Expedition 2023, Part II, Week 2: Idaho

Early morning at the Bayhorse BLM Campground

Winding down the Idaho side of Lost Trail Pass, we followed the Salmon River on U.S. 93 south to Challis, where we refueled and turned up ID 75, still following the river, to the Bayhorse Campground, a wonderful BLM facility with clean vault toilets and sweet water.  Not long after we arrived, the winds rose fiercely down the canyon, followed by heavy rain.  The storm passed quickly, and we were able to explore the area on foot.  The recreation area included a boat launch and an irrigation diversion canal. The irrigation ditch featured a smolt diverter screen that serves to redirect tiny salmon back into the river for their journey 1500 km to the sea, instead of into a farmer’s field.

Salmon smolt diverter screen to keep fish out of the irrigation canal

Early in the morning, we turned off the highway onto a rickety bridge across the river and up a steep dirt road to the Bayhorse Ghost Town, an abandoned silver mining town now maintained as a tourist attraction.  Arriving well before opening time, we took pictures through the gates and headed back down the hill.  

Bayhorse, Idaho Ghost Town

Crossing the one-lane bridge, we must have driven over a protruding spike, as the “low tire” warning soon came on, not a good sign on a no-shoulder highway with no cell service.  We managed to get to the next BLM camp, Deadman, before the tire went completely flat.  After reading the truck manual, we were able to release the spare tire, but the combo lug wrench and tire iron foiled attempts to break loose the lug nuts.  After struggling for some time trying to devise a work-around, we saw a pickup truck turn off into the recreation area.  Judy tracked them down at the opposite end of the campground, and the kind couple agreed to help.  They were in a hurry, and we didn’t even get their names: but younger, stronger arms started loosening the lug nuts, and I was able to finish the job, replace the tire, and we were soon on our way.

Finally, got the flat tire off

We continued up the spectacular Salmon River to Stanley, then over the pass and down the Payette River canyon to Boise.

Sawtooth Range, Stanley, Idaho

We drove west through urban traffic to Caldwell for a few days visit with Judy’s brother and his family.  The next day, we had a delightful visit with our niece and her husband, a full day of lunch out and winery tours.  The following day, the Friday before Labor Day, was spent taking care of business, getting our tire fixed to be ready to continue our journey and picking up a tire wrench that might make it easier for us to change a tire should the necessity come up again.

Saturday, we took an early morning stroll through downtown Caldwell, a pretty little town with a busy creek running under part of the downtown, with parks along the banks.  Otherwise, a quiet day with family.  Sunday, another stroll, in the rain, though we had intended to ride our bike. Judy’s sister-in-law busied herself packing leftovers and garden fruits for our upcoming trip east.

Expedition 2023 — Part II, week 1: Montana

In part I, in January and February, we traveled along the southern border to Boca Chica along the Gulf Coast, and visited with Larye’s side of the family.  In Part II, we head east, visiting Judy’s side of the family, then up the east coast to the Maritime provinces and along the southern border of Canada back home.  Anyway, that’s the plan.

Smoke from the massive fires in British Columbia blankets Eastern Washington from the Cascades to Spokane. Photo by Judy.

Like the earlier expedition, we started with a major refit on the van: this time, it was a few weeks in the body shop for a very expensive minor repair that saw us pulling the interior out of the van and making modifications to the electrical system and structures in the garage, followed by a frantic three-day re-installation and load-out. The first day’s drive was through thick smoke across Washington State, culminating in a surreal drive through the Gray Fire still smoldering on both sides of I-90 just west of Spokane.

Fire crew mopping up the Gray Fire, along I-90 between Medical Lake and Cheney, WA. The freeway was closed for several days while the fire raged between the two cities. Photo by Judy.

Fortunately, the skies were clear beyond, and we put in for the night at a big box store parking lot just across the Idaho border.  In the morning, we headed early to a freeway rest area where we made coffee and breakfast before continuing on to Montana.

Our original plan to go to Idaho, Montana, and then across Canada before heading south to visit the east coast family was turned inside out as we got news from friends and relatives we intended to visit along the way. Exigencies of health and their travel schedules dictated that we head first for Montana to visit a friend who had broken her elbow in a freak home accident, then continue on to Idaho, Florida, and Georgia.

Our Montana visit was most welcome: Judy provided expert nursing care and advice and Larye cooked for the few days we were there.  We saw other friends from our quilting years, and took a few hours off for a bike ride in the midst of running an errand in Missoula. With our pattern of riding parts of long trails each time we pass by, we finished the last section of the Bitterroot Trail, from Missoula to Lolo.

Bitterroot River, from the Bitterroot Trail, a mult-use trail from Missoula to Hamilton. View: between Missoula and Lolo, MT.

Somehow, we managed to accept a stash of yarn from another friend, which took some creative rearranging of our storage in the van to accommodate.  The yarn will be left with family in Florida, more than two weeks hence.  We spent two nights and a day visiting another friend who shares Judy’s crafting and beading activities: Judy spent the afternoon creating decorative papers while Larye uploaded video footage from our bike ride, parked outside the local library to use their WiFi.

Sunset, Hamilton, MT

Finally, it was time to move on, into Idaho: we said our goodbyes, Judy caught up on WiFi at the library, we grabbed some pastries and espresso at a bakery, and headed south over Lost Trail Pass, into darkening skies.

Trapper Peak, the tallest peak in the Bitterroot Range. Photo from US 93, near Darby, MT.