Getting ready to head down the road for a weekend of camping in the mountains. Heading for higher elevation and cooler temps!
Happy Independence Day everyone!
...and in this case, tiny. Very tiny, with tiny bunny feet. Found this little baby sitting on our breezeway last night. Poor thing..can't be very old, but it was soooo very soft. I just love the little blaze on it's head.
Day 2 - Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Leave Jerry Johnson Hot Springs CG, Idaho @ 7:50 a.m. Pacific Time
Arrive Challis Hot Springs, Idaho @ 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time
Routes traveled: U. S. 12 (Northwest Passage Scenic Byway), U. S. 93 (Salmon River Scenic Byway)
There's just something about having an element of danger added to a vacation; it's that uneasy feeling that heightens self-awareness. An early morning got us off to a good start...or so we thought. Just as we were preparing to leave I noticed the pick-up's rear right tire looked a bit flat. Sometimes I can be a bit overly cautious and when I pointed it out to Sam, I'm sure he thought it was just one of those times. He casually glanced at the tire and then uttered one single word, "Shit."
Twenty miles lied between us and the nearest outpost of civilization and the knowledge that we were pulling 8,000 pounds of trailer on an isolated mountain road with a damaged pick-up tire kept my mind preoccupied. I'd said my prayers long before we pulled out of the campground and I kept my eyes on the side view mirror right up until we pulled alongside the air pump at Lochsa Lodge. Without knowing what exactly was wrong with the tire, Sam added 35 pound of air to a tire that requires 65 psi. A stop over in Missoula, Montana to repair the tire was imminent and throughout the forty mile drive to the city we kept our conversation light. We found a Les Schwab Tire Center just off the highway and ten minutes later the problem was fixed. One new valve stem replaced free of charge, a couple of grateful thank-yous and we eagerly hit the road again.
Even with the unplanned stop, we made good time and the rest of the day just flew by. On US 93 between Lolo and Hamilton the highway was lined with log cabin building businesses; there must have been well over 20 different businesses, leaving us to conclude the demand for such structures is great.
Shortly after driving through the city of Salmon (the birthplace of Sacajeawea) we pulled into a roadside picnic area for a quick lunch. This part of Idaho is new territory for both of us and many times I found myself comparing this part of the state to my own; truth be told the two regions are quite similar, to my eyes anyways. Mountains topped with evergreens growing alongside rivers and lakes capture the eye and spirit with a sense of being 'home' on the road.
We reached our destination for the night, Challis Hot Springs RV Park, and I immediately noticed every sign on the grounds had a Great Blue Heron on it. Hmmmm, well that could only mean one thing; maybe today would be the day I'd get that long awaited GBH photo opportunity. The RV park is located next to the Salmon River and at one point during set-up I heard, then saw, an adult GBH fly down the river! I grabbed my camera and ran after it but it disappeared from my view seconds later. Disappointed I turned my attention back to the trailer. Shortly after getting set-up we put a whole chicken into a dutch oven for dinner. The two hour cook time gave us the opportunity to take advantage of the on-site hot springs. The water temp was somewhere in the range of103 - 107 degrees and it was fantastic! Ahhhhh! I love hot baths!!!! The water was crystal clear and I noticed this hot spring didn't stink like rotten egg or sulpher, as some hot springs do. The water felt so good I didn't want to leave but we limited our time to twenty-five minutes. But, aahhhhh, it was twenty-five minutes of absolutely devine relaxation.
Rain began to pour down while we were in the hot pool, making the time we spent drying off under the roof of the pool a bit of a waste, for we were drenched once again after dashing across the park from the indoor hot pool to our trailer. Another quick dry off and a change of clothes and then we were forced to move the dutch under the trailer awning because the rain kept extinguishing the charcoal briquettes, leaving Sam to restart several batches in order to get the chicken cooked. Cooking with a dutch oven turns meals into a whole new experience. Cooking is an art form, and with a dutch even more so; there's no temp gauge to go by and determining the right number of briquettes to use, takes practice and a certain bit of know-how (or a really good dutch cook book). This is especially true at higher elevations; Challis sits at 5,000' so the chicken took a bit longer to cook. Withor without weather related delays dutch oven cooking is fun and that first whiff of what's under the lid of the dutch gets my taste buds salivating with anticipation, every time. And, oh! it was delicious. Tender, juicy...it was a genuine delight served with a side of spring greens salad.
As the evening winded down we settled back in our chairs under the canopy, armed with a cool drink to top off the day as the songs of several birds carried on the breeze.
Day 1 - Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Leave Lewiston, Idaho @ 5:30 p.m.
Arrive Jerry Johnson Hot Springs CG @ 9:00 p.m.
Routes traveled: U. S. 12 (Northwest Passage Scenic Byway)
Rivers: Clearwater River, Lochsa River
Finally! This day couldn't be here soon enough. It was a short day for me and a full work day for Sam, but by 5:30 we were heading down the highway. Yee-haw! Just past the town of Kooskia the Clearwater River is designated as a wild and scenic river. The drive up this Byway along the Clearwater River is always a beautiful one; I can't take my eyes off the scenery, spending most of my time making mental notes of places to photograph...someday.
We made good time, with minimal traffic. Pulled into Wilderness Gateway CG to get a spot for the night and immediately heard music playing. As we neared the group picnic pavilion the music volume increased and we saw a sea of cowboy hats bobbing around under the massive ceiling. Houston, we have a hoe-down. :) Don't know what it is about seeing a bunch of cowboy hats spinning around on the dance floor but the sight always makes me smile. They were definitely having a grand time! For us, our journey down the road continued; none of the available camp spaces were long enough for the pick-up and trailer; our combined length of 50' often limits our camp site options.
A bit further down the road we found a campsite at Jerry Johnson Hot Springs. Other than one other trailer and a grazing doe, the place was almost abandoned. All the spurs were paved and the campground had the look of a recent improvement project, so getting the trailer leveled was a snap. Minutes later, when my head hit that pillow sleep came fast, much to my relief. Got a good nights sleep...except for the thunderclap at 2 o'clock that was so loud it shook me awake from a deep REM sleep. It shook me and the entire trailer, it was that loud; I'm sure it was right over our head.
Overnight campsite at Jerry Johnson Hot Springs CG, Idaho
Last month I wrote a brief entry about Jackson Baldwin; last week Jackson's parents wrote another entry in their journal...a deeply personal entry about hope, grief, healing, dreams, and community.
Someone once told me "You can never go home again." I said bull then, just as I say it now.
Yes, there are beautiful people in this world. I am awestruck and inspired...again. Thanks to a couragous young boy...thanks to a father's promise to his grieving young daughter.
And I feel fortunate to call this community where I live...home.
BTW, I'm home now. :) But you've already figured that out, didn't you?