Inger and Jeff Latreille
A Brewery Host
~Thursday, August 20, 2020~
Day 67 (Travel Day)
Off to Idaho today, specifically Sandpoint. We’re really excited to see this place as so many people have told us it was a must see. The drive...7 hours. And not easy driving.
Looking back, the timing was perfect for us to stay at Ollokot Campground as it brought us much needed peace, satisfied our desire to be back in a forest setting, and allowed us to practice some boondocking. We proved to ourselves that 3 days completely independent with the water and power we had, barely put a dent into our supplies. We’ve done great on groceries, using up what we have, and with very little waste. As of this morning, our gray and black tank were each only ⅓ full, so we could have easily boondocked a week. We’re always concerned more about the gray tank since that fills up the fastest with dish water and shower water. For this trip, when we washed dishes, we used a plastic bowl filled halfway with soapy water then rinsed off the dishes over the bowl. Then we take the filled bowl and dump it into the toilet (black tank). This seems to offset the gray tank filling too quickly.
Before we left, Jeff decided to empty the remaining 5-gallon water cubes into the fresh water tank. So we were carrying around quite a bit of weight, hoping to get to a dump station before we got to Idaho today.
As we headed out, we were hoping the “mayor” would be around to say goodbye to and thank him for his help. So off we go, back up and down Wallowa Mountain Road toward the Joseph/Enterprise area. Very hilly and windy. The truck is really getting a work out and Sadie is being such a trooper dealing with all of those windy roads. Jeff and I both commented on how much bigger the Wallowa Mountains looked this time around, as we were coming from a different direction. First stop….an adorable little bookshop in Enterprise called The Bookloft. Per the recommendation from the lady we met at the creek last night, I purchased “Thunder in the Mountains” by Daniel Sharfstein. This will be the first of many books we collect on our trip, that give us more historical reference of the places we visit. It will be interesting to see what our library looks like by the end of the trip. I may even create a “must read” booklist for our viewers.
I thought the Wallowa Mountain Road would be it for steep grades, but we came upon another one called the Rattlesnake Grade which also has a lot of switchbacks. This is at the very northeast part of Oregon that eventually takes you slightly into Washington. After all of that climbing and descending, and crossing the Snake River we were met with another steep climb up the Lewiston Hill better known as the Lewiston Grade, a 2,000 foot elevation change, with 3 miles of a 6% grade, and 4 miles of a 7% grade. It seemed to go on forever. Just to give you an idea, there are 5 runaway truck escape ramps for truckers coming down this steep grade. I read that on average, 1 truck per week uses one of these escape ramps. Even going UP stressed me out with the weight we were pulling, especially when “you know what” happened on the last big grade.
We managed to find the perfect gas station/truck stop. Diesel…$2.15/gallon and about $65.00 to fill. Wow, that’s awesome! Anyway, when I came back from the restroom, I noticed another awning motor cover piece had fallen off our trailer at some point today. My fear is 2 out of the 4 have fallen off and that in time we’ll lose the other 2. Another thing to add to the list.
After several attempts along the way to get to a dump station, we finally found one near Coeur d’Alene, with a $7.00 fee. Bummer….the others we were trying to find earlier in the day were free. When I went to pay, I noticed that only half of the Idahoers in the gas station were wearing masks. Not sure what their state mandates are regarding face masks. Regardless, we’re wearing them in any establishment we go to.
As we entered the Coeur d’Alene area, (population around 40,000) we would describe it as stunning. We hit the city around dusk, so the sun was an awesome contrast to the forested mountains all around. I can’t wait to really spend time in the area, since this might be a possibility for us as a future home. And when we got to Sandpoint, the first thing we noticed is water…...everywhere. Gorgeous. Sandpoint has a darling small town with a population of around 8,500. Our timing was perfect as we pulled up to our next sleepover spot….Matchwood Brewing Co. around 7:30.
We hadn’t eaten since breakfast so an ice cold beer was mighty welcome. But first, to check in with them to make sure we were still o.k. to use their parking lot for the night. Jeff and I found them on Harvest Hosts. Harvest Hosts allow you to stay on their property for free, with properties like breweries and farms to wineries and golf courses. They only ask that you patronize their establishments. Most have no hook-ups, but those that do might charge you a small fee for electricity. Matchwood has been a part of Harvest Hosts network for a year or so. As I pulled over, Jeff got out to talk to the assistant manager to find out where we should park the trailer, as their parking lot was understandably full with customers. Less than 48 hours before, a Harvest Host customer had gotten into a heated argument with an 80 year-old Sandpoint resident in the city parking lot that quickly warranted police intervention. Unfortunately, the police told Matchwood that they could no longer use that parking lot for future Harvest Host guests. The brewery had tried to reach us to tell us about their limited space availability at that point, but we had no email or cell service for the past 3 days. Too bad that 1 jerk has to ruin it for everyone. Without the additional city lot, I don’t see how Matchwood is going to be able to handle Harvest Host guests with their small parking lot alone. The assistant manager told Jeff that we should park on one of the side streets (we found the perfect spot to fit both the trailer and truck), then move later into their parking lot close to closing time which was 10:00 p.m. There was another guy trying to get in while we were dining outside, in which she told him they were full. His reply, “Well I’m going to park here anyway”. Another jerk, giving Harvest Host guests a bad name. But, it was a good thing we were sitting where we were as we could see the cars leaving so that we could pull in at the perfect time. Jeff fit the trailer in perfectly. Not more than 3 minutes went by and some guy came up to us and asked, “Is that yours?” (referring to our truck/trailer). Jeff’s reply, “Yes it is.” His reply, “Can you move either the truck or the trailer so we can fit in?”. Jeff’s reply, “No, absolutely not. This is where the assistant manager told us to park, so that’s what we did”. I politely told him, “Look, we’re leaving early tomorrow morning and to do what you’re asking means we’d have to unhitch and level” and his rig would fit on any side street or in another part of the parking lot. He wouldn’t have fit anyway in our section even if we did move either the truck or the trailer. I didn’t realize this is the same guy that told the assistant manager that he was going to park in their lot anyway. Man is it a competitive RV world out there. The Matchwood Brewing staff is awesome, they have great food (I had the portobello burger and their fries are killer), and a great selection of beer, all in a nice outdoor setting. Now for some shut eye as we walk over a few feet to our home on wheels in a brewery parking lot. Kind of uncanny.