(font weirdness in this entry – normal service resumed soon, I hope)
We spent last weekend camping at Heyburn State Park in
northern Idaho. The campsite was set in the forest, a few metres
from the deep blue waters of Lake Coeur D’Alene, and this made for excellent swimming, kayaking and
Camping in the USA can be very civilized. You look up campsite maps
online, choose your spot, check out photos and facilities and make a booking
all from the comfort of home. And two nights on a powered site (all they had
left) was a whopping $45. You even get a picnic table included on your site.
However you have to supply your own table cloth for the picnic table – from
observation it is clear that not having a table cloth on your campsite picnic
table in simply un-American. Many add optional decorative flowers.
On Saturday we did a 4 hour hike from the campsite. First it took us around a
marsh that was full of obvious, noisy birdlife and many hidden animals like
beavers and muskrats. The best sighting was of a huge great blue heron.
I like this bird a lot. First, it’s big, and big is always impressive to my
simple mind. Second it’s bright blue, and hence easily recognizable to my
rather color-deficient eyes. And third, it’s close to the colors worn by Manchester City, the football club I have
supported, at great emotional cost, since about the age of 4. Maybe I should
check out these birds more often – City beat Arsenal that day for the first
time in the Premiership. Great blue herons are perhaps a good omen.
The hike then went up the side of a creek and climbed to a ridge top known as
Indian Cliffs. The ridge was apparently a favorite camping spot of the Coeur D’Alene indian tribe. Presumably
they liked the view from up there – it was very impressive indeed looking
across the lake – but it did seem a long way to go to get a fish or two to me.
We got back to the campsite pretty hot and sweaty, so finding somewhere to swim
seemed a fine idea. A mile along the lake there was a marina with a swimming
beach. The clear refreshing water was a pleasure to splash around in. We cooled
off in the lake while watching the other campers playing with their children
and smoking. Cigarettes are about $2.50 a packet in Idaho, and the locals seem to take advantage of the ‘more
you smoke, the more you save’ adage with some vigor! Then it was beer-o-clock,
so we headed back to the campsite for a relaxing evening BBQ-ing and sipping
wine around the campfire.
After packing up on Sunday morning, we drove back to the swimming area and
inflated the trusty inflatable kayak.
I had the crazy idea of trying to paddle up the river through the marsh we’d
walked around the previous day, to see what else we could find. It would
certainly give a different perspective of the marsh. So off we headed, and it
took us about 20 minutes to paddle back towards the campsite. Probably not
surprisingly, from kayak-level on the lake, spotting the entrance up the river
in to the marsh was pretty tricky. We floundered around paddling through the
reeds and water lilies for a good 10 minutes, all rather hopelessly lost. The
vegetation was well above our heads, and we simply had no real idea where to
Eventually we carefully paddled back in to open water, and 2 minutes later
found the very obvious river mouth. Paddling through the marsh was interesting,
but it was midday by then, and most self-respecting animals were
resting and escaping the midday
heat (it was about 35C). The highlight was a chaotic reeds and twigs and logs
construction of a beaver den that had been
cut from the edge of the marsh. Incredibly industrious beasts, these
beavers. Some of substantial size logs would’ve had to have been pulled or
floated a good 200m from the forest edge to the den. It definitely wasn’t a Meriton
construction (Sydney joke). On our way back down river towards the lake,
we sat outside the den for a few minutes to see if we’d get a welcome party,
but to no avail.
Another swim, lunch and a comfortable 180 mile drive home finished off a very
pleasant weekend. And we got 23 miles per gallon from the truck
– 10% more than advertised. Happy with that