June 24 - Goodbye Spokane... Hello Montana

The last couple days have been a blur. Yes, a blur... but an enjoyable blur. It's an overused cliché', but time really does fly by when you're having fun.

Our good friends Jimmy and Julianne... what can I say? They not only made space for us at the property where they're house-sitting this summer... they offered a 15 amp circuit for the bus-house batteries, they fed us, made camp fires for us, had adult beverages available, sparked both thought-provoking conversation and enjoyable nonsense, and had a parade of their friends pop up here and there to spice things up even more. We did a rails-to-trails bike ride and fueled it with the biggest hotdog I've ever seen. We had some alone-time for our work but really enjoyed the together-time around the campfire every night. It was a wonderful visit. Thanks so much you two.  We'll see you somewhere in the Southwest this next winter.

But the journey calls. And we didn't want to wear out our welcome. I think it was Ben Franklin who said that both fish and guests start to smell after three days... and since our allotted time was drawing to a close, we planned to hit the road again this morning... Sunday morning... weather permitting.

I could have predicted it. As a matter of fact, I think I did predict it. About 4:30am a crack of thunder startled me awake... and a downpour followed. Hmmm, travel day... of course.  And the rain continued pretty much continuously until about 9am. The Northwest has been getting more than it's fair share of rain this Spring, and every few days it seems like we've had to adjust for it. (It's especially not fair since the Midwest has been dry as an Arizona desert... a serious shortfall in rain that has everyone concerned.) Checking out the radar and the forecasts... which both suggested conditions might be improving as the day wore on... we decided to pull the plug, fire it up, and go anyway.

So, by about 11am, we had things hooked and humming, hugged good-byes, and got back on the road. The route today was US-2 to Sandpoint ID, ID-200 to the border with Montana where it turned into MT-200, which we took to Trout Creek MT... our camp for the night. Miles for the day?... an easy 134.

The drive today took us around two sides of Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced: pond-o-ray), the fifth deepest lake in the country. It's a big lake, about 150 sq. miles, and is believed to have been formed during the last ice age. A couple years ago, during our trip across the country on US-2, we camped at Riley Creek campground (COE) on the shores of the big lake.

We found this wonderful small RV park in Trout Creek... Trout Creek Motel and RV Park. The owners clearly take pride in their business, as everything is neat, clean, manicured, fresh, and every detail covered.  The RV park is almost like a campground... large long and wide spaces with fire rings, picnic tables, big trees all around, and all of it neat as a pin. As an example of the little things they've covered... I spotted a pair of reading glasses on the check-in counter which I learned were there for the benefit of people who come in to register but forgot their own glasses. The whole place reeks of passion and caring, and we loved it. Oh, it's a Passport America park too... so a great value. By all means, when coming through this part of the country between Missoula and Sandpoint, stay off the big bad Interstate highway... get over onto Highway 200, and stay at the Trout Creek Motel and RV park. You won't be sorry.

Under the category of  "3 seconds of excitement"... I think I saw a moose today. We were a few miles outside of Trout Creek when I saw it... standing right at the edge of the forest alongside the road... more in the trees than in the clearing. It happened so fast I couldn't say anything to get Dar into the game either. My first thought was that it was a horse... but it wasn't a horse. It just wasn't the right place for a horse to be. The animal was very dark and tall legged. It's head was hidden by a low tree limb so I couldn't confirm by means of a distinctive head or antlers... and it didn't move during the few seconds I saw it. I asked the folks at the RV park if moose are around this part of the country, and they confirmed they are. So I'm left with an uncertain sighting... which is still pretty darned exciting.

In a few minutes we're getting things running again and heading for Helena by way of Missoula. It's Montana's turn to have their Capitol visited by these two explorers.

(I'll add photos to this post in the next day or two.  Check back)

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