While you ridicule my blogging efforts all 11 other months, you are — as you said, yourself — “seriously for some reason fascinated by and want to hear more” and are impatient for the next post, saying, “and the fact that I have been reading for 4 days now and you are not yet to august is pissing me off!” I must take issue with your impatience for a few reasons:
- I have a life other than this blog and don’t have time to write more than 3 or 4 times a week.
- And, if I may remind you, for every other post I have written you have said something like “What is the point?” or “Who wants to read about Meatless Mondays?” and “Why are you doing this?” etc., etc.
- In my opinion, the desire to read about our Road Trip, makes you even a bigger loser than me for even writing about it in the first place.
Thanks for your patience, everyone other than Bennett. But I’m sure you understand the need to skewer my brother publicly at every chance possible. We may be nearing our 50’s, but I never fail to delight in the sibling bickering with my brother that I despise so much when witnessed in my own kids.
Charlie’s Signature Toast for breakfast (have I really emphasized how good this is? Please, don’t buy one of those “camping toasters”, borrow my son and his marshmallow fork instead) and a quick camp pack-up, made much more difficult by all the dew. It got down to 42 degrees last night and that makes for lots O’dew, after all. [editor’s note: I cringe at writing “lot’s O’dew”, but that’s what it says in this-here journal and integrity prevents me from edits.]
We were on the road by 9 am though, and that’s pretty good. The kids seem more predisposed to actually helping put-up and take-down camp this year — a big change from just being in charge of the chairs. I remind you, these “kids” are 13 and 15, not 3 and 5, like you might imagine at reading that, prior to this year, they were only in charge of the chairs. I’m thinking that if I play my cards right, I might be sipping a cold beer shortly after pulling into a site by the end of this trip! [editor’s note: Not.]
We drove out of Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest and through the Pioneer Mountains. Really, really badly damaged from the Mountain Pine Beetle. Very sad.
We drove east to I-90 and hopped on the highway headed north, stopping in Missoula for lunch at the kids’ now favorite hamburger joint, Five Guys. (Dave and I quickly decided not to tell them there is a Five Guys in Edina, or they will be nagging us relentlessly to go there every time we are within a 20-mile radius of the cities).
We got back on the road with me (Jennie) driving — which reminds me — we finally determined, after much pain and suffering, that the Virgin Mobile MiFi does NOT roam on the Sprint data network, contrary to the information given to me by that boneheaded BestBuy saleswoman. ARRrrrggh. Very simply: NO coverage west of Minnesota, AT ALL (until SPOKANE). Extremely disappointing, but then again, also kind of nice to have a really good reason for not answering all those pesky emails. I guess I’ll have to decide if I will keep it when we get home.
Anyway, it was still up in the air as to where we were headed: Coeur d’Alene or stay on the Montana side in the national forests to camp. Coeur d’Alene was inviting, but campground descriptions pulled up on my iphone sounded pretty lame to Dave who was doing all the research riding shotgun (and cussing and fumbling and freaking out about “where did it go?! I didn’t touch any buttons! I swear! I hate this phone!” and so on — and on and on…). I had pulled up website listings while in Missoula, where I had a strong 3G signal, and pasted them into Notes and emailed them to myself for Dave to study on the road where I knew I would not have a strong 3G signal — which he did for about 3 straight hours.
At the very last minute (and when I say that, I mean, slam your brakes on, cut off the guy in the right hand lane, and shoot across the solid white line), he had me exit Hwy 90 in Henderson to take a road marked on the big road atlas that would bring us north in a fairly straight line to Thompson Falls, Montana where the camping sounded better. We’d be lying if we didn’t admit that when it comes right down to it, we have a prejudice against Idaho campers and campgrounds from previous experiences — that being the general belief they come in pre-formed packs of 20, each with their own ATV, pack of cigarettes and case of beer. Oh, and one loud boom box per set of campers.
The plan was all well and good, except for the fact that the road on the map did not reflect the actual road on the ground. Again, no exaggeration here, which I really do need to say, given my natural flair for the conversational dramatic. This was the most fun road I have ever had the pleasure of driving on. It reminded me of the rollercoaster called ‘The Mouse’ where there were little stomach-loosing dips and the nose of your car would go off the edge of the rails before you made your turn. The road was: twisty, turny, dippy, and very pretty. Up one side and down the other of a mountain. The fastest I went was 25 MPH and that felt like we were flying. I can’t say that we weren’t nervous, driving over long stretches of large, sharp chunks of rock that passes as gravel though, not particularly wanting to blow another car tire…
I also can’t say that it was fun for the passengers. Perhaps more telling than my description of the road is the fact that I managed to make both kids sick in the backseat — a FIRST for the Menkes! No puking, but much spit production and groaning and Advil consumption.
And NO FLATS!
A true success, all the way around.
We emerged out of the dark forest (much greener and healthier than those at the start of the day, by the way) right into the town of Thompson Falls, Montana. We stopped for gas at a station with a disturbing mural on its bathroom doors where the heads of these people are painted on the glass, so that when you are inside the bathroom, their faces are staring at you:
and twist ice cream cones (a shocking indulgence Ok’d by the Granola) and proceeded to stay at the first campground we came to — another shocking event. Not just for the decisiveness of it, but for the fact that it was a State Park which is not usually our cup of tea. This park had one strong and undeniable attraction for us on this particular day: the large and inviting Clark Fork river.
No, not because it was hot and we wanted to swim, but because it was day 4 with no shower. Well, I did wash my armpits in the sink of a gas station early the day before, but that doesn’t count.
We set up and headed to the river. Spoiled from our warm pool at home, the river was colder than we wanted it to be, but warmer than we expected it to be. Well worth it for a clean head of hair that doesn’t ache from my ponytail anymore.
We enjoyed the first vodka tonics of the trip and ate — always my favorite — Thai Green Coconut Curry with chicken and all kinds of good stuff I brought with from the garden.
Dave caught a small mouth baby bass after dinner
and I — thank the Lord — finally had a reason to visit the outhouse.
As the sun set and darkness approached, we observed and made up stories for all our neighbors (always close quarters in state parks) that trolled in and set up late in the day, making us feel like we had been transplanted into a sort of campground suburbia. There were several dogs that made Morgan and Charlie happy. And there was a family that included four small boys under the age of 8, that made me happy not to be the mom in that camp…
Another night early enough to not require the lantern put us in the camper around 10pm — a new 2010 record!