Current Location: we are home in Rocky Point Oregon
I have a huge soft spot for Silverwood Theme Park in Northern Idaho. It didn’t exist when I first moved to the nearby village of Rathdrum in 1972, population 751. My kids went to grade school, junior high and high school in Rathdrum. Rathdrum is about half way between Spokane and Athol, where the Silverwood roller coasters now dominate the landscape. Hate to say it, but say “Athol” out loud and laugh with all the old locals about their town. I think I read long ago that both names came from somewhere in Ireland.
When I lived in that area, Silverwood was just a dream, and at the time was simply a funky old train running around the property and a restaurant called the Henley Aerodrome. I drove by it every day on my way to Bonner County to map soils as a brand new soil scientist. The theme park didn’t actually open until 1988, and just about everyone from Spokane to Coeur d Alene thought the owner was making a very huge, very expensive mistake. After all, there wasn’t the population base and it was out in the middle of nowhere!
My house in Rathdrum in the mid 70’s
Well, let me tell you, he was right and we were all wrong. When I moved to CDA, the population was 14,000. It now is close to 100K in the surrounding communities and the houses stretch across the Rathdrum Prairie for the entire 35 miles between CDA and Spokane. Plenty of people to fill the huge parking lot daily and make that man a zillionaire! Our sweet little Rathdrum now boasts more than 6,000 inhabitants!
Rathdrum in 2010 with the huge Burlington Northern terminal sitting on top of the Spokane Aquifer
When Don was working on the schedule for the reunion, he had to choose which activity would be most likely to be affected by weekend crowds, and Silverwood won. As a result, he chose Thursday for the big family day at the park. We got group rates in addition to senior rates for a few of us, meaning Mo and I only paid $18.09 each for the full day. Good deal!
What I didn’t realize when Don was talking about swimsuits and lockers was that there was an addition to Silverwood called Boulder Beach, a water park. Now I used to take my kids to water parks in Spokane…you know…a water slide and a pool, so I wasn’t that excited about that part.
I was more excited about having the chance to enter the gate at first opening and then RUN all the way to the line for TREMORS, one of my favorite roller coasters. You see, I am a roller coaster addict. I can’t explain why I get seasick on a ship or in a car, but a roller coaster just makes me feel all alive and buzzy. Like the best hit of whatever that you could imagine. Go figure.
I have a dream to do a roller coaster trip and catch all the big ones on the east side of the country, but that entails traveling in the summer since all the big parks close on Labor Day. Sigh. Who knows if it will ever happen.
In the mean time, however, unlimited rides on Tremors and my possible alternative favorite, Timber Terror, famous for its “air time” was enough to keep me excited about this particular family activity.
Many folks in the group had other ideas, and the water park was highest on their agenda. While everyone hurried to the park to snag the best waterside seats, Mo and I and “the kids”, Callie and Josh, ran with us to the roller coasters. And oh my gosh…it was as good as I remember, although on this supposedly unbusy Thursday morning I only managed about 3 rides before the lines got too long to deal with.
Back in 2001, when I took my then 14 year old grandson to the park, we managed 18 consecutive rides between the two roller coasters. Mo only opted for one ride on each coaster, but at least we got the photo. You can tell I know where the camera is on this one!
Mo and I waited almost 45 minutes to take another ride with some cool water splashes, but when the line stopped moving and no one said why, we gave up and headed for the water park.
I had the surprise of my life. Probably anyone with young kids in their lives know that water parks aren’t what they used to be, but I had no clue. We walked in the gates (all included with our Silverwood ticket), and a Disneyland of water opened up before us. There were several combinations of water slides, a “lazy river” with inner tubes that looked fabulously inviting, and two giant wave pools. Can you believe I have never actually been in a wave pool?
I would have loved to float the river, but we needed to find the family. No problem…there were at least 20 of them somewhere, right? For a slow day, I have never seen so many people. After a bit of wandering and searching, we finally found them all lined up by the first big wave pool. That water felt fabulous. Kinda like being in the Caribbean without the sand or the salt. On a busy day.
It was great fun with the family and all the little kids that are now becoming a bigger part of the Oukrop clan. Neither Mo nor I had brought swim suits but we jumped in anyway. I have an entirely new concept now of what a water park can be, and if I am in the mood to deal with crowds to get cool I won’t turn my nose up at one again. Probably wouldn’t go there on our own, but with family or kids it is great.
By evening, we all migrated back the two hours to Spokane, with just enough time to dry out and change clothes for the big family dinner at Casa De Oro. This restaurant on Division has great Mexican food, and a room big enough for all of us.
I can’t believe that I not only didn’t take my camera, but I didn’t even try to take photos with my phone! Guess I was just too worn out from all that fun during the day.
Thanks to Randi, I got some phone photos to collage to give an idea of what it was like in a restaurant with a big family. For once, I wasn’t checking my phone, but that wasn’t true of everyone, thank goodness! At least we got some photos!
What a fabulous day and it was just the beginning.
Next Post: I take some time for myself to revisit old homes and friends in Northern Idaho