2018-09-08.Pend Oreille National Recreation Area
Wanting to see more of Idaho, we traversed the Idaho panhandle and camped at Riley Creek Campground, a Corps of Engineers park along the Pend Oreille River. The countryside was forested and hilly and quite remote. That is, until we reached Pend Oreille Lake,(from the French for hanging ear) , a body of water that stretches from Idaho to the Canadian border and is 1250 feet deep in some places making it one of the deepest lakes in the US. At one location on Pend Oreille Lake, they began training submarine crews during World War II because of the lake's depth and even today, submarine training occurs here. Strange to think that the training is done on a landlocked lake but, with the size and depth of the lake, it obviously works for the military. The shores of the lake are covered with homes; most quite lovely but many needing a loving hand. The towns are small and spare. We have stayed in many US Corps of Engineers parks over the years and most are beautiful with big, level sites. All of the Corps parks are connected with some water project along a major river or connected with a dam. Riley Creek COE, along the Pend Oreille River, was one of the nicest parks in which we have stayed. I had gone online to try to reserve a spot but the reservation "window" had lapsed so I called the reservation line. The man I spoke with told me that all of the campsites were reserved for the weekend. Note to all of you who are camping and trying to stay at these Corps parks; There are always first come first served spots that are not reservable but they won't tell you that if you call the reservation line or if you try to book online. We decided to take a chance and go to the park anyway. When we got to Riley Creek, the camp host, with a "poppycock!" told us that there were 34 unreserved spots available and so, we took a look and found a beautiful, wooded spot that was huge, level, and had electric and water hookup. This campground was amazing. There were two loops of campsites. In addition, there was a huge boat launch, a great playground and group picnic area. We launched the kayaks and traveled about an hour up river exploring the river banks and admiring the spectacular homes perched overlooking the river but also with great views of the mountains. The return paddle was a little more challenging as the wind had risen but, we got back fine. As we were putting the kayaks on the Jeep, a man arrived towing his motorboat and proceeded to back down the boat ramp intending to launch it. He was accompanied by a twenty-something male and female. The male was sitting in the boat presumably to guide it once it was launched. The man unhooked the boat from the cable before he started to back down the ramp which was quite steep. As he began to back down, the boat slid off the trailer before it got to the water. Thankfully, it stayed partially on the trailer and didn't slide all the way off. Try as he might after attaching a come along type rachet to the truck and boat, the man could not get the rear of the boat back on the trailer. Bob to the Rescue!!! He asked if the man needed help and offered to winch the boat onto the trailer using our Jeep's winch. I think the man wanted to kiss Bob but, instead, enthusiastically watched as Bob manueuvered the Jeep onto the boat ramp, attached the winch to the boat and began winching the boat up until it was seated on the trailer again. With thanks, the man was able to launch his boat and take his kids for a ride. Bob to the Rescue indeed!
Saturday, we went to the Sandpoint Farmer's Market which was quite large and featured wonderful fruits and vegetables, goat cheeses, crafts and of course, Idaho potatos. The only negative thing about Idaho is the mandatory inspection for all watercraft. We went through at least five check points in Montana without incident. We had also gone through a checkpoint in Sandpoint Idaho without incident. The fish and wildlife folks here as well as in the East, are concerned for the zebra mussels that kill other lake and river species and their eggs can be transported in undrained water in boats. We always dry the boats thoroughly before covering them and putting them on the top of the vehicle. In Montana, we were told that our boats posed little threat but they advised us to make sure they were dry. In Idaho, however, the second time we stopped, the "ranger" (volunteer) gave us a really hard time and wanted us to take the boats off the Jeep; easier said than done. He insisted that we were required to wash out the boats with hot water to kill any possible mussel "seeds" and though we had not been in any water for more than two weeks previously, and had been inspected five times, claimed that we had obviously infected "his" waters. It was ridiculous. Where do these folks expect boaters to get hot water to clean out the boars when they remove the boats from the water? And why was this the first and only time we heard this? Bob refused to take the boats off the Jeep but said that the "ranger" could do it if he wanted. Needless to say, he huffily "let us go". I'm not sure we are going to be stopping at any future checkpoints. We are very cognizant of the dangers of the invasive species and are very careful to wipe down the boats each time we use them. How requirements can differ from checkpoint to checkpoint in the same state is a mystery to me. However, it was not what was said, but the way it was said that made the situation worse. Hmmmm....I think I've said that to my spouse on more than one occasion.