We rarely travel during the summer months but for some reason this year we've been out and about twice. Never again. Too many people, too hot and too expensive!
Then there are the fires. We were headed to Billings, MT for an art show and some casual poking around the area, the zoo, on down to Red Lodge, through the Parks to Jackson and the galleries, then home. We didn't see clear sky until we got to Jackson. There's a huge fire clouding Missoula, another hovering over Bozeman, Billings was hot and smokey then the Bear Tooth Highway fire outside of Red Lodge was so intense the air stung your eyes and dried your throat. There were at least three fires in Yellowstone.
We passed fire fighting base camps everywhere. You talk about unsung heros! You want to salute when you see the Hot Shot trucks.
Then the people. A lady standing outside the motel Thursday morning commenting how you could smell the smoke as she puffed on a cigarette. Irony at it's best? And the cigarette butt lying on the path a short distance from the Pictograph Caves just south of Billings where the surroundings and the grass was so dry it crunched under your shoes.
This isn't my usual type of 'return from vacation' monologue, but every summer the west burns. Perhaps we don't grasp the vastness of it unless we try to get out and about. We had the same experience in July when we were mostly in Utah.
It's just sad. The beauty that is the west is disappearing bit by bit. It takes far longer to grown back than to burn and burn it does. For those young men and women who year after year manage to save untold homes and acreage from the wrath of Mother Nature, thank mothers of a different sort for you!
We sure don't need man to add to the insult on our land by building selfishly or camping stupidly. Mother Nature, in the form of lightening strikes, does well enough on her own!