Last week Ashley came to visit me in Sandpoint, Idaho. Her time here was an, absolute, blast. The first day she was here, we went on a beautiful trail run down to Lake Pend Oreille. Later that week, we went down to check out the Route of the Hiawatha. The route has been called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country. When the old Milwaukee railroad was operating, the trains traversed through 11 tunnels and over nine high trestles, covering is 46 mile route that cross the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana. The feature that is most memorable is St. Paul pass, also known as Taft tunnel, which burrows for 1.66 miles under the Bitterroot Mountains at the state line. This tunnel is pitch-black, with no lights. When you buy the pass to ride the trail, one of the required items is a flashlight. The tunnel is so long that you cannot see light from either end in the middle, even though it is dead straight. Even though the trail seems rather long, it’s a very easy ride. Contributing to its ease is its 1.7% downgrade the entire way to the end. Once at the end, a shuttle bus ferries everyone, and bikes, back to the top. One feature that I found particularly neat was the fact it was away from any major roads. In fact, only one forest service road cuts through the trail. It is very quiet, beautiful, and serene. I highly recommend trying it out if ever in North Idaho.
The next day, Ashley and I headed out to Spokane and Deer Park to meet up with our good friend Kelly. Kelly lives on a private airstrip and has a beautiful 2,000 ft. runway, perfect for some Cubbing. We spent the day like any typical pilot; hanging around airplanes with good company, flying them when we wanted, and sharing battle stories from the past. I would call that a perfect day. Oh, and Ashley got her first proper lesson in the de Havilland Chipmunk (DHC-1). A ride which, I believe, she will remember forever. (Thank’s Kelly for sharing your day with us.)