Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Coeur d'alene and Grand Coulee Dam

June 18-23, 2014:

It is a cloudy day turning to light rain as we drive  from Lewiston to Coeur d'alene, Idaho.  Our route was route 95 to route 90 east to route 97 west along Coeur d'alene Lake to forest road 438 to the "Beauty Creek Campground".  The ride on route 95 was straight uphill out of Lewiston, then through miles and miles of rolling green farm fields.  We traveled through several very rural small towns along the way, but nothing very noteworthy.  

Beauty Creek is a small National Forest Service campground with only about 8 RV sites, so we were a little nervous about availability, but all was fine.  It has no hookups, but water is available and a dump station is nearby.  It is in the forest, next to the magnificent Coeur d'alene Lake, seems rustic and remote, but you can be in downtown Coeur d'alene in about twenty minutes. 

The campsite

Beautiful Lichens on the trees

Beauty Creek

These were abundant and very pretty

The name Coeur d'alene derives from the Coeur d'alene Indian tribe who lived in this area.  There seems to be a couple of versions to this story, but the one I like best is as follows.  The indians were shrewd traders and refused to sell their goods for mere trinkets and beads and told the trappers that their heart's were small as an awl.  As a result, the trappers called them the "Coeur d'alene" or in french "heart of an awl".  I suppose that was an original racial slur ?

This is a different version, but they all refer to the
Coeur d'alene tribe as shrewd traders
Thursday, with partly sunny skies we took a 3.3 mile hike, it's been awhile now since we last hiked and it felt really good. The Mineral Ridge Trail trail was pretty much all up and down, 600 feet elevation gain, but considered moderate. It is a local favorite as it has great views of the Lake.  We also took a partial drive around the lake which is the high rent district, lots of mansions, marinas, keep out signs, etc. National Geopraphic some years ago named Lake Coeur d'alene one of the five most beautiful lakes in the country and it is quite the view. 

The lake from the trail viewpoint

The Lake at dusk

Another view

The lake side road is a scenic byway
We are most definitely out of the desert now, everything here is lush green, tall pine trees, ferns, moss, streams and rivers all over and way more humid.  Another big change is coffee, they love coffee here, in town there seems to be a drive up coffee shop on every other corner. 

Friday we explore downtown, use the Library WiFi to research and decide where to head next.  Coeur d'alene has a beautiful small vibrant downtown area right on the Lake front. Actually it's a little too clean, upscale and resort feeling for my liking.  On Saturday, we return and hike another popular trail downtown, the 2 mile Tubbs Hill trail with great views of Lake Coeur d'alene.  We then stroll around the downtown park with lots of people out on the beach area.  I haven't seen so many white tanless bodies in a long time !

There were many steam boats on Coeur d'alene

Resort Hotel in Coeur d'alene
Along with nice Marina
Tubb's Hill Trail view
The beach area
Sight seeing plane ride

June 22, 2014:

It was a busy day starting off with a trip to Urgent Care to have the stitches removed from my poor finger along with another course of antibiotic's to battle the infection that is still raging.  It's still ugly !  
It's then on the road for Grand Coulee, Washington.  Shortly after leaving on Interstate 90 west everything came to a halt, then creeped along, stop and go, as the highway was closed ahead.  We were put off on an exit and then no detour signs or police guidance for an alternate route.  We latter found out there was a shoot out during a routine traffic stop on the highway at 2 AM.  This caused then to shut down an interstate highway for at least 12 hours ?  Idaho police get a "F" for their handling of the situation and the traffic.  I just followed the big trucks ahead for awhile thinking they must know the way and my GPS kept telling me over and over to make a legal U-turn, turn left, turn right, very confusing.  Eventually, a few miles latter there was a traffic sign saying which road to take to get back to route 90 again.  The rest of the trip was thankfully uneventful and we arrived at Grand Coulee RV Park about 4 PM, rather late for us, but not a problem as we had a reservation.  

The major attraction here is, of course, the Grand Coulee Dam on the mighty Columbia River.  It was built in 1933-1941 and was the largest masonry structure in the world and is still the largest in the US.  It was enlarged in 1967-1974 to add a third power plant and is the largest producer of hydroelectric power in the US and generating about 3 times the power of Hoover Dam.  It was another visionary project of the Roosevelt new deal administration.We went to the visitor center which had great exhibits and several movies along with several viewing areas of the Dam.  There was a Woody Guthrie exhibit with him singing his classic song "Roll on Columbia" about the Columbia River and the Grand Coulee Dam.  We were told that the nightly laser light show was not to be missed so there we were on Monday at 10 PM. It was mostly an educational show about the history of the region and the Dam, the laser images were clear, but the show could not be considered exciting to watch.  

A distant view of the Dam
A closer view, there was very little water being released

Inside the visitor center
The Indians life style revolved around the river and the
Salmon migration upstream.  The Salmon no longer can
get upstream as the Dam is too high.
Woodie Guthrie was under contract to write songs
A quilt at the visitor's center
A bust of Roosevelt near the Dam

The town of Grand Coulee is small and not photogenic, nothing exciting, but then another 2 miles and you come to the Town of Coulee Dam, with the Coulee Dam Casino.  The Indian reservation is across the bridge on the other side.

Bridge over Columbia River at Town of Coulee Dam

Sign on the bridge

The confederated tribes of the Colville Reservation

The Casino in the Town of Coulee Dam

Wood carving at Coulee Dam

I then took a side trip to "Electric City", 1 mile away, which is a lake recreation area on the irrigation supply reservoir, mainly so I could check out the "Electric City Bar and Grill", where good friends meet.  It was nicer than expected with very interesting ceiling tiles.  They were standard acoustic drop ceiling tiles that were hand painted by bar patrons, or so it appeared, and well done. Also not to be missed in Electric City is the Windmill garden outside of town.

Interesting Windmill Garden in town

THe Electric City Bar and Grill

The Wi-Fi at this campground actually is good, always a surprise, enabling us to do some trip planning.  We made arrangements at a campground in the Seattle area and once there in a couple of weeks, we are definitely slowing down the pace.  Another travel day on Tuesday to North Cascades National Park which is highly regarded for it's wilderness scenery. 

Off to see the glaciers,
Twinkles and Slick 

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