Monday, August 06, 2007

Montana Burning

Yesterday, we drove from Spokane to Helena. As we headed east into western Montana, the sky grew progressively more and more hazy, then smoky. When we got to Missoula, it was downright thick. Apparently fire season is in full swing here in Montana, and there's a gigantic fire northeast of Missoula. In fact, as we drove east on I-90, we could see black grass near the edge of the freeway where the fire had burned shortly before we drove through. By the time we got to Helena, our eyes and noses were burning and we were very happy to be through the worst of it. I couldn't help but worry about Montana knitting folk like Janet and Siri (but from their blogs, it looks like they're both out of range of flames for the moment).

Being so close to the aftermath of the fire brought back vivid memories of our Southern California fire experience. We'd called the fire department that morning to see if we should stay home form work, but they'd told us there weren't any fires anywhere near our house (even though we could see them glowing on the other side of the hill at night). We were eating lunch when we got a frantic call from our nanny, telling us that the neighborhood was being evacuated and we had to get home right away because we'd have to walk out once the fire trucks came in and blocked the streets. We sprung for a very expensive cab ride home (since the trains don't run much during the day), threw a bunch of random stuff in the cars and, for lack of a better idea, checked into the Hyatt for the next two nights. We watched the news extremely anxiously (particularly since they were reporting from the end of our street), but everything turned out just fine. The fire crews were totally on top of things, and we were in a relatively new neighborhood where everything was built with fire prevention in mind. Unfortunately, there were many, many families that year that weren't nearly as lucky.

Anyway, I hope that the fires are brought under control soon and everyone stays safe. This morning, after Bill's meeting in Helena (I was going to visit the LYS, The Fiber Whorl, but it's closed on Mondays), we headed off to Butte and then Dillon. While Bill talked to bankers, the kids and I chilled at local parks or, in Dillon, my new personal version of nirvana, the McDonald's Playland. I know, I know... I've never taken the kids to a Playland before because they feel vaguely immoral somehow. But today, I fell in love. The kids played, there was a door that closed, my participation wasn't required - I knitted and sipped a giant vanilla iced coffee while the kids burned off the energy they've been storing up while trapped in their car seats. It was fabulous.

Speaking of knitting, I'm working on a new commission in the most fabulous yarn. I can't tell you what the project is, but the yarn is Naturally Dawn - 50% silk, 50% wool. I will tell you that I'm knitting a garment (that goes on your upper body, not your feet) on size 3 needles at a gauge of 7 sts to the inch. In fact, I should be knitting right now...

Montana truly is the land of big skies. It is so gorgeous here, it makes me want to run away from home and get a job on a ranch. Tomorrow we're off to Big Timber and then Billings. I'm hoping to stop off at the prairie dog town on the way through. Good times, good times.


Blogger Janet Szabo said...

Chrissy, we've never yet had to evacuate and that would be the scariest part! I wish I could have come down and joined you at Playland for a bit of knitting. I used to take my kids there, too, but alas--they are a bit too big now.

Have a safe trip!

3:45 AM  
Blogger Yarnhog said...

Fires give me the heebie jeebies. We're in San Diego. We had to evacuate a couple of years ago, and there was a big fire just a quarter of a mile from our house a few weeks ago that nearly drove us out.

In 2003, my best friend, who is a fire chief in the mountains outside the city, and her fire crew all lost their homes (and nearly their lives) in the firestorms that hit San Diego. She called me from their station in the middle of the night to tell me that they were surrounded by 200-foot-high walls of flame and to say goodbye. Fortunately, the fire passed over them and they all survived. But I hate fire season.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Connie said...

My first year at Caltech, the dry brush in the hills of Altadena were burning and that was pretty scary. We were relatively safe (in Pasadena), but it was raining ash for a while.

Just saw your newest design for Hipknits on Kerrie's blog. It's beautiful. Congrats!

11:18 AM  
Blogger lexa said...

It's funny reading your last post about the road trip with the kids. We just arrived in Alberta (departing from Nova Scotia) with our two hoodlums in the Big Rig, and it's been pretty tough at times! I just keep reminding myself that I'll see my best friend in a few days that I haven't seen in five years, and it will all be worth it!

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Carrie K said...

The fire sounds scary but glad you were all (and are) safe! The vacation sounds fun.

Happy Birthday!

8:49 AM  

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