What’s Under the Lake?


We have seen many different faces of Lake Cascade over the years.

fullsizeoutput_4b8aIt is generally placid in the morning.

fullsizeoutput_4a26 There is usually some wave action in the afternoon and then it calms again in the evening.

fullsizeoutput_4a25We’ve seen overcast mornings and stormy nights.

fullsizeoutput_49bbWhen full, Lake Cascade has 23,307 surface acres of water, 86 miles of shoreline and an average depth of 26.5 feet.   

But what is under Lake Cascade?    Three towns and an old highway!

P1010951Van Wyck, established in 1882, was a bustling town.   When the Idaho Northern Railroad Depot was placed in Cascade, much of Van Wyck moved there.

Center, established in 1895, was so named because it was at the center of Long Valley.  It was small but had a store and post office.    Arling, two miles from Center, was established in 1914.   

Congress approved building the dam on the North Payette River and the remaining residents of Van Wyck, Arling and Center received eviction notices.  The Cascade Dam was built between 1946 and 1948.   The remains of Van Wyck, Center and Arling were completely submerged by 1957.


There is now a Van Wyck Campground and the former Arling school was moved to Donnelly.  It is now the Chalet RV Park Office.

fullsizeoutput_4b84And the highway?  An old section of Idaho Highway 55 goes under the lake and reappears a few hundred yards away. 

fullsizeoutput_4b88 It disappears near Kent and Pam’s cabin in Donnelly.   When the lake is low, they can walk the entire submerged route to the other side.  That sounds like something we should do!

fullsizeoutput_4b87For now,  Pam and Elko waded in just a bit!

Some osprey guard their nest at the end of the road.


fullsizeoutput_4b93We went up to Tamarack with Kent and Pam for a free summer concert.


P1020078We heard the Boise band, Voice of Reason, playing reggae.  It was quite pleasant.

fullsizeoutput_4b92Can you do more critter sightings?   This deer and I shared the road on our morning walk.

fullsizeoutput_4b91A blue heron seemed to like the morning solitude.

fullsizeoutput_4b7dNot critters – Friends!   Mike and Nancy came in for a visit.    Mike is responsible for the Life is Good sand writing in the header.  Life is good!   Thanks for coming out!



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He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not.  HE LOVES ME!


1280-161725811-field-of-daisy-flowersYou might remember our water heater drama over the last month.  Our original Suburban water heater developed a leak and needed to be replaced. Randy did the research and, with my agreement, bought and installed a Girard tankless water heater.

fullsizeoutput_4a34The advantages were that it reduced our travel weight by 100 lbs. because we wouldn’t be transporting water and a heavy tank .  It would also give us unlimited hot water while we shower and was $100 less expensive.

Almost immediately we (mostly I) had issues with the tankless hot water heater.  Our campground water pressure was so high that too much water was going by the heat source that it couldn’t be heated adequately. That could have been solved by reducing water flow but we like a lot of water pressure when we shower.  Randy fixed the problem by increasing the temperature so that the water that was heated was hotter. There was still a bit of a cold or hot flash now and then but it was working for showers.

Washing dishes was a whole other challenge because you couldn’t turn the water on and off while washing or rinsing because then you got 5-10 seconds of cold water while the heater reengaged.

fullsizeoutput_4ab9Then we moved to the west side of the lake where the water pressure is pitiful.  The tankless water heater would randomly shut off because there wasn’t enough flow to recognize that it needed to heat water.

The temporary fix was to fill our fresh water tank in the trailer and use the water pump which maintains a stable flow.  We were filling our fresh water tank almost daily because we were using it for drinking, bathing, washing dishes and doing laundry.

It felt like we were constantly chasing a moving target and that was likely to be true every time we moved.    While we could make it work when we had a sewer hookup, the problems would only increase if we were without hookups.   We’d be losing valuable water waiting for it to get hot, and using valuable grey tank space to store the water that went through while still cold.

Just a few days ago I said that having hot water shouldn’t be this cumbersome and I was discouraged by current and future moving targets.

Did I mention I am married to a terrific guy?   Even though Randy would have liked to make it work, he was on his phone ordering a new “old technology” water heater that same day.    When it arrived, he put it in the same night.


He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, HE LOVES ME!


Future home of 100 pounds of water…


Randy had taken pictures of connections as he took the original water heater out so that made the replacement some easier.   Did he have a premonition?


Happy Wife, Happy Life!

We thought we were going to take a financial hit on the tankless water heater, probably selling it used for a couple hundred bucks on eBay.   Randy suggested I look on Amazon to see if we could return it and we made the return date deadline by two days.    We said it “didn’t meet our expectations”.   I did my small part doing the return prep and taking it to the McCall  UPS store.   We will get a full refund.  We love Amazon Prime.

And in bizarre other stuff…

fullsizeoutput_4b36While working in the campground Randy found these labels I had written years ago.   It was easy to go back in our camping journal to find the entry.   We were here in July 2013 and the wifi was very sporadic.   The camphost at the time didn’t know how to help so Randy called the provider and together they figured out what was happening.    The wifi installer had powered the repeaters from campsite power poles and campers were turning the power off when they left – just like good campers do.  So I wrote notes so campers wouldn’t turn off those breakers and accidentally turn off the wifi.   Five years later they were still in place.    The park has recently gone to a different wifi provider with free service only near the bath house so my labels were no longer needed.

We’ve mostly enjoyed some critters in and near our campsite.  

fullsizeoutput_4aebWe saw this multi-colored fox on our first night on the west side and haven’t seen  him since.   We saw a fox on our first night on the east side and never saw him again either.


This was a big beetle!

fullsizeoutput_4b69We saw this family of skunks scurrying down the road last night.   The picture is disappointing but we weren’t going to get closer and open the window just for a picture.

P1020054And of course, Elko is our favorite critter of all!   No chance we love him not! WE LOVE HIM!  Elko goes to the lake several times a day for a drink and tummy soak.  He doesn’t understand waves and why he sometimes gets a face full of water.  


I hate him, I hate him not.  I HATE HIM!

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The Gift of Time


fullsizeoutput_4af8As I’ve written before, one of the perks of being volunteers at Lake Cascade is to see  friends as they come to the mountains to escape the Boise heat.   We were glad to see  Rick, Gail and Ozzie when they came through.   Thanks for spending part of your mountain time with us!

fullsizeoutput_4af3   We have also had friends come from farther afield.  We met Carl and Ruth during our first volunteer gig in Oregon in 2015 and have been able to see them several times since.  We were delighted to see them kayak in!   They truly gave us the gift of time with a ten day stay at Lake Cascade!

Carl and I are the paddle boarders.  Randy is committed to spending time on my board this summer and I hope he learns to like it.   Paddling would be fun to do together.


Ruth and I enjoyed some paddle board sit and float time.

fullsizeoutput_4afeRuth and I went to historic Roseberry to poke around.   Roseberry formed when  homesteaders came to the area in the late 1880s and was named for the first postmaster.

By 1910, Roseberry was the largest town in Long Valley having two churches, flour and saw mills, stores, a hotel, schools, a newspaper, bank, blacksmith, doctor, veterinarian and lawyer.   It was a happening place with a sizable Finnish population.

In 1914 the railroad line located 1.5 miles west and much of Roseberry was moved to the new town of Donnelly.     Roseberry was left almost a ghost town.


The general store continued to operate until 1939 when it too finally closed.   The store is now opened for exhibits and some purchases.   It is one of the few original buildings remaining in historic Roseberry.   Notice the Finnish flag.


Other originals include the Finn House and related structures.


The Methodist-Episcopal Church was built on this Roseberry site in 1904.  It was moved to Donnelly in 1929 and moved back to Roseberry by the Long Valley Presevation Society in 1973.


The building housing the Valley County Museum used to be a schoolhouse in McCall.


The Whitney-Fairbrother School, once located near Lake Fork, was moved to Roseberry and restored.  


In my former life as teacher, I never even considered paddling a student.


I didn’t consider living within these rules either!


In between all of our visiting, Randy spent considerable time and effort on his maintenance project for the park – replacing a pole fence.

The previous maintenance host had done much of the Poison Creek fence and Randy was highly motivated to get that completed.   It took him a day or two to get his flow but then just plugged along steadily.   He had help from a seasonal worker one day and a little from me another but did the vast majority of it himself.


One evening he decided to work while it was cooler.   The mosquitos were brutal.   After some Benadryl gel, Randy’s back looked normal again the next morning.


He used three different drills for different tasks.


To power them he used our Honda generator that we’ve had for 5-6 years and never used.  He was glad to see that it worked very well.


When he was done with the campground section it looked great!


We had a celebratory strawberry daiquiri! When I saw this picture I told Randy it was a good thing I loved his dad!

fullsizeoutput_4b30We concluded our time with Ruth and Carl with some more floating and boating.   We called this photo op the “walking on water” shot.  Thanks Carl!

fullsizeoutput_4b40I always make fun of feet photos and then took one myself as I was trying to get Carl and Ruth.

fullsizeoutput_4b3cWe were hoping to see moose on our kayak trip through “the meanders” north of McCall. We saw more dogs playing in the water than wildlife but still enjoyed the paddle and the beautiful scenery.  The reflections were so perfect.

fullsizeoutput_4b33Ruth took this one of us, perfectly reflected along with the trees.    Thanks for a great visit Carl and Ruth!  We can’t wait to see where we meet up next time.

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Wrapping Up the East Side

fullsizeoutput_4964When we arrived at Ridgeview Campground it was mid May and we had half-days of peace and quiet in our section of the campground on the east side of Lake Cascade State Park.

fullsizeoutput_4accAs May became June and then July, our site looked more like this!   Ridgeview is one of the busiest campgrounds in the park and we had neighbors coming and going all the time.  

fullsizeoutput_4aceThe Fourth of July week was especially busy.   We were able to watch fireworks over the lake right from our site.   The  lights to the right of the fireworks are some of the dozens of boats on the lake with people getting the best view of all.

Randy gave his all to the east side maintenance position. He enjoyed the people and most of the projects.  He didn’t like irrigating or getting up for the 8:00 am staff meetings held on the east side.  Overall it was a very positive experience and he did a great job. 

fullsizeoutput_4acfThe last project he worked on was assembling new picnic tables.   There was suppose to be a plank marked Idaho State Parks for each the 75 new tables but after unpacking several pallets of planks he found just a few so inscribed.  He hated leaving the project in limbo but until the planks are found, or replaced, that project is on hiatus and left for others to complete.


He also worked on assembling and installing some new fire pits.


The first half of the summer season comes to an end and Team Ridgeview went to dinner to celebrate.  No one covered the campground for a couple hours….oh well!   We enjoyed working with Richard and Tammy a lot!

The plan for the second half had been for us to go to West Mountain campground and be camp-hosts until the end of the season.  As the last week evolved some incoming volunteers canceled and current volunteers accommodated changing plans.  We were agreeable to letting the West Mountain camphosts stay where they were and Randy took the west side maintenance host position.  

His primary project will be to continue the previous host’s work of repairing a pole fence around campgrounds on the west side.

So, Randy will be working to put a roof over our heads for a few more months. (Or more accurately, working for the site for the roof over our heads.)  That is a family joke because we always used my paycheck to pay our mortgage.  I always teased him that I was the one who put a roof over his head. Of course the money he made did EVERYTHING else!

fullsizeoutput_4ab9We are in site 250 at Poison Creek Campground on the west side of Lake Cascade State Park. The nearest town is Donnelly for anyone coming our way.  Our new site is much more spacious. I think we are going to like it!  

fullsizeoutput_4abaAnd if you turn around, the lake is close too.  We are looking forward to getting out the inflatable canoe and paddleboard!

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Serene, Meet Serene

fullsizeoutput_4a8fFor many summers,  Serene (not me) has had a clothing tent at the flea market south of Cascade.  We stopped and met her a few years ago.   We decided to stop again and took the opportunity to chat.


Serene and Serene – That sure is strange!

Serene remembered us stopping before and said she has met one other Serene in addition to me.  Randy and I saw a Serene on TV as a Jeopardy contestant years ago but it wasn’t the same one this Serene met.  So there are at least four of us.

In the last blog post, the Serene you know (me) was not impressed with our new tankless water heater.  Randy tried a few things and the change that made the best impact was increasing the temperature to 120 degrees.  The water going by the heater gets hotter so even when added to more water at higher pressure the end result is a stronger, hotter flow.   One positive of this water heater is that, once we get it set, there really is unlimited hot water.  The second person doesn’t have to wait for the water to re-heat which was normal operating procedure before.

All that being said, if we had it to do over again I’d vote against the tankless water heater.  We have found a way to make it work for now, but it is unclear whether it will be easily manageable with varying water pressures and filters as we travel.   The current plan is to live with it through the summer in Cascade and see how it goes during our travels in the fall.

If we decide to replace it, Randy will do that during our extended volunteer stay in Arizona this winter.  We’ll be at Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson from late December to the end of April.  We visited Kartchner Caverns State Park last year and thought it might be a good place to volunteer.  (Here is the link to that visit.) Randy really likes the idea of driving the tram and we’d like to support the caverns.  It will also give us the opportunity to further explore that part of Arizona.    

Getting back to our Cascade activities,  I have been taking ukelele lessons.   We’ve been carting around my ukelele for years and this is the first place we’ve stayed long enough to seek out lessons.

fullsizeoutput_4a7bThis is my teacher Steve (left) and fellow student George.  George is not a beginner and they were providing music for Alpha Nursery’s Open House.   Randy and I went to enjoy the music, the free food, and to get my ukelele re-strung.

fullsizeoutput_4a76Steve had suggested my instrument might stay tuned better if I upgraded my tuners.  Of course that meant if Randy upgraded my tuners!    Things went fine on Randy’s end of the project but when I tried to re-string it, I broke one.   And of course it happened on a late Friday afternoon in a small town in central Idaho.  No music store here.
fullsizeoutput_4a8cSteve to the rescue!  He brought strings to the nursery and got my ukelele back into practicing condition.


Beginner student and patient teacher!  And the teacher’s wife (also patient).


fullsizeoutput_4a0dWe go down the road to Boise now and then.  A couple weeks ago I was happy to join my church choir friends one more time.  Singing at church was a joy when we lived in Boise and the worship pastor, Adrianne,  welcomed me back anytime we were in town.    She invited all past choir members to join her for her final Sunday leading worship before retirement.   Adrianne is well loved by the worship team and people came from all over.   

fullsizeoutput_4a94On another trek to Boise Randy volunteered to drive one of the park trucks to take another of their trucks to the body shop.  The park’s newest truck, a 2018 model with only 6300 miles, was hit by an elk.  The ranger was fine, the truck needs a lot of work and the elk perished. 


Elk hair embedded in the tire.

There seems to be a lot of road kill on these curvy mountain roads.   Roadkill salvage is legal in Idaho and people are able to take animals that are accidentally killed by collision and use the meat and/or body parts.   Recently it became legal to put injured animals out of their misery.  It is a sad tale but good that some use be made of the poor animals.


Missing Cindy – she took the picture!  Thanks for dinner John!

We enjoy seeing friends on our trips to Boise.  This was a wonderful evening spent with friends John, Deb, Darrell and Cindy.   It is nice to be near the old home town.

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Did Handy Randy Have a Maintenance Fail?

Time is flying by in Cascade!  We have been here for six weeks and move to the west side in less than two.   We are pleased and surprised at how social we have been.  

We continue to enjoy time with Kent and Pam at their cabin and were glad that friends Darrell and Cindy came to camp nearby.  I met Sally, one of my former principals, for lunch in McCall and Randy started his golf league with former co-worker Rodger.

We were happy that family members from Vancouver, the Tri-Cities and Boise joined us for a family camping reunion.   Thanks to my mom, my aunt and cousins for making the longer than usual trek to Cascade.


Our grandson experienced fishing for the first time.  He caught four fish in about 10 minutes.  It will never be that easy again! 


Connie and Michael, cousins from Portland, came through for an afternoon visit.

fullsizeoutput_4a3cRandy’s former co-worker Bryan and family came from Boise to enjoy the lake for a few days.  We joined them at our “go to” place, the Lake Front restaurant at the Cascade golf course, within walking distance of our campsite.


My former teaching partner Connie and her husband camped nearby for a few days.  Connie and I worked very closely together for 9 years across two schools and two principals.  We knew each other’s hopes, dreams and foibles quite well.  It was nice to catch up.

And then there are our jobs… I am the substitute camp host at Ridgeview when the regular host is gone.  Mostly that is a matter of checking in campers and cleaning sites. It also involves redirecting campers who get here by mistake because their GPS doesn’t know Lake Cascade State Park has 11 different campgrounds.

Occasionally I have to give rule reminders.  When I let a man know that drones weren’t allowed in the park he told me that his drone wasn’t in the park, it was over the lake.   The life of a camp host….

Randy has done a huge variety of maintenance activities for the park.  He has worked on docks, fences, hoses, signs and bikes.  He has painted, mowed, trimmed and hauled yard waste.   I’m sure if he were here, he could name many other tasks he has done.

He has had home maintenance to do too.   He discovered our water heater had rusted through and needed to be replaced.   We identified three options – the first was to work through the extended warranty and have our water heater replaced with an identical unit.  That would cost roughly $100 in deductible fees, probably two trips to Boise with the trailer, and significant delay.  We never considered that option seriously.   

Option 2 was to order the same Suburban 12 gallon water heater from Amazon for about $600 and Randy complete the install.


Option 3 was to order a tankless water heater for $550.   Randy liked this option because it would lighten the load by about 100 pounds when we travel.   After talking through the pros and cons, we decided on the tankless water heater.  Although it said professional installation was recommended,  Handy Randy is just as good (or better) and we weren’t worried.  Amazon Prime delivered it in two days and Randy went to work.   


He removed the old unit and could see how wet the area had become.


The new water heater is quite a bit smaller so Handy Randy had to build a brace.

 He verified it worked and finished the install.   Randy’s first hot shower was deemed a success.

That first shower was one of only a few fully successful uses of the tankless hot water heater.   We knew there would be a learning curve and I am TRYING to be patient but it has been frustrating.  

Our campground has high water pressure and if you use anything approaching maximum volume there is too much water going past the heat source to heat it adequately.  You have to find the sweet spot for pressure and temperature and waste water and time in the process.   It is impossible to get really hot water in the kitchen sink because that faucet automatically mixes hot and cold water.

I want to emphasize that this isn’t a fail on Handy Randy’s part.  He did lots of research, read lots of reviews and successfully installed the unit.  I agreed with the choice.


However,  I think it is entirely likely he will be buying me a new old technology water heater for my birthday in September.   It might even be an early birthday present!

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Unexpected Lessons in Unexpected Places

P1030031We have been to beautiful Lake Cascade State Park a dozen (or more) times.  It was a nice comfortable distance for a weekend trip from Boise – usually with our friends Darrell and Cindy.    During years of Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, we were all about relaxing with our friends.

fullsizeoutput_49d9Being here for the entire summer season means there is more time to explore the area.   I was surprised to find reference to the Long Valley Massacre memorial within walking distance of our site.


We almost always prepare to pick up trash when we walk.

fullsizeoutput_49daThe Long Valley Massacre happened on August 20, 1878 following a horse theft.   Four local men believed a small band of Indians were responsible and followed the Indians’ trail.  The men were ambushed at this place.   

fullsizeoutput_49cdThree of the four locals were killed.   The fourth man hid in a log jam in the river and escaped after dark.

fullsizeoutput_49cfThe bodies were found by soldiers and buried in the area.   The graves were found and marked in 1929 but we were not able to see any remains of the marking.


We did see these bones nearby! 


And on a happier note…

Randy and I have been exploring the idea of joining the Elks for a few months.  Being Elks is a common thing with full time RVers both for social connections and for member only campgrounds.

fullsizeoutput_49cbOur efforts came to fruition this week when Randy was initiated into Boise Elks Lodge #310.  Although women are welcome to be members, we didn’t want to pay the annual fee for both of us when I can do everything but attend meetings as a member spouse.

I was able to attend the orientation prior to initiation and learned a few interesting things. The group that became the Elks started with a collection of actors in New York City in 1867.  They gathered together on Sundays when they could not work because of Blue Laws. They called themselves the Jolly Corks.   

When one of their group died, the remaining Jolly Corks assisted the man’s family.  That began the  hallmark of service to others.   Wanting to become an even more substantive benevolent group, they formalized and became The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in 1868.

The Elk was chosen as their symbol because it is distinctively American and fleet of foot.   Elks live in herds and are gentle and peaceful.  Yet, they are strong and valiant in defense of self and others.

As the original actor Elks moved about, other lodges were established and denoted by number.   The Boise Lodge came into being in 1896 and was number 310.  Of the fifty two charter members in Boise, six became Governor and five became US Senators from Idaho.

All Elks lodges continue to have benevolence as a cardinal principle.  This principle is joined by justice for all, brotherly love and fidelity.     The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks just celebrated their 150th Anniversary.  

Randy was impressed with the sincerity and authenticity of the eight members who came out on a Sunday afternoon to orient and install three new members – two men and one woman.

I stayed in the lounge while the members and initiates went through the formalized process of becoming an Elk.    When it was over one of the members said she was leaving “with Enrique.”   Enrique appeared to be the statue she was carrying,  so I had to ask.

fullsizeoutput_49c7She told me that Enrique, or “Kiki”, was murdered in Mexico because of the drug trade and that his death resulted in the drug awareness effort called Red Ribbon Week.   I was a teacher – of course I knew about Red Ribbon Week.  We participated every October in this drug awareness campaign but I didn’t know it had a tragic beginning.

Google research revealed that Enrique Camarena was a US Drug Enforcement Agency undercover agent in Guadalajara, Mexico.  He was kidnapped, tortured and killed in 1985.   The Boise Elks Lodge was awarded this bust of Enrique Camarena for their nation leading efforts in drug prevention.   As I said, you can learn unexpected lessons in unexpected places.

Not unexpected was our truck odometer going over 100,000 miles.   We have always had low mileage on our vehicles but not this one.   We bought our 2012 Ford SuperDuty truck new and it has been our only vehicle since June, 2014.  Low mileage doesn’t apply.

Even though Randy has driven approximately 98,000 of those 100,000 miles, he was not in the truck when it rolled over to 100,000.   I was driving to McCall and briefly went down a side road to be out of traffic to take the pictures.     I wonder where we’ll be when it goes over 200,000?

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