Family at the Lake

June 13-16, 2021

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,map

Sunday, June 13, Drive North

The northernmost goal of our Big Western Road Trip was a visit with my cousin Tom and his wife Kathleen at their cabin on Priest Lake, just a few miles south of the Canadian border. The place was only about a two-hour drive from CDA and we left early enough to take our time.

AlbaniviewWe paused at a couple of places, including the Albeni Falls dam, site of a 1955 dam that was apparently one of the last additions to the Columbia River complex of hydroelectric. Growing up in the Northwest, dams big and small were the part of every drive and the lakes they create were often swimming or camping destinations, so this was a bit of a trip down memory lane.

On schedule for our promised noonish arrival, we drove Carla down the steep, gravel driveway to park above our red roofed inn for the stay. Tom and Kathleen's place is perfect, in a wonderful setting.

driewayaddresslook back

Soon enough, we had settled on the dock for a light snack and plenty of chit chat.


Sharon DaveothersLater, neighbors Joan and Dave joined us on the deck to help celebrate Tom and Kathleen's 51st wedding anniversary. Joan, who is Kathleen sister, told Marianne and me the story of how they were responsible for introducing the anniversary couple fifty-some years ago. Nice story.

After the celebration, we went for a neighborhood walk, seeing houses big and small, and watching waves and a creek or two. I'm not sure we were walking quick enough for it to qualify as exercise, but it was the best we felt like doing.

big house 1911 house beach
boat creek rock sign


We finished the day with barbecued salmon, salad, and more talking. The talking part continued until the sun was gone behind the waters of Priest Lake. More good family stories.


Monday, June 14, A Day Around the Beach

(I wrote this two or three days later and, when that happens, accuracy falls off. Oops.)

Monday's big event was a tour of Priest Lake in Tom and Kathleen's boat, a 23-foot Chaparral with a big V-8. Despite its 34 years, it is in pristine shape and we felt like real jet-setters zipping around. Others on the lake were in slower craft, for sure.

boat wave
cabin cyaks

1987 cabin18,000 footMuch of our drive was along the shoreline where we could "tour" the residences. I think they are all called "lake cabins", from the 1987 Vintner-Nelson log structure to a not-yet-finished 18,000 square-foot monster that is the talk of the community. Cabins, all.

There are also a handful of resorts spread along the East and West shores of Priest Lake. Reportedly, all are for sale, with pandemic difficulties accumulated on top of business that are hard in the best of times. On our sunny Monday, running a lake resort sounded ideal, but it is a short season up here in the far north.

sort Cpt Tom girls

We went half way to the end of the lake which, in turn, is just about 15 miles away from the Canadian border. I swear this picture on the left shows the Canadian Rockies. On the right is the scene coming back to home port - or is it "cabin port" up here?.

Canada? tour come back

chillinI think we all spent the rest of the afternoon chilling, although only our ship captain Tom deserved a rest. Something about the sun and wind and boat-bouncing wore me out, I know that.BBQ

Despite his earlier sea duty, Tom was also pressed back into service cooking "Impossible Burgers" for us and neighbors. Most of the conversation dealt with the intricacies of lake life where I think the purpose of these cabins is to provide chores in between guests. That pattern seemed common among all the seasonal residents.

guests guetss too

After neighbors left, Tom, Kathleen, Marianne , and I continued to talk about the world, from politics to our own experiences since childhood, and to lake life. Tom and I did not grow up close cousins, in part because we seldom lived in the same town and, as adults, his naval career and my wandering-engineer gigs meant we had seen little of each other over the last 50 or 60 years. We need to fix that. (And we will, since we plan to return in September for a small reunion of first cousins.)

Tuesday, June 15, Explore Some Moredawn

We woke up to thunder and heavy rain, but by breakfast time the lake was quiet again. The morning light is early up here in the far north-east part of the Pacific Daylight Time Zone, but very calming. Plans were sparse, and that was OK.

atticPart of the morning was devoted to small lake-life chores: The attic needed cleaning before the carpet guys show up, a door needed changing in the basement, Marianne and I needed to do our laundry, and I wanted to do some diary writing. All but the last happened, but writing got distracted by talking. That seems to be the way of our stay here and is a much better use of time!

Leonard PaulM knuckleThe next chores were errands into the town of Coolin. Tom refilled a propane tank at Leonard Paul, one of the local businesses that has just reopened under new ownership after pandemic and other business struggles. Then we went to the Moose Knuckle gas station and cafe for chain saw fuel and a picture of the sign. (I will leave it to the reader to discover the meaning of Moose Knuckle.)

coffeeWe also sampled the local food scene, starting with patio coffee at the Tyee Coffee Company - The Lake. The weather was a bit chilly, but that can't discourage us lake people. Our lunch-dinner was at Hill's Resort, after our first choices were discovered to be closed. The speculation was that recovery from pandemic shutdowns has been slowed by a slow return of either customers or staff - or both?

Wednesday, June 16, Long Road Home

We packed for an early start on a direct road home. Kathleen insisted on feeding us before our journey, but we still made it out before 9:00. The Trotter family hospitality has been wonderful, a highlight of our six weeks of travel. We face returning home with mixed feelings, but we promised to return in September!

Traveling to see family turned out great. We need to do it more often.

Stay tuned,
John and Marianne