My four nights/three days in Boise were good. And kinda expensive. The tread on my truck tires was getting down there so I pulled into a Discount Tire. The sales guy said I could get another 600-800 miles outta the tires but we noticed a sharp rock embedded in the core of the right front tire. Having none of that and since Boise was the last major city I’d be in for the next month, I put four new tires on the truck. $1000. It had been about seven weeks since I’d had my back adjusted so I visited a Max Living clinic to get squared away. Steven Baker at Prehab is an excellent chiropractor and I walked out straighter & taller and feeling like a million bucks. Money well spent! A supply run to Costco rang up $170. Harbor Freight took about $50 from my wallet. And Pips Detailing wrung out another $175 plus tips to get the bugs and grime off Synko before they became part of the gel coat. The truck wash (before the rain) was $15. Oh well.
Food wise, Sockeye Brewing served up a very good salmon with a couple good brews, the Dangerous Golden Stout really really really good; Cloud 9 Brewery downtown came through with maybe the best BLT I’ve had. Their Honey Basil Ale and NSN IPA were both pretty tasty, as well. At Barbarian Brewing downtown I enjoyed the Tequila Watermelon Sour so much I grabbed a couple crowlers to go to share with Julie. And with that, my 43 year return to Boise was a wrap. But I wanna go back for a guys weekend to enjoy the many breweries in town.
Wednesday I headed north on Idaho 55. What a drive! The Payette River Scenic Byway is a beautiful route through narrow canyons and across broad valleys. The twisty road hugged the rapidly flowing river much of the way. I loved it, all the way to Kamiah. Loved all of it except the few seconds where some full-fledged idiot made a u-turn from the right shoulder in front of the hazardous gas truck I was behind. He smoked his brakes and tires to avoid hitting the moron. I was far enough behind that I only needed to brake moderately—and cuss out the ignoramus in the sedan. Glad the truck driver had quick reflexes. I swear people are getting dumber.
Kamiah is a small, sleepy town on the Clearwater River. The Clearwater Brewery and beer:30 Taproom doesn’t brew beer but comes with a good selection of northwest brews and friendly people. I also checked out Trestle Brewing in Ferdinand, about 30 miles away—another joint without their own beers but with friendly folk.
US Highway 12 headed north out of Kamiah is a tight, twisty drive along the Clearwater and through Hells Canyon Rec Area where the river is full of water and full of floaters. Great drive all the way to Lewiston. Lewiston still smells, some 43 years after I first visited here. It’s the paper mill, I guess. Continuing north to Coeur d’ Alene the highway passes through rolling hills of farmland. Still beautiful driving all the way to CDA.
It’s been about 30 years since I was in Coeur d’ Alene when I used to visit on business while with GTE. The resort on the lake seemed different than what I remembered. There were certainly more people. Goodness, the town was buzzing. And I’m pretty sure back then we didn’t pay anything close to the $700 a night they were asking for a water-view room. I struggled by with my $68 campsite on Blackwell Island before heading out to Spokane Valley in the morning. Popular destinations fill up on weekends; kinda annoys me that people just don’t stay home! 🤪
I’ve also had some challenges finding dispersed camping spots. There were plenty in Sawtooth National Rec Area but up here they don’t seem to be very big rig friendly and it’s too risky to just head off on a NFS road with 35′ of trailer not knowing what the road conditions will be. Been there, didn’t much care for it. So I spent some time plotting out reservations between here and Glacier National Park and looking at options to visit Banff and Jasper in Alberta, if I can find a place to stash my shotgun and about a case of premium vino for a weekish. Not paying Canada’s stupid import taxes or risking them finding my gun in a hidey hole.
While in Spokane Valley I visited Millwood Brewing. What a cool place! My latest favorite! Their products are all good, especially the Millbilly IPA and Frog Skin Porter with a splash of their own cream soda. Superb.
Farther North Idaho
I crawled through Spokane to head northeast on US 2. Passed by Gonzaga University, which I mention because every March I have to look up where the heck Gonzaga is; will probably remember now…
I wasn’t able to figure out a place to stay in Sandpoint: no private, no NFS, no dispersed camping sites. I’m thinking some boondock sites are out there but not knowing the area it’s hard to choose potential options from paper or online maps. So I defaulted to a KOA at Little Diamond Lake near Newport, WA. This ended up being a really cool KOA—not the typical parking lot of most. My site was nestled in the trees and faced away from the road so it made the firepit and table area really cool. I stayed two nights, not just the one I had planned. Partly because I liked the area and partly because I needed to spend some time researching how I could make Canada’s Banff & Jasper National Parks a part of the trip, given that it seems everyone is camping these days. (Have I mentioned people should strongly consider staycations?!)
Continuing north and east on US 2 (which I’ll eventually see a lot of as I head into the plains of Montana and North Dakota in a week or so), the drive was pleasant along Idaho-designated Panhandle Historic Rivers Passage into Sandpoint and then Wild Horse Trail Scenic Byway north to Bonners Ferry before turning southeast to the West Glacier area. There was serious road construction about mid-way, where caravans of about 20 cars were led through by a pilot car. For five miles the road was dirt, mud, and ruts—a grand time.
I’d gone as far west as I’d go this trip and would continue north into Canada next week. And with that, I’m wrapping up what I consider the Rocky Mountains Early Summer portion of the trip. My next post will be in the, well, Rocky Mountains Late Summer category. More later from Glacier National Park!