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 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.