Sunday in the Panhandle and Lost in Pend Oreille County

My Sweetheart wanted a long Sunday drive to cap off a busy week.

So that’s what we did … East on I-90 out of Spokane to Idaho State Highway 41 in Post Falls where we headed north toward Rathdrum … cause that was the “sedate” way to go as opposed to that breakneck North-South Highway off Exit 12 at Coeur d’Alene.

In the U.S. state of Idaho, U.S. Route 95 is a north–south highway near the western border of the state, stretching from Oregon to British Columbia for over 538 miles (866 km). It was earlier known in the state as the North and South Highway. – Wikipedia

Why do we consider it a more sedate route? Well, I’ll tell ya …

The southern terminus of State Highway 41 is located at the intersection of Ross Point – Rathdrum Highway and Seltice Way, just south of I-90 exit 7 in the city of Post Falls, Idaho.

Driving north to and through Rathdrum is sort of like driving along the road to  our old house on the coast in Pacific County. It’s also not unlike driving through Caribou County, Idaho where I was raised. In fact, when my high school of 100 or so students played in the state basketball tournament in 1957, Rathdrum was one of the high schools in that tournament. I don’t know how big Rathdrum was back then but today the sign says 6,000 + for the population.

The population of my home town back then was less than 500 souls so Rathdrum definitely wasn’t 6000+ back then. Speaking of town and school sizes, when we played in the 1963 state basketball tournament as a tiny high school, we lost a tight game to the eventual state champion Post Falls team 65-64. So Post Falls was a tiny town on the Washington-Idaho border. I remember than Coeur d’Alene was one of the largest cities in Idaho (according to World Book encyclopedia 1960 edition) at 14,000+. Well today CDA is up to 44,000+ and Post Falls is at 27,000+.

So far as I know my hometown of Bancroft, Idaho is still less than 500 souls.

But I digress.

After passing through Rathdrum we rejected the temptation to continue due north on SH 41 which runs through Spirit Lake to Newport, Wa. We’ve already done that and were not in a mood to do it again yesterday. Drove on to that dreaded North-South Highway 95 and on into Sandpoint, Idaho.

Drove past Silverwood Theme Park  which I have no desire to visit even though the roller coasters remind me of Lagoon in Farmington, Utah where all us kids were dying to visit.

Drove past the Wolf People of Cocallala  where we stopped and took the tour last summer, meeting live wolves in large enclosed (by fence, not cage) habitat up in the mountains.

In Sandpoint we got out and walked around the downtown and located the masonic and eastern star lodge before continuing our drive East on Hwy 2 looking for some place to eat.

We found it in Priest River, Idaho, Mi Pueblo Mexican restaurant where the food was excellent and the price affordable. It will be another destination on a drive for us that ends in food.

Then further east on  Hwy 2 to Newport where, as my Sweetheart often does, we decided to tour the residential part of town. Wandered out behind the high school and drove past the business building that houses our former employer, the DSHS (State of Washington) and kept going out of town.

That’s where I got into trouble.

Thinking that the road would wind around an reconnect with Hwy 2 a little West of Newport, we drove … and drove …. and drove …. and I noticed the mile markers were getting smaller (having starting at 14.) Thinking that we couldn’t be 14 miles from Hwy 2, I just drove on, making a mental reservation to turn around a go back on the same road if this northbound mystery suddenly became Blair Witch Road.

Eventually we came to an intersection that did not say U.S. Hwy 2, rather SH 211 (which I did not recognize and only later after the crisis was resolved, recognized Hwy 211 quite easily.

So now we are going north on SH 211 and it is late afternoon, less than an hour before it’ll start to get sundowny. Lots of traffic but not sure just where we are. I know we are going East and North, more North than East. We come to a hamlet, Usk, WA, that I have never heard of and I’m aware that we’ve traveled at least 25 miles East and, I assume, North of Newport.

My sweetheart is having an adventure, insisting we are headed for Canada and encouraging me to keep going. I on the other hand, not totally lost but not knowing exactly which way to go, and finding myself unable to make our Tom Tom respond, am getting nervous.

But then SH 211 came to a junction with US Hwy 20 and I remembered the Hwy’s 2 and 20 at this point in Washington are the same road. Turned East on 20 and arrived back in Newport 15 minutes later at the very corner from which we had started wandering the Newport neighborhoods.

Immediately headed south on Hwy 2 toward Spokane and within less than ten miles came to the Southern junction of Hwy 2 and SH 211. My Sweetheart had suggested I head south on 211 but me being stubborn and a guy, refused. Had I done so I would have arrived at this southerly intersection in less than ten minutes from finding SH 211 in the first place.

I felt and still feel sheepish.

Came home and looked at the map and felt sheepisher.

A good time … however … was had by all.

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