I actually thought we had traveled this road many times, as we had
driven around the Wildlife Refuge. A small argument ensued, (which
of course, is an exercise in futility for me, with Jo and her maps) about the name of the road. Of course she was right.
I was surprised to learn that by going straight instead of turning right, onto the Wildlife Refuge road, we would actually be on Westside Road that parallels the Kootenai valley on the west side.The drive was very pleasant, winding along the valley with occasional open views of the valley and the mountains on the other side.
After a few miles we started to see a strange looking crop growing upwards into pyramids with walkways between. A mile later, the crops were still on our right, and getting closer to the road. We could see what looked like small green berries growing on the pyramids.
We came to an intersection with a street sign “Budweiser Loop Drive”. “Those are HOPS!” we exclaimed. Hundreds and hundreds of acres of hops on the Anheuser Busch Breweries Farms.
After a few photos, we left the hops behind and proceeded on. We passed by more interesting yard art, and even a nice waterfall that we didn’t even have to hike to.
We also passed by this impressive little old log house and barn.
Much later, I noticed that the Jeep compass was saying we were going SW, which made no sense to either of us. We were thinking we should be going NE, toward the wildlife sanctuary. In fact we were expecting to find a long straight stretch of road that runs along the US/ Canada border to Idaho Hwy 1, leading back to Hwy 95 and on back to Bonners Ferry.
We passed by a US Border Patrol truck parked alongside the road,
and after a few more miles of traveling southwest, we realized that
somewhere we had made a wrong turn.
On the way back, (12 miles) Jo determined from the maps that we should
have turned onto a gravel road that went through the wildlife
sanctuary, instead of going the way we did. In fact we began to
realize that the border patrol agent we saw was “patrolling the
border”, a deep ravine with the US on one side and Canada on the
Finally, after finding our correct turn, we thought, “OK, ten miles
through the sanctuary and we hit the paved road back to Bonners
Ferry. It was a nice drive through the sanctuary. We saw only one
lonely deer, but we finally did find the long straight section of
road we were looking for. As we got closer to the end, we could even
start to see traffic moving nicely along Hwy 1 heading to Bonners
“Almost there”, I said. Then we came to the Kootenai river. No Bridge ! No way to get across ! It was a beautiful view of the river ! I even entertained a brief thought ….”I wonder if we could?…..nah! That water looks too blue and too deep to drive across” There was no other choice but to turn around and go back the ten miles to Westside Road. At that point we would still be 30 miles from home on a winding gravel road.
Studying the map yet again, Jo says “Take Big Bend Road. It goes over to Hwy 1”. It did, but on the way, as we were winding along the river, we came across what at first, looked like a huge building in the distance with the road disappearing into it. As we got closer we realized that the “building” was a massive combine, and it was moving towards us, taking up the whole road. All of it ! Ditch to ditch! Realizing finally that the driver of the combine had no intention of going back into the field, it was going to be up to us to drive into the field. Fortunately we were in our Jeep and there was no fence on the right side. Across the ditch we went, and out into the stubble of freshly combined grain as the combine passed by on the road.
After a lot of laughing about our adventure, we proceeded on an uneventful drive back home. It was way past dark, of course, and I had to settle for a birthday cake from the grocery store….. But it was a great birthday !! And Jo got her package mailed…..