All this traveling for work got me more interested in traveling in general, and I made a few short road trips this summer, too. When I flew to Minnesota in May for work, I dropped off the pup at the trainer’s place in southern Idaho, and left her there for five weeks. After I got home, Alice and I made a short road trip to go pick her up. I had never been to Montana except passing through when I was seven years old, and hadn’t been to northern Idaho since I was a teenager, so we decided to take a few days and make a big long loop around to southern Idaho that way.
Idaho and Montana were beautiful! We went to Spokane first, then over to Missoula where we spent the night. The next day, we drove south all day long down Highway 93, through the Rockies and for a while along the beautiful Salmon River, then out to Highway 20, which we took to Twin Falls, but not before stopping at the Craters of the Moon National Monument. We had thought about trying to go to Yellowstone, but there just wasn’t enough time in either of our schedules to pull that off. That will have to be another road trip…
But Craters of the Moon was amazing! If you’ve never been there, and you’re traveling through southern Idaho, it’s worth a visit. Here’s a short description of what’s going on geologically there.
We spent the night in Twin Falls, picked up the pup the next morning, and started the very long drive home from there.
For about a year now, my brother and I have been looking for a piece of land on the east side of the state, as a woodlot and hunting and camping spot. Since the evil empire Weyerhaeuser has been gobbling up all the other timber companies and their land, they’ve been gating off roads and making people buy expensive permits or leases in order to be allowed to hunt, or even walk on their land.
My neighborhood has been suffering from this especially in the past year, ever since Weyco bought out all of Longview Fibre’s lands, which included quite a bit of land right near me. Now mainline roads have been gated off, and some of those gates block access to state land, too. What state land remains accessible is going to be even more crowded with hunters in the future, since not everyone has the money or the desire to pay Weyco for the privilege of walking on their timberlands.
So, I’ve been looking east. The last few times I’ve made road trips out that way, I’ve been liking the landscape more and more, and so we decided we should look for a piece of land out that way, and this summer, we made a short road trip over to Okanogan and Ferry counties to scope out the area.
We headed over from Seattle one day, out through the beautiful Methow Valley, and over to the eastern part of Okanogan County, where we camped at a USFS campground at Bonaparte Lake.
We spent most of our time around the small town of Republic, exploring the roads to the north of there, and to the east and west of Curlew. We saw a lot of beautiful country, and some evidence of some really huge wildfires. We drove past a piece of land that I almost bought almost 25 years ago, too, near Kettle Falls, but we ended up liking the look of the area around Republic a lot better.
When it was time to go back, we decided that we should take the detour south to check out Grand Coulee dam, which neither of us had ever seen, in spite of living almost our entire lives in Washington state.
We headed back towards the town of Tonasket, and then cut back south and east on Aeneas Valley Road, since there were a few parcels listed for sale there, and we wanted to get a look at the landscape. My map showed it to be a dead end, but James’ atlas was newer, and showed that it went all the way through to State Highway 21, which would take us south towards the dam.
We were kind of both right, actually. The road quickly turned to gravel, and then got smaller and smaller, passed through the Okanogan National Forest, and then we came to a sign where the USFS road ended, and Bureau of Indian Affairs “Highway” 6 began. We were now on the Colville reservation. What was already a pretty sketchy little logging road got sketchier, and I didn’t get out of second gear for quite a while. We passed through a lot of burned areas, saw a bear, and lots of fireweed, and dodged a lot of oil-pan-killing rocks in the road, but we eventually did make it down to Highway 21 unscathed.
For all the damage it did to the salmon runs, I have to admit that Grand Coulee Dam is an impressive piece of work. We rolled into the small town of Coulee Dam after hours of driving in the dry pine forests and scrub lands, and it was really surreal to suddenly be in 1950’s style, tree lined suburban neighborhoods, with every lawn lush and green! All that water right there, and people wanted trees and lawns in the desert, so that’s what they did.
We stopped for a bit there, and for lunch at a pub in Electric City, and then headed over through endless grain fields to Leavenworth, where we camped at Lake Wenatchee State Park.
I cannot recommend this as a camping spot. It was busy, even on a Sunday night. The campsites are small, and right on top of each other, with little to no privacy, and we paid $30 just for a tent site! I’m happy for public lands, and for state parks, but I’m not always happy to interact with them, especially at those prices. A nicer tent site at Lake Bonaparte was only $12 per night. There’s gotta be better and cheaper places to camp near Leavenworth, but we didn’t find them this time.
A couple of weeks later, I did find a website that will come in handy in the future: https://freecampsites.net/