Friday, June 23, 2017

Sandpoint

We left Waterton in no hurry, thinking we'd split up our drive to Spokane into three sections just because we could. We stopped at a few spots along the way including some intriguing coke oven remains and a sobering view of a massive land slide.

British Columbia was good enough to place a rest area right by their welcome sign so that became our lunch stop.

It became a cache stop as well, complete with a creek to jump over and mosquitoes hovering, waiting for the order to attack.

We decided to push on to Idaho where there was an Army Corp of Engineers campsite that sounded good in the reviews. Turns out it's the first COE campground we've experienced that didn't have power at most or all of the campsites.


We stayed two days, enjoying the sound of the furnace running, rainy nights, cloudy mornings, and nice afternoons.

The campground reminded me of typical northwest forest service campgrounds. Lots of trees and lots of shade. Not a good spot to stay long term if solar is your primary power source.

We did enjoy the stay, and appreciated the quiet of a midweek visit to a nearly empty campground and a chance to restock the pantry in Sandpoint.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Waterton Lakes National Park

Neither BJ nor I had ever visited Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. We've visited its southern neighbor Glacier National Park but this time we came to Waterton. The views from lake level were wonderful.

No matter where you went, the mountains framed the beautiful lakes. We heard that the wind often blows but it was not that way when we were there.

The park has a geotrail of eight caches that changes each year. We were early enough that we caught the end of the 2016 trail. One of the caches was located on Bear's Hump. It's about 3/4 of a mile hike to the cache - with a 750' elevation gain.

The views from the top were very much worth the hike. Once again, a cache conned me into doing a hike I might not have bothered with otherwise, and the payoff was incredible beauty!

This park is different from most in that there is a small town in the center of it that is privately owned. Many of the local businesses are 4th, 5th, or even 6th generation.

The Townsite campground includes over 250 sites. Nearly 100 of those are 35 amp pull-through, full hookup sites. We are the little white spec at the far right about midway up this picture.

The sites were essentially level, and had all the services. The one unusual thing was that the sewer connection was located in the center of the pad rather than off to the side like the electrical and water.

The views from the back window were special as the weather would change rapidly.

The other special thing about the campground was the four foot drive lawnmowers that would come though each afternoon. In addition to the mountain sheep, we also saw quite a few deer

Cameron Falls is within walking distance of the campground. The campground is bisected by Cameron creek.

All of the caches that were placed by the park were well done, well concealed, and in locations of special interest. We really loved our time in the park and we're already talking about how to include more time here next year.

Like most of the older national parks on either side of the border, there is a fancy lodge that is often a focal point in advertising pictures. We drove up to get this picture, but didn't stop.

Finding all of the caches in the annual trail meant that we qualified for one of their beautiful coins. The design changes each year. The one slight disappointment was that these coins are not trackable. None the less, they were an enticement to come and visit, and resulted in yet another family that wants to come back. Great marketing!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Helena GeoTour

We spent two nights at the Lincoln Road RV Park. Lincoln Road was laid out similar to Pony Express in North Salt Lake, but in this case you just drive in and pick whichever open space meets your fancy. Roads and spaces are gravel, but prices are similar.

Next time we may stay further out of town at Devil's Elbow Recreation Area. Sounds like connectivity could be marginal but the setting is beautiful!

While we were in Helena, we concentrated on geocaches that were part of their GeoTour. We quickly figured out that the outlying caches took a lot more time to get to, but took us to areas that we loved.

I used a modification of the Geocaching Swiss Army Knife (GSAK) to lay out a route that was supposed to be efficient. Sometimes I wondered, but it was always interesting!

One that I thought we might bypass turned out to be a favorite. It was several miles up a dirt road on the way to the summit of Priest Pass - one of the initial routes over the Continental Divide. Just two weeks previous, there had still be snow obstructing the road and the route to the cache.

Another of the caches took us through a neighborhood of historic homes. This one wasn't the fanciest nor our favorite - it was just the first one that we commented about.

Historic school house.

Morning reflections on a lake near Gates of the Mountains - named as such by Lewis & Clark.

The vista was really neat but I didn't take a picture of it because I was too busy drooling over the placement of the Devil's Elbow Recreation Area below this vista point.

This one is especially for a dear friend who is know to carry a blow-up flamingo with him. This flamingo is positioned outside the Lewis & Clark County Jail which might be appropriate...

One of the very last caches we did was located near this church. Yes, we did sign the log, but I was tripping over myself looking at the architecture. Beautiful!

Finding enough of their designated caches resulted in a Helena GeoTour 'coin' and a travel bug. Lots of time and effort for the mementos, but lots of memories and a place we'd like to come back and spend more time.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dead Men Tell No Tales

We spent three days in the Helena, Montana area doing their GeoTour. Once again, locating caches took us to some interesting places including visits to more than one old cemetery.

We spent our first night at the Galena Gulch Recreational Area near Boulder, Montana. Nice location, and free were both positives, but essentially no internet connectivity on any of our various devices.

We'd stopped here to visit the southernmost caches of the Helena GeoTour. One stop took us to a ghost town's cemetery.



Most, but not all of the stones represented children.



The second cemetery served the community of York, northeast of Helena. This picture would make you believe the community was decaying, but that certainly wasn't the case.

York is a small, active village that still used its historic cemetery. The sign pointing the way was posted on a historic cabin which serves as their museum.

Since it was the Memorial Day weekend, the path was lined with flags which made it easier to follow UP the hill to the cemetery.

Typical of a historic cemetery.

We were surprised at the size of some of the stones in the cemetery since there was no obvious way to access it except UP a narrow path. Note the dates on the stone of 1911 for the son and 1898 for the father.

Right next to the previous Smith stone were these two Smiths with much more current dates. BJ appreciated seeing there was another Bette who spelled her name "right."

As we headed DOWN the trail, my parting thought was that I would not want to be a pallbearer in this community!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Seen along the way

The other reason to transit Utah was that it's an essentially straight line to Helena, Montana but you'll have to wait for that! Our last Utah location was the Pony Express RV Resort in North Salt Lake where we stayed one night. Very nice place if your taste runs to having a golf cart show you to your site and explain how to hook up to the cute little white lighthouses - and you don't mind the freeway noise.
We'd positioned there to be able to do some of the abundance of virtual caches in the city. Turned out, we'd had more than enough and spent some of the day just relaxing. Should have contacted friends in the area, but we remained incognito.

On the way out of town we cruised by the Hill Air Force Base museum, which clearly deserves a dedicated visit instead of the low pass that we did.

We went out of our way to visit a couple highly favorited Travel Bug hotels. This one, north of Salt Lake was in two parts, but I was especially enamored by the Bar & Grill which leveraged an old gas BBQ grill to house the 'bar.'

The one that we visited in Idaho was only a few miles from where we'd considered Wallydocking, but after visiting the gnomes,

Gnomeland Security suggested we just keep right on going.

We toyed with overnighting in Idaho Falls, but didn't want a repeat of last year's stop at their South Tourist Park (read our Campendium review for a hint) so we stopped at the North Bingham County Park in Shelley, Idaho for the evening.

This one was a jewel in our perspective. Very laid back, with $20 W/E sites just far enough off the freeway to avoid any freeway noise. Didn't need the electric for the air conditioner, but it was nice for the electric heater in the morning.

Hidden in behind the RV portion of the park was an experimental farm where they grow really tough chickens,

and a historical park where they've moved and restored a few historic building from around the area, including a log cabin and a school house.

All in all, a most excellent stop and definitely on our list of places we'd like to visit again.