He barks and twists and turns against the tether, making a terrible fuss.

“Never mind, Rog.  Why don’t we find a shady place today, instead of playing at the lake?  It’ll be fun!”

We spend the afternoon at Lower Thompson Lake where the smoke hasn’t settled.  I set up my camp chair on a carpet of pine needles.  It’s a shady spot with a view of the lake.  While Reg and Rog play, I read or simply follow the meanders of my mind.

Tomorrow we leave . . .  I’ve enjoyed these past twelve days very much.  Well, I thought we’d explore the shore of Lake Kookanusa and see Glacier, maybe Seeley Lake.  Another time perhaps . . .

Sunday, August 6

We go east to Kalispell from McGregor Lake Campground.  Then we turn south onto Route 93 which traces the western shore of Flathead Lake and gives us a mirage-like view of sailboats in smoke.  The mountains are barely visible.

The Perfect Tow Vehicle eats up the miles . . .

Polson, Ronan, St. Ignatius, Missoula.   Earlier this summer I thought we might take Route 12 through Lolo National Forest, south of Missoula, as we leave northwestern Montana.

We’re still in smoke as we board Interstate 90 east, probably from the wildfire presently raging (at the time of this post) in Lolo.

Gotta keep going . . . 

About 20 miles southeast of Missoula, we take exit 128.  

Forest Road 102 goes to two National Forest campgrounds.

Not surprisingly, we come to a roadblock made of forest ranger vehicles.  The road and campgrounds are closed due to another forest fire, the Goat Creek Fire, on this eastern side of the Sapphire Mountains.

However, a private RV park sits right at the road block!

We stay at Ekstrom’s Stage Station RV Park for one night ($37.45) with electric and water hook-ups, plus WiFi.

See the cute Best Little Trailer next to those big rigs?  (Smoke can be seen in the background of photos.)

It’s good to be off the road!

For obvious reasons, the park is nearly full.

As soon as we’re settled, the crew and I walk down to Rock Creek.

I don’t know where we will end up tomorrow.  For now, this is nice.  Sweet Montana.

To be continued . . .



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72 Responses to Smoked out!

  1. Cynthia from San Clemente says:


  2. milliehubbard says:

    Yay Cynthia!

  3. Virginia620 (AL) says:


  4. Barb from Hoquiam! says:

    Coming back after reading!

  5. Deena in Phoenix says:

    I love the first photo…”What’s ahead for us, Mom?”

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Deena,

      Those looking-out-the-passenger-window photos are very easy. All I have to do is bring the window down and Reggie and Roger move into position.

  6. milliehubbard says:

    Be safe Sue and Crew. How do the boys react to the smoke? I know my little Gabe gets nervous when there is the smell of smoke in the air…come to think of it, so do I. Safe travels to you.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you, Millie. I haven’t noticed a reaction in the crew other than, maybe, a cough by Reggie.

  7. Barb from Hoquiam! says:

    Whew! Glad you found your way to safety! We are clearer today, but still on a burn ban even on the coast…
    Last weekend was really bad. Near where I went to high school some old friends had a family wedding… in a barn. Out in a field… They have been on burn ban (and even gas powered mower ban!) for weeks. This is in Oregon… you know–where it always rains? LOL. Well, someone came in and parked in the designated parking area outside of the barn… and went into wedding. 🙁 Car caught on fire, blew up and two others next to it. They WERE able to put the fire out rather quickly thank goodness… Who would have thought???

    Well… the husband turns 70 this weekend. We will have a great time at a kickball party for young Keylee who turns 7. And also Ghianna who turns 10 later this month. They all think it is rather cool that Grandy is 7 times older than Ghianna and 10 times older than Keylee… Keeping math alive here ! 🙂

    Hugs from Hoquiam and STAY SAFE!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Barb. Hugs to you, too.

      Wow! I think the car bursting into flames tops all wedding day stories!

      As a former math teacher, I love how you’re incorporating math into your birthdays. 🙂 That’s how kids learn best… meaningful, real-life experiences.

  8. Stay safe out there!!!
    It seems if not fire it is floods💕
    Wishing you a relaxing new camp!!
    I know you and the crew will find it✌

  9. Cynthia from San Clemente says:

    Wow, seems like you’ve been outrunning forest fires the last couple of summers. Out of curiosity I googled “wildfires western US” and found the website for the “US Wildfire Activity Public Information Map.” You have probably used it, but if not, it seems to have lots of useful information. Will say a prayer for safe travels.

  10. Carol in MT says:

    Glad to see you made it to Rock Creek. Unfortunate that we have fires right now. Our cabin on upper Rock Creek has been placed under mandatory evacuation so we’re staying in our camper with friends near Georgetown Lake. Just waiting the fires out for now. However our retreat is quite pleasant. Hope you find a shady cool smoke free spot to land.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you, Carol. I hope you are able to return to your cabin, all in good time with all being well.

      You chose a great place in which to wait!

    • Rover Ronda (WA) says:

      I’m glad you have a camper and your friends to help you out. I hope it all turns out well.

  11. Geri in the FL panhandle! says:

    Glad you are in a nice spot now, away from the smoke! I agree, it seems like your past few summers have been plagued with smoke on the horizon. I guess that comes with being in the southwest. EmilyO has been dealing with it in NM too!
    Our Sumner here has been cooler than last summer but the humidity has kept us cooped up inside with the A/C!
    Stay safe! Stay happy! Hugs to R &R from us! Happy Trails!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Geri. Thank heavens for a/c!

      Well, we aren’t in the Southwest but I know what you meant. If we insist on camping in forests in the summer, we’re gonna’ have to deal with smoke. If you go to that website that Cynthia pointed out, you can see the fires are widespread. Idaho is really on fire and at one point, before all these fires, I thought we might continue into northern Idaho. Instead we went to Yaak and back to Libby.

      I’ll have to look at the map again to see what fire is causing EmilyO to have smoke in Truth or Consequences. (Stay safe, Emily!)

      • EmilyO in NM says:

        Doing good Sue, the monsoon rains are helping keep the fire situation down to a minimum thank heavens. In fact, just saw a posting on Twitter that Arapahoe Basin in Colorado had a light dusting of snow last night!!!! I have noticed that I am already starting to cover myself up sometime during the night. Like Geri, our summer hasn’t been as hot – but not the humidity like her location. Maybe and early Fall? There’s still early Sept to go thru. . . . Travel safe.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Ah, the monsoons… They’re a “safety valve” on fires in the Southwest. You mention covering yourself in the night. Same here! Already I see hints of autumn in small ways.

          Good to hear from you, Emily. Funny thing: I always think of you when I use my monocular. Be well and happy. 🙂

  12. LeeJ in Northern california says:

    Oh no! Smoke!
    I hope you have landed in a spot not supposed to be impacted by the eclipse…we are headed to Oregon to grandkids sit and have heard they are expecting a million tourists to go north for a better view. Our destination isn’t a hot spot, but the word is don’t go shopping etc just stay home and wait it out..we are taking our welding hood so the kids can check it out…
    Take care!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, LeeJ. We are taking care. 🙂

      Your welding hood… Gee, bet you never thought you’d use it for an eclipse!

      I haven’t paid much attention to all the anticipation for the eclipse. It’s not high on my list of interests. I’m not even sure where the path will be. Wherever, we’ll hide in the bushes or something, and not look up. Ha!

    • Rover Ronda (WA) says:

      LeeJ- welding hood, good idea! 👍
      I’ve heard it’s important to make sure you have the right glasses, unsafe ones are flooding the market.

      Sue- I’m with you. I won’t be looking for it either. I don’t know its path either but I’m sure my house isn’t on it, thankfully. I feel sorry for people who are in its path and have no choice but to deal with the crowds.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Me, too. It’s like the super wildflower bloom last spring in the Borrego Springs, CA area. Once I heard how fantastic it was and so many people talking about it, I knew I didn’t want to go there. Instead we stayed at our Blythe camp and got to see gazillions of desert lilies… with no crowds.

        Can’t say there’s another solar eclipse happening somewhere else though. 🙂

    • Lisa in San Diego says: (and maybe other sites) says … Want to go old school and look through welding filters? Make sure they are Shade 12, 13 or 14 — although some people say Shade 12 leaves the sun too bright and Shade 14 makes the sun too dim, which leaves only the hard-to-find Shade 13 as the Goldilocks filter. Know that most welders’ helmets that might be lying around in garages probably won’t have those filters.

  13. Elizabeth in WA says:

    Smoke cleared out here a couple days ago and at least looking East towards your direction, from the coast here we don’t see smoke haze anymore…but still towards the south some…so maybe Oregon and California still have fires yet? Pays to keep informed when traveling doesn’t it? Hope you get out of the smoke soon…it does make for some nasty respiratory issues! Beautiful country you are still in, in this post at least…I DO love the mountains and trees!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Elizabeth,

      I’m glad to hear the smoke has left your area of Washington. It’s quite clear where we are now (still in Montana)… You’re right. It’s imperative to keep informed while traveling, especially in areas prone to wildfire. I had to rely on word-of-mouth in some instances because I had no phone or internet. That and looking at the horizon, like a pioneer or something. 🙂

      You have a great day!

  14. Nora now in Yankton SD says:

    Guess I’m glad I got to Glacier back in July before most of the fires started! Though the crowds might be thinning out a little now that school’s about to start in many places. Glad you found a spot away from the smoke; look forward to finding out where that is.
    Down here in South Dakota we’ve now had two solid days of rain. Stayed a little longer than I had planned because Sunday I’m headed to Nebraska and the “path of totality” of the eclipse. Didn’t think I was particularly interested but since I’m in the area, why not?? Sure hope the clouds don’t ruin it now that I’ve gotten excited about seeing a once in a lifetime event. You’ll be close. Enjoy!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Nora,

      Interesting report from South Dakota! I’m glad you had the chance to visit Glacier. I probably would’ve wimped out anyway, even without smoke. I read an article stating attendance at the park was at an all-time high and parking lots fill up before 10 a.m. The accompanying photo of hordes of cars and tourists made me cringe!

      I hope you have glasses to keep your eyes safe for the eclipse and that you have clear skies that day.

  15. weather says:

    Hopefully some other time you’ll get to see what you missed in that area. I’m glad others had let you enjoy the cove’s privacy until your last day at McGregor. I would guess campers without waterfront sites were supposed to swim in the day use/public area, and not use your site as if it were meant to be shared by everyone. At least that’s been my experience in campgrounds.

    It’s strange to see your cute BLT parked that close to so many other rigs. As an “any port in a storm” Ekstrom’s was a fortunate find. Having a nearby creek to walk to and the use of your air conditioner must have felt great after your long day at the wheel. It’s good to know that you didn’t waste any time getting away from the smoke and fires. I breathe easier when I know you and your adorable crew can breathe easy, too.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you, weather, for caring. 🙂

      Yes, it was a relief to see that RV park. Without it we might have had to go many more miles that day. Rock Creek was a bonus. Seems everywhere we go in this part of Montana, there’s a creek or river or lake nearby.

      You’re right about McGregor Campground… that most families go to the beach in the day use area or they swim from one of the many vacant tent sites. There’s also a path going off the campground loop to the water which is handy to all campsites.

      I didn’t mind sharing our swimming spot, but I admit it was wonderful when we had it all to ourselves!

  16. Linda (Wisconsin) says:

    Fascinating — all your travels lately. Say, your photos this summer have been stellar.

  17. Rover Ronda (WA) says:

    I’m glad you moved away from the smoke. Plus a bonus, it looks like maybe you found some Internet as well as clear skies.

  18. Terri in Sunny Texas says:

    Hi RV Sue and all Blogorinos,
    Glad you got away from n smoke, hopefully to a nice cool place. I will also be seeing the eclipse from my humble abode in Tx. Only 64% of the sun will be hidden here but it will get a bit dark. I can’t believe people are paying thousands
    to be in the path. It is neat, but get a grip, people! 🙂
    Yeah, the RCA tablet y ou listed was mine-still getting the hang of it. Ya’ll take care, hear?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks so much, Terri, for buying the tablet through my blog… or maybe it was your husband who bought it for you. 🙂 I hope you had a happy birthday!

  19. pookie and chuck in Todd Mission, tx says:

    that smoke out west can get bad at times…..hope you find a clear place to land…
    we have bad smoke at times here in SE Texas when Louisiana starts burning their
    sugar cane and the smoke drifts over this way….
    chuck and pookie

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      pookie and chuck! I missed you! Very glad to see you here again.

      I didn’t know about the burning of sugar cane. I wonder what that smells like, if at all. Well, gee, just cook up a mess of BBQ and blow it Louisiana way!

      I hope you are well and happy these days.

  20. Pat from Mich. says:

    Wildfires and floods are two things that give me the willies! I’ve been close enough to a wildfire to see the flames crest a hill about a mile or two from me, but it got stopped there – thank goodness! I’m loving your pics of Montana. I’ve been through Montana, but we just drove through. No wonder people like Montana, it’s beautiful!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Pat,

      What would we do without our brave firefighting personnel? It’s hard for me to comprehend how anyone would want to do such a dangerous and difficult job. I saw a few in their heavy suits on a day when the temperatures were in the 90s AWAY from any fire. Last I read the news, two have been killed, one of them very young.

      Thank you, firefighters! I appreciate what you do for us!

  21. Cinandjules 🌵 says:

    10 days behind……
    Smoke can be annoying as well as unhealthy. Glad to know you are with “others” and not in the boonies without a signal!
    Stay safe!

    When we drove down from 40 onto the 17…there was some kind of fire/smoke in the area. The ferals were going crazy in their crates….once we cleared…they settled down.

    Watch Rog in case he gets spooked and reverts back to his days as a stray!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cinandjules,

      Good advice about Roger. He still has some “stray” habits, although I think he very much appreciates his new life.

      I wonder how you manage the feral cats in your new location. I would think they’d run off.

      • Cinandjules 🌵 says:

        Oh no..ahem….the ferals are domesticated spoiled felines now!
        With all the wildlife here i.e. bobcats, coyotes they are always inside. They have no desire to go outside!
        We also go out with Annie to do her business.

  22. Dawn in MI says:

    Stay safe Sue and crew!

  23. Diann in MT says:

    “Sweet Montana”. So, it is, Sue. Thanks for dropping by and being such a contributing visitor. This is your first trip to that neck of the woods, so you know the way around by now. Your plans to visit more northerly places will come true some year when you and the crew have a yen. Can’t wait for the day you return.
    Fires came early this year. I am sorry they chased you out. I have found that around the end of June and the first couple of weeks in July, we in the mountainous parts of the state enjoy blue skies. We have been lightly smokey during the last month. Unfortunately, in the back country, the fires won’t be extinguished until the first snow. That’s how it goes.
    Looking forward to your next adventure. Hopefully, you can avoid the crowds vying for the “most perfect place” to observe that wonder of all wonders, the solar eclipse on Monday.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Diann,

      You’re a sweet hostess for Montana. 🙂 I would like to come back. Maybe in a few years Verizon will have expanded its coverage area so I won’t be compelled to move so fast from place to place. Several of our camps were tempting to stay two weeks. Oh well, “leave wanting more” is the way.

      I hope you have had an enjoyable summer and will continue to do so into fall. You are right to be proud of your state. Montana is a wonderful place!

  24. Pauline in Mississippi says:

    Jerold and I stay in prayer for you, Dear Sister. The wild fires out west always brings concern. I know you keep a “weather eye” or a “fire eye”. The pictures of the camp at McGregor Lake have been wonderful. I always enjoy your pictures. I love the one in this post of the wooden wagon with the red and white geraniums.

    Sending love and hugs to you and the crew.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Pauline . . . Hi Jerold!

      Keep those prayers going. They may be the reason we’re still on the road and haven’t suffered any catastrophes. 🙂

      Hugs to you both and to the rest of the family,too! Love you!

  25. Renee from Idaho says:

    Glad you are safe Sue. We had awful smoky skies two weeks ago here. I have asthma and it was bothering me even with my medications. The smoke has cleared now so the fires hopefully may be subsiding or the winds have shifted. Looking forward to the next chapter of your travels.

    It’s so good to see the happiness with the pups and especially Roger with his new home. He found love!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Renee,

      I’ve thought of those of you with asthma and other respiratory issues, during this time of fires and smoky air. I’m glad the smoke has cleared out around you. Idaho has had so many fires!

      Yeah, Roger found love to give and to receive. He can be a handful at times, but he has a sweet nature under all the tough-guy behaviors. Reggie adores him, even when Roger beats him up. Ha!

  26. chas anderson says:

    I learned something today.Ed Norton got into a tussle with a porcupine and got a faceful of quills.I had been told over the years to clip the ends so they deflate before you pull them.I did so and got all but 5 quills out of his face.Took him to the vet who asked whether I cut the quills.When I told him he said that is an urban legend like a steak on a blackeye.He says to pull the full quill out slowly with a flathead set of pliers if you cannot get to a vet.Leaving the quill in gives a stronger steadier pull.

    To the moon Norton!

  27. ValGal (westernWA) says:

    Glad you’re away from the smoke. The smoke is finally gone from western WA. Yay!

    Hope things are pleasant wherever you are tonight. It’ll be interesting to see where you go next.

  28. Terri and Napoleon (dog) and Joy (cat) & husband (Bret) in Texas says:

    Anyone notice how laundromat was spelled on the RV park sign? Very easy way of spelling it! The word wrought iron in small towns here is spelled rodiron.

  29. I am at Cottonwood campground off 93 just south of Salmon. Nice sites on river in full shade if you can nab one. Small camp.
    I came out of British Colombia dodging fires and same in US. This is the big weekend for eclispe campers hope you find a spot ok. Between the fires and eclispe be tough. Unless you are out of the eclispe zone.
    Got hooked on Dana Stabenow series of Kate Shugak. Fiction but she fills it with Alaskan history, politics, gold facts, etc. Plus her side kick is a big dog with character.

    • Pat (Ky) says:

      I just clicked on the link to your site. Your photography leaves me speechless. Absolutely amazing. What skill you have! I made a note of this author. I am always looking for a good series to follow.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Good to hear from you again, Jan, and to know you are having a good summer!

  30. We weren’t able to get out of the smoke in WA and it was miserable for two weeks. So glad it seems to have mostly moved out of the area. Hopefully the rains will put out the many remaining burns – poor Canada is still fighting over a 100 and their smoke is awful. Very serendipitous that there was an RV park at the road block. What a relief after putting on lots of miles!

  31. Joe Bruner says:

    Sorry you got smoked out, but you and the crew appear as if you’re coping well. Can’t wait to hear where you end up next…it’s beautiful country you’re driving through.

  32. Terri says:

    Montana isn’t really in the path of the eclipse, but I am so looking forward to it! Glasses have become almost impossible to find, however, and it may rain where I am. ugh.

  33. Gal and a cat in Fl says:

    Darn, that is so sad to think and hear about fire. I was in that incredible area last summer and it was so beautiful every day. Other than a little rain in Kalispell before going into Glacier. It pains me to think of those gorgeous forests burning. I so want to take out again next month and on into early Oct if the weather isn’t too cold to see it again. Maybe get in Yellowstone if the crowds are less. The thought of fire…. 🙁
    Safe travels to you guys.

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