August 4, 2004

Couer D’Alene – A City I Can’t Spell

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 3:25 pm by diandy2004

One of the difficulties of being here in Coeur d’Alene is trying to remember how to spell the name of the town correctly. I’ve probably spelled it three different ways, so forgive me. We’ve been enjoying our stay here even though we haven’t played as much as expected. We’ve spent a lot of our time on the internet taking care of business (bills, blog, pics, research, etc) or making phone calls and other mundane tasks. We do have our plans regarding the car and RV for Seattle which is a relief and the good news is that the local Winnebago dealer will hold our RV for 2 weeks while we’re traveling and they’re performing some work for us. Free parking!!

Upon arriving in town on Saturday we learned they were having an arts & crafts show. This is by far the largest we’ve seen – tents were in the streets, on the college campus, and in the city park. Two outdoor amphitheaters were set up with rotating bands all day. The downtown area sits right on the Coeur d’Alene Lake and there are beaches, marinas, biplanes, and sailboats all creating such a pretty scene with the evergreen covered hills as a backdrop.

Beaches of Coeur d'Alene

Beaches of Coeur d'Alene

The best surprise we had was visiting the Erlendson Glass Studio with live glass blowing. Their working area is a glass enclosed room attached to the gallery and a coffee shop. So you could have a drink and a seat and watch them work. We watched Steve, one of three artists, make 2 tulip-shaped vases. Steve even brought us into the working area and toured all of the equipment for us. The glass-furnace itself is kept at 2,400 degrees, and then there is a working fire pit where they put the object in to re-heat and re-shape. So you can imagine how hot this room was. When he opened the furnace doors to show us, you instinctively stepped back from the blast of heat that came out. No wonder he was dripping sweat as he worked. They offer one-day classes to “get your feet wet” or two-day intensive classes. If the timing was right, we would’ve taken a class with them – just for fun.

Glass Blowing

Glass Blowing

Glass Blowing

Glass Blowing

On Monday night we experienced an incredible storm. Warnings earlier in the day alerted us to possible 60 mph winds and hail, but what we saw was quite ominous. We were eating at a floating restaurant (the dock and restaurant more or less jerked about than ‘floated’. Andy should’ve taken his Triptone) when over the hill across the lake we saw an orange-brown cloud coming. It’s speed was so fast you could see it enveloping the trees and houses in front of it like brown flood waters. Once it crested the hill it appeared to reach hundreds of feet skyward. We decided to get our checks, get on our bikes, and race home to the RV which was, thankfully, just down the road. Amazingly enough, the cloud arrived at our RV the same time we did. We figured that once it hit the lake there was nothing in its path to slow it down. The winds kicked up, the flags in the park went poker-straight, and the RV rocked. Some of the winds were blocked by a big Class A parked next to us, so we were protected somewhat. Apparently the ugly color of the cloud was dust that the winds picked up and carried with it. Luckily the rains and winds weren’t as bad where we were as we saw on the news. But that cloud was something I’ll remember for awhile.

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July 31, 2004

Glacier to Couer D’Alene

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:23 pm by diandy2004

Driving from Glacier NP to Couer D’Alene, ID

It was hard leaving Glacier because there was so much more to do…if only our bodies could take more. We decided on long driving days to get to Couer d’Alene quickly – we have to be in Seattle by 8/12. We took a slightly different route back, to minimize back-tracking on the same roads. It was a very scenic, 245-mile, 6-hour drive.  We spent one night in a National Forest campground outside Troy, MT. At this point we’ve been boondocking again for over one week. We’re starting to get good at this style of camping. But this also explains why we can’t update the blog as often as other people we know (heh, heh Jim and Chris).

The “loop” from Moscow, ID to Couer D’Alene, ID
We’re back in civilization! And we had to practically do a full loop to get back to a city with phone service, internet access, etc. Since we left Moscow two weeks ago, we’ve gone to Glacier Nat’l Park and back. To understand our “loop”, Moscow is only 81 miles due south of Couer D’Alene. And when we left Moscow, we had to drive north before cutting East, just 21 miles south of Couer D’Alene. I now have a map on our website so you can take a look at our crazy driving pattern – look for the new “map” page.

July 21, 2004

Chatcolet, ID – Heyburn State Park

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:21 pm by diandy2004

It was an interesting drive from Moscow to Heyburn State Park.  There was a 7% grade downhill to contend with, then a single-lane bridge on a blind curve, and even a left-hand turn on another switchback.  Not easy driving for a 49′ vehicle!  There was also a moment when we were near the state park and saw a sign stating “Heyburn” – if we took the turn we would’ve ended up on a fire road going up a vertical hill!

But we arrived at the state park safely.  Our goal was to “get back into nature”. It was a great stepping stone for us. We hiked a couple of miles on the Indian Cliffs Trail through ponderosa pines, firs, hemlock & 800-yr old western red cedars to an overlook where we could see the lake and valley below. On the trails we got to see deer, with spotted-fawns, and wild turkeys (such tall birds).

Hiking Heyburn State Park

Hiking Heyburn State Park

Overlooking Couer D'Alene Lake

Overlooking Couer D'Alene Lake

The second day we rode our road-bikes on the Couer D’Alene Trail, a 73 mile Rails-to-Trails pathway (bisecting the Idaho panhandle from Plummer, ID to Mullan, ID). We started at the Indian Cliffs Trailhead and rode to the Medimont Trailhead for a 43-mile roundtrip ride.  It was beautiful since we were along lakes, creeks, or ponds almost the entire way. And, as it is with most Rails-to-Trails, the trail was wonderfully flat and easy.

Riding The Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes

Riding The Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes

Boat Houses on the Trail

Boat Houses on the Trail

The history behind this rail-to-trail is very interesting. This rail line was used during the mining days to carry silver. The rail bed itself was built on mining waste and tailings containing heavy metals. It was further contaminated by accidental spillage of ore. To contain this “superfund” site, they capped it with stones and asphalt to create the trail. It is supposedly a win-win situation. Right? Some local ranchers and farmers dispute this plan, I guess, from several signs posted on private property referring to it as “The Love Canal of Idaho”. Even the city acknowledges that leakage is still occurring – recommendations for being on the trail include: do not step off of the trail or stones; wash your hands before eating; do not drink any of the water in the area; no fishing; etc. Ironically, there were cows drinking water from this Love Canal and fields of wheat being farmed next to this toxic water. Makes you wonder where your beef is coming from…and what our farm animals are consuming…hhhmmm.

Idaho's Superfund Trail

Idaho's Superfund Trail

This ride, at 43 miles, is the longest we’ve ridden since our once-a-year Mt. Dora’s bike festival in October. A great ride, but our butts wouldn’t agree with that.

July 19, 2004

Moscow, ID – Post-Conference Events

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 2:53 pm by diandy2004

Yep, we’re still here. We’ve been saying we were going to leave Moscow since Saturday…but the furthest we got was moving from the blacktop parking lot to a grassy field with a better view.

View from our Grassy Lot

View from our Grassy Lot

We have the Same Neighbors

We have the Same Neighbors

Our plans are to leave today, it’s just taken us the two days to map out our plans. Part of our dilemma was that our original plan was to leave Glacier National Park and go north into Canada to see Banff and Jasper. We just learned, however, that you now need a passport or birth certificate to cross the border. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Ours are safely tucked away in our safe deposit box at home. So, for now we’ll have to postpone our trip into Alberta. We will go to Glacier, then cut across to Seattle (most likely via I-90, but who really knows).

We’ve made flight arrangements to go to Philly and Boca Raton. We’ll be in Philly on Aug 12th, then fly to Boca Aug 18th to 24th. Hopefully our luck will continue with Winnebago dealers and we can leave our Spirit in Sequim (“skwim”), WA for repairs while we are flying across the country.

It’ll be weird leaving Jim and Chris. We’ve gotten so comfortable knowing that we could go next door and chat with friends. They are continuing along the Lewis and Clark trail to the Columbia River Gorge. Who knows where or when we’ll cross paths again, but I’m sure we will. You can keep up with them by checking their weblog at www.geeksontour.com if you want to see what other RVers are up to.

July 17, 2004

Moscow, ID – Life on Wheels Conference

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 2:50 pm by diandy2004

It’s been an interesting week here at the Life On Wheels conference – for several reasons. The conference is at the University of Idaho. We are parked on the campus blacktop parking area and were fortunate to get into the section with electric hookups. Since we’re not skilled at “boondocking”, we figured this was one less thing to worry about. Remember, we’re here for a week living off of a 36 gallon water tank and 56 gallon holding tanks (black and gray combined). As Andy just said – “you guys try that!” Ha! You learn quickly just how much water is wasted in everything you do – showers, hand washing, brushing teeth, washing dishes, etc. This make-shift campground is also tight quarters, so you have to consider your neighbors. Each RV is given a space 2-parking spaces wide. Thankfully Jim and Chris are on one side so we don’t have to worry about annoying them – we love doing that! We open our front door, Chris opens her window by her desk and we talk. Our awning is used to shade the side of their RV and our slide-outs touch the yellow lines on the other side. It’s that close.

Close Quarters on Campus

Close Quarters on Campus

The other interesting thing about this past week is the atmosphere. We have 4 classes a day, 1 ½ hours long each. We ride our bikes around campus to get to our classes. We get lost finding our classes. We can get showered in the gym locker room. We carry around notebooks and basically look and act like college students. After school, we are all usually so tired we don’t want to do anything else. I think most of us had forgotten how tired you get sitting and listening for 6 hours a day.

Here is a list of some classes we’ve attended:

Andy: Ford Gas Engines, All About Batteries, Radial Tire Safety, RV Electrical Systems, Suspension & Handling, RV Exterior Care, Back Clinic, Boondocking, and he may have taken more but he did skip two sessions…

Diane: Basic RV Maintenance, All About Batteries, There’s More to Writing Than Words (4 parts), Inverters/Chargers, Generators, RV Awnings Care, Digital Photography, Taking Great Pictures, Solar Power (2 sessions), Hosting in NW State Parks…

Granted, maybe Andy’s classes were more technical, but at least I’ve attended a class in each session!

The negative about all this wonderful information we are receiving is the expense. Now we are considering upgrading some of our parts to increase performance, safety, etc. We never considered this outcome when we came here.

We’ve also been wowed by the city of Moscow. The local businesses and Chamber of Commerce have really enticed the RVers to come into town. They’ve offered discounts at most restaurants and stores, a free barbecue, and even free tickets to the theatre. It’s been really wonderful how excited they are by this conference. Last numbers I’ve heard is there are 666 RVers (about 300+ RVs) in attendance. We were happy to contribute some money to the local microbrewery and winery.

We graduated! We wrapped up our classes Friday and went to the closing seminar, but didn’t win any of the door prizes. There were some big ones too – a 24-day trip to Baja Mexico; 6 tires from Goodyear; and much more. Oh well, we usually aren’t very lucky with raffles anyway. This morning we got up early to go get the rig weighed. We’ve weighed it several times on our trip at truck stops, but those scales generally can’t weigh the left and right sides separately – only each axle. The good news is that we are good on the side-to-side weighing. The bad news is that we are still a little heavy on the rear axle, but we’ve known this and have tried to make adjustments. We can’t control it all though since all of our tanks (holding, fresh-water, gas, propane) affect the rear axle.

Most everyone has left the campus by now. We’ve decided to hang out another night here. They’ve taken away the electricity and water hoses, but we just weren’t ready to leave yet…we haven’t even decided where we are going next! Today we went to the Farmer’s Market to get produce, we’ll decide our plans for tomorrow, and we’ve been looking at our new “projects” since learning all of this new stuff this past week.

Here are some more pictures from campus that were taken throughout the week:

Our Campus Campground

Our Campus Campground

University of Idaho

University of Idaho

Football Gargoyles

Football Gargoyles

Movie Night at the Guld's

Movie Night at the Guld's

And pictures from the area:

Pastural Scenes

Pastural Scenes

A Big Red Barn

A Big Red Barn

The Surrounding Sights

The Surrounding Sights

Sidenote:  Here is a picture of our route to get here compared to Jim and Chris’ route. They went North, then West whereas we went West, then North.
Andy                                              and Diane Jim and Chris

July 11, 2004

Moscow, ID – Biking the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 7:23 pm by diandy2004

We wanted to sneak in a bike ride before school starts for the week.  Classes start tomorrow, so today was the day.  We hopped on our bikes and rode the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail.  We rode *all the way* to Washington state.  Ok, it was only several miles, but it definitely sounds more impressive when you say that you rode to another state.  It was a nice trail with rolling hills and wildflowers.  There was a buffer between the path and the highway and interpretive signs along the way to teach you about agriculture, the two universities, and the history of the area.  We also rode around the town of Pullman, WA before returning to Moscow.

Bill Chipman Palouse Trail

Bill Chipman Palouse Trail

Later that night Life on Wheels asked RVers to hold an Open House inviting attendees to come by and visit with you and tour your rig.  It was a nice way to meet other students and check out other RVs.

July 10, 2004

From Missoula to Moscow – Our First Caravan

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 2:49 pm by diandy2004

Yesterday, Friday, we left Missoula to start heading towards Moscow, ID for the Life on Wheels RVing Conference. This week-long conference offers classes on living in an RV, maintenance, and even writing and photography classes, etc. This will be our first caravan…(even if just a 2-RV caravan!).

We chose the southern route, Highway 12, for the scenic route. It is part of the Lewis and Clark Trail and runs through Clearwater National Forest. It is also referred to as the Long and Winding Road. And that is was. Long and winding all along the Lochsa River and Clearwater River. Andy and I believe it is the longest stretch of road we’ve ever been on that never left the side of a river. We stayed in the Nat’l Forest on Friday night at Wilderness Gateway campground. There was a nice creek running right behind Jim and Chris’ site, forests, mountains, deer, and unique wildflowers.

Caravanning

Caravanning

Wilderness Gateway

Wilderness Gateway

Organ Pipe Wildflower

Organ Pipe Wildflower


At an Overlook

At an Overlook

The rest of the drive from Wilderness Gateway to Moscow was just as beautiful. After turning north onto 95 near Lewiston, the scenery changed, but was just as beautiful. The Moscow area is referred to as the Palouse – which is the rolling hills and fields of lentils, garbanzo peas, and other agriculture.  All of these pictures were taken on Hwy 12, with Jim and Chris leading the way!

At an Overlook

On Hwy 12

On Hwy 12

On Hwy 12

On Hwy 12

On Hwy 12

Farm Fields of Idaho

Farm Fields of Idaho