McCall, Idaho – Summer Beach Fun on Pretty Payette Lake

July-August 2016 – McCall, Idaho, is perched right on the edge of beautiful Payette Lake, and in the summertime it is a wonderful waterfront beach town if there ever was one. What a great destination for an RV trip!

Payette Lake shore near Legacy Park McCall Idaho

McCall, Idaho, is a fantastic beach town!!

Even though McCall sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet, the temps in August were toasty warm and everyone was enjoying cooling off at the waterfront beach parks. What a beautiful setting!

Jet skis on the beach McCall Idaho

A rainbow of jet skis ready for action.

Beach umbrellas McCall Idaho Payette Lake

A nice spot to unwind for a while!

Kids were everywhere, and they were just loving the town beach. Two little boys were standing in the water blowing bubbles and two little girls up on the beach were trying to catch them.

Beach at Legacy Park McCall Idaho Payette Lake

Kids blow bubbles on the beach.

A little ways down the beach a little girl was playing with a wagon.

Playing on the beach McCall Idaho


Boats were lined up at the docks, and there was a steady stream of boaters heading out onto the lake.

Payette Lake Sports and Marina McCall Idaho

Bikes and boats – what could be more fun?!

The main street of McCall is very cute with historic buildings wedged together cheek-by-jowel. For those that want to cool off without going swimming, we found a skating rink just a few doors down with sessions that are open to the public.

Historic buildings downtown McCall Idaho

The main drag, just in from the beach, has some classic old buildings.

We made our way to Mountain Java on many mornings, sipping a tasty cuppa joe while sitting in the colorful Adirondack chairs that fill the lawn in front of the Mountain Monkey Business store and look out onto Payette Lake.

This was a wonderful way to start the morning, and we met both locals and tourists alike while kicking back and savoring the view and a brew.

Mountain Monkey Business and Mountain Java McCall Idaho

These colorful chairs on a lawn overlooking the lake became our morning hangout!

By a stroke of very good luck, we happened to be in town during the Antique and Classic Boat Show at the elegant Shore Lodge on the edge of Payette Lake. What a fabulous display of lovingly varnished boats from yesteryear!

Antique wooden boat show Shore Lodge McCall Idaho Payette Lake

What good fortune to be in town on the weekend of the Antique and Classic Boat Show!

These gorgeous boats were known as “lakers” in their day, because they were specifically designed for happy boating days on fresh water lakes. Their meticulously varnished and gleaming woodwork wouldn’t hold up to the salt water of the ocean.

Cockpit of classic wooden boat Payette Lake McCall Idaho

I could handle a day on the lake in a classy boat like this!!

I can just imagine spending a day on the water in one of these, complete with lunch at anchor in some secluded cove on the lake.

Antique and classic boat show Shore Lodge Payette Lake McCall Idaho

Let’s go for a ride!!

These boats have a lot of get-up-and-go too, and many of them have been upgraded with modern engines that have even more zip. The owners of these classic boats just love them and love talking about them too.

Antique and classic boat show Payette Lake Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

This boat won Best in Show. No wonder the owner is grinning!!

Whenever one fired up its engine, a little crowd would form around the boat to listen to the engine purr and to find out where the owner had purchased the boat, what its history was, and what he had done to refurbish it to its former glory.

There’s nothing like a classic yacht, and last year during our travels in Maine, we took a fabulous factory tour of Hinckley Yachts, a boat builder that has morphed from producing stunning sailing yachts to zippy, luxurious powerboats.

Antique and Classic Boat Show Shore Lodge Payette Lake McCall Idaho

Some of the boats went out for a spin while small crowds watched from the dock.

The boats here in McCall, Idaho, were a lot smaller than the Hinckleys in Maine, but their owners got just as much pleasure from taking them out for a spin. Every time someone began untying the dock lines and shoved off into water, there was a murmur of oohs and aahs from the rest of us watching in envy from the dock.

The setting for this fabulous boat show was the equally fabulous Shore Lodge, a high end resort hotel that presides over one end of McCall’s lakefront.

Welcome to the Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

Welcome to the Shore Lodge… Come on in!!

We wandered through the elegant Shore Lodge and explored its many nooks and crannies. It dates back to 1948 and has many refined touches of an earlier age.

Shore Lodge dining room etched glass sign McCall idaho

The historic Shore Lodge is a very elegant hotel right on Payette Lake.

The dining room has a breathtaking view of the docks below and all of Payette Lake and the distant mountains too. For those that needed a break from walking between the antique wooden boats, this was a great place for a bite to eat with a bird’s eye view of the goings-on.

Waterfront dining Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

Enjoy a fine meal while watching the boat show out on the docks!

McCall, Idaho, has a lot more to offer than just beach and boating fun, though. We found some fantastic mountain biking trails west of town near Brundage Mountain, and we enjoyed a beautiful bike ride through Ponderosa State Park which is located on a peninsula that juts out into Payette Lake on the east side of town.

Mountain Biking Brundage Mountain McCall Idaho

We found lots of mountain biking trails and dirt roads on both sides of town.



One day we took a drive down Highway 55 to do some exploring south of McCall. We came across the historic town of Roseberry which was settled by a few Finnish families in the 1800’s.

Roseberry Idaho historic Finnish settlement

Roseberry, Idaho, was settled by Finns and is an interesting townsite today.

The whole area is now a museum that honors those rugged settlers and offers a peek into their lives.

Antique cabin Finnish settlement Roseberry Idaho

Finns had unique log cabin construction techniques that they brought to the New World.

There are some old log cabins that the families lived in as well as a fun town site with a general store, church, school, barn and other neat buildings.

Inside a cabin Roseberry Idaho Finnish historic settlement

And we think RV living is simple!

The town of Roseberry had its hey day in the early 1900’s, boasting a hotel, two black smith shops , a butcher shop, logging mill, creamery and restaurant. However, ten years later, the Pacific, Idaho and Northern Railroad line came through about 2 miles west of town, and Roseberry wilted while the bustling town of Donnelly right on the railroad tracks thrived.

Amazingly, lots of Roseberry people moved their homes and shops over to Donnelly to take advantage of the boom there, transporting their buildings by wagon! It’s hard to imagine that kind of boom and exodus today, especially given the easily driven luxury homes we RVers get to live in.

Historic Roseberry Idaho

Wandering around Roseberry, Idaho, made for an enjoyable afternoon.

Down at Lake Cascade, next to the town of Cascade, we found several campgrounds along the shoreline. RVers, boaters and fishermen were enjoying these lakeside campsites. We didn’t stay, but what a great spot to camp!

Truck camper and boat at Lake Cascade Idaho

Payette Lake isn’t the only game in town.Lake Cascade a few miles south is very beautiful and quiet too!

Back in McCall, we enjoyed some moonless nights, and one evening Mark snuck out with his new 12 mm fish eye lens to catch the Milky Way straight up overhead. This made a very cool effect!

Milky Way above the trees McCall Idaho

The Milky Way crosses the heavens high above us while a shooting star zips by.

If you are looking for a wonderful area for an RV trip in the heat of the summer, McCall, Idsho, is a very fun beach town. There are more links to help you plan your travels below.

RV camping in McCall Idaho


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Here’s a little more info about McCall, Payette Lake, Roseberry, etc:

Some related posts from our Idaho and the NW Montana / Idaho Panhandle RV travels:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
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    An Idaho Panhandle RV Trip on US-95: Sandpoint, Moscow & McCall

    July 2016 – After a truly stunning few weeks in northern Montana — from adventures on the east side of Glacier National Park to learning about the unique history of Libby, Montana, and photographing the special wildlife and unique giant trees nearby — we took our RV on Idaho’s scenic back roads in the panhandle southbound from Sandpoint through Moscow to McCall.

    RV on a river in Idaho

    On the back roads of Idaho

    The summer was really heating up in northern Idaho, and when we arrived in Sandpoint, on the shores of beautiful Lake Pend Oreille, we were delighted to find that the small town of Sandpoint transforms into a beach town when the temps climb over 80 degrees.

    Sandpoint City Beach Park in Idaho

    Sandpoint City Beach Park on Lake Pend Oreille

    The small town hugs the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille, and people were taking full advantage of the summer sun to get out on the lake in anything that floated, from boats to kayaks to stand-up paddleboards.

    Standup paddle boards Sandpoint Idaho

    Sandpoint idaho has lots of summertime action on the lake.

    We discovered the wonderful Pend Oreille Bay Trail that runs along the water’s edge. This biking and hiking path offers both brief glimpses of the lake through the trees and open sweeping views.

    Pend Oreille Bay Trail Sandpoint Idaho

    Pend Oreille Bay Trail

    The trail is wonderfully shaded for much of its length and is a joy to walk, run or ride at any time of day.

    Pend Oreille Bay Trail bike path and running trail Sandpoint Idaho

    This shaded path goes right along the shoreline.

    There are paved bike paths all around Sandpoint City Beach Park too, and we rode everywhere.

    Riding the bicycle path in Sandpoint Idaho

    Sandpoint has bike paths all over the place.

    Sandpoint, Idaho, is such a bike friendly town, we even found a colorful sculpture celebrating two wheeled transport.

    Bike sculpture Sandpoint Idaho

    Sandpoint is a two-wheeler town!

    One day we spotted a van with bicycles on the roof. It turned out to be the famous PAC Tour, a challenging cross-country bicycle tour that puts even the hardiest cyclists to the test.

    Pac Tour cross-country bicycle tour in Sandpoint Idaho

    We bumped into the PAC Tour in Sandpoint!

    Their route travels from west to east and takes a little over 30 days. The cyclists were still fresh, as it was only Day 5. They had barely hit the big western mountains and were still a week away from the daylong 130 mile slogs across the flatter plains states. Kudos to all of them for taking on this huge athletic challenge!

    PAC Tour cross-country bicycle tour route for 2016

    These energetic cyclists had just started and had a long ways to go…

    The town of Sandpoint is very cute, and we enjoyed walking around the historic district. At one end of town we found the Libation District which has both brewpubs and a winery on both sides of the street. No shortage of fun there!!

    At the other end of town we found Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters where we got a peak at all of their coffee roasting equipment. For lovers of dark, rich coffee, their Guatemalan roast is really yummy. We took home a bag!!

    Evans Brothers Coffee Raosters Sandpoint Idaho

    Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters makes delicious coffee!

    We later discovered that they won 3rd place in the America’s Best Coffeehouse competition at the 2015 Coffee Fest Portland!!

    Just a few blocks away, we were very surprised to find the Litehouse Bleu Cheese factory where the popular salad dressing is made.

    Litehouse Bleu Cheese Factory Sandpoint Idaho

    Litehouse Bleu Cheese salad dressing is made here!

    But Lake Pend Oreille was the real focal point of our time in Sandpoint. One day we decided to get a view of it from high above. Locals suggested we take a drive up Schweitzer Mountain, a nearby ski resort.

    Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort Sandpoint Idaho

    Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort is on a nearby mountain overlooking the lake.

    The view from up there was wonderful!

    Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort view of Lake Pend Oreille Sandpoint Idaho

    What a view — Sandpoint tucked up against Lake Pend Oreille!

    After a week in Sandpoint we meandered south a little further and bumped into the cute town of Moscow. Instead of finding the grand turrets of Red Square, we discovered a lovely shaded main street that is lined with all kinds of boutiques and tempting eateries.

    Downtown Moscow Idaho streets

    Tiny Moscow, Idaho, has a cute downtown area.

    A fun paved bike path passes through Moscow, and we jumped on the Latah Trail to ride through the farmlands out to the village of Troy about 11 miles east.

    Latah Bike Path from Moscow Idaho to Troy Idaho

    Lovely rolling farmland on the Latah Trail from Moscow to Troy, Idaho.

    Much of this pretty trail goes through open land with views across rolling hills covered with pastures and farm fields.

    Latah Trail from Moscow to Troy Idaho

    The Latah Trail goes through pretty farmland.

    After a few hours of riding on the bike path, we returned to Moscow and stopped in at Bucer’s Coffeehouse and Pub. We got there shortly after the noon hour, perfect timing for a brew…either coffee or beer!!

    Bucer's Coffeehouse and Pub in Moscow Idaho

    We stopped for brews at Bucer’s Coffeehouse and Pub — coffee for me and beer for Mark!

    Continuing our journey south along Idaho’s pretty US-95, we passed lots more farmland with hay bales spread across the fields and farmhouses looking very quaint in the summer sun.

    Farmland in western Idaho panhandle

    The drive on US-95 was as lovely as the small towns along the way.

    Motorhome among hay bales in Idaho

    We passed some beautiful rural scenery.

    The Little Salmon River accompanied us on our drive, and we had to stop a few times to get photos as we passed through a wonderful canyon.

    Idaho scenery Little Salmon River

    The Little Salmon River ran alongside us the whole way.

    We had never thought of Idaho as being home to vibrant beach towns, but when we arrived in McCall, we discovered that, just like Sandpoint, the whole town was out in force soaking up the rays at the town beach.

    Sunbathers were lying on beach towels, and people were swimming and playing in the water, eating ice cream cones while strolling the paths by the water’s edge, and fooling around on boats and jet skis on pretty Payette Lake.

    We loved the vibe of McCall so much that we stuck around for two weeks!!

    Legacy Park on the beach in McCall Idaho

    What a great surprise to find another sweet little Idaho beach town in McCall!

    If you are taking your RV on a north-south route through Idaho, Route 95 makes for a very scenic and enjoyable drive. There are some links with more info below.

    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    Info about Sandpoint, Moscow and McCall, Idaho:

    Other blog posts from our RV travels in NW Montana and Idaho’s Panhandle:

    Scenic Drives for RV Touring in Idaho:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
    New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

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    Ross Creek Cedars & Kootenai Falls – Giant Trees & Swings in Montana!

    July 2016 – Up in northwestern Montana, not too far from Libby and the beautiful eagle that lives at Libby Dam, we came across two wonderful out-of-the-way scenic spots: Kootenai Falls and the Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area.

    At Kootenai Falls, which is 12 miles west of Libby, the pretty hiking trail took us over an overpass high above a set of train tracks. We were lucky to be on it just as a big train zoomed underneath.

    Railway train at Kootenai Falls Montana

    Hiking into Kootenai Falls, an overpass took us high above an oncoming train – cool!

    As we hiked on the trail through the woods down towards Kootenai Falls, suddenly the view opened up and we could see the fast moving Kootenai River,

    Kootenai Falls Montana

    Kootenai River at Kootenai Falls in Northwestern Montana

    There were some slabs of rocks along the banks that had fabulous swirling patterns in them.

    Kootenai River at Kootenai Falls Wildlife Management Area Montana

    Swishes and swirls in the rocks on the riverbank caught my eye.

    The trail branches into several short offshoots that go to pretty overlooks, but the direction everyone heads is towards the Swinging Bridge.

    Kootenai Falls and swinging bridge Montana

    Besides the falls, this area is known for its wonderful and wobbly swinging bridge.

    This rickety bridge spans the Kootenai River high above, and it is not exactly a rugged structure. Only five people can use it at a time, so a little line had formed with people waiting to get across.

    Swinging Bridge Kootenai Falls Wildlife Management Area Montana

    Not everyone ventured across the river on this thing, but those that wanted to had to wait!!

    Once on the bridge, it felt a little dicey underfoot. Some folks tip-toed across, hanging onto the rails for dear life as the bridge swung and swayed, but most stopped for a pic and a wave.

    Swinging bridge at Kootenai Falls Montana

    It was a neat fun-house kind of walk high up in the air!

    On the other side there were many places to get a lovely view of the river, and we found a family fishing on the riverbank.

    Fishing on the Kootenai River at Kootenai Falls Montana

    Catching dinner on the Kootenai River.

    The falls themselves are shallow and wide, nearly spanning the width of a bend in the river, and the water pours over the slabs of rock at a very fast clip.

    Kootenai Falls Wildlife Management Area Montana

    The falls are flat and wide, but a telephoto lens brought them in close

    We enjoyed the tranquility and peacefulness of Kootenai Falls so much that after our first visit on a very busy weekend, we returned a second time mid-week when we had the trails almost to ourselves.

    Kootenai Falls Wildlife Management Area Montana

    Kootenai Falls

    Twenty-five miles south of Kootenai Falls is the wondrous Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area.

    Path through the woods Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area Montana

    A boardwalk on the trail at Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area.

    This beautiful 100 acre woods is filled with cedar trees that are as old as 1,000 years.

    Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area Kootenai National Forest Montana

    These mossy woods seemed to come straight out of a fantasy novel.

    The hiking trails wanderes around in glorious loops that were not particularly well marked. But that is part of the fun of this magical place.

    USFS Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area Montana

    Beautiful greenery all around.

    We strolled here and there, mesmerized by the green mossy undergrowth and waving leaves.

    Leaves at Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area Montana

    Mark’s creative juices were flowing with this shot!

    The ferns were thick and there was a delightful pungence in the air.

    Ferns and cedars at Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area Montana

    Ferns grew thickly here and there on the forest floor.

    But the eye-popper at Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area is the massive cedar trees themselves. These giant and ancient trees bring out the kid in everyone who wanders these trails, and Mark was no different. When he saw a split in a tree trunk, he couldn’t help but climb inside!!

    Enormous Ross Creek Cedars Kootenai National Forest Montana

    What we came for — the ancient and giant cedar trees. Wow!

    Well, two can play that game, so I jumped into another one with him!!

    Happy campers at Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area Montana

    There’s room for two!

    The trees’ tip-tops tower above this forest, but we couldn’t take our eyes off their enormous trunks. Walking from tree to tree, we pondered their age and gentle spirits and the many centuries of human history they have quietly lived through while standing in one place in a remote Montana forest.

    The Ross Creek Cedars are smaller than the Giant Sequoia trees we saw in Yosemite National Park years ago, but they have a special aura because they aren’t world famous and they can’t be found on post cards!

    Gigantic Cedar trees at Ross Creek Montana

    The gigantic tree trunks were awe-inspiring.

    Of course, this was a fun place for photography too. There are fallen trees strewn here and there, and we found many lying on the ground. At one point, we heard a loud crash and breaking of branches high in the trees about 100 feet away from us. Apparently, a huge limb had fallen. We searched and searched, though, and never found it!!

    Crazy trunks on fallen cedar trees Ross Creek Montana

    There were fallen trees that let us see their roots from underneath.

    One dead trunk was still standing but had lost all of its interior. It was just a shell of its former self with a small opening on one side.

    We stepped inside and were instantly surrounded by the outer walls of the tree. I couldn’t help but feel that this was as close as I would ever come to knowing what it’s like to be a tree. The trunk was so huge that it was like standing in a closet, but the tree went up and up and up to the sky high above me.

    As we wandered around on the trails — they all seemed to be loops, so no matter where we went, we eventually wound up where we started — we met lots of other people who were hiking in this magical forest too.

    Suddenly a very little boy appeared on the trail ahead of us. He was so young, he had only recently learned to walk. He was totally dwarfed by the giant tree trunks around him and seemed to be loving the hike.

    Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area Kootenai National Forest Montana

    A wee hiker showed up between the trees.

    He made his way between the tree trunks and looked for all the world like he was out on safari, complete with a stick over his shoulder and a huge grin on his face.

    Ross Creek Cedar Scenic Area Kootenai National Forest Montana

    This little guy has adventure in his soul!!

    Nearby, we found a collection of Inukshuks in a riverbed. When we were up at Athabasca Falls at Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies, we bumped into a whole riverbank full of these unusual rock cairns that people had built. We had no idea what they were at the time, but several knowledgeable readers pointed out that they have their origins with the Inuit native people of the far north and can be found all over Canada.

    Apparently, they can be found in Montana too!

    Inukshuk at Ross Creek Cedars Montana

    We were surprised to see a collection of Inukshuks in a riverbed.

    We thoroughly enjoyed our RV trip through the northwestern corner of Montana.

    RV trip to Kootenai Falls and Ross Creek Cedar Scenic Area Montana

    Peace in Montana

    Full moon Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area Montana

    A full moon rises behind the trees.

    And we took our time making our way past lovely Bull Lake and on towards Idaho.

    Sunset Bull Lake Montana

    Sunset at Bull Lake.

    If you have a hankering to take your RV on a road trip to these beautiful spots, there are more links about them below.

    Reflections on Bull Lake Montana

    Morning mist on Bull Lake.

    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    Kootenai Falls, Ross Creek Cedars, and Other Info:

    More blog posts from our RV travels in NW Montana and Northern Idaho plus another Famous Swinging Bridge:

    Dudley Moore’s Swinging Bridge – A Visit to the Set of the Movie “10” !! 12/21/2010

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
    New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

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    Eagles and Hummingbirds in Libby, Montana

    July 2016 – While RV camping in Libby, Montana, we had some fabulous encounters with wild birds: a beautiful big bald eagle and a mixed flock of tiny hummingbirds. Over at Libby Dam, we were thrilled to see a bald eagle soaring high overhead.

    Bald Eagle Flying in Libby Montana

    A bald eagle flies near Libby Dam in Montana

    This eagle was well known to the employees and volunteers who work at Libby Dam. He liked to fish in the water just below the dam where the fish pile up as they migrate upstream and find themselves trapped by the dam. The pool of fish made a smorgasbord for this very happy eagle, and he had an easy time getting breakfast, lunch and dinner whenever he got a bit hungry.

    One morning we spotted him sitting high up in a tree right by the dam.

    Bald eagle near Libby Dam Montana

    We looked up to see this guy at the top of a tree.

    We started snapping photos as we crept towards him, and assumed he would fly off any second. Surprisingly, he stayed put!

    Bald Eagle Montana


    Hoping for some better pics, we returned the next morning with our long lenses and tripods. There he was again, checking us out over his shoulder.

    Bald Eagle in tree Libby Montana


    He sat still for a while, preened a little bit, and then started making noises. I think he was trying to talk to a good buddy on the other side of the Kootenai River. He let out a loud squawk.

    Bald Eagle squawking Libby Montana


    We didn’t hear a response, but he squawked a few more times.

    Bald Eagle Calling Libby Montana


    He must have heard a reply, or decided to go looking for his friend in person, because suddenly he crouched.

    Bald Eagle Ready to fly Libby Montana


    And launched…

    Bald Eagle Taking off Libby Montana


    Bald Eagle Launching Libby Montana


    What a magnificent sight in the sky!

    Bald Eagle flying Libby Montana


    Bald Eagle in flight Libby Montana


    Meanwhile, back at our trailer, we had noticed some hummingbirds poking around, peeking in our windows, and generally scoping us out. We put out our window hummingbird feeder that attaches to the RV window with suction cups, and sat back to see if anyone would find it.

    Within minutes, the word was out. The hummingbirds in this area know what feeders are, and they have passed the info on from friend to friend and generation to generation. As soon as a new feeder is found, a memo goes out to the whole community.

    Hummingbirds at feeder on RV window


    By sunset, the feeder had been drained! By noon the next day it had been drained again!

    We’ve always had a few hummingbird feeders with us, but we were chagrined to find that they all leaked because we hadn’t used them in a long time. We were also out of regular granulated table sugar. So, we went into town to get another five pound bag of sugar and a second feeder. Luck was with us, and there was one last window feeder left on the shelf!!

    Hummingbird flying above feeder

    Almost close enough to touch!

    For the next 10 days, we filled these two feeders every morning and every evening, and our world was abuzz with hummers.

    We noticed that these little hummingbirds had different spots and colors, and we got curious about which ones they were. Our general purpose Peterson bird guides and National Geographic bird guide don’t make it so easy to tell one hummingbird species from another.

    Luckily, we have found a super book about hummingbirds that makes it really easy to know who’s slurping up all the sugar water we’re putting out.

    Hummingbird flying Libby Montana

    Black chinned hummingbird. His neck flashes violet in the sun!

    It’s a small book called the Beginner’s Guide to Hummingbirds by Donald and Lillian Stokes.

    What’s neat is that the very first two pages show which hummingbirds can be found in which of the four regions in the country: East/Central, Gulf Coast, West, and Southwest. It also delineates the species by the color of the male’s throat: Orange, Red/Pink, Purple/Violet, Green, White and Blue.

    It also marks the sides of the pages by color, so you can easily flip to the appropriate section and see multiple photos of both the males and females and see a map of where they live.

    Hummingbird in flight Libby Montana

    The female black chinned hummingbird wears a whole different wardrobe!

    We determined that we were seeing Black Chinned and Rufous Hummingbirds. The males were easy to spot because they have dramatic coloring on their necks and heads. But the muted and spotted colors of the juveniles and females made them all look alike!

    The fun thing about the Black Chinned hummingbirds is that they truly buzz when they fly. They sound like a bunch of bees as they zoom around, but they’re a whole lot cuter.

    The Rufous hummingbirds have bright orange on their necks and an orange tint to their little bodies. They are beautiful and very petite. But they act be like little Napoleons sometimes. They are extremely skittish, but nonetheless some of them want to rule the world anyway, and they make every effort to.

    Rufous Hummingbird Libby Montana

    Rufous hummingbird – Small, skittish and domineering!

    All hummingbirds can be very territorial about their feeders, and the turf wars can be astonishing to watch.

    The King of the Feeder will stand watch over it from a nearby branch, and will dive bomb any other hummingbird that tries to get a drink! It is particularly funny when one little Rufous decides to chase off twenty other hummingbirds from his personal feeder. He is one busy little guy!

    Rufous Hummingbird_


    Over the years, when it has seemed that one particular hummingbird has become a little too dominant at our feeder, we’ve found a good solution is to put out multiple feeders in such a way that one hummingbird can see only one feeder at a time. Hanging them on opposite sides of the trailer is a good trick.

    But for the most part, it seems that everyone gets a turn eventually.

    Hummingbirds share a drink at the RV window feeder

    Hummingbirds can be territorial, but they do know how to share too!

    We got immense pleasure from watching these guys from inside our RV. Our trailer’s windows are darkly tinted, and with the feeder mounted on the window, if we didn’t move or make any noises in the trailer, we could watch them from just a foot or two away from inside.


    We were astonished to see that sometimes the hummingbirds would double dip, with two of them poking their beaks into one hole in the feeder at the same time, even though the holes in the feeder are tiny. At other times, the bird sitting on the perch would lean way back while the one hovering overhead got a quickie slurp. They would take turns drinking that way.

    Hummingbirds share RV window feeder

    Two for one!

    Sometimes they even lined up in front of the feeder, like airplanes in a landing pattern, with each bird getting a chance to drink his fill before flying off.

    Hummingbirds line up at RV window feeder

    The hummers get into a landing pattern at our feeder!

    By the way, the recipe for hummingbird nectar is super easy:

    1 part sugar
    4 parts water

    I like to mix up one cup of nectar at a time. I’ll put 1/4 cup of sugar into a 1/4 cup of warm water and stir it until it dissolves. Then I’ll add another 3/4 cup of cold water and stir some more before serving.

    Hummers aren’t Natural Food fanatics, so they don’t go for Raw or Turbinado sugar or brown sugar, and they don’t like other sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, agave syrup or confectioners sugar either.

    There was lots of wildlife in around Libby Dam and in the neighboring Kootenai National Forest, and staying in the Libby area, it felt like we were a world apart.

    Deer near Libby, Montana

    We saw lots of wildlife in Libby, Montana.

    If you take your RV to northwestern Montana, and especially to the small town of Libby, pay a visit to the Libby Dam and keep an eye out for the big, beautiful bald eagle. And if you are there in July, put a hummingbird feeder out, and be prepared with a stockpile of sugar and your camera!!

    There’s more info on Libby, Montana and hummingbirds below.

    RV at sunset Montana


    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about Libby Montana and attracting hummingbirds:

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    Whitefish to Libby – Big Surprises on the Back Roads of Montana

    June 2016 – With the wonders and spectacular beauty of the east side of Glacier National Park still vivid in our minds, we took our RV south and west around the bottom of Glacier and out onto the back roads of northwestern Montana. On our way, we passed an RV park sporting a fantastic mock-up of a Volkswagen Beetle towing a small trailer. What fun!

    Volkswagen Beetle Towing a Trailer RV Whitefish Montana

    Now there’s a cool rig!!

    In an earlier life, we were both avid recreational racing cyclists, riding well over 200 training miles a week. To make it through our long training rides and races, we relied a lot on products made by Hammer Nutrition, a company that is based out of Whitefish, Montana.

    So we had to stop by and pay them a quick visit as we went through Whitefish!

    Hammer Nutrition Headquarters Whitefish Montana

    Hammer Nutrition makes amazing supplements for athletes and for good health.

    They were more than cordial when we knocked on the door, and they gave us an impromptu tour of their facility. We’d expected to see enormous vats and cauldrons with steam rising out of them, but the products are actually made elsewhere by subcontractors. However, this is where the order fulfillment happens.

    Besides their electrolyte replacements (very handy during a long, hot, sweaty hike), Mark got a few bottles of Tissue Rejuvenator which has been working wonders on his tender knees.

    Hammer Nutrition Truck Whitefish Montana


    With our shelves restocked with Hammer goodies, we continued on Montana’s back roads, passing some beautiful scenery on the way.

    Bridge and colorful rocks Montana

    There is some lovely scenery on Montana’s back roads.

    We stopped to watch some horses in a pasture and saw that one had a little bird riding on its back. The horse didn’t seem to mind. It was busy eating grass!

    Horse and bird in Montana

    A little bird catches a ride.

    We dropped south along the shores of Lake Koocanusa, and we enjoyed several lovely stops to catch a view.

    The lake gets its name from the first three letters of the word “Kootenai,” the word “Canada” and the word “USA,” all concatenated together, because it spans both countries and is located in the region of the Kootenai tribe.

    Lake Koocanusa Libby Montana

    Lake Koocanusa

    There are quite a few National Forest campgrounds along the banks of Lake Koocanusa, and lots of families were enjoying boating and playing in the water.

    Kootenai River Libby Montana

    Crystal clear water at Lake Koocanusa.

    The daisies were out in force everywhere too, soaking up the sun.

    Daisies in the sun Montana

    Daisies were sunning themselves in the summer sun.

    Lake Koocanusa is formed by the Libby Dam which blocks the flow of the Kootenai River just east of Libby, Montana. Like all the big western dams, this dam is quite an engineering marvel.

    We took a wonderful tour and were amazed by the high stakes game the US Army Corps of Engineers has to play to satisfy the widely varying needs of everyone that is affected by the dam.

    Libby Dam

    Libby Dam

    From communities that need electricity, to farmers wanting water for irrigation, to the fish and ecological system that are disrupted by an unnatural obstruction in their way, to fishermen, swimmers, boaters and campers looking for some good old fashioned summertime fun, the Libby Dam supports many uses of the lake and river.

    Lake Koocanusa Recreation Area and Boat Dock

    Lake Koocanusa

    I’ve written quite a bit about public land management on this blog, as public lands are an integral part of our lifestyle. Too often, we’ve seen the government’s land management agencies reducing public access, threatening to transform these precious places until they become “public” in name only.

    Former campgrounds and dispersed camping areas have been blocked off with “Road Closed” signs. Behind these blockades weeds grow tall, graffiti grows wild and structures deteriorate.

    Other former campgrounds sport brand new “Day Use Only” signs, but they go unused because no one is going to drive a long distance to a remote place just to have a picnic.

    Worst of all, 40% of America’s public lands that were given to 11 western states at statehood have been sold off. For more info click here.

    Kootenai River dusk Libby Montana

    The Kootenai River below the dam.

    However, on the Kootenai River and Lake Koocanusa at Libby Dam, the US Army Corps of Engineers is getting it right, and it is a total thrill to see a public area so well taken care of. In addition to managing the dam, they have also built a wonderful recreation area on the banks of the river that offers a little something for everyone. We dabbled our toes in the water at a large boat dock that has swim ladders.

    Swimming dock Kootenai River Libby Montana

    There’s a nice boat dock with swim ladders near Libby Dam.

    They even offer free “borrow and return” life preservers for boaters who get to the lake and realize they don’t have enough to go around.

    Life preservers Kootenai River boat dock Libby Montana

    If boaters forget their life preservers, they can borrow one from here.

    The kids’ playground and its massive series of jungle gyms, slides, chutes and climbing bars near the dam are truly heaven on earth for the three-to-twelve set. I have never seen a jungle gym or playground that is so big and so inviting, even for the over 50 crowd (I confess, I really loved swinging on the big swingset!).

    Corps of Engineers Playground Libby Montana

    The playground built by the Corps of Engineers next to Libby Dam is wonderful.

    Out on the Kootenai River below the dam, fly fishermen zip downstream carried by a very fast moving current. The oars on these cool fishing boats are just for steering purposes!

    Fly fishing Kootenai River Libby Dam Montana

    Fly fishermen float downstream.

    Hiking trails from Libby Dam’s recreation area took us past pretty lake views, and we found wildflowers blooming on the trails.

    Lavender wildflowers Montana

    Pretty lavender wildflowers.

    We rode our bikes on some of the back roads in the area, and along with discovering beautiful scenery we also bumped into a woman “long rider” who has been traveling cross-country on horseback for 12 years and 28,000 miles (blog post here).

    Fog and mist on the Kootenai River Montana

    Fog and mist on a small fork of the Kootenai River.

    With all this quiet beauty surrounding us in every direction, we were blown away when we learned that due to decades of vermiculite mining as well as carelessness on the part of the mine owner, W. R. Grace, the area around Libby, Montana, is now a Superfund Site.

    We discovered this when we camped with a group of out-of-towners who had grown up in Libby while the dam was being built in the 1970’s. They had returned to celebrate their 38th Libby High School reunion. While they were in the area, besides hanging out with old friends and reminiscing, they were all getting tested for Mesothelioma, the cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

    Sunset at Lake Koocanusa Libby Montana

    Sunset at Lake Koocanusa.

    Although this vermiculte mine had been active since 1919, when W. R. Grace bought it in 1963, they began distributing excess asbestos related material around town by for use in playgrounds, gardens, roads, school yards and even the high school track (which was known as being especially springy and fast!).

    In the end, W. R. Grace was fined $250 million to contribute to the cleanup of the area. The EPA has removed the asbestos from 2,100 properties, including all the public areas, and has a few hundred more private properties to take care of. The cleanup has cost $540 million to date with at least $64 million more in anticipated expenditures.

    Recently, asbestos has turned up during controlled burns in the Kootenai National Forest around the former mine site. The EPA is has shifted its Superfund focus in Libby and has increased the size of the area they are concerned about.

    Lake Koocanusa at sunset Libby Montana

    Sunset on Lake Koocanusa

    Unfortunately, the latency period for Mesothelioma cancer symptoms to surface is 20 to 50 years. Several hundred residents of Libby and nearby Troy have died already, and another few thousand are suffering illnesses related to asbestos exposure. As our newfound friends waited nervously for their cancer test results, one of them told us he had already tested positive last year.

    It was very shocking to look around at the stunning beauty of this part of Montana and hear this sad tale.

    Reading about Superfund Sites while living far away from them, I’d always imagined them to be forelorn, desolate communities that had a post-nuclear explosion look about them. I had no idea that one of the most pristine natural areas that America is fortunate enough to embrace, a beautiful place that is so remote in spots that you can’t get cell phone service for many miles, is a Superfund Site.

    Lake Koocanusa Libby Montana


    We were charmed by Libby and the warmth of the people we met, both camping and around town.

    There’s a sweet little campground right in the middle of town (smaller rigs only), called Fireman’s Memorial Park Campground, and there’s a fun microbrew pub, Cabinet Mountain Brewing, that refers to itself as “Libby’s Living Room.” They serve a fantastic coffee porter and have live music many nights.

    Live Music Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company Libby Montana

    Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company has great beer and live music.

    We stopped in Libby because we got a flat tire on our truck while taking photos at the Libby Dam (blog post here). That turned out to be a wonderful stroke of good fortune, because otherwise we might have kept going and missed this really pretty part of Montana. Instead we stayed in the area for two weeks!

    RV at sunset Montana


    For RV travelers heading to Libby, Montana, there are some travel planning links below:

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    Northern Idaho – Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

    Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

    The Trail passes lakes, streams, farmland and cute towns.

    Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

    The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is 72 miles of paved

    cycling bliss.

    Rails-to-trails Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

    The Trail crosses old train bridges.

    We started getting into cycling when we

    arrived in Idaho.

    Kellogg Idaho

    Kellogg, Idaho is a special town that has an eclectic feeling.

    St. George is popular in Kellogg, ID.

    One of Kellogg's chalet homes.

    Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

    It winds through the woods.

    Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

    Plaques describe the ecology and history of the area.

    Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

    Portions of the Trail flank a wide lake.

    Moose tracks on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

    Muddy moose tracks!

    Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes bike trail Idaho

    Beautifully maintained by Union Pacific, there are rest areas

    and restrooms along the trail.

    Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes bicycle path Idaho

    The scenery is stunning.

    Riverview along the bike path Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

    The water is blue-green because of the high mineral


    Bicycle trail Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

    We will be back.

    Northern Idaho

    August 26-September 2, 2007 - Leaving the North Cascades, we visited Coeur

    d'Alene briefly and headed east towards Montana.  In the town of Smelterville, 30

    miles east of Coeur d'Alene we stopped overnight at Walmart.  We noticed a paved

    bike path next to the

    parking lot and took out

    our bikes to explore.

    We soon discovered

    that we were in the

    middle of the charming

    72-mile-long Trail of the

    Coeur d'Alenes rails-to-trails bike path.  We found a campground and

    stayed a week so we could explore the bike path more fully.  Each day

    we drove the truck to a trailhead, unloaded the bikes and rode a ten

    mile segment, out and back.

    The valley area 30 miles east of Coeur d'Alene is one of the

    richest mineral deposits in the world, and the town of Kellogg is

    the heart of this area.  In the 1940's it was poisoned by the toxic

    silver mining process.  In the 1980's the mine closed, the

    railroad shut down and everyone lost their jobs.  As one woman

    put it, it looked like an atom bomb had gone off. A fellow who

    grew up here in the 1940's said you could taste the sulphur

    dioxide in your mouth all the time and the air was always hazy

    blue from the smoke stacks and smelters. Rather than flee

    when their world crashed in the 1980's, many townspeople

    stayed.  Declared an EPA superfund site, Union Pacific cleaned

    up their mess by burying their toxic waste along the tracks and creating the 72-mile long paved bike path.  The high school

    students planted a million trees on the barren hills surrounding town in the 1980's, and today those hills are lush, the air is clear,

    and the town is optimistic.

    There is an artsy

    flair to the town.

    Someone in town

    loves St. George

    and the dragon: we

    found them in a

    sculpture and a

    mural.  Several

    homes had an

    alpine look to them,

    and nearby there is

    a ski area complete

    with gondola and chair lifts.  There is something upbeat and

    offbeat about Kellogg that really appealed to us.

    The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is a gem.  There are

    trailheads along its length, each with display maps showing

    the highlights.  It passes through the historic town of Wallace,

    the simple mobile home town of Osburn, the former mining

    towns of Smelterville and Kellogg, and through the lakeside

    town of Harrison.  Some parts of the trail are busy and others

    are very quiet.  Mostly alone on the trail, there were times

    when we shared it with cyclists, dog walkers, and inline

    skaters, but there was never any congestion.

    In one lonely area, far from civilization, we discovered

    some moose tracks.  I had been reading a book that talked

    about how moose like to eat the roots of lilies, and this part

    of the Trail passed a large lily pond.  Some workers

    painting a train trestle further down told us a moose had

    been in the area for several weeks.

    After a week in this

    charming part of the world

    we ventured on eastwards

    to northern Montana and

    the stunning Glacier

    National Park.