On the way back into Kalispell we took a side trip to Hungry Horse Dam. My uncles worked on it before they started on Coulee Dam and my grandmother had a café there so I had heard about it, but had never seen it. It is not impressive as dams go, but the reservoir is very pretty. We took the road up the reservoir for 5 miles, but it isn’t very tourist friendly. I imagine the natives make full use of it. All in all, it took us 9 hrs, but loved every minute of it. Sophie wasn’t very happy about it though. We are only here one more day and tried to get a horseback trip and white water rafting trip in the next day, but the horseback trip was already fully booked so we will be taking the dinner rafting trip only.
Our rafting trip wasn’t until early afternoon so had plenty of time to get there and pick out our life jackets and helmets.(photos of trip not yet developed ) I looked like a plump orange with a blue hat - very fashionable. We took a van to the Middle Fork of the Flathead iver, but the river was shallow there so we had to hike to a deeper section (they didn’t say anything about walking). It was just long enough that I had to make several stops so we got there well behind the others, but they were still getting the rafts ready. We only had 6 in our raft, plus the guide, so we had to do a lot of paddling. We did 9 miles - some calm and some rapids, plus some games. One of them was for all of us to stand on the outer rim of the raft, holding hands, and lean backwards. The point was to see how many would fall in, but before we leaned back we all fell forward into the raft. I was really proud of myself since I have no balance that I was able to do it, but I had a lot of help. The next one was for someone to stand on the bow while the rest of us spun the raft - the point being to see how long it would take to that person to fall off. That someone was Bob and he rode it out and he got applause from all the rafts. It was a great trip and was sorry to see it end, plus we saw a lot of great scenery. Bob and I were the only ones staying for the dinner, but again, had to take a hike to where the table was set up. We had grilled bacon wrapped filet mignons, baked potatoes, green salad, rolls and for desert, cherry cheesecake. It was all delicious. It was a long, but very enjoyable day and were really pooped by the time we got home, plus the AC in the jeep was going out again. We just got it fixed! We had to take pictures with a disposable waterproof camera and haven’t gotten them developed yet, so will post them as soon as possible.
I finally got my aching bones and sunburned arms out of bed and we got on our way to Missoula MT. to the Square Dance Center & Campground (they evidently have a lot of square dancing at the lodge) just south of Missoula in Lolo, MT. It is situated in the woods and pretty, but we only have electric and water. We will only be here 3 nights, most of which will be spent with Bob’s sister and husband (Jan & Buff), so shouldn’t be a problem. Jan & Buff were waiting for us when we got here so had a short visit and went to dinner. We were going over to their place (20 mi), but without AC working in the jeep the heat got to much for me so we came on back. On the way to the restaurant I got to ride in a 1937 Jag that Buff has restored. It is gorgeous and I wore the hat with a scarf tied under my chin and even got our pictures taken as we went down the road. It was awesome. They do a lot of parades in it, but is partially a kit car, so can’t enter it into the big shows. They live on the same property as one of their daughters and family who raises horses and their granddaughter trains them. Ginny (the daughter) is a wonder. During their lean years she hunted with rifle and bow and arrow, dressed the meat, raised a garden, froze and canned everything, home schooled her 3 kids, made all their clothes and still is very attractive and slender figured. I am in total awe of her. The Bitterroot Valley isn’t very pretty and they have a lot of forest fires and even if the fires are further away the valley fills up with smoke, which it was the whole time we were there. The smoke was coming in from Idaho, but it was bad enough that it obscured the mountains and was hard on the sinuses. We found out that the AC compressor went out and they have to send for the parts so we will have to wait until Sequim to get it fixed.
We didn’t make very good time to Kettle Falls because of all the construction on Lookout and 4th of July Passes. I have never gone over those passes that there hasn’t been construction. Going through Spokane I couldn’t believe how much it has exploded. I lived there in the late 50s and loved its small city atmosphere, but now it goes on forever and it took us an hour to get through it. We got to Panorama RV Park in Kettle Falls in late afternoon so didn’t get much accomplished. There isn’t anything panoramic about this park, but we have full hook-ups and have trees so not too bad. I have never been in this area before, but Bob had property here years ago. I like the area and property is reasonable so, depending upon what we find in the ne xt couple of days, we may settle here. Of course, they are having the hottest summer ever, but not as hot as MT & SD. We looked at property all day and saw only one possible. Most of them were too far out and on the way back from one property (on a gravel road) we got a flat tire. We had no phone service to call for service, but between the 2 of us we finally got the spare on. We went to Les Schwab in Colville and we got a slit from a sharp rock so the tire was toast; therefore, we got a new tire. An expensive long day We plan on going out again tomorrow, but also have to get ready to leave the day after. Just a short drive to Coulee Dam so will see those in Coulee Dam and Sequim soon. For those of you not in Sequim, will get back to you when we get there.
We left Panorama RV Park in Kettle Falls, WA and headed to Grand Coulee. Our trip took us over Sherman Pass, which was steep and crooked with road construction. We went through Republic, WA, a small mountain town, very quaint and rugged. Then on south on state hwy. 21 (narrow, crooked and right through the center of the Colville Indian reservation) to the Keller- Wilbur Ferry. This ferry crosses the Columbia River and is a very small open ferry operated by Washington State Ferries. Believe it or Not, it is FREE. Vehicles longer than 75 feet are not allowed. We are about 62 feet in length. Besides us, they were able to get 8 cars on with us, 4 on either side of us. It was about a 10 minute ride.
From there we went on to Grand Coulee and got settled into the King’s Court RV park, which, by chance, was owned by my aunt and uncle years ago. My grandmother also had a restaurant here, but now is fabric shop. Even with all this water around this area is still very hot and arid and Grand Coulee has really deteriorated. The RV park is nice but the sites are very close to each other and right next to the highway, but since we won't be spending much time there, it will do great.
Coulee Dam is still the same. We were pretty tired, but this was our only chance to see the Laser Light Show at the dam. I had never seen it before and Bob hadn’t for years so it was a great surprise and was absolutely fabulous. They paint pictures (with lasers) on the water coming over the spillways. The detail is truly amazing. The show tells the story of that area and how it was settled. The show is narrated as the pictures are drawn on the spillway. If you are ever in the area don’t miss it.
We checked into the hospitality room and I barely recognized anyone, but they recognized me and said I hadn’t changed (I don’t know if that is good or bad). The hosts really went all out. We got mugs imprinted with the 50th reunion logo and filled with mints, pencils and note pads imprinted with a beaver (our school mascot) and “Dam important things to do!” referring, of course, to Coulee Dam. We also got a packet with a large pin that had out name and our 12th grade picture on it. The spouses got one with just their name on it, but still it was really a nice touch. Also, one of the spouses really went overboard and printed out a booklet with early pictures of the dam, our class pictures, a section of memories from all of us and, since most of the graduates had been there since the first grade, he included all the class pictures from grade 1 thru the 12th. He also made CDs of all the candid photos we all gave him, plus a memorial to those that had died. They were really awesome and he put a lot of time into them, plus he was able to find everyone and all but 2 came, plus others that would have graduated with us, but had moved before the 12th grade.
Saturday, we toured the area and went to some vantage points where you could really see the Columbia River and Grand Coulee Dam. It was a fairly hot drive as the AC in the Jeep is still out. Just rolled the windows down and that kept things down to a fairly comfortable level.
Saturday night was the big banquet and the local newspaper was there to take class photos. A lot of classmates talked about memories and later we had a raffle. One of the “click” turned out to be a terrific artist and many of her drawings, plus many other things were raffled off. The grand prize was a sand drawing by the Navahoes that is absolutely gorgeous. One of the spouses lives on the Navaho reservation and she had this especially made for our reunion, which was very generous of her as it is an expensive piece of artwork. I won! The first thing we did when we got back to Sequim was get it to a framer. Also one of the hosts had made a blanket with our school colors, mascot and all our names on it. I also won that! I really didn’t know what I was going to do with it and I felt it belongs to all the classmates so I decided it needs to be re-raffled at the next reunion or if not then every year through an e-mail raffle.
Sun. we had a big picnic and a couple of classmates that hadn’t been able to make it to the earlier hospitality gatherings and banquet were there so it was quite a gathering. I had a big gabfest with 2 of my best friends that I hadn’t seen in 50 years so I really enjoyed this reunion.
We left for Sequim and it was a long drive and forget that Bob was really tired, my rear-end was sore from all that sitting. We just chilled out once we got the Conestoga Quarters RV Park and didn’t call anyone. We will be here about a month, then back to Kettle Falls for a further land hunt. We have to be at Sundance RV Park in Cortez CO (4 corners area) Oct. 15th as work campers until May. That’s going to be a great opportunity to see that area plus get free rent. We were supposed to leave last week, but the house closing is still dragging out and we aren’t going to leave until it is complete. We were going back to Kettle Falls to look at more property, but since we have to be in Cortez, CO 10/14 (where we will be camp hosts for 6 months) we won’t have time so we will just take our time going down - that is if it closes this week. It really have been a nightmare and the Wells Fargo Loan Officer is completely inept. She kept telling us it was going to close in the next couple of days for the last month only to find out she hadn’t even sent it to loan committee and underwriting until a couple of days ago. We were livid. Underwriting said it would close tomorrow (Fri), but we don’t see that happening. She has lied to us for the last 3 months and also had told the buyers it would close by the end of June (which Bob knew it wouldn’t because it is a VA loan), and has lied every since. They are going to get an earful when this is all said and done. It really has given us some sleepless nights. Our RV park (Conestoga Quarters) has fairly new owners and they are really working hard to get it in shape. They are really nice people and we have enjoyed staying here. They have 3 dogs and one has the same name as our cat (Sophie) and she always thinks I am calling her, plus she is a mooch, so she is always camped out on our doorstep. They also have some really cute black and white kittens, but they are too young for us to take one. Once school started we thought the park would empty out, but there are people coming in all the time and stays fairly full, much to the owner’s delight. We have really been busy since we’ve been here with getting the RV and Jeep fixed and getting everything moved. Bob (and sometimes me) would pack up the back of the Jeep and a small trailer a couple of times a day during the week and then his son and a friend came up from Port Orchard, plus Marc and me and we got all the heavy stuff moved on a Sat. It took several hours, but at least everything is in storage now. We have a big antique Ships Cabinet that Bob brought back from Scotland that has to be moved on rollers and takes 4 men to move so that wasn’t fun. We tried to sell it, but no buyers, so it looks like we have to keep it am not looking forward to moving it again.We had to take the RV in 3 times, which gets to be a pain, but got everything done. I never liked the couch as it was uncomfortable and being right next to the kitchen counter it had gotten stained. We looked for a new one, but most were too big the RV service manager came to our rescue and had the cushions re-stuffed and had the couch cleaned and it turned out great. Best of all, it didn’t cost us anything! We also wanted to replace the table (we never ate at it anyway and being round it wasn’t very practical) and wanted to replace it with a computer desk. We found the perfect desk and I also found a bookcase that fit so we put the table in storage and our new arrangement is much better. We also got a new mattress to replace the sleep number mattress that I hated. That also went into storage. The Jeep service department here isn’t very fast about doing anything and it took us couple of weeks to get it fixed, but everything is fine now. It seems like all we did was run around. We really haven’t seen our friends and family all that much. Either they were busy or we were. Laura’s youngest had her 1st birthday while we were here and she is really a handful. Every time they come over here she is into everything and thinks they are her “treasures”. The other 2 girls are really growing up (12 and 8). The oldest (Ali) stayed overnight just before school started and we really enjoyed her, of course she is the one that would come with us in a heartbeat. We have been to the casino several times taking our friends out to dinner and I was able to get together with one of my 50th reunion classmates again for dinner. Since we got everything done that we needed to do the last few days have just been catch up computer days. Sequim has really exploded with several new housing tracts and traffic is impossible. Even with all the new housing there is hundreds of existing houses on the market and prices are extremely high. Even though we love this area, it has just gotten too expensive and crowded. Downtown Sequim has been kept up and quite attractive which surprised me. The weather has been extremely nice for the last several weeks which has been a plus.
Still here and it is unbelievable what Wells Fargo has put us through. Every day they said the house would close only to come up with another problem. A few days ago they discovered they hadn’t verified VA eligibility on the borrowers (this is always the first thing that is done at loan application). After a frantic call to VA they verified the verification, but Wells Fargo wouldn’t accept it so back to VA. VA called the bank and reminded them they didn’t want to annoy veterans at this time with a lot of publicity, so the bank backed off. Two days ago we finally signed the final papers only to be told a few hours later that they hadn’t verified the payment of the first month’s rent and pet deposit. Bob went ballistic. The borrowers couldn’t come up with a cancelled check at a moment’s notice so some finagling went on between them and us and finally at 5:00 last night the loan closed and we got our money. What a nightmare. In the meantime Ali twisted her back so I took her to the chiropractor and through the exam he discovered that she has beginning signs of scoliosis (which I had and was the beginning of all my back problems) so she will have to go back every couple of months for evaluation. This is the guy I have gone to for years and after taking new X-rays said my spine was riddled with arthritis so there isn’t much I can do except exercise to keep as limber as I can. Oh well, at least I know it will never get better and just deal with it. Because of all the extra time we had to spend here we won’t have time to go back to Kettle Falls so will take our time going to Cortez and will be leaving here Tues 25 Sep., heading through eastern WA and then into ID and UT and finally to CO. More on this in the next entry.
Left Sequim with no problems and got as far as Discovery Bay when the “check engine” light came on. This is the same problem that started us on the “Lemon Law” and was thought to be fixed. We called Workhorse (engine maker) and they advised us to go to either Eric’s or Poulsbo RV, which Bob has refused to deal with because of past experiences. They then gave us 2 others, but they couldn’t get us in for several days, so it was decided to drive it anyway and we are scheduled to take in to a dealer outside of Salt Lake City on 10/4 which is when we are scheduled to be there anyway. It is driving okay except we lose a little power now and then and yesterday the light went off. Anyway, what a way to start off. I started off the day in sweats because it was cool, but by the time we got to Othello I was dying - not too smart on my part. We stayed the night at a very nice campground (O’Sullivan Sportsman Resort) on the Potholes Reservoir. It was grassy, clean and had all the amenities and it was free to us. Even though we only spent one night we enjoyed the stay. This whole area is fruit/vegetable/grain farm land and very interesting.
This day’s driving was very boring (200 miles of grain fields) until we got to the Snake River and the terrain started to change. It was still desert, but hills got higher and the canyons deeper and got a lot more interesting. We did stop at a casino on the Nez Perce Res. for lunch which helped break the monotony. There were a lot of Nez Perce historical markers along this stretch and we did stop to see White Bird Battlefield site which depicts the first battle between the Nez Perce and our government.
We got into more wooded areas at the Salmon River and we went on to the campground (Canyon Pines RV Resort) on the Little Salmon River outside of Riggins ID. It is a very pretty little campground and we are backed into a spot right at the river. Riggins is the whitewater capital of Idaho and their main business is whitewater and jet boat tour companies (the trips are very expensive), plus it is at the edge of Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Its 652,488 acres hugs the borders of northeastern Oregon and western Idaho and has the deepest river gorge in North America and also has a lot of wildlife and artifacts from prehistoric tribes, miners and settlers.
We took a drive to Heaven’s Gate, a Hells Canyon Viewpoint, which was 20 miles of a switchback road . The first part was paved that went through a canyon upwards and then a decent gravel road through the forest, but still going up and had some spectacular views and there had been a large forest fire recently. There were several viewpoints on the way to Heaven's Gate which gave great views of the 7 Devils mountains. Really gorgeous!!
Then came the last few miles of a very rocky narrow road on the side of the mountain with a 20 mile drop off (on the way back I was able to keep my eyes open). At the top (8100 ft) the view is worth the drive and there were still quite a few snow patches along the road. There is a 500 yd. walk straight up to the lookout tower, which is 8400 feet in elevation. You can see 3 states, Idaho, Washington and Oregon from the tower. There was no way I could have made it and was very bummed so had to stay at the car with 2 deli sandwiches, water and a book and wait for Bob to bring back pictures. I really had it tough.
We started out to take a leisurely drive up the Salmon River and half way up we decided to take a detour to Florence which is a ghost town that once had 10,000 people, but only has a few ruins left (according to the book). At the beginning we passed several sheep farms, a private Elk ranch and a lot of donkeys. Also on one stretch there were hundreds of berry bushes along the road, plus we kept running into hoards of butterflies. That was the only good part of the trip which was 20 miles of a washboard, switchback road up the side of a mountain again. The view of the Salmon River waaay down in the valley was spectacular (when my eyes were open). I did not fasten my seat belt with the theory being that if we go over I want to be thrown out of the car near the top and not buckled into a car that is going all the way to the bottom (brilliant if I say so myself). Finally at 6400 ft. we came to the top and ran along it for a ways. We hit the turn off to Florence which turned out to be strictly a 4 wheel drive road over boulders and through big ruts and after 4 miles of that we finally turned around. We were already 1 mile past where the ruins were supposed to be. In other words, we couldn’t find it but we did find the ruins of an the White Sands Placer claim and some other ruins which may or may not be a part of Florence. After finally getting back to the main road we continued our drive up the Salmon River (a 28 mi. trip).
The first part was paved (questionable) and then the rest washboard gravel. The river was an awesome site and with miles of white sand on the banks you can visualize the power and force of it in the spring to turn rocks into sand and snaking through a deep canyon and can see where the River of No Return comes from. The last part of the road was narrow and a little high up so still no seat belt buckled. It was a long day but I did get a good prime rib dinner out of it. Tomorrow we take off for Mountain Home ID.
The first part of the drive was along the Little Salmon River and quite pretty, but then we got back into the arid area part of the state. Even though there were some towns it was still arid and getting hot. We got to Mountain Home and took another gravel bumpy road into the resort (Ft. Running Bear) which is on top of a high knoll and is very windy and cold. Where the name came from we don’t know and there is supposed to be some great fishing reservoirs right here, but they are very low. The owners say this is the lowest these reservoirs have ever been. The campground itself is very nice, but out in the middle of nowhere and in the middle of the desert. I suppose when the reservoirs are full the fisherman love it, but the desert isn’t for us We got a lot of small chores done the next day and were planning on going to Sun Valley the second day, but the weather has been extremely windy and very stormy so we just stayed put. Tomorrow on the way to Hill AFB at Ogden UT.
Got into Hill AFB with no problems, but the Ogden/Salt Lake City area has totally exploded and I don’t think there is a spare piece of land left and traffic was terrible. There is road construction everywhere trying to keep up and Hill AFB itself has quadrupled in size. There are 3 gate entrances and they have these big barriers, which we couldn’t fit around, so they had to move one to let us in. One gate was easier so we used that one when we left. The FamCamp really wasn’t built for the larger rigs and as full as it was, it was pretty crowded, but we had full hookups. Of course, being at an Air Force Base the jet noise was very annoying at times.The next morning we took the rig into the Workhorse dealer in Woods Cross and after he initially checked it out he said he thought it was a bad sensor, but wanted to run it up the hills and check it out further. This is the first time we have been told they had a good idea what was wrong! They also gave us a new Mitsubishi to drive while they had the RV so we went out for breakfast and then did some grocery shopping. When we got back he confirmed he was sure it was a sensor and ordered the part and it would be in the next afternoon. Had to give back the car and drove back to the RV park. It was early enough so we called Shirley and Lee (our friends in Roy, UT) and went over for dinner. We hadn’t seen them for a couple of years so had a good gab fest.The next day we got caught up with our chores and Shirley and Lee came over in the afternoon and later we went to the neatest Irish pub for dinner and later came back to the RV for further gab. Fri. we took the RV back to get the sensor put in and got the car back so we went shopping and I got several pairs of slacks. After getting out my winter stuff I only had 3 pair. The rest shrunk (if you believe that one I have a bridge for sale) so I really needed them and everything was on sale. That whole valley is so crowded there is a major shopping center every ½ mile. By the time they put the part in and test drove the RV it was time to meet Shirley & Lee and we went to the Elk’s for dinner. We really had a good dinner and an old friend that I hadn’t seen in 30 yrs. stopped by and said hello. They bowled with us and we were called the 4 Ss (Sparr and Seeber or 4 asses, however you wanted to take it).