Friday, September 08, 2006

Elkins Resort

Yesterday, we got back from a short vacation at Elkins Resort. It's a nice place, located on the western shore of Priest Lake at Reeder Bay, a little east of Nordman. We had nothing particularly fancy, just a plain one bedroom cabin. Off in the distance, we could see the ridge of the Selkirk Mountains, jutting up into the sky east of us.

Priest Lake drains at its south end through the Priest River, which connects with the Pend Oreille which flows northward to Canada. Unfortunately, there were some fires going, out beyond the northern tip of the lake, which had the effect of making the air very hazy, giving the Selkirk Mountains a rather abstract look.

The entire area around Priest Lake is "so Idaho", quite mountainous or hilly, heavily forested, but punctuated with a meadow or marsh here and there. Now if you are a lover of the hustle bustle of city life, do avoid the area because you'll find little that is interesting there, unless looking at every variety of conifer under the sun constitutes excitement for you. And if you like sightseeing and visiting lots of curious tourist traps, along with extravagant restaurants, well, the Priest Lake really doesn't have any of that.

In fact, the Priest Lake area is rather sparsely populated, even by Idaho standards. If soul-searing isolation is something you love, well, I recommend Priest Lake. There's only one road in and out, state highway 57. If you have a heart attack, count yourself dead because it's a long way to the nearest fully equipped hospital.

Elkins Resort was nothing terribly fancy. It had a marina, along with boat slips that looked a hundred years old, and some nice narrow beaches. You can rent boats, canoes, and bicycles. And it did have an excellent dining room, although a little on the expensive side. The "huckleberry whiskey barbeque chicken" was very tasty. But my recommendation is to bring most of your own food and drink. Many of the cabins are equipped with a stove, refrigerator, and microwave. But there are simply not that many nice restaurants in the area. Most of the boat marinas, here and there around the lake, however do have cafes, of varying quality. But remember it's Land-In-Between; expect things to be rough.

Addendum: A little east of the Selkirk Mountains is a specially protected area set aside as habitat for the mountain caribou. Consequently, it is off limits from many recreational uses. According to one of the locals, however, the mountain caribou no longer actually live there; and over the last ten years only two had ever been spotted. "Were they all dead?" I asked. "No, they just migrated up to Canada," was the explanation. Well, I guess they threatened to move to Canada if George Bush got elected, which explains it.