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.
Love how this rainbow glows right in front of the hillside.