Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Archive for ‘September 20th, 2017’

McCall to Lewiston

September 19, 2017

It is a beautiful drive with a variety of terrains along Rt. 95. At Riggins it follows the great Salmon River. Riggins is a cute little village with a bunch of river guiding companies. It was cold and rainy, so we opted not to stay in Riggins and float the Salmon. Maybe another time. The river takes one side of the mountain at White Bird to turn and join the Snake River, while the road continues north to Lewiston. Big rain clouds were in the distance. We had rain earlier, but all of this is so welcome. The whole northwest has been plagued by tremendous fires all summer, smoke covering the whole area. Makes you wonder – fires here, hurricanes in the east and a big earthquake in Mexico.

We pulled into beautiful Hell’s Gate Campground just outside Lewiston. We are on the Lewis and Clarke trail. The visitor’s center has all kinds of information and a movie about their crossing of the Rockies in Idaho and the terrible time they had in the Bitterroot Mountains.

We were setting up camp when Carol came over from the adjacent campsite. She and David are on their way to McCall, so we traded information north and south. Dave came back over later with a drink. We talked about travels and the troubles you have fixing things. You just have to learn how to work on all kinds of problems, because it happens to all of us. He was a Ford mechanic for years, so that really comes in handy. He told us about a bike trail that goes along the Snake River and through Lewiston. Clarkston is on the other side of the river. This is the area where the Clearwater joins the Snake River on its way to the Columbia. Lewis and Clarke followed the Snake into the Columbia River to winter at Fort Clatsop, near where I met my friends at the mouth of the Columbia. I have not followed the Columbia through the United States, but have seen its origin, fished it there and as it leaves British Columbia south of Castelgar, and have crossed that monster bridge at its mouth. With beautiful rivers flowing into it, like the Snake, the Clearwater and the Salmon, it is a heck of a river. It is nice to know about the hatchery in McCall, Idaho that hatches millions of Chinook Salmon, and that they can find their way to the ocean, returning five years later all the way back to McCall. Fish ladders allow them to make their way over four or five dams.

McCall, Idaho and Ponderosa State Park

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September 13-17, 2017

McCall is a nice little town on beautiful Payette Lake. It has a population of 3,278, but swells to 20,000 in the summer. Many people from Boise have summer houses around the lake. It is also a ski area in the winter. There are interesting shops and restaurants, lots of bike hiking trails.

We went to the farmer’s market and bought a melon, a loaf of bread and honey. There weren’t a lot of stands, but they were good ones. There was a vintage sports car rally in the park, so we checked that out. A Triumph GT6 in immaculate condition caught my eye. What a beautiful car, reminding me of a GY3 I wanted to buy in college. I had worked road construction all summer, putting in a lot of overtime building I64. A sports car restoration place had just rebuilt an older GT3. I had the money to buy it, but Dad said he would buy me a new car when I graduated from college. Graduating in 1968, he bought me a white 1965 Ford Custom, as plain a car as ever made. It did well though, and probably kept me a lot safer.

Then I went to Jamie’s Barber Shop and got a much-needed haircut. It’s a small one-chair shop with a piano on one side. Several books of music were on the stand. A nice jazz station played through the internet. Turns out that Jamie plays five or six nights a week around town and for personal parties. He taught himself to play, never having a lesson, but obviously loves it. He also cuts hair, but just in the afternoons in this small town. With the door open to Lake Street, the main street through town, I watched people passing by as we talked. A very neat guy, Jamie cleans up between each client, cleaning all the instruments, sweeping the floor, and wiping all surfaces. It was a far-better haircut than my last one in Oregon.

After lunch, we took a bike ride around Ponderosa State Park. It’s a great path, paved on the west side and gravel on the east. Lots of people were walking and biking, enjoying a beautiful day. Three of the campground loops will close next week, leaving just one open. It is getting down to 30 degrees some nights, and it takes a lot of work to winterize everything. For the first time in months, we built a fire in the evening. It was a perfect evening for it.

As we sat there, we noticed an older man having trouble hooking up an old Excella Airstream, so Martha suggested I go over and help. I don’t know how old Bill was, but he couldn’t line up the hitch and ball. He had taped a flashlight just behind the ball. There was a mirror attacked to the back window of his truck bed shell so he could see the ball. It was an odd angle, so he just couldn’t get it. He was very appreciative for the help, and with a few tries, we got it. This old Excella had obviously been a lot of miles. He said he bought it used in 1992, and he hadn’t babied it.

On Sunday we drove up to Brundage Mountain Ski Resort. Usually they run the ski lift to take people to the top of the mountain where they rent mountain bikes to ride back down, but they were closed. It is no longer summer and the road was being paved. Seeing the road construction delay, I started to turn around when the pilot car driver came running back to us. He said they were about to start up the mountain, and the delays were very short. Who ever saw a pilot car driver do that? At the top, he said he thought Brundage was closed, but said if we continue on the gravel road to the top, there is a beautiful overlook. Past that is the reservoir. Six miles past that is another lake, and 10 miles past is another. It never ceases to amaze me how far westerners will travel on a dusty, bumpy gravel road to get somewhere.

The overlook was indeed beautiful, looking down at a beautiful trout stream that is impossible to get to. The reservoir was very low, but one boat was fishing and someone had pitched a tent. Several cars passed us, one zooming back toward town. Martha suggested going to the next lake and fishing. I quickly calculated six more miles at 25 miles an hour, then six back and then down through construction to town. With maybe an hour of fishing, it would shoot the whole day, so we headed back down.

After lunch we rode the bikes on North Valley Rails-to-Trails. It was a pretty ride through farms and houses and a pretty marsh. The wind picked up as a front started to push through. Rain is predicted to come.