July 21: a priest, a parcel and a fire

IMG_0403Barbara (center) was visibly excited. Father Abraham had just dropped off a form and was about to hop back on his bicycle when she spotted us in front of the–closed–public library in Choteau, MT. “He passed his driver’s license exam today,” she exclaimed. We talked for a while; it turned out that she received her Master’s degree from George Washington University in the 1970s, has lived in Philadelphia and Spokane, WA, inter alia, speaks both Russian and French, and has been keeping Fr. Abraham company while he’s visiting from Boston for the summer. On leave from his post in northeast Nigeria where two of his churches have been attacked by Boko Haram, he is currently pursuing an advanced pastoral degree at Boston College. They ended up inviting us for lunch at the refectory, and later on we gave Fr. Abraham a ride to nearby Conrad, MD. An encounter I most definitely hadn’t anticipated!

IMG_0409In Browning, MT I picked up my mail that my wonderful neighbor Lauren had forwarded. Browning is the main urban settlement of the Blackfeet Nation and located just east of Glacier National Park.

IMG_0412As we were driving toward Glacier National Park, I couldn’t help but notice the clouds on the horizon. A hailstorm maybe?

IMG_0421Sadly, much worse: a massive wildfire prompted the National Park Service to close the entire area to the public, and scores of firefighters are on the scene to contain the fire as much as possible. Unfortunately it’s pretty windy outside, and so it remains unclear whether the park will be open tomorrow. Note the little reddish dot — that’s the sun…

IMG_0422The flames are visible in this photo. The campground that we had planned to visit for the night was closed as well, so we are staying in St. Mary right outside the park. We’re safe here.

IMG_0424Smoke everywhere — quite an eerie scenery. If the park isn’t open tomorrow, then we’ll probably cross into Canada and head straight toward Calgary and Banff.

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