Tag Archives: Idaho

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.

9/27/2019 Blackwell Island Coeur D’Alene, Day 17

Tattoo McGoo

As I walked to the showers, I approached a woman walking her dog. “No moose this morning”, I said.  We chatted about the moose eating apples, while her dog strained at the leash.  He was a small furry thing who desperately wanted to explore. “Oh he loves toes and shoe laces, but he loves to jump too.”  “What’s his name”  “Tattoo McGoo”.  Her husband injured himself.  He’s in rehab locally.  She’ll have to drive their rig back to Flagstaff Arizona her self.  “He’ll probably have to fly home.”  I said under different circumstances, I’d offer to drive her rig with her.  “Oh, I can handle it.  Where are you from?”   “Near San Francisco, California”  To which she said, “I don’t like people who don’t like California.  I grew up there.”  “If you listen exclusively to Fox News, you’d think California is going to hell in a hand basket.” She said, “If you only watch Fox News, you have other problems.”  All the while Tattoo McGoo was licking my toes and ankle and now and then jumping on my leg.

She also mentioned that the salmon run in Glacier National Park is amazing, “Not To Be Missed.” She lived in Missoula and would go up to watch the eagles snatch salmon out of McDonald Creek.  As with so many things, the salmon run on the creek is long gone. History Wednesday describes what happened to the famed salmon run with its Grizzlies and Eagles.



Whimsically Painted Power Boxes


Coeur D’Alene From Behind, The Mudgy Moose Trail



There is a winter storm watch for the mountains in Montana. Helena is expecting 8” of snow on the ground.  We could easily push through to Missoula or even Helena, though we would be stuck there for two days while the storm passes.  We’re comfortable here at CD’A on the lake.  We’ll stay here today and perhaps for another three days depending on the weather.  It will be magnificent seeing snow in the Rockies.  We will wait for the roads to clear before moving on.  Next week temperatures are expected to return to normal.  In the mean time we have our favorite bakery, lots of books are available at the clubhouse book exchange, we get local TV channels, and DirecTV.  I expect Bill Maher’s will have something to say about the impeachment inquiry and Ukraine.

I exchanged “Moment of Truth” and “The Outside Man” for “Roses are Red” and “Red Notice”.  Looks like RED is today’s keyword. 

The sun shown bright and warm briefly this morning.  Patches of blue sky show through low cloud cover.  The threat of sprinkles, perhaps rain hangs in the air.  The lake is stunning both wrapped in gray clouds and in brilliant sunlight.


Again mommy & teen ager were foraging at the apple tree.  They’re much more relaxed around us than we are around them.  From time to time mom would eyeball us then go back to feeding.  We didn’t see the moose at all our first day and thought they had left the island.  Now we see them a few times each day.  We sometimes stand closer than we should.

Our LP tank is down to 1/4.  we last filled on 9/13, two weeks ago.  With cold weather coming we’ll fill again today. Consuming 3/4 tank in two weeks in the fall is OK with me. The electric heat pump is very effective in cold weather, but it is extremely loud.  We prefer to use the LP heater. Most of our consumption is through the heater.  We run everything else on electric.

Ellen just gave notice, “I’m ready to go”.  We’re restocking supplies and “things”, an extension cord and a hammer for example.  Yup, I didn’t bring a hammer.  I do have a rubber mallet.  Now to stow everything and head downtown.IMG_2958

Find the Moose


Big Hint





Pilgrims Natural Food Market

AroundMe is usually better than an area Google search.  Sometimes it leaves off good finds.  Today AroundMe introduced us to Pilgrims Market, al alternative to Safeway; more like whole foods or a Co-op.  It has higher ratings, it’s obvious why once you step inside.  It’s the local hip Coeur D’Alene market.  A bonus: there’s an ACE Hardware across the street. 

We dropped by Safeway for a few items Pilgrims didn’t carry and grabbed two croissants at Lakeside Bakery.  Back at Blackwell RV we topped up our LP and settled in for the afternoon with sandwiches and soup from Pilgrims.

Rains started around 4PM and were heavy at times.  Now at 8:30 the rains have stopped.  There’s no thunder & lightening tonight.  We had some last night with more expected tomorrow.

I have a strip light I’ll install in Ellen’s closet sometime later.  I may have some difficulty attaching the 120-12 V adapter.  The logical socket I’d tap into is sealed off in a stapled together wooden box.  If the box can be removed, the task will be easy.