Day Four—Disappointment, Frustration, and Pleasure

The day started off pretty good, with a hot shower at my beautiful RV park on the Salmon River. But then it went downhill. I had picked up information at a Forest Service station on Lolo Highway about the viewpoints overlooking Hells Canyon, and I picked the one that looked easiest to get to. It was also the highest, so it supposedly affords the best views. If you can get to it.

I drove south to the town of Riggins; the road going up to Heavens Gate was supposed to be just south of the town. A forest service road. I had my GPS on map view, and I drove up and down the stretch of 95 for about 15 miles south of Riggins. I couldn’t find the damned road. I finally gave up, went into town, and got breakfast. There, I asked a local where the road was, and it turns out it’s labeled something completely different. OK, well, at least I got a good breakfast.

So I went to that road. It was paved for about 15 miles, so that was good, since it was steep and hilly. Then it turned into the dirt road I expected. The FS pamphlet said 18 miles of dirt road. I made it about two. The road was rough, and my poor van (and poor me) were shaken pretty bad. I decided to give it up, because by then it was nearly 10:00, and I still had a six-hour drive to Lake Pend Oreille.

So I started back up 95, and then I saw a sign for another access to Hells Canyon. Why not? So I took that road, and guess what? A moving truck was completely blocking it. I guess I wasn’t meant to see Hells Canyon. Not on this trip, anyway.

I did see a lot of interesting country along the Salmon River, though (some of it several times). But on the way north on 95, I drove for about 20 miles on a paved road that was covered in loose gravel. I kept WAY back from the cars in front of me, because I didn’t want to have rocks thrown up on my new windshield (bought by the previous owner). But wouldn’t you know it? A big truck came barreling along the opposite way and—bam! A HUGE rock hit the windshield, producing a good-sized chip with little runs on several sides of it. 

I drove on to Moscow, Idaho, where I stopped in at an Ace hardware store. Ace employees are the best! I was going to get some epoxy to temporarily fill in the chip until I can get home, but he came back with a windshield chip repair kit. I hope that it’ll work. I’m going to work on it tomorrow.

I stopped to get gas in Moscow and had an interesting conversation with a couple of college kids in the store. The clerk carded me for buying beer, and I jokingly said that I get Medicare next week. That led to a discussion of Medicare and Social Security and whether it’ll be there for their generation, plus talk about climate change. I apologized for the destruction that my generation and my parents’ generation have wreaked on the planet. It was a nice conversation. I’d been passing so many Trump signs all day that I didn’t think any liberals existed in Idaho.

So I drove on up to the lake. I thought my campsite was right on the water, but it actually overlooks the lake, just above the road that circles the lake. It’s a beautiful view through the trees.

The view from my van

The little road to the tent sites is narrow and rutted and steep. My site was tricky to get into. But I found a fairly level place to back the van into, and it is NOT moving until Friday morning.

I had to back into this carefully because of the rocks and tree stumps everywhere.

It’s hot here—92—but it doesn’t feel that hot here among the trees. I’m sure the lake helps make the air feel cool, too. The camp host told me there aren’t any bears around here, just deer. So I won’t need to keep my bear spray handy tonight. -)

A lovely young couple from Alberta is in the tent site next to mine. It’s so peaceful and beautiful here. I’m glad I’m staying for two nights. I’m going to drink beer and fix my dinner in a while and contemplate Mother Nature’s glory. And think about how mom and dad came THIS CLOSE to taking a caretakers job for the famous Dr. Byrd, an inventor and pilot who lives on the lake. That’s what got me interested in coming here in the first place. Dr. Byrd, like my folks, is long gone, but I think his factory and lakeside airport are still functioning somewhere near Sandpoint.

My Canadian neighbors’ tent is back among the trees. Here’s my simple kitchen setup.

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