This should have been in the last blog entry but, as I said, my records were not in the same place we were when I wrote the blog. So, let’s get the bookkeeping out of the way first.
Spokane to Coeur d’Alene (the way we do it): 55 miles
Total to-date: 1218 miles (45 miles/day)
Now, on with the show:
9/23/2014 – Backtracking:
While we were in Spokane we received a couple of e-mails from our friends Keith and Kay (s/v Chamisa). The e-mails were marked “urgent”. Our mention of being in Colville, Washington had alerted Kay to the fact that they had very good friends in Colville who she just knew would be so happy to meet us. I was leery. Just because Keith and Kay like us doesn’t mean that their friends would. We were not crazy about imposing ourselves on folks we’d never met just because Kay thought it’d be a good idea. Since we were already 88 miles south of Colville, we had a perfect reason to bow out, and so we did. I sent Kit and Janet (the friends) an e-mail explaining that we were already almost 100 miles south and so, would not be taking them up on their offer of a place to stay. Before too long, I got an e-mail back from Kit saying he completely understood but that he hoped we’d reconsider. Unless, that is, we had a schedule or something. A SCHEDULE??? Whose got a schedule? We ain’t got no stinking schedules! I’ll show you a schedule! Your mama’s got a schedule! Don’t be talking to me about no schedule! Who does he think he is, accusing me of having a schedule. Mumble, mumble, grumble. And then, he delivered the coup d’grace. He wrote, “I was hopeful that you two, being experienced in such things, could be both our guests and advisors on getting the LP gas system working.” Now that’s just not fair! Appealing to my ego and my love of a mechanical challenge. Not fair at all. I e-mailed him and told him we’d be there right after our Coeur d’Alene visit.
So, from Fredeye’s place, we set sail for Kettle Creek, north of Colville. We took the slow route up along the Pend Orielle River which we’d missed on the way down in our hurry to get to Spokane to see our friends John and Jessica. It was a pretty drive. But Dora was having none of it. She lost her mind over and over. She’d get a fix and then, 3 seconds later, she’d lose it and not regain it for 5-10 minutes, sometimes longer. No idea why. One theory was that the GPS satellites are all over the equator and, being so far north, our angle to the satellites was so shallow that trees and mountains interfered more than at lower latitudes. But that didn’t really hold water. With that kind of reasoning, there’d be no coverage at all in Alaska and I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. Another theory was that all those Northern Idaho Aryan Nation whackos had somehow jammed the signals for the entire area. This actually made more sense although, it, too was highly unlikely. For whatever reason, Dora gave us absolutely no help. But, we still managed to get to Kettle Falls a little before our 4:00 rendezvous with Kit. After killing some time in the very cool second-hand store, we were waiting outside on the porch when Kit walked up and introduced himself. We talked a bit and then we got ready to follow him to his place. He warned me that the last pitch up his driveway was about a 12% grade but that it wasn’t very long. Twelve percent? I guess we’ll see if Flipper’s up to something that steep. Lulu climbed into Kit’s Rav4 for the ride and Flipper and I fell in behind them.
The drive was not one I’d want to try without a guide, previous knowledge or a working GPS. Just s steady, winding, uphill climb up gravel roads. Flipper was doing just fine. Sure, I was in 1st gear sometimes but that’s what it’s there for. We got to a fork in the road and Kit turned left. I was right on his butt until, not very far into the climb, Flipper started losing power. This was an all new experience. I’m in 1st gear, climbing, slowing down and then the RPMs just start dropping until she almost stalled. Clutch in, rev the motor up, ease the clutch out and… no go. She just couldn’t make it. I stopped as I watched the Rav4 climb out of sight. There was nothing I could do except back down the hill. NOT something I was looking forward to. I needed to get somewhere that was flat enough that I could park and reconsider what to do. So, I started backing down this one-lane gravel road that was now a little wet from some light rainfall. Every few feet I’d push the brake pedal to slow us down. Whenever I did, we would stop, but not immediately. First we had to slide a few feet on the damp gravel. I was not loving life at that particular moment. I finally got to the place where the road had forked and I backed up the other fork which was uphill a bit and then flattened out. Once I was on fairly level ground, I set the brake and climbed out, breathing a huge sigh of relief. A little while later, Lulu came walking down the road to see where I’d gone, having looked behind the Rav4 and commenting that it’d been awhile since she’d seen me back there. I told her what happened and she walked back up to confer with Kit. A few minutes later, they reappeared. I explained again. Kit said that where I was parked was a secure spot if I was willing to leave the rig there for the night. It was either that or he’d bring his other 4WD truck down and give me a tow-boost up the hill. I decided that I had no interest in going further up the hill with no assurance that we would definitely make it to the top absolutely for sure. Since there was no way to give me that assurance, Lulu and I packed our overnight packs, locked Flipper up, and rode up to the house in Kit’s car.
And what a house it was, folks:
And what a view! They looked down on a long stretch of Lake Roosevelt (the aneurism created upstream of Grand Coulee Dam.
Kit and Janet have lived here in their dream home, dubbed “Candlewood”, for something like 15 years. After a brief warming-up period, we got on with each other great. They could not have been nicer. Saturday we got up, had a leisurely breakfast, and then went outside to get working on their JayFeather travel trailer. What it boiled down to was that Kit was completely unfamiliar with RVs other than their little tent trailer. He had all the equipment documentation and such but it just wasn’t that clear to him. So, we went through everything except the tow hitch, which is something I have no experience with. We filled and drained the fresh water tank, filled the hot water tank, lit the hot water heater off on propane, started the fridge on propane and, after we plugged the shore power cord in, on 120VAC. We operated the stove and ran the furnace. We got the stereo and the TV working as well. Located the fuse panel, ran the lights and the ventilation and hood fans. The whole enchilada. And then we undid everything, including draining the water tank so they’d know what to do for winterization. Last, but definitely not least, we deployed the awning. I don’t really have any experience with these roll-up awnings except to have seen that they can be problematic. I decided it was better for Kit to have problems with it while we were there rather than later, on his own. We successfully rolled the awning out and then rolled it back up again without breaking anything or anyone losing a finger.
Later, Kit and Janet took us out to lunch at the Northern Brew Pub in Kettle Falls. This was not your typical yuppified brew pub but rather, a regular working class kind of place.
We all shared the special, a large chicken and spinach calzone.
Sunday morning we had a group-effort breakfast. Janet cut up lots of fresh fruit and made toast. Lulu cut up ham and sauteed some vegetables. I cooked the ham and vegetables into an omelet and Kit kept fresh coffee coming. After eating and then cleaning up, They led us down the mountain a back way. Kit gave me a route to take along the east bank of Lake Roosevelt and then down across the Palouse.
We had a great time visiting these exceptionally nice folks. Glad Kit figured out a way to goad me into backtracking, even if that was not his intent. Following are some more photos of their place.
Coeur d’Alene to Candlewood (Kettle Falls): 183 miles
Total to-date: 1401 miles (45 miles/day)