Waking up on the water is magical. Our view is spectacular, as is the peace and quiet. We wake to the sound of two loon calls, which turn out to be the Voyagaire morning radio show. It’s 8am and we listen in for the weather and some park history. Today’s topic is the Kettle Falls Hotel – timely as that will be our destination today. The broadcast ends with a “thought for the day” – today’s thought, the word politics – poli meaning many, tics meaning blood suckers. I chuckle and then start up the boat for charging.
We call into base to let them know we’ve figured things out (it’s not so much just pressing the button, it’s finding the small button under the large button that really puts it in idle), and to ask the hospitality service, “Simon Says,” to bring us some hot chocolate and potato chips on their delivery run. I’ve woken up cold, and have a sore throat. I’m feeling run down and figure warm beverages are a good thing. The chips are just cause we’re out. We won’t see Simon til much later in the day, and he’ll find us wherever we go, so we decided to head up to the Falls for the day.
Getting out of our spot turns out to be trickier than getting in. It’s difficult to keep the boat in place so that Sriram can get on after untying us. The wind is working against us, but he gets aboard and we go on our way. We “drive” for hours – following our navigational markers along the way. Many of them are hard to spot (the greens in particular), and we long for a pair of binoculars. We came straight from the lighthouse so didn’t have much prep time. Binoculars were on the suggested items to pack list, but as it’s not noted that it’s suggested for navigational reasons, I wouldn’t have thought of it as such. Still, my 200 mm lens on my camera turns out to be a decent backup, and I often take long range photos of the markers and then zoom in close in the view screen to verify numbers and locations. It works out ok.
I’m also improving my eagle scouting and photography.
Radio calls throughout the day make it clear that we will NOT find houseboat parking up near Kettle Falls so we’ll have to find parking elsewhere and then make our way up to the Falls in our small motor boat. The fun begins again as we attempt to find a place to land. We call in our location for some advice. Jim, from base mentions looking for spots where they have marked the black dots on the map. I again find myself wishing that the islands had corresponding black dots on them. Jim mentions several beautiful beaches in the area we are boating – we have seen none. We eventually ask him to clarify what he means by beaches, as perhaps he has a different definition than we do. Nope – he means a nice sandy beach. We eventually see one or two, but other houseboats are already parked in the spots, and it’s one houseboat per spot. But in the end we never really did see anything we considered a “beautiful beach.”
We eventually end up simply “inventing” a spot, as we have no clue what to do otherwise. It was frustrating. We’re on rocks again, and without benefit of a sign we don’t know if we’re ok where we are. But we tie up best we can, get in the small boat and head up to the Falls and the old Hotel.
The hotel is not what I expected. We were told it would be “like stepping back into time.” It was, but in an outdated way. A few cool period pieces were sprinkled throughout (old cash register, fire pit, sewing machine), but none of it presented in a way that made it seem like it belonged there. We stayed long enough to have lunch (and read the National Park trivia cards at our table) and take a stroll before the journey back to our boat (which I wasn’t 100% convinced we’d find).
Simon Says dropped by after our return and verified that our spot is ay-ok – that some of the best spots are “made-up” spots. We’re grateful for the confirmation, particularly when heavy rain and thunderstorms roll in over night tossing our boat repeatedly against the rocky shoreline.
We wake up to a beautiful fog the next day.
S’mores greet us for breakfast (and by “greet us” I mean, that’s what I made for breakfast). A basket of supplies had been left on the boat as a welcome – and heck, we’re on vacation – there are no rules on vacation. They were a tasty start to our day. The weather report on the morning show mentioned that the evening and following morning would once again have thunderstorms. Opting to not have to search for parking and then deal with the rain in the morning we decided to spend our final night on the boat docked back at home base. But, first we need to make the few hour journey back, which gives us plenty of time to enjoy the view.
When we got close enough, we radioed in for a pilot and came in to explore a bit of the park on land. We took a drive out to one of the visitor’s centers, walked a few trails, and saw some of the beautiful land-based sights in the park. In the evening we retired to the top deck of our houseboat (which also has a water slide – air and water temps were not suitable for use) and just enjoyed the peaceful night in the harbor.
Our final morning, we woke to this. A beautiful conclusion to the visit.
Overall, I think I’d only recommend the park to boaters and fishermen. We saw so many fishing boats out, and there seemed to be plenty of great spots for all. House boating turned out to be more work than we felt it was worth. Perhaps with a larger group, so we wouldn’t always have to be driving and/or navigating, it would have been easier, but the lack of easily recognizable parking made the outings more stressful than they should have been. But it was an interesting experience, and I’m glad we did it.