Priest Lake – August 2016 – Part 5

 Sunday August 28: I get up at 8:00, but what with one thing and other (getting water, making tea, and a visit to the lake), it is 9:00 by time I get around to a campfire. It is only 53 degrees out, so I figure I am entitled and since Mel gave me some good firewood, I have plenty of wood so don’t need to be stingy with my campfires. Since the email on my cell phone doesn’t work right, I decide to go ahead and delete everything, thinking it only affects the phone. Unfortunately, I discover when I check email on the laptop that I have deleted everything in my inbox across all my devices…. Uh, oh, not good. I have to spend some of my precious battery time on retrieving as many emails from the trash as I can. Oh, what a bother.

Autumn foliage around the campsite

Cello in the afternoon, but not as long as usual, as I got a late start. Mel comes by: he is sending another musician my way – he wants another concert. Turns out this young woman, who comes by with her husband and two little boys, is a professional cellist!!! I think she should be the one to give a concert! I don’t play for her family, but we do have the nicest chat. After dinner, since it is not quite dark yet, I make a campfire and sit out to write in the journal; as darkness comes on, I get a lantern so I can continue to write as I enjoy the campfire.

Monday August 29: I get up at 6:30 (5:30 Pacific) to use the restroom and could stay up, since it is beginning to get light out, but it is so chilly, I decide to get back into bed. As I doze off, the squirrels start dropping cedar and fir cones. The cedar cones are green and heavy with sap, and they hit Terry’s roof with loud kerthunks. Next my phone tells me I have a message; someone from the east who doesn’t realize it is not yet 6:00 a.m. here in Idaho, then the garbage truck comes in to pick up garbage. Why is it that garbage trucks always come early? Okay okay, I’m getting up. It is still early, chilly, but an excellent time for a campfire and some quiet meditation time. After breakfast, I walk down to the lake to take a few more photos and around the campground again.

Down to the lake again

At campsite #9, I strike up a conversation with the couple there who are obviously packing up to leave. I want to know if they liked this spot, as it is the one I’d like to nab next time. We end up having a great conversation, sharing travel adventures, before they have to get on with their leaving preparations. Would have been fun to have met them sooner!

When I play cello in the afternoon, Mel comes by, pulls up a chair, and it is a concert for an audience of one! Later, I go for a hike on the trail that starts on the other side of the campground, the Woodrat Trail.

Woodrat Trail

Priest Lake through the trees on the Woodrat Trail

I am more concerned about bears than woodrats at this time of day, but hike about a half-mile in. Between logging and forest fires, this is not the prettiest forest, but it is interesting.

Interesting forest

After dinner, I begin packing up loose stuff, as we will be leaving in the morning.

Tuesday August 30: I am up before Clifford, take a photo of the sun rising over the lake through the trees, and then take care of outside things like folding up tarps and table cloths.

Sun rising over the lake

After Clifford is up, I finish packing up the inside while he takes care of his radio gear and bicycle. Mel comes by to say good-bye to us. We get Terry hitched to Blazer and take a last look around. It has been a good spot for us. Good-bye Priest Lake; maybe we’ll see you next summer!

Priest Lake – August 2016 – Part 4

Friday, August 26: Not quite as chilly this morning, so I make only a small campfire, as it will soon be warm enough to move to the sunshine.  Mel, the camp host, has told me that a neighboring camper, Nancy, plays piano and that he has invited her to come over to our camp so I can play a concert for the two of them! So, I go over and introduce myself to her, a woman younger than me, traveling and camping alone for her vacation. In the later morning Mel and Nancy do indeed come over and I play the cello for them, talking about each piece, everything from selections from “Lord of the Rings,” fiddle tunes, Bach suites, and a piece written by a dear cellist friend of mine. It is quite an informal and fun concert! Later Nancy and I drive down the road a couple miles to a little village to get a few basic groceries and great ice cream cones. After this little outing, she and I walk along the lake, chatting and enjoying the lovely setting.

Walking along Priest Lake with Nancy

In the evening, after dinner, as I go out to make a campfire, I see that Nancy has a good campfire already going, so I walk over to her campsite and visit with her until bedtime approaches for all of us.

Saturday August 27: I get up a little earlier this morning so I have time to have a campfire and say good-bye to Nancy, who will be leaving on the next leg of her journey. After breakfast, I walk around the campground and down to the lake; not nearly so crowded and noisy as last weekend, thank goodness.

Down to the lake

Perhaps it is because of the changing season: we notice the squirrels are busy as can be, first knocking cones out of the trees and then scurrying around, carrying them off to a den somewhere — AND the trees are dripping sap on us.

Picnic table at our campsite

The picnic table is especially susceptible, which makes it hard to sit there to write and work on projects, but even sitting by the campfire, I had sap drip on my head: talk about a hair product to create a tall mohawk!! I could make my hair stand straight up until I finally got the sap washed out. And I have to be careful where I sit to play cello. Do a little editing on Alex’s book, but laptop battery is low, so my time is limited. I call my mom, who is in the hospital (again). Luckily, my brothers and sisters who live close by keep a good eye on her and took her to the hospital before she got so sick as last time. She is feeling better and should be able to go home in a day or two. After dinner, Clifford and I sit outside in the dark to have a cup of tea, enjoying the mild evening temperatures.

Priest Lake – August 2016 – Part 3

Tuesday August 23: Chilly morning – 44 degrees – but I didn’t make a campfire because I thought we were going to drive up to the north end of the lake today. But Clifford doesn’t want to spend two days in a row driving – too much interruption of his studies and research. Better to stay at camp and take advantage of the sunshine on the panels, as we have to write an article for a health newsletter. I try unsuccessfully to get hold of the dentist in Wallace – not good, but I have started taking an antibiotic that I had for such a case as this. In the afternoon, when my daughter Becka calls, I walk along the lake as we chat and take photos of the light on the water and the foliage showing signs of autumn.

Light on the water

The campground is nearly empty, so it is a good day to play cello. In the afternoon, after the article is written, my laptop is still charged enough that I can download photos and pick a set to edit for blogs. I’ve been tending my infected tooth with tea tree oil and clove oil, and along with the antibiotic and ibuprofin, it is starting to stabilize.

A beautiful sunset this evening, but hard to see it for all the trees to the west of the campground.

Sunset hidden by trees

Wednesday August 24: It is 45 degrees this morning, and being August, my body thinks that is chilly, so I make a campfire and sit out with tea to write in the journal. After Clifford gets up, I make a picnic and we head out to explore the other campgrounds along the lake. Mostly they all have the same issue as Outlet Bay: not enough first-come first-serve sites and the sites too close to one another for my taste. Coming back we stop at the Ledgworth picnic area, which gives us the best views of the lake, as well as a sandy beach and a rocky outcropping.

Ledgeworth Picnic Area Sandy Beach

Ledgeworth Picnic Area Rocky Outcrop

Our picnic at Ledgeworth Picnic Area

We have our picnic and then while Clifford naps, I wade in the water and take photos of the lake.

Wading in the lake

Priest Lake

When he wakes up, we walk to the rocky outcropping and find a rock to sit on where we can admire the lake.

Clifford and I walk to the rocky outcrop

Sitting on a rock

A young man comes with his guitar and sits nearby; I’m sure he was playing for himself and the lake, but it felt like we were being serenaded by his lovely music.

It is too late for me to play cello when we get back to camp; dinner and cleanup wrap up the day for us.

Thursday, August 25: 43 degrees – the chilliest night so far, but I sleep in, so even though it is still brisk when I go out, I am comfortable sitting in a patch of sunlight. Texts, mostly business, take up a chunk of time today, as well as beginning editing Alex’s interesting book. His wife is an excellent proof-reader, but it is always a good idea to have a someone take a fresh look at one’s writing. Today is my son Matt’s birthday, so I give him a call and as we chat, I walk along the lake picking up bits of wood that can be added to my woodpile.

Trail by Priest Lake

Play cello in the afternoon; I’ve only skipped playing on the days when we have gone somewhere. And before I know it, it is time for dinner, followed soon by bedtime.


Priest Lake – August 2016 – Part 2

Friday August 19: I go for a walk along the lake first thing this morning, not as far as yesterday, but with more excursions down to the water’s edge.

Excursion to the water’s edge


Sitting on a rock

I sit on a rock, desiring to do a “lake meditation,” but am too easily distracted by sounds: birds, boats, whatever. Playing cello and reading Alex’s book are the main focus of my day. Very noisy here today: ski jets on the lake, a chainsaw, a dirt-blower (like a snow-blower) used by our fastidious host to clean around the campground, excited kids, crying babies, whining dogs. It’s almost as bad as being in town.

Saturday August 20: I am up at 6:00 a.m., in time for the sunrise.

Sunrise at Priest Lake

Since it is a cool 45 degrees out, I decide to have a campfire this morning. I use a couple pieces of the firewood I brought, but mostly gather twigs and small branches from around the campsite. Make a cup of yerba matte and sit by the fire to write in my journal. Nice and quiet this time of the day.

Campfire with yerba matte and journal

Later, as I’m playing the cello, a couple of girls are curious enough to engage in conversation and I talk them into coming over and trying out the cello. That was fun for them and for me. In the afternoon, Clifford and I walk along the lake trail past Osprey, the next campground up the road. I’m going to explore it a bit more another day.

Walking the trail to Osprey with Clifford

Sunday August 21: Another cool morning and I make a campfire with wood I gathered on our walk yesterday. I try the technique for quieting the mind, per Alex’s book, but too many distractions: Mel stopping by, Clifford getting up, the fire needing tending, and so on. Today is a quieter day, as many campers leave fairly early. I finish the book, briefly check email on the tablet, and have just enough power on the laptop to edit one chapter for the Montana author whose book I have been editing. Power has been inadequate here due to lots of trees and not much sunshine on the solar panels; we are grateful for the shade, which has kept us comfortable, but not being able to use my laptop puts a crimp in my editing and blogging. Glad I have the cello and play it a couple of times today.

Walking the trail to Osprey

In the afternoon, I walk along the lake trail to Osprey by myself and walk around its long loop, checking out possibilities for next year. After dinner, Clifford and I sit outside, as the temperature is quite mild, but it is past my bedtime, so I soon head to bed.

Monday August 22: In the night last night, my tooth problem flared up, which is not a good thing, but an ibuprofin helped. Today, since we are going to town, there is no time for a campfire, so I stay warm and cozy in bed until Clifford is ready to get up. Then we head off to Priest River, about a 25 mile drive, to mail some government forms that we finished filling out over the weekend. We get all the way there before I discover that the papers to be mailed at still at camp. I am super annoyed at the waste of time and gas to drive down here, but we make the best of it by going on to Newport and getting groceries at the Safeway there. We check out a couple of small campgrounds on our way back to Outlet Bay, including one near the little village of Coolin on the SE shore of Priest Lake. 

View of Priest Lake from Coolin

Even though we still have papers to mail, we have a nice little outing.

Priest Lake – August 2016 – Part 1

Our trip to Priest Lake in northwest Idaho begins with internet research to find out where the forest service camps are located, followed by a couple of phone calls.  Seems that more and more campgrounds require reservation, which is a drag for those of us who come and go depending on weather, health, and finances. I settle on the campground at Outlet Bay after a call to the camp host: other campgrounds either have no water, are over-crowded, or too far north for us.

Wednesday – August 17: Almost everything was packed yesterday, so this morning is just watering the little garden and the houseplants and getting the cold food into a cooler. Even so, we get a later start than hoped for, and almost as soon as we leave Wallace, we run into road construction, which further slows us down.

We make brief stops in Coeur d Alene for gas, propane, and a few groceries before we head north to Newport, WA. We encounter road construction much of the way, chatting with a flagger for several minutes at one stop. At Newport, we head east on highway 2 to the small town of Priest River and then north again, on highway 57. Finally we arrive at Outlet Campground, later in the afternoon than we had planned, but luckily several of the first-come sites are still available and we pick the one that suits us best.

Glimmers of Priest Lake

All the sites along the lake are reservation-only, but from our site, we can see little glimmers of the lake through the trees. Our site is roomy, though not as far off the road as I like. We are surrounded by cedars, Douglas fir, and a variety of shrubs, offering a fair amount of privacy. It takes us awhile to get set up because the parking pad is not level. Once things are in place inside and out, Clifford takes a nap while I walk down to Priest Lake, admiring its clear blue expanse of water.

Clear blue expanse of water

When it cools off, I take the cello out and play for awhile. Figure since I’ve hauled it all the way up here, I’d better make use of it! Once Clifford wakes up, we have nachos for a late dinner.  Before heading to bed, we admire the reflection of the rising moon on the lake, happy to be out of town.

Moon rising over Priest Lake

Thursday August 18: First thing this morning, I go for a walk on the trail along the lake shore that I noticed yesterday. The trail goes right next to the lake-side campsites, but once I am past the campground, the trail is pretty with some autumn colors and views of lake through the trees.

Lake through the trees
Autumn colors at Priest Lake


The Lakeshore Trail at Priest Lake

Back at camp, I talk to Mel, the 83-year-old camp host making his rounds, then make tea and write in my journal. After breakfast, I take out the cello and serenade the lake and the trees. 

In the afternoon, I begin reading the manuscript of a book written by very special and interesting friends of ours, Alex & Ardeth Merklinger.  I have to read on Clifford’s tablet, which is not the easiest way to read a book, but that is what I have. Later on, a strong wind comes up very suddenly and the calm lake is now white-capped with hefty waves rolling into the shore. Quite exciting, really.

Waves come rolling in


White caps on Priest Lake

We have chicken ‘n rice and veges for a tasty dinner. After clean-up, I take a shower before heading to bed, washing off the warmth of the day and the dust of the trail.