Thursday, September 7, 2017

Wildfire Smoke and the Trip to Bozeman

This last weekend we went to Bozeman to visit family and friends. We went on a few day hikes and ate good food. We encountered a ton of wildfire smoke during the trip and came home to hazardous levels where we live. These conditions have led me to the decision not to run in the half marathon I had planned for the end of the month. Now, I need to come up with a new training goal!

Over Labor Day Weekend, Craig and I drove to Bozeman, Montana. We had talked about going since last January, so figured we should just go for it, even though it was a 7+ hour drive.

We left Friday morning. The drive was pretty uneventful. We listened to music until we got to Missoula, where we stopped for lunch. We ate at Market on Front, which was a co-op with a cafeteria. We both got wraps to eat, then quickly were back on the road.

After Missoula, it was pretty smoky from wildfires. We could see some views during the drive, but it was definitely hazy.

We arrived in Bozeman around dinner time, and went straight to dinner at Montana Ale Works with my college friend Rachel. We all ordered burgers! Mine was a bison burger and had one of the thickest patties of meat I have ever seen.

Even though we were tired that night from the drive, we stayed up

late (for me) chatting. It was fun to catch-up. I had seen her in January, but a lot had happened for both of us since then.

Me putting on my hiking boots!
The next morning (Saturday), we had a quick breakfast at Rachel's then headed out to Hyalite Creek Trail. It was a beautiful location! There were waterfalls distributed every few miles along the way up. We hiked 3 miles, ate lunch around noon, then headed back down. The hike felt super quick because we were talking so much.

Craig and I at the first waterfall along the trail.





After spending a few moments at home, we went shopping. It's funny: Craig and I were pretty happy to just go to chain stores like REI and Target because we don't have them where we live.

That night we made tacos at Rachel's, and stayed up late catching up (again)!

Sunday morning, we all semi-slept-in. We went to breakfast at Nova Cafe, which had a line out the door and a futuristic-seeming interior. I ordered French Toast made out of raisin bread, which was pretty good. Craig got the same but made out of sourdough bread. His was probably better tasting though haha.
Nova Cafe: a nice place to eat breakfast downtown Bozeman

We said goodbye to Rachel that afternoon, and headed to Craig's Aunt Sally's house.

Sally's house was super cozy inside, with nice wood accents. For instance, there were exposed wood beams on the ceiling.  I wish I had took pictures but didn't think of it at the time!

We helped prep for dinner. Craig's cousin Kaelin, her husband and kids, plus another of Craig's Aunts were coming to dinner. It was fun for me to get to meet their family!

For dinner, we had burgers. The meat came from Montana Meat Company, which Kaelin and her husband own. It was delicious! I thought it was funny how much meat we were eating since visiting Montana. We had beef at every dinner of the trip

Monday, we woke up early to get breakfast at Main Street Over Easy with Sally and her partner Michael. I was torn about what to order, so ended up getting French Toast again, this time with sourdough bread. Craig was more adventurous and got some sort of omelet dish.

Next, Craig and I went for a day hike just out of town to the "M," which is a giant white letter on one of the hills near town. It was pretty crowded on the trail with families and local college students.

View during from the "M"

It was extremely smokey out, and I felt sort of out-of breath going up. It wasn't that intense of a hike, so I think it was an effect of the smoke. I was relieved to reach the top. The view from the hike was nice. We could see most of the town.


After the hike, we went to the Museum of the Rockies. It was a pretty small museum. The exhibits were: crocodiles, early MT history, Native Americans, and dinosaurs/evolution. It was a nice change of pace to walk around and read to learn about random things.

Outside there was a cute restored prairie house, which was my favorite part of the museum. :)

Garden in front of the prairie house

The restored prairie house


Me and Craig on a porch swing in the garden of the prairie house
We left early the next morning (7 am). This time, we didn't even stop for lunch. As we drove closer to Pullman, we realized that the smoke was actually even worse there now!

When we arrived home at 2:30 pm, the smoke was terrible. The air quality report even labeled it "hazardous" at one point during that day. We quickly unloaded the car and stayed inside the rest of the day with the windows closed.

Air quality in WA state. This has changed of the past 48 hours, but gives you a general idea.

Yesterday, I was inside most of the day at work. Luckily inside it was cool and relatively smoke-free. From the large windows in my lab though, I could see just how hazy it was on campus.

As I worked, I thought about what to do about running outside. I ended up making the tough decision to not run in the half-marathon at the end of the month. I don't have a gym membership, so completely rely on running outside. Because of all this smoke (which has actually been occurring on some level since July), I was behind on training.

I had made a plan on how to be ready for the race about a week ago, but this new batch of wildfire smoke was going to make it very difficult for me to be prepared. It was stressing me out, and I feel much better knowing that I don't have to try and train in these conditions.

I really want to get back in a routine of regular running again. This summer has been crazy with the wedding, the new job and a bunch of travel, so it will be nice to get things back to "normal."

I'm thinking about finding a local 5k or 10k to do instead. I'll keep you posted!