Our Travel Blog

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Driving Miss Donna - what does this mean? Whenever I want to go somewhere, if Don is home he will usually drive. He always says he is driving miss Donna! This blog is for our travels, usually with our truck and fifth wheel trailer, but sometimes in our other wheels. When we are not vacationing check in for updates, although less frequent, about our life at home and our wonderful family:)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Homeward Bound

Well there comes a time when you have to head home.  This September holiday has been a bit different than most.  We started out in Alberta, earlier than usual, and hence will be home a bit sooner.  I am excited to see the kids in all their activities - Blake in hockey, Reese and Emerson in ringette, music and dance, Connor in his first year of Timbits hockey, and Connor and Mason in swimming.  Being their groupies will keep us busy!

But not to get ahead of myself, we returned to the campground at Como Lake for one night in our journey back.  Essentially because we knew where it is, and we can get a  good walk in there.  As the weather is cooling off it is nice to have electrical hook up as well.

After Como Lake we headed home to Canada.  Waterton Park has always instilled a quiet restful feeling in me.  I think it's two things; one the mountains and two the small town essence of the community.  Nature is in it's fall glory now, and the scenery is alive with oranges and golds.  A great time to be in the mountains.  We took the opportunity to visit some trails and streams while here.

Our stay here has been cold and reminds us of what is waiting at home weather-wise.  But is was the perfect choice to end our vacation. 

We are on the road now, so you may not see a blog for awhile.  Usually when we are at home I do monthly updates.  Not because there is nothing to say, but rather because I can fill pages about our family, and that might get a bit much for some of you.

Happy Fall!


Monday, September 19, 2016

Now This is Better!

This time I consulted more thoroughly with my driver/weatherman and we decided to go to the Boise area.  Rather than reserve any campsites we thought we would wing it and see what was around.  I did a search on state parks and reviews and Bruneau Dunes State Park near Mountain Park seemed like a great choice.  So the GPS was set and we were on our way.

When we arrived at the park it was a bit confusing selecting a site.  First off, most of them seemed reserved.  And then there were others that seemed available, but with signage saying you had to contact the park hosts to confirm.  They were off shift.  So we headed to the camp headquarters and were lucky enough to find a park ranger just heading to his office.  I explained the situation and he was kind enough to assist.  The odd part about this is that although the building was marked as ranger office, it also had a registration desk in it, which was not advertised anywhere.  So we did a bit of campsite touring we didn't need to.  At any rate we found a perfect campsite.  The weather was amazing, hot days, gorgeous sunset evenings, and lots of walking opportunities!

We had visited the Boise area a few years ago, but I spent most of my time with a very sore back and at a chiropractor.  Thank goodness this visit was far more enjoyable!

Don and I are both avid readers.  Sometimes it doesn't even matter what we read.  And sometimes that reading offers ideas of places to see.  Years ago we both read a Western series based on the wagon trains of people moving to Oregon.  The road, the Oregon Trail, can sometimes be spotted still today.  In places there are memorial signs and the wagon tracks are visible.  So we took some time to drive and find those signs and trials.  It is pretty easy to get engaged in dreaming what life may have been like for these travelers, but I think it is romanticized quite a bit.  Our forefathers had it pretty tough but they sure seemed happy.

So our stop here was just what we needed to shift ourselves back into a happy place, relax a few more days before turning around and starting the trip back. 

We need a place to stop for one night, and so we're going back through Como Lake to have a final night in a beautiful setting.

Here is a picture of the sunset and the campsite.  Just beautiful!!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sun Valley

Mmmmm.  I will call this Sunless Valley!  LOL

When I was "whining" to Don to come here, he warned that the weather might not be too inviting.  But as always he complied and we pulled in.  We were struggling with finding campsites in the area, so opted for an affordable RV Park.  The website was lovely for Riverside RV Park, and you can't go wrong with a riverside park.  Or can you?

Why can't I learn to listen to Don when he offers weather reports??  Our intention was to spend one night in this serviced park, then head to either boondocking or at least a more picturesque setting on some established BLM sights.  But alas, the rain (yes not just cold but rain, actually 2 days of torrential downpour) and the mud that ensued, kept us form that dream.  We tried to visit Sun Valley, Ketchum, etc. but lost our spirit pretty fast.  At least we managed to do the laundry.

So as is common with us we spent the days driving and exploring.  The Camas Prairies area offered some great views.

The next day we drove to Twin Falls, planning on a Costco stop, and hoping to see the falls the city was named for.  Another American tourist trap.  The river has been diverted for irrigation and hydro so there was no water.  Although this is boasted as water falls higher than Niagara Falls, the concept is a bit hard to enjoy with no water.  And if you choose to really enjoy it, you are invited to pay $15 for entry.  So these photos are from the viewing area.  Again, how the heck can you "sell" a dry area as world famous waterfalls?  Yikes.

Overall this was one of those stops where we are glad that we love our fifth wheel and each other so much, as we enjoyed the fireplace, a few games of Yahtzee and some great meals.

Time to find a new place to go, hopefully dry and warmer...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Como Lake

So I promised part 2 of Como Lake!

As you may have gathered I cannot pass up a Farmer's Market when we are on the road.  It is not always the food as much as it seems to be a unique way to explore a community and get a feel for the people.  The market up the road from us in Hamilton was ideal.  After wandering the aisles and exploring different vendors, we stopped at the Mine Shaft Pastry Company booth and picked up a Cornish Pastry for lunch, before continuing on our market excursion and heading back to campground for the evening fire.

One of the reasons we extended our stay at Como Lake was the intrigue of a hiking trail around the lake.  Reports were that it was approximately a 2 hour hike.  So we packed our water and lunch and started out.  The scenery along the way was beautiful as always.  From one person's perspective our photos may often appear the same, but trust me as you are wandering new or old places and trails, the view in person is never the same twice, and always warrants a few more pictures.

The first thing to note about this hike is that it is far longer in miles and time than indicated.  Thank goodness we packed a lunch!

For the most part I will let the pictures speak for themselves.  As we selected a lunch stop we noted a few other folks thought it was a great as us, and two of those turned out to be Dorothy and Andy - our campground friends!

We had planned for our last campfire visit with Dorothy and Andy for the evening, but after 6 hours on the trail we were all exhausted.  They popped in a for a good bye visit  and exchange of addresses.  It is always wonderful to meet people along the way, adventurous souls who appreciate our need to pack up and move on the next day, not thinking how odd we didn't want to settle in for the long term!  Won't it be fun when we finally head east and stop at their place!

I have been dreaming of visiting the Sun Valley area for years, after reading blogger reviews on it and their miles of bike trails and quaint coffee shops.  So that is where we are head next!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Finding a New Gem

We wanted a new campground, new to us, new to you, and breathtaking and all that goes with that.  And did we ever get it!  We aced a site at Como Lake Campground near Darby, MT.  This place has power and water for a measly $16 a night!  And sites you can move around in and not touch your neighbours.  Because the reservation season is closed there was no problem driving in and picking a site, but even better for us was the site we preferred the most was available when we arrived.  Yes we like boondocking, yes we have enough water that we don't need hook-us, etc. but in the mountains in the fall the power is nice.  When the sun has set and the chill hits the air, it is quite comfortable to sit n the Fifth Wheel, in our recliners, in front of the fireplace.  This year they are having water problems and hence it was not potable, but that was the only downside.

Now although I said this is the best site and we loved it soooo much, the first thing we did after setting up was drive a bit further, well actually a lot further, south.  To check out other campgrounds.  We have a bizarre compulsion.

The only thing we got out of this day trip was the opportunity to see the wonderful town of Salmon.  And then a stop at a used book store in Darby.  Now this was something to see.  The Friends of the Library operate a used bookstore on Main Street.  All the books come from either donations to the library, or the books that are being retired.  They make enough income to cover the cost of the building space and upkeep, and it is ran by volunteers.  The cost of the books is a donation to the library.  Being a lifetime supporter of both libraries and "Friends of Library" groups, I didn't get out of there empty handed but it was so affordable.  The clerk was a wealth of information as well, which is often the case in smaller communities.

After we had a lazy dinner we went for a stroll around the campground.  It is not unlike us to befriend someone and have a visit.  In fact that is one of the most enjoyable parts of our travels, is meeting other RVer's and sharing stories.  This time we shared some great conversation with Dorothy and Andy from Massachusetts.  They have the greatest story - their long time companion Roxie recently passed away and to find some healing time they purchased a motorhome and set off.  In honor of their furry friend the RV is named Roxie 2.    We passed a couple of hours around their fire that evening, and knew there would be more to come before the jacks were pulled and we both moved on.

Ever restless we seem to be, so the next 2 days saw us out in the Dodge, seeking adventure.  On Thursday we decided to seek out Painted Rock State Park, just to ensure we weren't missing out on anything.  If I said we couldn't determine where a painted rock was and there was not one person camping in the area, would you understand that we missed nothing?  I realize I make these types of statements a lot, so you must understand that it is in no way a refection of how our day has gone.  I have told you before our best days are usually spent exploring places and seeing new scenery, and this was no different.  You don't know until you go!

Friday saw us taking a road marked "Wildlife Viewing 26 Miles".  Now that sounds nice doesn't it?  Again lunches are packed and we are off to see the great unknown.  And the greatest adventures await when you are greeted with a road sign that says "Steep winding mountain roads - no vehicles pulling trailers over 20 feet".  In our travels these are traditionally also noted on road maps as "Scenic Drives".  This was Highway 38 in Idaho, and according to the paper maps we had, it might lead us to a town called Phillipsburg, MT.  Why not, right?
Now get this - the road Skalkaho Highway, leads to Skalkaho Falls and follows the Skalkaho River.  It doesn't get more creative than that.  In the words of CW McCalls song Black Bear Road, it looks like a bunch of Z's and W's strung together.  And to use the term highway??  Very very loosely!!
The road and the falls...  My pictures don't seem to capture it that well, but it was breathtaking!

Finally in Philipsburg, MT.  We were driving down the street looking for a place to stop and I spotted Boheme Coffee on the corner.  I yelled stop, Don complied, and we enjoyed a great lunch, coffee and some free WiFi.  Don and I then went separate ways.  He wanted to photograph some of the buildings in town. We have visited a lot of historic mining towns, but this is one of those places where you can see the care that still goes into each building, and the authenticity of each historic entity.  A great place to visit - highly recommended! My intention was to leisurely shop (surprise) but I got caught up in a long conversation with the owner of a pottery store.


1885 Jail - Still used today as the Sheriff's Office

Old Buildings - New Vehicles
This stay at Como Lake has been so much fun, I need to save part 2 for another day.  Come back!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Urban Life

Well it was time to move on, snag some full hook ups and do some laundry.  Poor me - not enough clothes to last a month.   Or at least not packed.

So our destination this time is Jim & Mary's RV Park in Missoula.  This is another favorite of ours; easy to access and nice sites.

Our time here was spent stocking up, wandering shops, and dinner at the Outback.  It's a great place to eat because we know the menu and can make it fit our diet easy peasy.

We also used the time to take a drive south and scout out a more preferable camping site, which we were very successful at.  It has been a long time since I was this excited to tell you about a campsite, but let's just wait until we get there and have explored a bit.

You will know if we find a WiFi tree because the blog might get updated again...

Monday, September 5, 2016

An Old Place in a New Way

Well as many of you know we are quite fond of the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho area.  We have almost always stayed at Farragut State Park.  This year we decided to stay closer to the Sandpoint area, and by doing so perhaps have some new adventures.  While still at home in the "dreaming of going away" stages, we had researched several National Forest and Core of Engineers campgrounds.  Rather than bookmarking these on the computer I printed the maps out, as we are often without phone/internet service when travelling.  That was a great plan had I not left the page sat home on my desk.  At any rate we were able to remember the name of one we particularly liked.  In all honesty I didn't remember a damn thing but Don as always did.  Especially when travelling I allow myself to forget virtually anything I deem unnecessary, which includes highway numbers, campground names, etc.  It's my way of ensuring my driver doesn't get a foggy brain!

Back to camping - we decided to stay at Springy Point on the Pend Orielle River.  It is a Core of Engineers site, quite affordable at $20 per night, and about 10 km from Sandpoint.

So we settled in at the site, then were off to get our "American" groceries.  There are still items in the states that are less expensive than Canada, even after the horrific exchange rate.  Groceries is one of those, diesel is another, and a lot of sporting good items.  Having said that we have purchased several bicycles while here, and this trip we were hoping to find another.  Which is why we went to Target.  That and the fact that I miss Target.

On Friday we went on an adventure tour around and through the Priest Lake areas.  This is our real adventure time, driving around and exploring communities and back roads.  In actual fact this is something we have done forever, no matter where we have lived, packed a lunch, maybe a beverage or two and just drove.  This is a good time as well to tell you about the truck.  Just prior to our departure the diesel particulate filter needed servicing.  As well the catalytic converter gave out.  Don had considered "chipping" the truck before, and now needed no further incentive, as the delete kit was less dollars than repairing all the other parts. That's how we ended up with a Bully Dog component thingy hanging on the driver's side.  And that's how we ended up with a truck that reached 18L/100km pulling a 35ft Fifth Wheel, or 11L/100km just touring.  Enough truck talk for me!  Next time you see Don ask him about pulling power...

Saturday was spent leisurely walking around Sandpoint, enjoying the town, each other and good food.

On Sunday the weather finally cooperated with us and we were off on our bikes.  The Sandpoint Long Bridge crosses Lake Pend Orielle, and has a large and separate pedestrian and bike path adjacent to it.  Biking is a favorite mode of transportation in the area and the bike paths lead everywhere.  For us they led to Starbucks and the internet!  More than once.  And then we also walked the trail because it wasn't enough to just ride!

So today we are moving on.  I can't tell you where because that will ruin the fun, but I'll be back soon.