Scott has had to come back to the States from Scotland to tend to some unexpected family matters, so we’ve been spending some time together in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where his family lives. Not only has it been great to see him again (it’s been several months), but we’ve also been having some fun exploring the area. Northern Idaho is a beautiful part of the country. If you’ve never been to this part of the world (the panhandle area between Montana and Washington), you’re missing out on some stunning mountains, lots of lakes and forests, incredible wildlife and guns.
People like their guns here. And if you own a gun, you need to keep your shooting skills sharp. But why go to a target range, when there are all of these handy targets right along the road in the form of speed limit signs and stop signs. Like this sign here. I’m guessing the folks that shot up this sign didn’t like the “recommendation” that they only go 25 miles per hour?
We saw this sign on a little drive Scott and I took with his father to explore some of the small towns south of Coeur d’Alene. It was a pretty drive chock full of gorgeous scenery and signs with bullet holes. We started off on I-90 and headed east to Wolf Lodge. Do you like steak? Do you like a lot of steak? Do you like eating a steak so big that it will instantly coat your arteries with cholesterol just by looking at it? Then you’ll love the steakhouse at Wolf Lodge. I know we do. If you’re a vegetarian, they might give you a salad. Maybe.
It was too early in the morning for steak (after all we had just had a big breakfast which consisted mostly of bacon), so we picked up Route 97 and drove along the eastern side of Coeur d’Alene Lake towards Anderson Lake. Pretty isn’t it?
Next stop after taking this picture was the little town of Harrison. My father-in-law and I like taking pictures at post offices – better to have a picture of a post office then have your picture in the post office on one of the Most Wanted posters.
Harrison is a sweet little town. I have no idea how many people live in Harrison, but I suspect that they are big drinkers. We went into the local grocery store and it seemed like half of the space was taken up with beer, wine and liquor sales. Okay, perhaps I am exaggerating, but they do have a great selection at the store. We even picked up a bottle of Sailor Jerry spiced rum for my father-in-law. His name is Jerry and he has gone sailing with Scott a few times so it seemed like an appropriate gift. Who wants a necktie or a “My Dad Is The Greatest” mug, when you can have your own personalized bottle of rum with a cute girl on the bottle.
After having a coffee and buying our booze, we did a little wander around the town while Scott took some photos. Scott is slightly obsessed with taking pictures of old signs these days. Like this one.
From Harrison, we took Route 3 towards St. Maries. But don’t pronounce it like it is spelled. People will instantly know you are an outsider from someplace like Cleveland. If you say “St. Mary’s” instead then you might just pass as a local. Probably not though. St. Maries is bigger than Harrison. You can find pretty much anything there. Scott found fudge. For some reason, he has been craving fudge. Real fudge, not that stuff they try to pass off in New Zealand as fudge. Be cautious of that stuff. It is nothing like fudge made in the good old USA. Yep, when it comes to fudge, we’re patriots. Instead of waving flags, we wave boxes of fudge. I think world peace could be achieved if the guys and gals at the United Nations ate more fudge at their meetings.
While in St. Maries, we also stopped at one of the stores to see if I could find a hat as the sun was super bright. I didn’t find a hat, but I did see this moose hanging up in the hardware section.
After leaving St. Marie’s, you drive along the St. Joe River and you say “oooh” and “aaah” in between bites of fudge because it is just so darn scenic. Apparently, everyone else thinks so as there are tons of RVs parked along the river in campgrounds. We hit the National Forest Service district office in St. Joe’s to say hi to Smokey Bear and load up on maps, pamphlets and brochures. I thought the pamphlet on “Edible and Medicinal Plants” might come in handy if we got lost.
After you drive through St. Joe’s (look for the signs, otherwise you won’t know you were there), we passed through Calder. I like this sign.
And then we got to Avery. Of course, we visited their post office. It takes up a tiny corner in the old railway station which has been turned into a museum.
And they have an old train car outside the museum which you can walk through. It has that certain retro vibe. My father-in-law said that it looked just like the ones he took back in the day. I love this wallpaper that was hanging up in the train.
Other than the post office, the museum and a gift shop, there isn’t too much else to see in Avery, so we continued on our way. The last time Scott was visiting his father, they did a similar driving trip. They got as far as Avery and then turned on to Route 456 to make their way to Wallace. There are a number of tunnels through the mountains and I think they only made it through two before they were stopped by a wall of ice at the end of the third tunnel. This was in the month of April. That will give you an idea of what winters can be like in Northern Idaho. Fortunately, at this time of the year, the road was open all the way through so on we went.
This is one of the bridges over the St. Joe River along the way. Scott did his usual thing of standing way too close to the edge of the cliff to take this picture.
Before getting to Wallace, our first priority was to find a place to have lunch. We stopped in a spot at the North Fork campground to see if there were any picnic tables. Have you ever seen the movie Deliverance? If you haven’t seen it, don’t. Unless, of course, you like disturbing movies about scary hillbillies who have been inbreeding for far too many generations and aren’t very fond of outsiders. Then you’ll love it. Especially the scene with the banjo music. Well, suffice it to say, we had our own little glimpse of a Deliverance type of family at the first spot we stopped at. They made it pretty clear that we should move on. We didn’t argue.
We found another spot where the people seemed to have the normal amount of toes and fingers and we had a lovely picnic which Scott had packed. I was glad Scott had brought along some wine (made by his dad!). It helped settle our nerves after the Deliverance encounter.
Once our bellies were full, we got back on the road. Here is another picture of a bridge. It is made out of wood, but it seemed pretty sturdy. The road is graveled (or “unsealed” in Kiwi-speak), so the wood bridge was a nice relief from the bumpy road. Along the way, Scott and his dad started to keep an eye out for moose. Apparently, we were driving along prime moose territory. They told me to be on the lookout too. Fortunately, I had seen that moose head in St. Maries, so I knew what I was looking for.
Along the way, there was a lot of conversation between Scott and his dad about their various hunting trips. It seems like guys from North Dakota like to talk about hunting when they get together. I kind of tuned them out after a while. I have no interest in hearing about hunting, but I’m always happy to eat any pheasant that Scott brings home, especially when he cooks it wrapped in bacon in a sherry cream sauce. I bet you wish you had your own Scott - not only does he know how to sail, he can also cook up a tasty dish or two.
After a lot of single lane tunnels (put your lights on, honk and hope for the best when you enter them), we made it to Wallace. Here are some picture of old signs that you can find there.
If you don’t like old signs, they also have a spaceship! I always wondered where the aliens visited when they came to investigate Planet Earth. Turns out it is Wallace, Idaho. I guess they didn’t know about the fudge in St. Maries or else they would have gone there instead.
And of course, no town in Northern Idaho would be complete without some taxidermy. You can find these guys at one of the many antique shops in the town.
And I’ll leave you with one final moose shot just so you know they look like in case you’re ever out in this neck of the woods.
Drive on Wednesday, 20 August 2014
Linked up to Travel Tuesday with Bonnie Camila, Jessi, and Amy