The Drive Back to SLC

The next morning we were in no rush. We packed up our site and drove into town to hang out at Purcell Coffee for a while. We went on a wild goose chase for postcards and did some last minute shopping along the main street. We had visited the Art Gallery of Golden on our first day in town and both really liked one of the artists, Christa Rijneveld. I couldn’t afford a canvas, but I could afford a print. So I decided to make an impulse purchase on our way out too.

Our drive home would take longer, so we had two stops planned: Sandpoint, Idaho, and Philipsburg, Montana. The drive from Golden to Sandpoint was really pleasant. We were happy to be heading home, but also sorrowful to be leaving. We crossed the border at Eastport, Idaho, and it felt odd to be back in the US so quickly.

Zach had booked us an Airbnb room in a nice home near the shores of Lake Pend Oreille (Pend d’Oreille in French, it’s pronounced Ponderay). I was immensely excited about the prospect of sleeping in a bed and taking a real shower. We discovered that our host was also a Tex-pat with a dachshund (!) which made Sandpoint feel like an instant homecoming. She also told us a little about the town including an important nugget of info: fellow Texan, Matthew McConaughey, has a home on one of the many islands in Lake Pend Oreille and has been seen around Sandpoint! We could only be so lucky…

Neither of us had been in the panhandle of Idaho before, so we were stunned to find a lake as immense as Pend Oreille. Shaped like an ear, it’s the fifth deepest lake in the US and has been used by the Navy as a model submarine testing site. It was also an inland naval base during WWII. Farragut Naval Training Station opened in 1942 and was home to nearly 300,000 recruits in the four years it was operational. The base even received 750 German and Austrian POWs who worked on site alongside American servicemen. Though the base was decommissioned in 1946, and is now Farragut State Park, the Navy still runs sonar and submarine tests in the lake for its Acoustic Research Detachment. As is the case with many large, deep lakes, Pend Oreille has its own rumored lake monster, the Pend Oreille Paddler, though it doesn’t sound very intimidating.

We wanted to go into town for dinner and walk around a bit. Our host recommended a great place, Beet & Basil, where we had a deliciously healthy meal. Then we walked around the city beach shore and down the main street before having a beer at Mick Duff’s. We were pretty beat, so we called it an early night and SLEPT SO WELL.

Dinner at Beet & Basil

The city beach

In the morning we had breakfast at our Airbnb and stopped in Sandpoint for coffee at Evans Brothers Coffee (a super cool place!) before setting off for Philipsburg. We drove along the northern/northeastern bend of Lake Pend Oreille for a long time, all the way to its outlet at the Clark Fork River. The rest of our drive was particularly beautiful. It was one of those afternoon drives which feel perfect and fleeting.

The campground Zach wanted to use near Philipsburg was closed, so we had to go to Georgetown Lake instead. Thankfully we had no trouble finding a site though we were very much in the minority as tent campers. I instantly missed the separated campgrounds of Canada. We set up and drove back into Philipsburg for a quick dinner and beer at the brewery. This was our second trip to Philipsburg, and we enjoyed it immensely. It’s such a quaint place to hang out. We haven’t been able to do much shopping in town since we always arrive late in the afternoon and all of the shops close early. But this time we managed to get into The Sweet Palace to buy taffy and fudge before they closed!

The Sweet Palace, a guilt-free zone

So. Many. Options.

The next morning we were up and packed a little earlier than anticipated. As soon as the generators start, it’s impossible to sleep any later. We stopped in Dillon for coffee and breakfast sandwiches at Sweetwater Coffee again, and then it was the final familiar stretch to Salt Lake. We picked up an excited Truman from Lisa and Ryan in exchange for a haul of Canadian treats, and then we were finally home. For a while at least…

Breakfast portrait

Dumb, “we’re back!” picture

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