We drove through wildfire smoke for 540 miles (I installed a near-Hepa rated carbon filter for the truck which kept our air in the cab much cleaner), and emerged to clear skies on the north slope of the Little Belts 20 miles from the ranch (we rolled down the windows!). The clear skies lasted a few days, then Canada’s firesmoke blew in. Just one more day of hot smoke, then clear skies and rain are in the forecast with daytime temps in the 40’s and overnight in the 30’s. On our last clear night the annual Nighthawk convergence moved up the valley to fly around the ranch house and surrounding forest from sunset to dusk. They pinwheel in groups of 15 or so, with around 50 birds in the flock, riding the thermals as the sunlight creeps up the east hillside pushing moths into the cooling twilight. The Cedar Waxwings that arrived as we left in July, have hatched chicks in their regular spot in the lilacs. The House Wren is tucked into her birdhouse, working on another brood. Goldfinches and Wilson’s Warblers flit through the hedges. The Snipe drops into the yard to stroll along the creek edge. The creek is still running through the yard with ducks in the little pond; a part of the magic green microclimate at the top of the valley.
A Lot, A Lot, A Lot, Aloft, / A Hex Storm of Piney firebrands, / Hiked over ridgelines branding into Quit Fur, / The river Bank, like a Queen In promotion, / A move from Pawn Jail to Nova, a trail of Dither-Goo transformed / to Boxing Day. / Sending the dry West Ute King into a Pouter, / his Twatty Lather the route to a Rebel Axis: burning.
The manufacturer’s best highway mpg is 17mpg, which I could only rarely hit with tailwind in the past.
Return trip from Great Falls to Bozeman (271 miles / 11gal) saw 24.6mpg; this is 44.7% over the 17mpg best.
The trip out was a terrible headwind for 130 miles of 80mph; old mileage in similar headwind @ 80mph was 8.6mpg, this trip saw 13.8; a 60% increase.
The real number to consider is a comparison of the real actuals of mpg average improvement. Now 34 gallons for 685 miles @ 20.14mpg (Great Falls (plus 100 miles of xtra ranch trips) to SLC. Old was usually 45 gallons / 588 miles SLC to Great Falls @ 13 mpg.
The ratio of improvement from 13mpg to 20.14mpg is 55%. Two tanks of gas with an improvement of 55% proves out the third tank of gas no longer stopped for.
7am @ front porch java-birdwatch: Wilson’s Warbler pair, Goldfinches, Calliope Hummingbird pair, Bullock’s Oriole pair (nesting in Willows), Cedar Waxwing pair (building nest in liliacs), Tree Swallows (nesting in porch box), Wrens (nesting in shed box), Red-Naped Sap-Sucker pair and fledges, Orange Flickers (nesting in barn- sharing barn with 15 pigeons), Mountain Bluebirds (nesting in corn crib), Snipe, Catbird, Meadowlark, Bobolinks, Robins, Eastern Kingbirds, Redtail Hawk, Redwing Blackbirds, also deer in the yard at 6:45am;
dusk @ porch: Nighthawk, Mourning Dove, Great Horned Owl (hooting up in the forest), SawWhet Owl (radar beeping in the forest), Coyotes up and down the valley.