Day 16 – Tuesday 27th August 2013
Today (I’ve finally caught up) we drove up into the Kootenay National Park on the road to Banff, so Carol could finally go into the Rocky Mountains, as opposed to all the other mountain ranges we had been over. We went as far as the Great Divide, that is the highest point in the Rockies, from where water flows in both directions east and west. In theory you could pour a cup of water on the ground and some would flow to the Pacific and the rest to the Atlantic.
At the side of the road we saw a female elk (or moose?) with twins, drinking from a bit of swampy ground. The twins initially disappeared into the bush but soon came back and ignored us as we photographed them. We drove back towards Radium Hot Springs, stopping occasionally for photographs and headed south.
The weather was lovely and sunny again and we travelled along the foothills of the Rockies, past Columbia Lake which is the source of the Columbia River, that flow all the way to the pacific at Astoria in Oregon, where we stayed a week ago. We continued south through some beautiful scenery and unremarkable towns and stopped for lunch in the War Memorial Park in Creston, just north of the USA border.
The border crossing into Idaho, took only a couple of minutes and we were soon heading through flatter land to Bonners Ferry and a pleasant, reasonably priced motel (Carriage House Inn). We drove to a scenic wildlife reserve 5 miles out of town, but all we saw were some birds on a distant pond and a small herd of deer in the distance. Luckily there was no charge for the entrance, or we would have been really upset. Back in town we stopped at a brew pub and had a tasting stick of 7 of their brews for $7.00 The beer was really good and dinner of fish and chips for Carol and a burger for me went down well. We are now back in the hotel room and Carol has asked to turn the a.c. on cold as the temp. is certainly warmer than it has been for the last week. Tomorrow it is down to Couer d’Alene and then Spokane.
Day 17 – Wednesday 28th August 2013
Had a fairly straightforward trip down towards Sand Point, Or., which is on the edge of a lake. There is an interesting, enclosed pedestrian bridge over a river and we were intrigued by the boat marina where the boats are stored under sunshades, or are they for snow protection?
With the landscape gradually opening out into river valleys and continued to Coeur d’Alene, which is a pleasant town with a university right on the lake edge. There was no parking for us to stop for lunch so we headed east towards Spokane and stopped at a rest area just out of town.
Note the large RV towing a caravan in the background.
Spokane is a lot bigger than when I was here 32 years ago and we took a long time driving through city traffic before we headed west towards the Ramada Hotel about 5 miles out of town. We were a bit early to check in at the hotel so visited a Ross’s Clearance store for Carol to do some more shopping. She now has the jeans she wanted, so hopefully that will be the end of traipsing the aisles. The Ramada has a nice indoor swimming pool, so we spent some time in there before driving about a mile into town to meet with Brad and family for dinner at Onions Restaurant. We had a pleasant evening and a huge meal (doggie bags for most) and were back at the hotel for a reasonably early night.
Day 18 –Thursday 28th August 2013
We visited the Spokane Falls, that are right in the centre of town and very impressive. There is a gondola that runs alongside the falls, but there was no parking as there were roadworks and preparations for Labor day in the area.
We then took the freeway down to Lewistown, mainly travelling through wheat fields, and drove in circles for half an hour before finally making what turned out to be an inspired choice too drive down the western side of the Snake River in Oregon.
We stopped at a small town for lunch at a café. Our drinks were served almost immediately, but we seemed to be waiting ages for our meals. Eventually a waitress came over to us and apologised that they had lost our order. She promised that we would have our food as soon as possible, and when it arrived it appeared that they had gone out of their way to make up for the delay. The waitress then said that the owner was preparing a voucher for us to have a free meal at another time, but when we said that we were just passing through, she offered us some free doughnuts. The owner then came over with more apologies and gave us our money back. We left with a doggie bag of Carol’s left overs, a tray of eight huge doughnuts, plus the meal refunded. Carol left a $5 tip.
We then had a fabulous 100 mile drive. The road started as a switchback up to a plateau and wheat fields as far as you could see. We then dropped down into the Joseph River canyon and along the valley floor, before winding our way up towards the Wallowa mountains and through pine forests. We stopped at a lookout over the valley and read about how the native tribes had lived in the area before being forced off their land in the mid 1800’s. We saw a herd of buffalo in a paddock, before arriving at the small town of Enterprise, where we are staying at the Ponderosa Motel. Good value at $87 including taxes.
This road is not suitable for large vehicles such as 5th wheelers – Peter and Triss!