Montana

I have great memories of Kalispell, for it is perhaps the most beautiful spot in the 48 contiguous states over which to fly. Imagine a patchwork of green farmer’s fields, surrounded by rugged mountains, with a river winding its way through the fields to the mighty Flathead Lake. Many years ago, my brother Bill and I brought two Great Lakes open-cockpit biplanes to this location for a barnstorming event. Bill had convinced one of the board members of the small Kalispell municipal airport to cut a trail through the tall grass so as to allow two biplanes access from the airport to the highway. We then parked the planes beside the road, put up a “Biplane Rides” sign, and began two of the best weeks of my life. We hopped plenty of rides in the mornings and evenings and took the majority of the day off for hikes and mountain bike rides. The rides paid for our gas and expenses, and we could have done this all summer.

Two ticket-sellers/groundmen were necessary for this adventure and one of them was a young West Virginia fellow, not long out of high school, trying to decide his road in life. Apparently the barnstormer trip influenced Blair, because he chose to go to college out west, met a beautiful Montana gal, settled down in Kalispell and now they were raising two sons. I had not seen Blair since the barnstorming adventure, and so I dropped by his ranch outside Kalispell for a quick hello. The rest of the family was gone at the moment, but I snapped a photo of the ranch. He’s worked very hard to get this far, and I’m quite proud of him.

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Blair’s ranch was a mandatory stop

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Blair’s pup stalking a family of wild turkeys… the dog proved that turkeys can indeed fly

From here I intended to keep moving south, for the smoke was still thick. Various projects slowed my progress and I only made it as far as Missoula before spending the night in the Best Western motel next to the supercharger.

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This Missoula motel picked up my business by being located next to a supercharger

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Iceman and I were both ready to ditch the smoke

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The next morning’s drive to the Butte supercharger continued in the smoke zone

My original plan had been to follow superchargers eastbound across Montana, but with all this smoke I chose to continue southbound. Weather reports indicated that Idaho Falls was in the clear and so we pointed south to at last escape the itchy eyes of the smoke zone.

The route to Idaho Falls covered 209 road miles, but by slowing the speed, selecting range mode, and being careful with heating/cooling, I made it to Idaho Falls with a comfortable reserve. The big challenge came as I approached Idaho Falls and a nasty thunderstorm threatened. I ducked under a bridge, rain and hail poured down, then Iceman and I drove out upon the ball-bearing hailstones and to my joy the dual-motor Tesla 70D did not slip a bit on it (later I climbed a steep dirt road and again the 70D showed not a hint of slippage). I can’t wait to try this car in snow (maybe I should be careful what I wish for).

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This thunderstorm near Idaho Falls produced a wicked amount of hail. Look at the blue sky, though, the smoke is gone!

Idaho Falls, ID, is a crossroads of north-south and east-west highways. It’s a natural spot for a supercharger, but we’ll have to wait a year or so to see that. In the meantime, a variety of public charging spots are available, and there’s even a doctor who makes his Tesla charger available for transiting Teslas. Likewise, Twin Falls, ID, is covered by a Tesla owner who makes his home charger available to transiting Teslas.The site www.plugshare.com is your best resource for such matters. You have to love the Tesla community for taking up the slack until the supercharger network matures. I chose to recharge overnight as I slept at an RV park, taking advantage of full-recharging during overnight stops.

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