08-10-2014 North toward British Columbia

Current Location: home in Rocky Point…but you already know that right?

As soon as it was decided to have the Oukrop reunion in Spokane, Mo and I were thinking, “Yes!  A chance for another trip to Canada!”  Especially nice was the idea that we could dip into Canada without having to purchase very much fuel while we were there.   

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (15 of 71)The Kootenay Lake loop north from Bonners Ferry and back through Nelson to Spokane can be done in a long day.  I used to do it back in the days when I lived in the area.  Some of my favorite photos (remember I have been scanning old photos for a month now) are from one of those trips back in the 70’s.

1985 Sue and Maryruth833 1985 Sue and Maryruth834

Sue and Maryruth Girl Time at Destiny Bay 1985

In the mid 80’s I took my grandmother on a road trip over the same route to Kaslo, staying in a little motel there for a night before returning.  It was one of the last long trips I took with her.  In the mid 80’s Maryruth and I celebrated my 40th birthday at the fabulous Destiny Bay Resort, no phone, no TV, just two days of girl talk and a trip to Ainsworth Hot Springs.  Ahh, such great memories!08-75 Kootenay Lake

Two of my girls on Kootenay Lake 1975

It was a place I was excited to share with Mo.  We often try to get to places that neither of us have seen, but that is getting harder and harder to accomplish.  This time the Kootenay Lake Loop was my idea and it turned out great.  Mo loved Kaslo and the entire area.kootenay

When we left Spokane at the 1:00 PM check out time for Riverside State Park, it was hot.  Surprisingly, the farther north we traveled the hotter the temperature!  We took the familiar route north along Highway 2, one we have traveled several times, and in spite of the beauty of the Pend Oreille River and the little town of Sandpoint, we were not inclined to stop and linger.  Not only was it hot, but the skies were so smoky from fires in the Okanagan and the Colville Reservation area I took no photos.

With no solid plans for where we wanted to stay, I pulled up CampWhere and AllStays, and we decided that a free night at the Kootenai River Inn was a good choice.  We could offset some of our travel expenses with a free boondocking night, and be ready to cross the border early the next morning.  What we hadn’t considered was that the temperatures would still be in the high 90’s as the sun set. 

With permission from the front desk, we parked out in the far end of the lot, no jacks down, and we left the slide closed.  Started up the generator to run the air conditioner and settled in to relax a bit.  I had planned to cook up some quesadillas for supper, but instead, with the heat, we ate some of Wynn’s leftover lasagna she so kindly packed up for us the day before.  We had a moment of trouble with the generator providing enough juice for the air conditioner, but discovered that if we took the fridge off automatic and put it on gas only we had no problem.

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (1 of 71)I walked around the parking lot trying to get some photos of the August 10 supermoon, but almost everywhere I walked there were telephone lines and houses.  Even down along the river by the hotel I couldn’t find a place to set up a shot.  Oh well, I still got to look at it, and with the smoke in the atmosphere it was bigger and redder than I expected. 

Only a minor glitch to mar the evening was easily remedied.  An older RV pulled in front of us, and actually backed up so that their rig was just feet from our front bumper.  Then they turned on their generator.  It was loud and it was old and the fumes were so bad we couldn’t breathe.  By this time we had ours off and the windows open, so it was getting too hot to close them.  I hemmed and hawed a bit, and then in my most sweet possible face I walked over to the rig where folks were playing cards and very nicely asked, “Are you planning to run your generator long?  If so we will move”. 

The guy was a bit taken aback at first, I guess he had no idea his fumes were so bad, but then he was kind and actually moved his rig far enough forward that we could breathe with the windows open.  Nice interaction, although a bit scary for me at first to do that.  In addition, the railroad route runs right along the parking lot, and those horns were loud!  Maybe none came by during the night because I had no trouble sleeping after we turned off the generator and turned on the fantastic fan for some air.  It was a hot night!

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (6 of 71) We had planned to enter Canada at the smaller Porthill crossing, but I somehow missed the turn (remember I mapped soils here and supposedly KNOW the roads), and ended up going in through the 24 hour Eastgate crossing.  Highway 3 exits west toward Creston just north of the border, and the drive was lovely so it wasn’t a problem.

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (4 of 71) The crossing was incredibly simple.  The guard looked at our passports, checked Abby’s rabies certificate and asked if we had any produce or firewood.  “Half a head of lettuce” and he didn’t care a bit.  I do think he asked our destination and if we had been in Canada before and where we crossed.  The whole process took maybe 3 minutes. 

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (5 of 71) Once over the border, we headed west toward Creston, stopping at an ATM to withdraw some Canadian cash.  Creston is nothing like I remember.  What was once a dingy little place now boasts cute shops, restaurants, a nice looking downtown, and even murals!  We passed by a couple of RV parks that we had considered for the previous night and were perfectly happy with our casino docking choice.

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (25 of 71) Kootenay Lake is incredibly gorgeous.  Creston is at the southern end of the Canadian part of the Kootenay Valley (it is Kootenai in Northern Idaho) and the lake is long, narrow and deep lying between the Selkirks and the Purcell mountains, which extend northward in British Columbia and southward into the US. The waters of Kootenay Lake end up eventually in the Columbia River at Castlegar.

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (18 of 71)The mountains range on both sides of the lake get higher and more rugged toward the north, but the road that parallels the lake is an easy route.  There are lots of places to stop and check out the views, and in spite of the smoke I tried to get some photos. 

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (12 of 71)There is a small tourist attraction along the lake called the Glass Bottle House.  I had been there many times, the photos of my kids above were taken there, but Mo wasn’t all that interested in doing the tourist thing, so I simply took a few photos from the outside.  It is interesting if you feel like stopping and paying for the views and the story.

The main destination for us and for a lot of other folks was the ferry that crosses the lake to the little hamlet of Balfour.

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (27 of 71) This ferry is part of the BC highway system and doesn’t cost a penny.  During the high season, the ferry runs about every 50 minutes between Kootenay Bay and Balfour, with a second smaller ferry put into service during peak times.  We were lucky enough to snag a trip on the big ferry, sharing our ride with some very big logging trucks and a lot of RV’s.

Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (37 of 71)Check out the MoHo tucked in with those logging trucks

The wait at the ferry wasn’t long at all, and as the vehicles lined up to load I was sure we wouldn’t get on.  I was totally amazed at the load that ferry could carry. Not only did we get on the first trip, another two lines of vehicles next to us got on after we did.  I still can’t quite figure out how they fit all those rigs on that boat!Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (38 of 71)

The crossing is beautiful, taking just 35 minutes, with gorgeous views both north and south on the lake.  Once the ferry landed in Balfour, we were unloaded quickly and in minutes were on our way north on Highway 31 toward Ainsworth Hot Springs and the little town of Kaslo where we had reservations for the next three nights.  Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (34 of 71)

Next:  Four Days in Kaslo

08-09-2014 Last Days of the Reunion

Current Location: Home in Rocky Point with clear skies and 79F and low humidity day ahead

On the Friday when I was wandering around my old haunts in Northern Idaho, a large contingent of the rest of the family met at some unearthly hour for a tee time at a Post Falls golf course.  A good number of the Oukrops are avid golfers and most of the rest of them do it for fun.  I heard the stories later, but not being a golfer, I was much happier hanging out with old friends.

walking Riverside SP (2 of 12)Mo opted out of this activity as well, choosing instead to hang around the park with Abby, let her play and swim and relax for a bit.  I have a sneaky suspicion that Abby wasn’t the only one of this pair that needed some down time.

dinner at Don and Wynns (19 of 25) By the time I got back from my part of Idaho, the golf group was returning as well, and it was time to head to the west side of the South Hill for a wonderful hosted dinner of lasagna, salad, and bread.  Can you imagine making dinner for 33 people and not having a single potluck contribution? 

Wynn said that she spent an entire day cooking up these gorgeous pans of tasty lasagna. 

dinner at Don and Wynns (1 of 25) It was fun seeing how many people could fit on Don and Wynn’s deck without it collapsing.  Well built deck, I would say.  Before and after dinner we were entertained by the little ones playing around on the grass and listening to all the conversations on the deck as we watched the almost full super moon rise over Hangman Creek to the east.  The view from the deck was gorgeous.  dinner at Don and Wynns (13 of 25)We even managed the “complete” family photo with everyone attending the reunion gathering on Don’s lawn.  I have a sequence of about 12 different shots, all with varying degrees of success at getting everyone to look forward and smile at the same time.  The joys of photographing a group are not to be understated.dinner at Don and Wynns (15 of 25)

Saturday morning dawned sunny and warm, and was a perfect day for the family float on the Little Spokane River.  Don is an avid kayaker, and knows the area paddles well.  He picked this one the last time we were in his area, and it was a great choice.  Everyone opted for the 3 hour float rather than the shorter paddle.Family Float (3 of 12)We had a large number of rubber boats to compliment the few kayaks, and the best part of the morning was the gathering of people as we stood around while Don tried to explain the logistics of the car shuttles, organizing the designated drivers, and trying to figure out who would be where when.  I won’t post a bunch more photos of this day because in the first reunion post I chose to share my favorite shots of everyone participating.Family Float (7 of 12)

The Little Spokane is a meandering river, with just enough current to make it fun, and enough that I was glad we were only paddling downstream.  Much of the shoreline is in a natural wildlife area, and we didn’t discover until the end of the trip at the takeout that no dogs are allowed on the river!  UhOh.  Glad we didn’t read the sign because Abby had a great time.

Oukrop Reunion Float (20 of 41) Golf and Silverwood required a weekday, so the float got the weekend day by default, and Saturday wasn’t the best day to be on this lovely river.  It is an extremely popular place, especially on a hot sunny weekend, and we were accompanied by a large number of fellow rafters.  I think our group might have been the biggest, however, and maybe all those other rafters were wishing they had picked a different day as well.  Something a bit disconcerting to be on a gorgeous river and come around a curve to the smell of cigarette/marijuana (legal in Washington) smoke and the sound of loud rock and roll on someone’s radio.

Oukrop Reunion Float (39 of 41) We all had a great time, and the kayakers in the group thought the trip length was perfect.  A few of the floaters thought it was just over the limit of comfortable, especially the ones who had to keep blowing up their boats.  I wish I could remember Susan’s youngest son David’s exact words, something to the effect  of “If we don’t stop right now I am going to die”  Susan, if you read this, please post that comment in the comments.  I would love to get it word for word!

IMG_0616Oukrops on the Deschutes River 2010

I think the float trip is my favorite part of these Oukrop reunions, and remember fondly our float trip on the Deschutes when Roger and Nancy’s family was in charge of the festivities.

dinner at Ginny and Gabes (2 of 34) After a long day we arrived back in camp just in time to change and clean up a bit to drive in a different direction to the home of Ginny and Gabe for their fabulous fully hosted dinner.  Once again, no potluck allowed, and Ginny and Gabe put on the best pulled pork BBQ ever!

dinner at Ginny and Gabes (18 of 34) Ginny is a professional portrait photographer, and incredibly artistic.  She had the yard all decorated with Martha Stewartesque jars of baby’s breath and wooden table runners, all coordinated.  There was even a lovely basket with an assortment of beautiful quilts for spreading on the grass. Her appetizers and casserole accompaniments to the dinner were fabulous. Not to mention the infused waters and banana split dessert!

dinner at Ginny and Gabes (21 of 34) Gabe had a regulation volley ball court all set up with a 20 foot high barrier to keep the ball from ending up in the neighbors yard.  Did I mention this is a very athletic family?  The barrier wasn’t high enough, and Gabe spent a good amount of time going over the fence after the ball. 

dinner at Ginny and Gabes (34 of 34) It was so much fun watching Ginny and Gabe’s dog wandering around trying to play volleyball, and watching all the little ones running around underfoot. 

08-09-2014 Oukrop Dinner at Ginny and Gabes We went home to the campground by the light of the almost super moon, one more night before it would be full.  The next morning, folks began dispersing, some to the airport, rigs loaded up and ready to roll toward home, and Mo and I spent some quiet hours all alone at the park enjoying the river and the trails.

walking Riverside SP (1 of 12) Our evening destination was only a few short miles north toward Bonners Ferry where we planned to overnight before our border crossing early Monday morning into Canada. No need to rush.  A wonderful end to a wonderful reunion with plenty of time to decompress and relax before the next leg of our journey.walking Riverside SP (6 of 12)

Next: Fabulous Kootenay Lake in British Columbia