Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sept 11th - Paradise to Whitefish, Montana

It is with great sadness that I have to report that Jerry Mouton, the kingpin of the series of "Oil Leaks" since 2011, passed away in his sleep on the eve of the BSOL in Paradise, Montana. It's hard to imagine how the 6 past Oil Leaks could have been as successful and enjoyable without Jerry's enthusiastic participation and leadership, and at the moment it's equally hard to imagine how we can continue them without him. However, as his son James (who Jerry visited in Missoula only 70 miles away, on the way to the start of BSOL) reminded us when he spoke to the assembled "Leakers" later that morning, Jerry would have wanted us to continue the BSOL adventure, and future Oil Leaks.

Jerry Mouton - Jag Lover and Dear Friend
We all send our sincere condolences to Jerry's family - Jerry was one in a million, and will be greatly missed.

Jerry's unexpected passing came as a shock to us all, and we each had to decide how best to proceed. David Drake stayed behind to assist with the arrangements. Lynn and Jan generously chose to help James transport Jerry's beloved "MIK Jaguar" to Missoula and then return to Boise. Others chose to find their own way to our next stopover in Whitefish, Montana and rejoin the group there. Debbie and I left Paradise, Montana with the rest of the Leakers with heavy hearts, and a sense of disbelief...


We left Paradise heading north-west on Hwy 200. The road travels along a valley surrounded by impressive craggy mountains which were largely invisible due to smoke from wildfires...

Typical view looking back on Hwy 200 - smoke filled valleys
One of the characteristics of all past Oil Leaks, is that everyone (or nearly everyone) travels large distances to get to the starting point with few if any car problems, but as soon as we set out on Day 1 of the tour proper, we almost immediately have a breakdown. This year, it was Michael and Denise's turn....

Michael and Denise by the side of the road with a poor fuel pump connection, soon cured...
Turning north on Hwy 56 we came to our first stop at the Ross Creek Cedars.  This is a grove of Western Red Cedars some of which are more than 400 years old, and more than 8 feet in diameter. There we took a short hike through the trees - it would have been shorter if we hadn't taken a "short cut"!

Ross Creek Cedars - with an collection of E-Types

A hollowed-out cedar by the trail 
From the Ross Creek Cedars we continued north on Hwy 56, before turning East on Hwy 2 towards Libby. We stopped along the way to hike to the Kootenai Falls, and Swinging Bridge.

At the trail-head to the Kootenai Falls
Kootenai Falls

Following the hike we drove into Libby where we were joined by three more Leakers from Canada, namely Phil Sandham, Dennis Billo and Tony Koschinsky. We had lunch together at the Venture Motor Inn in Libby before setting out nothwards on Hwy 37 to Eureka. This road provided opportunity for some "enthusiastic" driving for 60 miles or so alongside Lake Koocanusa. The challenges of keeping up with the rest of the group (at which I failed!) means that I have no photos of this section of the drive! At Eureka, we turned south on Hwy 93 and headed for Whitefish. The pace was more relaxed, in part due to warning we'd received concerning frequent encounters with deer on this road. The freedom from smoke, and gentler pace made for a pleasantly relaxing drive, and we drove into Whitefish around 7pm to separate to our various hotels for the night. The end of a long and unreal day...

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