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Summer in the PNW: Part 2 – Kettle Falls

It was a Monday when we left Bonners Ferry, arriving around 2pm in Kettle Falls. Tired and still feeling a bit frustrated about our new dent in the truck bed and our choice of RV parks, but we were somewhere. Normally we would just spend all night driving away from an area if all the options were bad, but thanks to me, we’re stuck here for a while….I got a full mouth of braces 2 Decembers ago and ever since, every 6-8 weeks, I have to be in Spokane to see my orthodontist. Last winter I drove from Bend Oregon 3 times, about an 8 hour drive each way. Not only is Bend really busy and expensive in the Summer but I was tired of that long drive, even if I was getting through podcasts and audio books at record speed.

Grandview Motel and RV Park

Our space at the grumpy Grandview Motel and RV park on the far west side of Kettle Falls, was not great. Backed right up to someone so we had to empty our garage fast. Chucking tires, motorcycles and crates like ‘hoarders gone wild’ all over the yard, or block the road too long. Our post hookup parking space backed a little too close to the front door of our neighbour to the left, and it seemed odd that before we even arrived they gave us a checkout date of the 28th of April yet every single person in the place lived there full time.

The forest next to the park

The bathrooms were confusing and ancient looking, one with a non working lock. The laundry room was minimal and often occupied and we never again saw a person who worked there except for the one who was parked to our right in a rather nice corner spot. She never spoke to us even when we sat outside with the cats (breaking their rules btw). We did get a strip of grass and a picnic table, and in the evenings I could sometimes lure a couple wild/domesticated rabbits ti smell my hands while I creepily lurched around other people’s trailers. I can’t resist rabbits.

While we were there they were evening out and growing grass in an area next to the highway, maybe as a dog park or playground one day?

Kettle Falls

Kettle falls has a few businesses worth checking out. They have a co-op with lots of organic foods and several vegan options for us (very marked up since they’re 2 hours from the nearest city but so rare in small towns). Connected to that is an antique shop with an amazing postcard collection, a plant shop / local crafts shop and a coffee shop (walk in). Downtown, a wide street with a post office and a couple store fronts, has a German bakery with great rye bread and homemade jumbo pretzels. We were surprised to find that they have a brewery, Northern Ales, with some decent beers, an interesting warehouse style setup, a few pinball machines and space for live music.

Train cars next to the highway

The area around Kettle Falls was definitely beautiful, though not the ideal time of year. We attempted to hike and explore but were blocked by snowed in roads and a recent mudslide we passed was discouraging.

We continued calling around the area looking for an RV park that had everything we needed (internet and phone signal) while still being nowhere near touristy spots. Over a mountain pass, about an hour west of Kettle Falls was Republic. There were 2 RV parks there and one appeared fairly nice and supposedly had cell service, the other we barely had reviews. We took a day one weekend to go scout them out, get lunch, and check out the grocery store options.

Sherman Pass mid April

On the way to the Winchester RV Park, northeast of town, we passed a little RV park near the highway intersection that at first glance looked like a clean but essentially treeless park right next to a busy road. However at Winchester we found no cell service, slow internet and no options to get our own internet hooked up. The park was filled with broken down trailers and busted up cars. It doesn’t look bad on the entrance side but deeper in was a little depressing and sort of defeated what we find enjoyable about traveling in an RV.

We were really starting to feel hopeless again after that. We headed back to the remaining option, Gold Mountain RV Park, at first thinking we were sacrificing closeness to nature and not feeling like we live in a storage space. But as soon as we pulled in and could actually see the place past the fence and not from the side with a business blocking it, it was actually a really nice park. New, so most of its trees were small, but one of the largest and best looking willows actually shades pretty good area in the center of the park. The office/rec building was modern, concrete and wood. Indoor entrance bathrooms were spacious with giant stalls, metal doors and beautiful fixtures. The laundry room was also spacious with new machines.

We weren’t put off by the park host, despite his best efforts to alienate us while showing us around. We were decided, this would do just great. We called the owner, left a message, and went to the local Republic Brewing for a flight of beers and waited for her to call us back. We had questions about the internet naturally, and when she called back and said we could get our own (not shared) internet with a company in town and stay all summer, it was a huge relief. The months of stressing were over and our summer in Republic would start in a couple weeks.

When that time came however, we found out about a new and terrifying issue. While unhooking the electricity to drive over the pass and to our new summer home, we found that our cable was partially burned out, like, “let’s all burn to death in a trailer fire” concerning. And who knows how long it was like that? It is literally always something with these RVs, always. As soon as we got to Republic, we had to make a 8hr “day trip” to Spokane on a Sunday to get to Camping World before they closed and replace our electrical outlet and $60 cable. Ouch.

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