Idaho Panhandle

Before leaving Washington, we stopped in Newport, WA for lunch and to tour the town’s historical museum. I had another good Reuben sandwich at an Irish pub in town and we picked up a quart of homemade Huckleberry ice cream at the local corner store for our nephew’s upcoming birthday. Best ice cream ever.

The historical museum contained a lot of old heirlooms of days gone by.

I flipped through the 1902 Sears Roebuck catalog. Horse-drawn carriages were listed for $24 and Winchester repeating rifles for $12. It had everything you could imagine from clothes and funiture to farm equipment. Definitely the Amazon of its day. I can only imagine some young kid pitched the Amazon business model (Sears’ old catalog business model adapted to the internet) at Sears as the internet was coming of age and was shot down by the old guard.

Newport is split by the Washington – Idaho border along State Street (which makes sense), Newport, WA on one side of the street and Oldtown, Idaho and the other. We crossed into Idaho and the drove up the east side of the Pend Orellie River back into Washington to camp the night at Pioneer Park Campground.

The next day we drove through Sandpoint, ID where we had a family reunion 4 years ago on Pam’s side of the family, renting a huge house and ski boat on Lake Pend Orellie. This time we headed further north into the Idaho Panhandle.

We found the Kootenai River Brewey Company in Bonners Ferry, ID and stopped for lunch. All their beers were really good, including the local Huckleberry Wheat. I had another good Reuben sandwich, washing it down with the Badger Rye IPA. We also got a growler of the Huckleberry Wheat to enjoy at the campsite later.

We refilled the Roamer’s gas tanks while in Bonners Ferry and this old suspender-wearing character came up to me asking about the rig. He had more bullets in his sidearm on his belt than teeth in his mouth, but was fun to talk with. Turns out he was a retired railroad banker. He runs shooting competitions in northern US and Canada and wanted a winterized RV. He liked the many winterized features of the Roamer that make it operational to -20 degrees so maybe we will see each other again at a future owners rally.

We continued north to almost the Canadian border again, but turned south at Good Grief, ID along the Moyie River. We camped the night at Meadow Creek campground.

Even though it was smoky there, we did a nice hike and had such a nice spot we decided to stay an extra day. It was the first campground in about a week we could cook with charcoal and have a camp fire. We planted our chairs by the river and listened to the water run over the thousand of rocks in the riverbed.

Caught another local squirrel keeping an eye on us at our campsite and the possibilty of a future meal if we left food around. However, all of this northern area is bear country so you don’t leave food, or anything else that smells good out. Most campsite have bear boxes to secure the good smelling stuff away.

We found this frog in the stream hoping for a few of the insects to land within tongue range.

Late in the evening we were treated to a group of female Common Mergansers that were feeding in the river. They swam upstream with their heads in the water catching whatever they were eating. After their fill they turned and floated away down river.

Even though it was not cloudy there, the smoke was thick enough to reduce our solar panel’s power generating efficiency to roughly 25%. We barely recharged to 90% over the entire day, when we usually are recharged to 100% by mid-day.

We arrived in Whitefish, MT meeting Pam’s sister and her family coming from Missoula, MT. We parked the Roamer and shared a condo at the Sherpa Lodge in the Whitefish Mountain Resort. It was correctly named since it was a four-story condo with no elevator – and we were on the top floor. I thought the place should have come with a flag that we get to plant after hauling all our stuff up to the top – lol.

It was our first couple of nights out of the camper for over a month. It always feels so decadent to take a hot shower and have the water run over you for minutes on end, and not worry about how much water you have left. It’s the simple things in life we should all enjoy.

The smoke there became worse over the weekend. We were there to celebrate our nephew’s birthday – hence our huckleberry ice cream purchase from before. While we were there a fire broke out near the peak and they had a Huey and Kmax with bambi buckets filling and dumping water to put it out quickly.

While Klaus, Ben and Tim took their bikes and headed for the slopes, Stephanie and I made our way to a tree-wire obstacle course. They had five different courses of various degrees of difficulty, but even the easiest was tougher than it looked.

We had a dual carbineer system that only allowed one to be unlocked at a time, ensuring you couldn’t stupidly unhook yourself while on the course. We also had a zip line wheel to ride the several zip lines along the courses. Pam and Leslie chatted the afternoon away on the ground as we traversed the courses up above.

While in Whitefish, we also stopped into a local restaurant and bought a huckleberry – cherry pie. It went quickly.

We left Whitefish and headed to Missoula to restock, get the oil changed on the truck and give it a bath before continuing south through the Rockies on our way back to Arizona – slowly.

One thought on “Idaho Panhandle”

  1. That ropes course looks fun! That pie looks dangerous… Good memories of Sandpoint. I can’t believe it’s been 4 years already.

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