Tag Archives: Blackwell Island RV Park

9/30/2019 Blackwell Island Coeur D’Alene, Day 20


Coeur D’Alene

I enjoy this small town.  It’s situated on a gorgeous lake with rolling hills and wildlife all around.  With a population of 45,000, it is roughly the size of my home town when I was a teen.  I’ve checked real estate prices on the lake.  Older homes with a good view, a pier for a boat, 3 br 2ba, and older floor plans run just under $600,000.   Homes with modern floor plans and lots of glass are just over $1M.  There’s one spectacular 3br 2ba home right on the lake that’s wonderfully designed and spectacular.  At $6 million, it’s ridiculously out of reach.  Why would I look at real estate prices in CDA?  We would never move here.  For me it’s a way to see how insane California real estate prices are.   Surprisingly for properties on the lake, the disparity is not huge.  Off the lake, 3br 2ba homes can be as low as $250,000.

The women’s motorhome is pushing on today.  We’ll head on to Missoula and Butte, though I doubt we’ll get that far.  We may stop in Arlee for the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas or the National Bison Range.  The Jocko Hollow Campground near Arlee is open year round.  We’ll see how far we get today.  Three to four feet of snow fell in parts of Montana and with the temperature expected to stay low for a few days, we’ll see snow today.


Lake Coeur D’Alene is Huge


Into Montana


Early Snow is Everywhere







Le Petit Outre, A Bakery Tale

We have evolved a tradition in our travels.  Bean probably started this last year by introducing us to Boise’s best bakery where we had amazing almond croissants.  We were blown away they were so good. Since then wherever we go, we sample local bakeries looking for our take on “the best”.  Leaving Idaho, Ellen notice we would pass through Frenchtown, Montana. Ah, they must have a great French bakery, right?  Wrong.  There isn’t a single bakery in Frenchtown. I mentioned we could make it to Butte today, but not to Bozeman unless we really push. Butte is 283 miles from CDA where Bozeman is 380, another two hours driving.  Ellen searched bakeries in Butte and found NOTHING. So sad, no great bakeries to visit there either.  What about Missoula?  We would pass right through. Ellen practically leapt out of her seat. “Le Petit Outre” (the small other) is a five star bakery in Missoula.  Cool.  It’s on the other side of town from I-90.  No big deal, we’ve driven Li’l Beast to Franconia Notch.  We can handle downtown Missoula blindfolded.




The final road our GPS took us on is a residential road with oblong roundabouts for traffic control and low lying trees.  With some trepidation, I drove into a residential area to pop out at an older brick building that announced “Le Petit Outre”.  Parking was impossible.  I dropped Ellen off, “Call me when you’re done and I’ll come pick you up.”  It seemed the only reasonable thing to do.  I got turned around, nearly lost, before finding parking close by.  Ellen called as I was exiting Li’l Beast.  She had a loaf of wheat stalk French bread, a chocolate croissant, an almond croissant, and two scones. She passed me one stalk from the loaf.  It was wonderful.  Based on the bread alone I highly recommend stopping by Le Petit Outre.  We drove through Missoula to continue on I-90.


Le Petit Outre Mural


Missoula Mt


Just Visitin’


And On To Butte


At Walmart Butte Mt


Walmart Returns

Butte’s Walmart took the 6 quart pressure cooker back without question.  They had a 3 quart display unit, but none in the box.  With additional drinking water we drove off to Butte KOA.

There’s about two inches of snow on rooftops in Butte in spite of temperatures in the 40s. The snow on the north slopes around Butte shimmered in the sunlight.  Gray clouds hung over the ridge tops, but the sun was bright as we arrived at the KOA.  It was cold.  Temps reached 47 here and there on the drive.  Mostly temps were low 40’s until the sun started down.  Now at 8:40 outdoor temp reads 30.  I have the light on in the water compartment which should keep our outdoor shower from freezing.  I’ll turn our gray/black tank heat on tonight. We should have sufficient water in the tank to avoid freezing in just a few hours overnight.  Temps should climb back into the 40s tomorrow.


View from a Wells Fargo ATM



Butte KOA

We stayed here last year.  I remember meeting the owner near closing time. He was helping a bus-sized RV add water at the time.  Last year we arrived the day they were closing.  This year they’ve shut off water to the sites and closed the shower/rest rooms! It was cold in Butte this past weekend.  We expect around 22 F tonight.  No worries about freezing, yet.  No reservation necessary at this KOA; it’s practically empty.  Cold weather drives “sane” RVers south.  Not US!



Clearly a trip to Glacier National Park or into Canada is not happening this trip.  Tomorrow we’ll drive to Bozeman stopping at Walmart and REI; Walmart looking for a 3 qt pressure cooker and REI for a warm down parka for me.  We hope to stop at the Museum of the Rockies to check out their dinosaur exhibit. We’ve never been.  I asked Ellen if she had a preference: arriving at West Yellowstone or Gardiner as entry to the park.  She preferred Gardiner.  I was very happy as I like Gardiner much more than West Yellowstone too.  It’s small and much more quaint.  We can visit a photographer we met last year.  A bonus, Mammoth Campground is open year round.  We’ll go from Mammoth to Madison Campground enjoying the expansive views, one of America’s true last wildernesses.

I-90 and side roads have been clear.  We’ve had no rain or snow today.  This weather should hold to Friday 10/4 with temperatures rising daily.


We sleep over an electric blanket that warms us from below on very cold nights.  Usually we turn it off and keep the heat off.  Last night we kept the blanket on low with the heat off.  We were toasty.  Tonight we may leave the heat on but set to 50 or 55.  That should dissipate some of the interior condensation.   Even in 7 degrees we’ve been toasty inside.

9/28/2019 Blackwell Island Coeur D’Alene, Day 18


We lounged in this morning listening to NPR, first news then wait, wait, don’t tell me. As I rose to make coffee, Ellen practically shouted, “It’s snowing!” as she grabbed her phone.

Snow has continued for the past two hours.  Temperature has dropped from 44 to 41 and while snow continues to fall, it will not accumulate on the ground.  Coeur D’Alene temperature is not expected to fall below 34 over the next few days. I’m sure snow is accumulating Montana’s mountains and high country.  Monday’s drive should be spectacular.

We made a good decision not to push on yesterday.  We’ll hunker down here through Sunday.



Blackwell Lake RV

I took the long walk to the office to pay for another night here.  Mist was eerily steaming off the lake.  “Well the rain turned to snow”,   three of the “usual suspects” were at the counter as I walked in. “Yep” said the older fellow.  Mark said, “We call this sleet here”.  “I grew up on the east coast. What we’d call sleet was freezing rain.  To me this is snow, but it’s not accumulating”.   I was paying for another night at site 120 when Mark piped up, “You’re right, sleet should have ice in it.”  That surprised me.  Not that I was right, but that Mark saw the need to check on sleet.  I was not looking for an argument, though Mark might have been.  The walk back with wind driven snow in the face was not pleasant.  I’m enjoying the snow storm, you can have the wind.

Today is one of those days best spent with a warm cup of coffee or tea, a scone or croissant, and a good book or movie.  “I wonder how much of yesterday’s LP fill we’ve consumed?”, I thought.  We don’t run heat overnight unless the temp drops near or below freezing.  The tank showed 1/2 indicating that we have between 1/2 and 2/3 left.  We ran the heat yesterday afternoon, yesterday evening, and this morning and consumed over 1/3 of the tank. Electric head is loud, but “free”.  I switched to electric heat.  It’s not that LP is expensive, just that we should conserve what we have.

Weather influences local channel reception.  I had to re-scan the channel lineup for any reception. ABC and NBC dropped out.  We’re getting an old time movie channel, MeTv, that’s showing a 50’s western.  I saw Paladin go by when changing channels for local news earlier.  Thirty years ago in similar conditions I’d be in a small tent in my sleeping bag keeping warm with a cup of instant coffee.  Should I break camp and hike on or enjoy the relative comfort of my bag.  The Beast has all the comforts of home wherever we park her.  Camping indeed!

Morning temperature has held at 43.  Tomorrow’s high is forecast at 38, low at 34 with snow all day.  As the skies clear, the highs increase and the lows decrease until the cold front moves through.  Monday’ night’s low may be 27.  Great conditions for roadway black ice in the morning.


Morning Mist on the Lake


We watched local TV channel news and scanned channels for a good show.  We saw trailers for the last episode of SUITS that played last Wednesday.  “Did we see this episode?  Did we actually miss it?”  Crap we probably missed it.  There was nothing on local channels and nothing on DirecTv.  What’s recorded?  Ohhhh, suits.  Wait isn’t this, “One Last Con”,  the last episode?  Our PVR recorded the last episode of suits for us!  We settled in to watch an hour of one of our favorite shows with huge snowflakes falling outside.

A Closet Light

“Honey do” lists are no fun, right? In my case my wife has relatively few “to do” items for me.  Mostly they’re things I’ve said I’d like to or “will” do.  Last week Ellen mentioned her closet in Li’l Beast has no light.  She cannot see a thing in the closet early in the morning or at night.  I said I’ll install a closet light. 

Yesterday at Ace Hardware I looked over the various led lights.   There were AAA powered puck lights all with an on/off switch.  There were a few strip lights also with an on/off switch. There was one led strip with a open/closed sensor. That light did not run on batteries.  Cool.  I took the last one off the rack.

Overnight I considered my options for powering the light in a closet without a power outlet.  Clearly I’d have to splice into power from someplace, but where?   In the 2015 View, the closet is on the push out.  The push out has a power outlet. The best (only?) solution would be to tie into that outlet. 

Today around 3 pm I decided to have a look see under the back settee that houses the power outlet. To my surprise there’s a box screwed into the side of the storage area that encloses the outlet.  Could this box be removed and what did it hide.  With four screws removed, I felt lucky.  The box slid out revealing romex enclosed in plastic conduit.  Easy Peasy, I’ll tap into this wire.

To route power to the closet I’d have to run a line from a new junction box, through the side settee, and into the closet.  The thing was, Ellen stores a bunch of stuff in that bench seat.  Time to pull the table, pull stuff from storage, and see how to run the wire.  Ellen was not thrilled to have the table top on the bed, the table’s pillar in the cab, and most of her storage placed atop the table on the bed.  My work area was clear, but Li’l Beast was a mess.

Next to see what I face under the bench seat.  Inside the left Settee sat another box.  WTF? Four screws later I was looking at a heavy duty electric setup inside a well built box.  It’s unusual to have anything well built in a motorhome.  I can easily bore holes between the closet and my power tap and run Romex.  I’ll need some sort of conduit to protect the wires from chafing as we drive.  

I had enough information to do the deed.  Ellen was frustrated with the mess. I suggested I take Lyft to ACE Hardware, get what I need, come back and make it happen.  The alternative was to put all the stuff back only to take it out and put it back again later.  She was not impressed with that option.  I made a list of necessary items knowing I’d have one shot at getting this right today.

Lyft, ACE, Lyft, “home”.  It went well except I could not find low cost plastic conduit to protect the romex.  I chose a short length of garden hose.  “That should work.”  It is amazing how long it takes to do anything when working in tight quarters.  None of the steps were difficult, though each took some bodily contortion, effort, and occasionally whacking the head.  I decided to install the light and run the wiring for the light first; to get everything in place for tying into power.  The last step would be to power up the new circuit.

How many time did I crawl, stoop, or lie down only to get up and get “the right” tool or fitting. Drilling, screwing and unscrewing, pushing & pulling, re-installing covers, three hours later I was ready to tap into power.  I had tools everywhere, on the sink counter, in the sink, on the floor, in the storage spaces, and in the closet.  Two breakers cut power to the outlets.   Power off, install junction box, route wires, with power back on the closet lights came on. 

Success, it works! Close the closet door & the light goes off.  Open the door & the lights go on.  Out came the vacuum.  Cleanup went quickly. I put my tools away and Ellen re-organized the storage. It looks as if nothing had happened, though I’d been busy from 3pm to 9pm.



Closed, Light Off


Open, Lights On

We had a late dinner. I crawled in to bed expecting to read for half an hour.  I was asleep in minutes.

9/26/2019 Blackwell Island Coeur D’Alene, Day 16


Expecting rain, we put the cycles on the rack and covered them up. No rain so far at 11:30 pm.

Rock Shadows

Ellen always brings a flashlight with her on our way to the showers. Last night was no exception.  Playing the light along the walkway we were startled by a rock shadow that appeared to move as the light played over it.  I joked about seeing a raccoon or coyote behind every rock on the path.  Ii was in mid sentence when Ellen abruptly inhaled, “Isn’t that moose?”  She played the light 100 feet up the path in the trees. She didn’t play the light on the shadow, but near it.  I couldn’t see anything.  I played my light along the path and sure enough, “It’s a huge moose.”  We walked to our left and away from what was a massive animal, a female.  She was eating apples from the tree, not interested in the fallen fruit. Ellen was both joyous and fearful.  As with any wild animal, a moose is unpredictable.  We walked well clear of her.

We didn’t find her on our way back nor around The Beast.  We know now that the “moose and babies” really are at the camp.

Thursday Morning

A weak front came through last night with moderate winds.  We have scattered light rain this morning.  The sun is nowhere to be seen.

Heading back to the showers this morning I saw mommy with one of her teenagers.  I went back to tell Ellen, “The Moose is Loose”, grabbed my phone, and took our first moose photo this trip.  Later I saw Ellen out looking for the moose as well.


Not Really a Baby


I’d Guess my Plaid Pants Gave me Away!

I love the rake of the young moose’s ears.  I stand about head high to the young moose’s head.  Mommy is massive and not to be trifled with.


We are at a crossroads.  There is a cold front that arrives Saturday and Sunday.  Daytime temperatures may drop to 40 with evening temperatures well below 32.  I have no concern about freezing pipes with daytime temps well above freezing.  My concern is snow.  The cold front brings rain and snow in upper elevations. By Monday or Tuesday, temperatures should rise and this first storm’s snow will melt.  What do we do between now, Thursday, and Monday?

I had planned to drive to Banff and Lake Louise, which would be gorgeous blanked in fresh snow.  Driving north without snow tires in this storm is folly.  That rules out going to Glacier National Park as well.  We could wait out the storm and go north Monday or Tuesday.  We could skip them and head on to Bozeman and Yellowstone. 

In any event we will stay here at CDA for another day.

Mid morning we had a 30 minute downpour then on and off rain.  By mid afternoon skies had cleared.  We even had warm sun.

Some weather outlets are saying “the sky is falling”; that we should expect up to 3 feet of snow in the mountain passes in Montana.  It is possible, though I doubt we’ll see that much snow if we move on to Montana ahead of the cold front.  Do we stay or do we go? 

The moose were out eating apples again this afternoon.  They’re shy around humans, tending to move into the brush when we walk by.

More “Rocks”


One Fellow Hangs with Mom


The Other Not So Much


We took Lyft to Syringa, a local sushi place.  It was very good, except the hotate (scallops) had an unusual taste.  It could have been excessive water cress or the scallops themselves might have been different.


Home on the Lake

9/25/2019 Blackwell Island Coeur D’Alene, Day 15

A quick note about photos.  I’m using Windows Live Writer to write offline then publish. Microsoft stopped supporting Live Writer years ago.  Their support for the photo album server was discontinued.  As much as I would like to gather photos into an album in my blog, I can not with the tools I’m currently using.  I may upgrade my tool set, though at present that’s not a priority for me.

Ellensburg KOA Revisited in Photos

Dave and Mary asked if we had visited the town of Ellensburg.  No, we sped on to CDA.  Mary said Ellensburg is an interesting all brick town with one eccentric house that stands out.  It’s worth visiting. Perhaps next time. Here are more photos taken at the Ellensburg KOA.











In The News

Big in the news today: Impeachment Inquiry into Trump started in the house, Thomas Cook goes bankrupt stranding 500,000 travelers, poll shows Elizabeth Warren leading the democratic primary contenders in California.


A low pressure code front is dropping in from Alaska.  Today is 10 degrees colder than yesterday, though it is sunny and warming in the sun.  Tomorrow’s weather in CDA will be rain and cold, followed by cold/rain Friday and Saturday.  Low temperatures will be below freezing Sunday and Monday.  Snow is forecast in Glacier National Park, Lake Louise, and Yellowstone NP.  By Wednesday next week temps will return to normal with lows of 44 degrees.  Low temperatures in Yellowstone remain below 30 degrees for the next ten days though high temps are above freezing each day.  The roads should be clear once the cold front moves through.  I expect we’ll stay in Coeur D’Alene while the rain & snow moves through.

Blackwell RV Resort Photos




Moose love Apples, but No Moose So Far


Atypical for us, we seldom connect to sewer


Our Preferred Site


It’s a cool 50 degrees at 9:30 this morning.  We’ll wait for the temp to rise a bit, then break camp (oxymoron when RV’ing).  To get to CDA and the bike trails, we have to go across a two lane bridge off the island.  We’ve walked this bridge once last year and won’t do that again!  No way we’d cycle over it.  So we’ll take the short drive to the north campus parking lot.  We’ll enjoy todays sunshine while we can.


Sherman Ave, the “main street” of Coeur D’Alene has tap rooms, lounges, restaurants, pubs, a bakery or two, tourist shops, and a few art shops.  We have not found a great restaurant in CDA largely because we’ve looked on Sherman Ave.

We enjoyed the Art Spirit Gallery of Fine Art last year.  I was most impressed by the hand made wooden kayaks.  Clearly these can be floated and equally clearly anyone would be insane to use the kayak and not simply mount it as art.  These were beautiful.  We’ll explore CDA’s art shops and look for a really good dining experience on a rainy day.

Blackwell Island

We walked to the Cedar Restaurant past boat storage, two marinas, and boat works. I stopped to admire a tall masted sloop.  It was a large sailboat without a single winch showing. It has a massive main boom that houses the mainsail.  The paint job is phenomenal. It looked to be a very fast boat.

The Cedar restaurant was open and had the menu posted outside.  It is expensive at $42 for a filet. Dinner could run well over $140.  Still, we’ll go back this evening.

Walking back to The Beast, I flagged down a tractor driver.  “Do you know anything about the boat at the end of the pier over there?”  “Which One?” “The tall masted blue hulled sailboat.”  “Oh you mean SIZZLER.  Sure it’s a carbon fiber hull.” “I don’t see a single winch on deck” “Oh all the lines run through the mast and below decks.”  “It looks like it could be single handed.”  “Yes, probably.”  “It looks custom built.”   “Yes, it is custom.  It’s carbon fiber over a wood frame.  We built it here at the boat works. We’re really good at what we do.”  Sizzler is an amazing vessel.  She’s light and carries a huge amount of canvass aloft. She must be very fast on the water.




Coyote Statues to Control Pests


I think the Pests are Wise to the Ploy


A Custom Starcraft, This Boat is All Motor

















We ate at the Bakery, Cedars will wait ‘till Tomorrow


Back “home” it’s leftover pizza for lunch followed by a bike ride.

The Centennial Trail CDA

We drove right to the north parking lot.  Even with taking off the rain covers, the bikes came down from the rack easily. Ellen’s cycle is relatively light and not a problem weight wise.   It took a bit longer sorting through our shoes and clothing and getting ready.  My newish water bottle cages hold our large water mugs just fine!   Off we went on the Centennial Trail that runs along the lake.  We stopped a few times to absorb the incredible views over the lake.  It was comfortably warm in the sun in spite of a brisk wind. We zipped through town thinking we’d stop at “our” bakery, but breezed right past.  The Centennial Trail transitions to back streets then turns onto E. Coeur D’Alene Lake Drive, a busy local highway.  Luckily the bike lane is very wide.  With a bit of uncertainty, Ellen took that in stride after a promise of “If it gets really bad, we can turn back.”   Rather than getting bad, the trail reverted to a paved bicycle route along the lake.  We covered 7 miles with an occasional stop to look and chat (like show and tell on cycles).  Around mile 6 we hit our first hill (not one of Ellen’s preferable flat hills).  With her electric boost, she soundly beat me up the hill.  Good for her and a boost to her confidence.  At one point I asked, “How fast do you think you can go on the flats if you try?”  Answer?  18 mph though I don’t know what boost level she was running.

A road sign warned of twisties ahead.  We opted to turn back.  It was getting late.  Coasting back down that hill I hit 28 mph which didn’t feel particularly fast.  Ellen understandably took that grade much more slowly.

We found our bakery on the near side of town.   Bakery By The Lake at Parkside is wonderful.  I very highly recommend their croissants.  They are flaky, crispy, and crunchy.  Even the almond ones filled with almond paste are too.  Their cappuccino was perfect.  I felt like a tap dancer walking on the cement floor.  Tap, tap, tap went my steel clip-in cleats.  Like my bike, they’re old school and stick out well past the shoe.  We ate in and brought croissants with us for breakfast tomorrow.

Funny how going to an unknown place always takes longer than returning (at least it feels that way).  Our return trip went by in a flash.  Cog patiently awaited our return in Li’l Beast’s cab.

Ellen’s been Tooling around the RV camp on her trike.  She’s having fun.  She’s grown more confident of late which is a huge change.  She’s never felt stable on a bicycle; her fear of falling or crashing got in the way of “cycling as fun”.  She’s having fun.











Kyte Boarding on a Hydrofoil, Extreme Speed













Going Uphill Ellen waited for Me!


And I didn’t Stop!



Stopped across from Lakeside Bakery


Moose atop the Bakery


Corrected Ellen’s Cappuccino Order