Tuesday, September 30, 2008

From North to South

Our odyssey began on a warm, sunny Tuesday morning.
After removing the back seat and loading the van from floor to ceiling with duffel bags, coolers, food bins, cooking and eating utensils, camping and sleeping gear and other paraphernalia (eg. bear spray...), we nosed our vehicle south toward the United States.
We approached the border with our fingers crossed, hoping our carefully packed food would not be confiscated, as we were not sure of what we could or could not take into the States. I had made a detailed list with everything carefully documented and, armed with that, we declared our possessions at the gate and politely answered the requisite questions. The customs officer smiled and waved us through, but not without an additional query as to what would possess us to leave our own beautiful valley to visit Idaho.
Well... we have to holiday somewhere!
Upon arrival, we pitched our tent in a quiet campground surrounded by old-growth cedars near the lake, just outside the town of Sandpoint. As I have already mentioned, this is one of our favourite holiday destinations. Quite similar to our own valley, Sandpoint, on vast Lake Pend Oreille, is the perfect get-away spot for us and is an easy, four-hour road trip.
We spent three nights there in our cosy tent in the forest by the water.
On the final evening we decided to give up cooking over an open fire and dined by candlelight on the patio of a tiny Italian restaurant overlooking the river. The pasta was delicious, as were the apetizers, and a fine wine rounded out our meal. The weather was cool and crisp, so I wore my best dress... with sandals, woolly socks and a fluffy hoodie. I felt like the original hippie tree-hugger!
Later, in the dark of the night, we were awakened by a shadowy visitor feasting upon some apples we had inadvertently left in a bowl on the picinic table. We peeked through the screen of our flimsy abode and, speaking in guarded whispers, we hoped that it wasn't a foraging member of the ursine family. It didn't take us long before we surmised that our guest was a harmless, but obviously hungry (and fortunate), racoon.
Leaving food out in predator country is a big No-No!
Tsk-tsk, we know better...
The following morning we broke camp and hit the the trail westward. We decided to take the southern route throught the States instead of starting north back through Canada for two reasons. Firstly, our sense of adventure drew us down the road less travelled, and secondly, gasoline is a much less expensive south of the border.
We were now aiming for the town of Osoyoos in south central British Columbia where Lory, an old and dear friend of mine, now resides.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Where'd they go?"

On holidays. On purpose.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It Was a Scream

A view of the water park from the steam train.

One hot, sunny weekend in July we found ourselves in the funky town of Sandpoint, Idaho. Gene and I drove there, accompanied by Bobby and Jenny, for three days of fun - the weekend's main attraction being the nearby Silverwood Theme Park.
Upon arrival at the grounds, I was rather intimidated by the size of the rides, but the kids were keen and I, not to be outdone for one moment, ended up riding every attraction with them.
To my immediate relief, we began with a rather mild, yet informative, tour on an old steam train around the perimeter of the park. Our conductor was brimming with interesting facts about the park and its history, as well as the train itself. Apparently there had been a bidding war between Silverwood and Disneyland for the authentic locomotive, with Silverwood having the last word.
Without being too obvious about it, I made sure that we began with the more innocuous rides, such as the bumper cars, spinning strawberries and tilt-a-whirl, but those rides eventually drew us closer and closer to the Corkscrew...gulp. I had conflicting desires about riding a roller coaster - let alone one that loops upside down! The kids got bounced about a bit in the restraints, but it really was quite fun!
The following attraction was a wet one on a tube that bobbed over a series of whitewater rapids through a canal. We then "spun dry" on a dizzying ride that held our bodies tight against its mesh walls using cetrifugal force - thirty feet in the air.
But, my mouth really went dry as we headed toward the inevitable Tremors, a large timber structure upon which galloped several brightly-coloured cars containing screaming occupants careening at unfathomable speeds - uphill and down.
I was committed.
We stood in line for nearly forty-five minutes as the queue twisted and turned, offering different angles from which to view the horror we were volunteering to suffer. But, if Bobby and Jenny were going to do it, I was along for the ride.
And a ride it was!
I hung on for dear life as we rattled and plunged at one hundred kmph into, what I considered, a tiny black hole in the ground (don't try to tell me that was a tunnel...) then fighting to keep my head vertical as we pulled four G's on the way back up the next incline. All I could do was close my eyes and croak, "Oh Shit!" through clenched teeth as we screamed and clattered at breakneck speed through the next series of soaring summits and daunting drops into tiny black holes in the ground.
For the anti-climax, we rode the Corkscrew again. Twice.
As for the rest of the weekend, it was spent dining, swimming and relaxing on the beach, all the while continuing to live on the edge by getting deliciously sunburned...

Bobby, Jenny and me heading for a tiny black hole in the ground.