Well, the season was moving along really good. We met some of the nicest people in the world while camp ground hosting. I think the reason they call this camp ground hosting instead of workamping is because we do not actually do any work. We do not do things like in the public sector campgrounds like clean facilities, lawn work, or work at a front desk. Here our job is to be seen and answer questions from the tourist and help with any problems they may have.
The only part that might be considered is the one thing we did was to check to see that each camping spot that was occupied had a payment tag on the post in front of the site. If there was not one on the post we would make contact with the camper and inform them where to get one and ask that they do that. It is an honor system as far as paying, no one to actually collect the money. The camper fills out an envelope with their information, puts the money in the envelope, tears of the end tag to put on the post and deposits it into a box that one of the rangers picks up each morning.
I am one of those people that can drive anything. We had an older couple drive in one morning in a 42 ft motorhome, high end fancy one. We only had a couple of sites that they would be able to park in. They had come in and stopped at the entrance to the loop that had the sites they could use. I went up to the motorhome just as the driver was coming out, with his walker. He could barely walk but was driving this huge motorhome. He said he could not get to the site because he was not able to maneuver it they way that was needed to park it. He basically could not back up with it. To get into the site a person with one that big would have to pull up and then back up several times to make the turn into the site at the end of the loop. So, I got to drive this fancy motorhome down the loop and park it for him. It really feels good to be able to help people like that, but it is kind of scary that there are people out on the road like that. Sort of an accident looking for a place to happen just based on reaction time. They were able to drive it out the next day as the loops are all one way and he was pointed in the right direction.
After a while we decided that walking the miles each day around all of the loops might be easier on a bicycle. So we went into town and found us a pair of really nice bikes. We were able to just cruise around all of the loops but still stop and help people or answer questions. We used the bikes for a few weeks and then decided that maybe a battery powered scooter would be even better. So we went into town and ended up with 2 scooters. They were pretty neat and because they were battery powered we were able to use them. Gas powered scooters were not allowed in the campground. Ours were just as quiet as the bicycles.
The campground host are the only ones in the entire park that have any hookups for their campers. All sites in the campground for public use are just campsites with no hookups of any kind, In the bath houses, one in each loop, there is electric where people could use electric razors or charge their phones or anything else that needed short term electric. There were water spigots scattered thru the loops so that people could fill their campers and there were dump stations to dump the tanks. A lot of people used the small portable tanks on wheels to dump their tanks in and then roll them up to the dump station to empty them, that way they did not have to move their campers to dump.
By now we had been here for over a month, enjoying everything about the park and the people in it. It was close to the end of July and the big thing was the forest fires that were in different areas of the park. We could see lots of smoke up in the sky from the fires, they were all on the other side of Glacier park at this time. But about July 25th a new fire had been outside of the park and was burning and could possibly head towards the area we were, Apgar Village and the Lake McDonald valley.
Then on July 28th, one of the rangers came in and told us we needed to tell all campers that they had 2 hours to pack up and evacuate the campground and that all of us campground host would have a couple hours after we got everyone out to get our stuff packed up and evacuate. So we started going around every loop and telling everyone they had to leave as soon as possible. In about an hour the ranger came back and said that the fire was heading our way faster than expected and we needed to evacuate immediately, not just the campers but us also. It was really smokey and smelled like we were sitting in the middle of the smoke of a campfire.
We got all of the campers out and we headed out also. And just in time as the flames were at the top of the ridge overlooking the campground. A big red glowing tint in the sky at the top was very scary. We went into Columbia Falls and found a place to stay. Smoke was so thick as the saying goes you could cut it with a knife.
We stayed around for about 4 days and we were told that we could go home as the campground would not be reopening anytime soon, if at all for the rest of the season. The fires slowed down and just smoldered and many of the locals had gone back to homes in the area, until August 10, high winds blew up the Robert Fire again. Within a matter of hours, it ran up the western shore of Lake McDonald, generating enormous flames. As night fell, the Lake McDonald Valley was hastily evacuated again. The valley remained full of smoke for weeks as the fire continued to expand. For nearly two months, from mid-July to early September, there was no significant rain. At last, on September 8, heavy rains finally came and basically put the fire out. By the grace of God the Apgar campground was spared. The fire burnt around the area but somehow the campground did not burn. As seen by some of the pictures on this post the fire was huge and devastating.
We had left and decided to head back to Florida but take our time and see some things we had never seen before. Our first stop was to be Mount Rushmore so that we could add it to our list of been there done that.
That’s it for this part of the story. Keep checking back for more on our adventures. Click the link below if you would like to be notified when we add new post or content on the site.