Spring Break 2016 – Idaho Adventure

Just 5 days after taking possession of our brand new 2016 Cardinal 3825FL we hit the road for our shakedown cruise with friends around Idaho, the Gem State.  In all we towed the Cardinal 1236 miles, not bad for its first journey with us.  Below is our travel log for this adventure. Hope you enjoy reading about all the places we visited along the way.  (Pictures to be uploaded soon.)


Sunday April 3, 2016 – Spokane to McCall, Idaho – $40/night Full Hookup at the McCall RV Resort.
Today we took our maiden flight with the new 5er, our 2016 Cardinal. We left around 9:45am and headed south to McCall, Idaho where we were to meet up with our friends Julie and Jeff and Julie’s parents Mike and Sharon at the McCall RV Resort. Our drive down the Palouse was gorgeous, the weather cooperated the entire 260 miles down. We stopped just past the base of the Whitebird Grade to have lunch just above the Salmon River. We pulled into the Resort at around 4:45pm, just in time before they closed (winter hours still). Once we got settled we headed into town with Julie and Jeff for dinner at the McCall Brewing Company where we had good food and drinks. After dinner we returned to camp and hit the indoor pool, sauna, and steamroom at the resorts lodge. What a great way to unwind after a long days drive. After our soak we returned back to our nest and watched the season 6 finale of The Walking Dead on our installed satellite system. I predict Glen is Neagan’s victim. I guess we will have to wait until October to find out. All in all a great 1st day. BTW when we arrived in McCall there was several feet of snow in the campground but it was around 50 degrees with shorts, tee-shirts and flip flop weather.


Monday, April 4, 2016 – McCall to Bruneau, ID – $8 dry camping at Idaho Power Cottonwood Campground
Today we decided to move on down towards Boise/Mountain Home, Idaho. We lifted off around 10:30am and hit Hwy 55 South. The drive down was beautiful with amazing canyons as we followed the Payette River south. We landed in Eagle, Idaho around 1pm and ate lunch in a large parking lot while we decided where we would call home for the next day or so. We decided on the Cottonwood Campground on the CJ Strike Reservoir on Idaho Power land. Total cost was $8 a night for dry camping right on the banks of the lake which was literally 20ft from our front door. The only bad thing about today was the wind. Ever since we left the Boise area we had 30mph constant winds. Most of the way it was at our back with a nice tailwind pushing us along but a few times it was on our passenger side and we were rocking and rolling pretty good. In all we drove 178 miles which took us nearly 5.5 hours due to slow travel through mountain passes and caravanning with 2 other large rigs. However the sun was shining and we are camping so we are always happy. Tonight will be our first night dry camping. We will see how it goes with our stock battery setup.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016 – Bruneau, ID – $8 dry camping at Idaho Power Cottonwood Campground
Last night was our first night dry camping. The batteries lasted but not as well as we had hoped. We went to bed around 10pm and woke up at 8am and in the 10 hours we were sleeping the batteries went down to 11.7 volts, which it should never go below 12. All that was running was the fridge (residential fridge), our 2 cellphones and the fan running the furnace. We also found that the generator keeps tripping whenever we use the fireplace. Very frustrating but all bugs that can be worked out will be worked out. After breakfast we headed out with Julie and Jeff for a truck hike. We headed north back towards Boise and ended up taking some OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) roads on some BLM land. I wouldn’t really call them roads, more like jeep trails. It was called the Fossil Creek OHV Area. It was probably around 10 miles of off road driving all on dirt. At the half way point we found an old cattle corral so we stopped for a photo op. Then we headed back down to the highway (Hwy 78) until we saw a road leading to Silver City, Idaho (an old ghost town). There was a sign that said road closed, anyone needing rescue would have to pay for such services, so what did we do… we took it. At the 7 mile marker we hit dirt (it was a total of 20 miles to Silver City) at the 16.5 marker we hit snow and it was unpassable. So close but no cigar. We tried to walk in but only made it about a half mile. The snow was just too deep, wet and slick and we were losing daylight for a 7 mile round trip hike to the ghost town and back. We vow to come back some summer when the road is open and explore the old town.  Over 70 structures still stand and in the summer tourist activities are available including a hotel. We made our way back down the mountain (we were up to 6200ft in elevation) and then headed into Nampa via Hwy 78. We found a Camping World in Meridian and also hit up a Petco and had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. We finally made it home around 9pm and played Yahtzee at Julie and Jeff’s until 10:30pm. After a short walk with the dogs we called it a night. Tomorrow we move to the Arco area and Craters of the Moon.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016 – Bruneau, ID to Twin Falls, ID – $35 /night at the Jerome/Twin Falls KOA
Some days things just don’t go as planned and today was one of those days. It started off great with a group breakfast and then Gary and Jeff took the wave runners out for a spin on the reservoir. I took the extra time to enjoy a nice shower and get the trailer ready for travel.  We didn’t end up leaving camp until well after noon and we headed East. The original plan was to head towards Craters of the Moon and the Magic Reservoir area but that all changed when we couldn’t find a campground. (We were originally going to try the West Magic Resort but their website clearly stated that all dogs are to remain in vehicles at all time and considering we had 6 dogs traveling in our caravan , 2 per vehicle, that was not going to be an option for us.) We ended up changing direction and headed towards Haggerton. The 1st campground had just sold out so we moved down Hwy 30 trying for another one. When we got there, it was a dry campground (no alcohol allowed) so we decided to try another one we had just passed but when I called them back they had just sold out too so we ended up driving to the Twin Falls area and stayed at the Jerome /Twin Falls KOA.  We were quickly reminded how much we dislike commercial campgrounds. To top it off we just learned one of our traveling friends Mom was just admitted into the hospital back home and they may have to head home earlier than planned. The plan at the moment is to do some laundry, top off the batteries, and try to find someplace else for tomorrow night (my birthday). We will see how that goes.


Thursday, April 7, 2016 – Twin Falls, ID – $35/night at the Jerome/Twin Falls KOA
Today was Stacey’s birthday. Late last night we decided to stay at the KOA and make it home base for a total of 3 nights. Today we decided to go north and explore the Shoshone Ice Cave and Mammoth Cave. When we arrived at the Shoshone Ice Cave (furthest up the road) we were sad to learn it was closed until May. Since we were only 55 miles away from Craters of the Moon we decided to go there next. We arrived around 1pm and had lunch in the campground. We then visited the Visitor Center and then toured the Loop Drive. We hiked to several of the cones and near the end we hiked back to Indian Tunnel which was a 1.6 RT hike. The Indian Tunnel was amazing. We descended over 60ft down to the cave floor and then traversed huge bolder piles throughout the cave over 800 ft to the exit which was just a little bigger than ourselves.  I was a little underdressed (shorts and flip flops) but it was totally worth it. Walking back to the main path was just as fun and amazing. We then returned back to camp, sat around the fire and BBQ’d steaks for my birthday. Today was totally out of this world and I loved every minute of it. Couldn’t ask for a better birthday. Tomorrow is another day of exploring the area before we break away from our friends and do our own thing.


Friday, April 8, 2016 – Twin Falls, ID – $35/night at the Jerome/Twin Falls KOA
Today was our last full day in the Twin Falls area and caravanning with the Herrington’s.  We started the day by driving North on Hwy 93 back up to the Mammoth Cave just north of Shoshone, Idaho. For $10 we could walk thru the cave and tour the bird museum. It was very fascinating to see. On our way back home we got a HUGE rock chip the size of a baseball in our windshield so we had to rearrange our plans slightly to get a new windshield installed. While we waited for the repair we took Mike’s Jeep to the Shoshone Falls to see the amazing waterfall. After getting the truck back the boys took the wave runners out and Julie and I went shopping. After shopping we stopped at the Perrine Bridge to see if we could see any BASE jumpers jump from the bridge which is 486ft above the Snake River. It is a very popular place for BASE jumping. BASE stands for Building Antenna Span and Earth. We were able to witness 5 people jump from the bridge, 3 men and 2 women. It was amazing to watch and video their jumps. After about an hour of watching we headed back to camp and started dinner.  We all sat around the fire until 10ish and then everyone went to bed. Tomorrow is another moving day. We plan to stop somewhere near Craters of the Moon again.


Saturday, April 9, 2016 – Twin Falls, ID to Craters of the Moon National Park – dry camping $8/night at the Craters of the Moon NP Campground
Today we woke up early to break camp and have a little time with everyone before we went our separate ways. We finally headed out around 10:30am or so. We stopped in Shoshone to fill up our propane tanks. The genny read 12.9hrs and we took on 17.9 gallons of LP. (This included our small tank for the Firepit.) After getting the LP we headed North on Hwy 93 towards Craters of the Moon. We ended up driving thru the campground and our preferred spot #11 was open so we called it good for the day.  After setting up we decided to take a well deserved nap. We then BBQ’d some steaks and enjoyed the quiet evening. A storm was brewing off in the distance right at sunset so we decided to drive out to the Inferno Cone and climb it right at dark. I guess its not the smartest thing to do with a lightning storm off in the distance but boy was it beautiful.


Sunday, April 10, 2016 – Craters of the Moon NP to North Fork, ID – Full Hookup $29/night at the River’s Fork Lodge and RV Park
Today we woke to a nearly empty campground. We took our time getting ready to go because our push was just over 150 miles. We finally lifted off around 11am and headed north again on Hwy 93 towards Arco.  The drive was amazing as the Lost River Mountain range was on our right all the way up. We stopped at the pullout for Mt Borah, the tallest peak in Idaho, and dropped the trailer on the side of the road to check out a roadside attraction.  There was a fracture in the earth that was created in 1983 when an earthquake hit the area and the valley floor dropped 9 feet and the mountain rose 1 foot. It was very interesting geology to read and see in person.  After our little side trip we steamed north and finally pulled into Salmon around 1:30pm to have lunch. We found a fishing hole to park and eat and where we scouted where to park it for the night.  We finally decided on staying at the Rivers Fork Lodge and RV Park in North Fork, Idaho. Cost was $29 for full hookup. The grounds were nice and the space was a nice double wide spot (#2) with the Salmon River literally 10 feet off the back of the trailer. We enjoyed watching bald eagles, osprey, great blue herons, white swans and other birds fly by. After dark we watched Star Wars, the Force Awakens. A great end to a great day. Tomorrow’s plan, Lolo Hot Springs in Montana.


Monday, April 11, 2016 – North Fork, ID to Lolo Hot Springs, MT – Elec Hookup $24/night at Lolo Hot Springs Campground
Today we awoke and found our next door neighbor already packing up to go home and as we sat and watched we noticed some major mistakes and his biggest was not completely hooking his hitch.  When he went to leave his trailer stayed put and ended up smashing his tailgate pretty bad. Not a great way to start a Monday for him.  After we got everything packed ourselves, we hit the road and continued north on Hwy 93 to Lolo, Montana. We went over Lost Trail Pass (elevation 7012ft) and it was another beautiful drive. We finally turned west on Hwy 12 at Lolo and drove the final 25 mile to Lolo Hot Springs just before the Idaho/Montana border. I wouldn’t really call this a resortm more of a campground. There are approximately 17 little cabins you can rent and 38 or so elec/water rv spaces. We are in spot #6 which is situated right up against the Lolo Creek. Across the street from the campground is the pool house where they have an inside pool and an outside pool, both fed by hot springs.  There is also a bar and grill and a lodge and a little store where you can rent ATV’s out of.  After we got situated we went over and had lunch at the bar and grill.  It was good food considering the location.  Later in the evening we went soaking in the indoor pool (the outdoor pool was closed for maintenance.) The pool ranged from 101 degrees to 104 degrees F. We met several Missoulians who came up to soak as well as several employees. We learned that many if not all resort employees live on the property. Some live in the cabins, some in RV’s and trailers, and even a school bus or two. The only complaint I would have here is the constant barking of some employee dogs. Last night there were only 2 camping customers besides ourselves and the rest seem to be employees. Looking at the schedule of events board this place seems to be a hopping place in season with live bands, an adult prom, karaoke sundays, and soaking specials throughout the week. Tomorrow the outdoor pool should open back up and I can’t wait for that one. We also plan to maybe go to the Jerry Johnson Hot Springs up the road or to Missoula tomorrow.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016 – Lolo Hot Springs, MT – Elec Hookup $24/night at Lolo Hot Springs Campground
Today we enjoyed knowing we didn’t have to go anywhere. We used the morning to just chill by the fire and reflect on the past 10 days. What a fun and beautiful trip. We love we are back in the mountains again. The tall peaks, evergreen trees and snow capped hills tell us we are almost home. Around noon we headed into Missoula so I could stock up on some new Griz gear (I went to college at the University of Montana back in the 90’s). We hit up the bookstore and I bought a new shirt, hoodie, and sweatpants as well as some new griz stickers for the new RV and one for my car. After visiting the University we headed downtown and had lunch at the Tamarack. We both had great sandwiches. While in town we also hit up the local Cabelas Outpost and stopped at Albertsons for some more firewood since the campground didn’t have any for sale yet. We then headed back up to Lolo and hit the pools as soon as we got home. We were able to enjoy both pools this evening. The outdoor pool was significantly cooler (approx 70 degrees) so we just briefly swam in it a couple of times to cool off. The indoor pool was once again running 101 to 104 degrees. After soaking we headed back to the trailer and built a campfire. We sat by the fire for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow we head home.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016 – Lolo Hot Springs to Spokane, WA
The last day of our trip was a breeze. We were on the road by 9:30am and headed back through Missoula to I-90 and headed West. I-90 for the most part was smooth except for that one notable bump just outside Kellogg, Idaho OUCH!!! We touched down at home by 3:30 after we stopped by a local scale to get our weights on the new rig.  Upon arrival at home we got back into the normal routine of home life. Until our next adventure.