Thursday, July 16, 2020

A Different Kind of Summer

We're back at our summer spot at Northern Idaho's Farragut State Park where we're the "interpretive" hosts .  This year things are a bit different due to the COVID-19 pandemic - but more of that later.

We left Bandon at the end of May and headed for Medford to take in some shopping.  The Oregon coast has been largely unaffected by the virus; less than 40 cases in our county to date.  In Medford stores were open, and we were able to get our first haircut in three months...whoohoo!  From Medford we traveled east to the small town of Lakeview, then turned north on Hwy 395.  This took us to the little town of John Day, a historic town and home to the Kam Wah Chung historic site, which tells the history of Chinese  miners that once lived here.  Further north, we traveled over forested mountains and valleys that were breathtakingly beautiful.  We finally hit interstate 84 at Pendleton, and from there it was a familiar, if boring, trip into Spokane and finally Coeur d'alene, and a bit farther, Farragut State Park.  

We're back in our spot in the volunteer row, away from the
camping areas and under the pines.  The sites are huge and nicely landscaped.  Only one of the six sites is occupied by a first time volunteer, the others are all friends from last year.  On volunteer row there are "kiosk hosts" that check campers and visitors in to the park, "cabin hosts", that clean rental cabins, and "relief hosts" that fill in for campground hosts on their day off.  We've all been very busy; the park is full every day, with campers, beach goers, boat launches, hikers, bikers, and disk golf players everywhere.  The park is normally a favorite of Canadians, with close to 50% of the sites occupied by our northern visitors.  This year the border is still closed to them, but the slack has been taken up by locals and travelers.  This has resulted in more children, since most of the Canadians were adult couples.  We've seen more families with children this year, and our program attendance is significantly higher.

The six couples on volunteer row enjoy getting together for the slightest reason.  We usually have a weekly ice cream social, and during our daughter's visit they all stopped by to share in some birthday cake and ice cream.

June is our family's birthday month, and our daughter Kim and her husband Bill were able to visit for a few days.  We had beautiful weather during their stay and were able to do some touristy things.  They rented a pontoon boat on Lake Pend Oreille and we spent a great day cruising the shoreline and admiring the waterfront houses.  One was a spectacular sight, the "Castle Von Frandsen".  Still under construction, the 8000' square foot castle was built with over a million pounds of imported stone and can be yours for only $6.5 million.  And you'll still have to finish the interior!

Lake Pend Oreille is huge - 43 miles long with 111 miles of shoreline.  At it's deepest, the lake is close to 1200' deep and so the water temperature on the day we cruised was 58 - although it didn't keep people from water skiing and tubing.  We stayed close to shore to avoid open water and wind, enjoying the views and watching other boats and even a bit of floatplane activity. 

Continuing our tour of area lakes, we took a cruise on Lake Coeur d'alene, Idaho's second largest lake with 135 miles of shoreline, much of it covered with expensive homes.  The number and grandeur of the homes on the lakefront is impressive; there must be more money on display than many third-world countries.  Cruising the shoreline, there was a never ending line of million-dollar homes:

The city of Coeur d'alene is a busy vacation spot this time of year, with most activity centered around the resort built near the city center.  Here are where the boat cruises, floatplane rides, and parasail rides are based, along with a large city park and beach.  From the water view, it's an impressive area:

The lake is busy, and on this day we were surrounded by parasail boats, skiers, tubers, and kayakers.  The floatplane pictured here was returning from a tour; tragically, it was involved in a mid-air collision with another plane just a week later.  

We're been busy with evening programs four nights a week, and this year, largely because of the lack of Canadian visitors, we're seeing more families.  We're still relatively unaffected by the COVID pandemic, but are watching the numbers closely and taking every precaution possible.  Wherever you are, we hope that you're staying healthy and enjoying the summer!  Thanks for checking in!