Heavenly Hell

CAMPGROUND: Riverside RV Park. Private, small (20 sites) park right on the Salmon River. Nice, level gravel sites, half on the river side (like ours!) Full hook-ups. Wifi and cable. Beautiful landscaping. No bathrooms! $30/night. No credit cards – we reserved our site by sending a personal check. 4 stars out of 5. (would be 5 if there was at least a pit toilet)

LOCATION: Riggins, Idaho – in west central part of state – on border of Oregon.

WEATHER: Hot! After all, this is Hell’s Canyon. High 103

We had a nice, slow start to our last day at Winchester Lake State Park. We hiked around the campground to different areas of the lake. We said a fond farewell to this nice campground.

We had a short drive today, but boy, was it impactful! First we drove through miles of farmland. The seed company had kindly placed signs in front of the fields identifying the crops…..lots of different kinds of wheat and oats, plus barley, lentils and garbanzo beans.

Then, the landscape changed and we descended into a huge canyon. We drove 8 miles almost straight down. The signs kept saying “Grade steepens”. There were lots of runaway truck paths. It was quite scary.

As we neared Riggins, we started seeing lots of people rafting on the Salmon River.

Riggins is a small town of about 400 but explodes with tourists during the summer – fishermen and river rafters. We will explore it tomorrow.

We found our campground, right by the river, and our site – right ON the river. We really hit the jackpot!

It was hot in the afternoon (103) but there was a nice breeze along the river. Our site even has its own steps down to the river. We climbed down and stuck our toes in the river to cool off.

The breeze died down and the heat really set in, so we moved indoors. I just love our air conditioners!!!!

DINNER: Leftover fish from our picnic lunch yesterday. George used the gas grill to heat up the fish and we poured Jack’s cilantro/mango sauce over it. I think it was even better today since the flavors had been melding all day. Side was a veg stir-fry. Yum!

A great get-together with traveling friends

CAMPGROUND: 2nd night at Winchester Lake State Park
LOCATION: Winchester, Idaho – in west central part of state
WEATHER: Very nice. Chilly in the AM; (George even turned on the heater!!) Sunny and warm – 80 in PM

George wanted to watch the end of the British Open Golf Tournament, so we walked to the town of Winchester, only about 1/2 mile away, to a bar & grill that has TVs. I used their internet a bit, and George watched the game. The tournament is taking place at a rugged course in northern Ireland. We are trying to remember when/why we went there once.

Winchester seems like a cowboy town. This gun hangs above its main street….

Our highlight today was a visit from a couple we met through housesitting – Darcy and Jack. They live in Walla Walla, Washington. They drove over here, about 2 hours, with their beautiful dog Genji. We think Genji remembers us a bit!

Jack is a gourmet cook and brought all the fixings for a great fish dish. While the rockfish was marinating in a tandoori rub, we sipped on chilled gazpacho, and caught up on each other’s adventures. They do housesitting all over the world like we do. They have the additional challenge of finding a housesitter for their home and for Genji when they do an assignment. They will be going to Portugal and England soon for their next ones. I am hoping that we can get one in South Africa or South America this winter. I keep looking in the daily email that I receive from http://www.trustedhousesitters.com with the latest assignments.

Jack topped his fish with a mix of cilantro, red onions, and mango slices. It was beautiful and delicious.

The afternoon whizzed by with a lot of conversation and cooking – Jack doing the prep and George cooking the fish on our new gas grill.

They left us with leftover fish and a gift of Walla Walla sweet onion jam — can’t wait to try it out!

DINNER: We didn’t want a lot to eat as lunch had been so big and good. I had marinated some chicken pieces in yogurt with herbs and George grilled it. Since it was rotisserie chicken, it was already cooked, so the grilling was just to heat it up and to add flavors. I don’t think we will ever do raw chicken on the grill again — too hard to get it cooked thoroughly without burning the outside. Side dish was potato salad.

The campground has emptied out, since it is Sunday. It was a quiet evening with a campfire.

BOOK: I finished “Gallows View” by Peter Robinson. It is part of a British detective series. I like it because it takes place in a town near where we had a housesitting assignment – in the Yorkshire Dales. 9 out of 10 stars.

Idaho Beauty

CAMPGROUND: Winchester Lake State Park Campground. Sites not on lake, but close by. Woodsy, private sites. Level and gravel. Firepit and picnic table. Electricity and water. Super clean pit toilet next to our site, with good shower room not far away. $38/night. 4 stars.
LOCATION: Not far from Lewiston and Cottonwood – in west central Idaho
WEATHER: Beautiful. Heating up as we drove, but our campground is at 3000+ feet, so nice and cool. High 80

We got all cleaned up, dumped our grey and black water, and did all the laundry, taking advantage of the Coeur d’ Alene’s RV park amenities. We won’t be back in civilization for awhile.

We chose to go on one of the many Idaho scenic byways rather than the faster route. The GPS lady did NOT like that. She kept telling us to make a u-turn. Ignoring her, we enjoyed magnificent views. Along the White Mountain Scenic Byway, we stopped for lunch among the pines.

When we are traveling during the day, we generally picnic. I try not to just make sandwiches all of the time – 1) we don’t need all that bread, 2) cold cuts are not good for us, and 3) we need variety. So, today was kind of interesting. I spread crackers with cream cheese, sprinkled on a few capers, and topped the crackers with some smoked salmon.

Our internal GPS system (in our heads) alerted us to a brewpub in one of the towns we passed through. (not! – it was in the beer guide book). Nestled in a valley, the town of 300 people is on the historic registry. The brewpub is gorgeous inside – the owners have put a lot of money in restoring the old hardware store.

There were signs in all of the storefronts about a historic walking tour one could take.

We pulled into the campground at about 3:00, noting the “Campground Full” sign. Thankfully, we had reservations. I hate having to plan ahead and reserve sites, but in the summer season, it is almost a necessity.

Our site is beautiful. We are right next to the woods.

As we stood in front of the fire, gazing at the sunbeams streaming through the trees, George said: “The only thing that would make this more perfect is if a deer came by”. Wouldn’t you know it…..2 seconds later when we looked again, a deer was posing among the pines. Wow!

DINNER: A real camping dinner…..George grilled porkchops on the fire. I boiled some corn-on-the-cob, and he finished them up on the grill for grill marks. He pan-fried some potato wedges on the grill (afterall we are in Idaho!)

Scenery overload!

CAMPGROUND: 5th (and last) night at Tamarack RV. For a commercial park, it has been quite good. People are unusually civilized. Quiet at night.
LOCATION: Beautiful Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho
WEATHER: Mostly sunny. High 72

Today was a day full of outstanding beauty. First we did a drive around Lake Coeur d’ Alene. We followed several scenic byways.

The circle ended in a cute little lake town. It is the start of a bicycle trailhead, so was full of cyclists. We found a retro bar/restaurant from the 1940s for lunch.The story about how it gots its name, “One Shot Charlie” is that the owner (pictured here) had Parkinson’s, so his pours ended up being quite generous.Fun place! We had an old-style grinder.

Back in Coeur d’ Alene, we made a mad dash to the dock to catch the 2:30 cruise around the lake.

From the lake, you can really see the beautiful, expensive waterfront homes.It was a bit brisk – we have 3 layers of shirts/jackets on!

One of the highlights is the fancy golf resort on the lake.It is famous for its 4th hole, with the green on the water. The only one in the world, I think. (I obviously stole this photo)

We are glad we took the cruise. A nice way to end our stay here.

DINNER: We bought a filet of halibut at the fish market. We wrapped it in aluminum foil and cooked it on the outdoor gas grill. Side was Asian noodles and veg. A special treat!

Scenic drives and breweries…

CAMPGROUND: 4th night at Tamarack RV

LOCATION: Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho

WEATHER: Beautiful. Party cloudy. High 75

We did computer stuff in the AM. Our primary accomplishment was to book a flight and hotel in order to attend my aunt and uncle’s 60th anniversary party in Grande Prairie, Alberta. It is in late August, when we will be in North Dakota. Due to flight costs and travel times, we decided to drive from ND to Winnipeg and fly from there. Also – we just love to cross the US/Canada border so often!! (not!)

Then, fun time. Our destination was Sand Point, and we took a scenic route around a lake. On the map, the lake is barely visible, but it seemed huge, taking about an hour to drive its circumference.

It was a very curvy road with steep drop-offs. Houses were nestled in the woods all around the lake.

On to Sandpoint, a really cute town with its downtown right on a huge lake. I could live here! This downtown covered bridge is chock full of shops and restaurants.

We had lunch in a brewpub downtown – great atmosphere, brews, and food. Then, we strolled around the downtown.

On our way home, we stopped at another brewpub in a very small town. The pub was surprisingly busy for a Thursday afternoon. It is located in a building that had been a bank. They use the safe to store their liquor…

George was fascinated by the urinal in the men’s room…

Back at the camper, we were delighted to receive an email from a couple whom we know through housesitting for them in Walla Walla. We are going to get together this weekend. Not only do they use Trusted Housesitters to find housesitters for their lovely dog, but they also housesit themselves. We feel like kindred spirits.

DINNER: Enchiladas. George raved about them. I used a tortilla left over from the margarita party a few weeks ago in Grande Prairie. I rolled them up with a mix of hamburger, bell pepper, onions, salsa, tomatoes, cheese, and lots of cilantro. Muy bueno!

I was thrilled to watch some great PBS on TV – an old BBC favorite – “Are you Being Served?” and an episode of “Call the Midwife” that I hadn’t seen before. Bliss……

Work and play in Coeur d’ Alene

CAMPGROUND: 3rd night at Tamarack RV
LOCATION: Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho – in north panhandle of the state
WEATHER: Another beautiful day. Some light showers. High 73

Today was a day to work on our to-do lists. For me, it was a haircut. I walked to a mall near our RV park and got a trim. It turned out pretty well. Getting a haircut is always a bit scary when on the road. I’ve had cuts done all over the USA and Canada, Australia, England, and even one in Mexico with a stylist who didn’t speak English. Some good, some not so much.

George’s to-do was to get one of our propane tanks filled up.

With all of that accomplished, we checked out another brewery here in town. This one was really good, too. We shared a duck burger which was really good, but too rich. And of course, washed down with an IPA and a stout.

We have swapped out our important Alberta guidebook…..

For a new one…..

Then, we headed downtown for a hike. We did the 2-mile hike next to the lake around a peninsula. It was very woodsy and rocky, with a lot of ups and downs – giving us a good workout (which we needed).

DINNER: Asian vegetable and chicken stir-fry.

We took advantage of the opportunity to watch PBS and watched several shows about space programs.

Lovin’ Coeur d’ Alene

CAMPGROUND: 2nd night at Tamarack RV.
LOCATION: Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho
WEATHER: A little rainy in AM; perfect in PM. High 76

We goofed off in the AM since it was a bit rainy – doing internet things and making reservations for upcoming locations. I made chicken broth from the rotisserie chicken bones, then used it for soup for lunch. Very cozy!

When the sun came out, we drove downtown, about a mile away, and stopped at the Visitor Center for info. The little volunteer ladies there loaded us up! We strolled around the lakefront – it is so beautiful.

The resort dominates the lakefront. Their marina is the largest floating dock in the world. At .75 miles, we walked its perimeter.

At the end of the loop is a nice park with a cabin owned by the city’s Rotary Club. They lease it out as a lakeside bar and grill – great idea for revenue for a Club! (Reminding me of my days in Rotary)

The downtown is full of cute shops and restaurants.

Then, we checked out one of the city’s brewpubs. When we arrived, we realized that we had been here before – during our visit here with our Nova Scotia friends. We did the usual – I had an IPA (one of 7 IPAs on tap) and George a stout).

Back at the Airstream, we watched the evening news. It is nice to catch up with the world – especially on the multiple PBS stations.

DINNER: We walked to a restaurant that had caught our eye – a seafood market that is also a restaurant. It was super! We will probably return to buy fresh fish one night to cook ourselves, but tonight we sat at their sushsi bar and gobbled up some really good sushi. We haven’t had any in ages. As they say in Japan – Ooishikata!