Find us on Google+ Rick and JoAnne's RV Travels: October 2012

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Scenic drive through the Sawtooth Mountains


As luck would have it, the Challis Valley RV Resort changed hands about a year ago and the new owners are from Colorado. While I would rate the park as average, the friendliness and customer service we received from the owners gets 5 stars. They could not have been more accommodating or helpful. They pointed us in the direction of the Pizza Shoppe for some very good pizza - yes, even in the middle of Idaho. They also gave us some great suggestions for day trips and what follows is the one we decided to take.

Using maps and guidebooks borrowed from Frank and Nichole (the RV park owners) we headed south from Challis to Route 75 and turned west on what is a continuation of the Salmon River Scenic Byway we blogged about yesterday.

Our first stop was the well preserved ghost town of Bayhorse in Custer CountyIdaho.  It was founded in 1877 and after a new gold mine failed, silver was discovered in the area and a new mine was started and at one time housed over 300 residents. If only the buildings could talk!

Moving on we went through Clayton, Idaho – which boasts a population of 7…yes 7 according to the 2010 Census! A cute place, but since we are travelling out of season, the “historic sites” were closed. Still we wandered around a bit reading some of the postings describing the mining history of the surrounding area.

We continued west on 75. As we rounded a bend an amazing thing happened! This huge bird almost flew into our windshield. We stopped, and there we were eye-to-eye with a Golden Eagle. We weren’t exactly sure what happened, and apparently neither was he! He had come down for a road kill meal, and was totally focused on it. After a few seconds, he came to his senses and flew away. We were able to get a few photos of him in flight. That will be a “memory maker” for sure!

The trip along the Salmon River was filled with amazing vistas. As we entered Stanley we stopped for this shot. Photographs can never do justice to such a magnificent view - but this was our attempt at capturing it.

Stanley sits in a magnificent valley but it is also home to the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in Idaho, -50 degrees Fahrenheit. Probably not a place we would want to be in the middle of winter.

Our next stop was Redfish Lake and Redfish Lake Lodge - just in time for lunch!

Refueled, we got back on 75, which taking us south toward Ketchum and Sun Valley. As we climbed up Galena Summit we were treated to some amazing vistas of the Sawtooth Wilderness - all breathtaking.

As many of you know, JoAnne is a genealogy addict (her words not mine). She is fascinated with family histories which many times take us to remote and/or historical cemeteries. Our trip today to the Ketchum cemetery was special, as it is where Ernest Hemingway is buried - Pretty interesting even if you are not a genealogy addict.

From the middle of Ketchum we turned back east on Sun Valley road toward 93. It is about a 41 mile leg of the trip - but the notable part is a 4 mile stretch of dirt road that clings to the mountainside with some pretty good drop-offs. While a jeep would have been better suited for the trip we went slow (sometimes very slow) in our little Honda Fit.

Now back on 93 we headed north toward Challis. Stop!  What was that sign we just flew past? Going back to check it out we learned that we were traveling along a fault that had been exposed during the 1983 Borah Peak Earthquake. It was a 7.3 quake and caused Mount Borah (Idaho's highest peak) to lift 1.5 feet and the valley floor sunk about 5 feet. We were able to drive back a couple of miles and see the fault up close.

Now sufficiently hungry we headed back "home" to eat leftover Pizza and watch the Presidential debate.

Click below for more photos of our journey.

Sawtooth Mountains

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Life after Glacier - Our Next New Adventure


So what have we been doing? Four days after leaving Glacier…we’ve been doing a lot!
Our first stop was Bertz RV in Missoula to get a leaky water pump fixed. They have spaces with electric and water hookups - so, Sunday night we stayed in their lot. It was clearly a bit of culture shock when compared to our 9 weeks in Apgar campground.  Mission accomplished. Overall we were very impressed with their service and they had us back on the road at 11:00 AM Monday morning.  As so often happens: we are traveling down the highway when JoAnne will spot one of those brown and white signs that signify something of historical interest. This was the case just outside of Deer Lodge, Montana where she spotted the sign for the Grant-Kohrs Ranch, National Historic Site. It was interesting, however the main focus of the stop was to see the interior of the ranch residence – but to our disappointment and neglect to research the place first, we were disappointed. The ranch and outbuildings are having a fire suppression system installed so the “main attractions” were closed. 
However, we did get to see the location and exteriors, plus wonderful short and longhorn cattle. Factoid: At one time, this ranch consisted of over 10 million acres!

As we headed out of the ranch it was mid-afternoon and time to find a place to stop for the night. After consulting several of our iPhone Apps we settled on Divide Bridge Campground a BLM site along the Big Hole River. What a perfect place to relax with a glass of wine and spend the evening reminiscing of our time at Glacier National Park and sleeping to the sounds of the cascading river.

One of the fun, interesting and educational things we like to do while travelling, is to stop at historic places along our journey. On this day we accomplished that with our stop at the Big Hole National Battlefield, 10 miles outside of Wisdom, Montana. We first became interested in the Nez Percé and Chief Joseph on a previous trip to Oregon with our good pals Lois and Hal Leslie.  Big Hole National Battlefield is actually a memorial to commemorate the place where the Nez Percé fought a delayed action against the 7th Infantry Regiment  on August 9 and 10, 1877, during their failed attempt to escape to Canada. The Battle of the Big Hole was the largest battle fought between the Nez Percé and U.S. Government forces in the five-month conflict known as the Nez Perce War. They have a well-done and informative movie along with extraordinary artifacts in their visitor center.
After leaving the battlefield we headed toward Salmon, ID on highway 93. This route is known as the Salmon River Scenic Byway. And the name does not mislead. This had to be one of the most scenic roads we have traveled. 93 twists and turns as it shadows the Salmon River. Rugged mountain vistas, cattle dotted valleys, a beautiful river, and plenty of wildlife - this route pretty much has it all. Oh, the fact that fall was showing off its color didn't hurt.

After a sensory overload and an emotionally moving day, we decided it was time to stop. We read the reviews of the upcoming campgrounds and decided to stop at the Challis Valley RV Resort in Challis, Idaho. What? I just wrote Idaho – we spent almost three months in Montana.  Challis is a small town with a long mining history in the Challis Valley. I might say, while there is nothing special about the town itself  (except for the deer walking down Main Street) - what a gorgeous valley with the Lost River Range to the east, and the Sawtooth Mountains to the west. Even though we are still plagued by fires and the resulting smoke in the skies – it is an amazing place and we are going to hang out for a couple of days and explore the area.  Stay tuned...
Click below for more photos.
Glacier to Challis