In spite of the fact that the entire Pacific Northwest seems to be on fire, my mom and I set off for our vacation to Montana yesterday. This trip had not even started when serious logistical problems challenged it.

The first was time. Mom and I had talked about hitting Yellowstone, Glacier, and the Bitterroot valley to see friends and family (Mom grew up in the Bitterroot.) I have this pesky job, and illness and various art classes have made racking up a bank of leave a challenge. But I have enough to take a week off, so we scaled back to Glacier and the Bitterroot.

Then Glacier National Park caught on fire. I was willing to chance it, but Mom made the (probably good) decision that a trip there might not be our best bet. So, we revamped our plans and decided to tour the Flathead.

Then, the Columbia Gorge caught on fire. I think it’s safe to say at this point both Mom and I thought about calling the whole thing off. But, I want a vacation and Mom wanted to see her friends, so we set off anyway.

We had to go down the Washington side of the gorge until Hood River, adding a little time to our first day of travel, but we reached Spokane with daylight to spare.

Spokane arrival

We went out to dinner with a college friend of Mom’s and then settled into a hotel. Where Key (yes, he came for the adventure, too) proceeded to keep us up all night telling us about every person who walked by the door.

Exhausted, I got up this morning to give him a bit of a hike and traveled to Liberty Lake county park. It was lovely, and I saw a Chipping Sparrow as well as several woodpeckers (it’s Ponderosa country, so it’s important to look for the little woodchippers.)

When I got back from the walk, we hit the road again. We had less distance to travel, so after crossing the pass, we stopped to look at the southern edge of the National Bison Range and saw four of the big guys. One, in particular, looked ready to meet mating season in heavy weight status.

From there we decided to tour the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge and saw many birds, including a Say’s Phoebe, prairie falcon, American white pelicans, and lots of water birds. Mom really liked the painted turtles, too.

A short break for lunch, then we arrived at our destination, the home of generous schools friends of my dad’s.

We all stretched our legs, especially Key. Deer roam here, and he made sure he enjoyed that.

The bed here is soft and the location quiet. That’s good… because after last night, we ALL need a good night’s sleep.