July 26, 2019.
Positioned well above the horizon, sunrise would have been one of the best if just a few clouds had made an appearance in the sky. Without them, an orange glow an hour or so before the sun peaked out was all we got. Shucks, right? 😉
The mosquitoes were out in full force again, buzzing and gathering around the windows of the tent - our scent like sweet sweet nectar to them. Not that our scent - after 10 days on the road - was anything but a sweet sweet nectar, mind you. 😉
Not wanting to hang around the swarm any longer than we had to, and the tent already warming up in the hot early morning sun, we donned our long pants and sleeves before exiting our protective enclosure for the outdoors.
A quick teardown - and no breakfast, even granola bars could wait - and we jumped into our seats, rolled down the windows to get good air movement and pull out all the blood suckers, and took off - the sweeping vistas around us belying the inhospitable reality of this place!
Down the mountain we went - the more room between us and the mosquitoes the better - until we finally reached the edge of Lake Pend Oreille, and pavement.
Less than halfway through the final stage, we joked to each other that from here, the IDBDR planners were just ready to be done with their confounded adventure - I mean, it's not really about the dirt, right?
Little did we know... we were closer to right than we would have liked.
We continued on - the track criss-crossing but avoiding the highway for the most part, while at the same time also avoiding several dirt tracks that we could see on the map would have taken us nearer the border. Hrm.
Eventually, after a good 20-30 miles of pavement, hoping that the next windy turn would be dirt, we decided it was time to air up. Plus, we ran into a sign that couldn't be passed by.
The 3.4l V6 much happier with firm tires on paved ground, we quickly ticked off more miles as we made our run for the border, reasonably convinced at this point that it would be paved the rest of the way. As we crossed a set of railroad tracks that would dump us out on the highway, I happened to glance down the line and see the lights of a train - stopped in the distance.
Hoping it would start up again, I parked the truck and got out with the camera. Dorking around for a bit, I happened to look the other way on the tracks and saw a second train approaching. "Huh, that's strange." I thought, before realizing that we were about to witness something pretty cool. We were at a crossing loop, where two trains - running in opposite directions on the line - could navigate past each other.
We were definitely waiting to see this. Sure enough, as the northbound train pulled entirely onto the crossing loop, the southbound train started moving and passed along the main line. It was a ballet of steel that I've never seen before.
We cruised along for the remainder of the stage, eventually hitting a few miles of highway-grade gravel as we skirted the west side of the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge - the grading so nice that we were still very glad to be aired up and able to travel at a high rate of speed.
And then, well before lunch and only three hours after breaking camp - we were at the border!
Not wanting to cause any trouble, we pulled over to remove the plate cover before proceeding forward to the Rykerts, BC customs station.
We'd made it! Pulling up to the window, we were asked the usual questions - "Where are you from?" "Do you have any guns, alcohol, or tobacco?" "Are you carrying over $10,000 in cash?" "How long are you going to be in Canada?"
Our answers were of course mundane. We were from Washington, but had just traveled on dirt roads all the way from Nevada to Canada - can you believe it? We had no guns, alcohol, or tobacco...much less $10,000 in cash. And we were going to be in Canada for about five minutes.
And that, apparently, was a problem. "You mean you're just going to turn around the office and head back to the United States?" The border service officer asked.
"Yep." I responded.
And with that, he held on to our passports and asked us to park the truck, letting us know that if we'd just wait a few minutes, our passports would be returned to us. Awesome.
With that, two additional offers exited the building and asked us to empty our pockets, even going as far as to pat me down when all I produced was my cashless wallet and a few credit card receipts. Then, they asked us to sit in a windowless room while they searched the truck.
Fifteen minutes later, and quite obviously disappointed, they returned our passports and let us know that we were free to leave. We thanked them for their hospitality and the extra time in-country, and proceeded to repack the interior of the cab that they'd left a mess after ransacking it in their search.
And then, we headed for home! Well, for the United States anyway.
The border crossing here went much more smoothly - our answer to "How long were you in Canada?" being, "Fifteen minutes, though we only expected to be there five." drawing a raised eyebrow.
Seeing that, I quickly shared our story which got a good laugh from the US Border Patrol officer and we joked that they were probably just bored and wanted to get a closer view of the awesome truck - you know, ideas for their own builds.
Now nearing lunch time, we pointed the truck south toward I-90, found a bite to eat, and watched as a train full of planes passed us - likely heading the same place we were. Home.
Hope you enjoyed our adventure on the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route. Now get out there and make your own adventure!
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