Aquarius July 2005
Diary of Linda and my trip to Aquarius, ID in July 2005

7/10/05 We drove about 60 miles to Orofino and checked into the BLM Pink House campground. It’s a very nice scenic campground on the Clearwater River with full hook ups. We did our laundry and shopping for the up coming 10 day trip into Aquarius.

7/11/057/11/05 Got up early at 7:00 a.m. had breakfast, dumped, packed up, stopped in Orofino for some last items, and did some final phone calls. Finally left at 9:00 a.m. and drove 61 slow miles into the Clearwater NFS to Aquarius campground. The road is all asphalt but has some terrible grades and is constantly curvy. It took us about 2.5 hours to drive in. The Doug Willingham family and Joe Willingham family were already there. We had our choice of several sites and decided on site 9 at the loop near the top. It was pretty tight driving the trailer in and turning it on the loop. Low tree limbs also presented problems in some areas. For future reference sites 3 and 5 would be possibilities. Had difficulty filling up the fresh water tank because the fill site was not level, which can make it impossible to fill a gravity fill type tank. I managed to get it 2/3rds full. Had some difficulty leveling our trailer but finally got it spot on. Lana made JB Willingham recipe meat loaf and a salad for our whole group. It was excellent. Doug Jackie promised to go rafting with me tomorrow. The water level was high from recent rains and the class 3 rapid near our campground had no drop at all in its main chute.

7/12/05 Doug wimped out on rafting with me. This, along with the bad mixture of drugs I was taking, made me very depressed. I stayed in camp all day talking to know one, wishing I was with people who liked rafting more. We had bratwurst with onions and sauerkraut for dinner. I went to bed early and read my birding book.

7/13/05 Got up late around 9:00 a.m. feeling a little better. In the morning I drove Linda and Scarlet up Skull Creek to Collins Creek for huckleberry picking. I hiked up a horse trail along Collin’s Creek with Meghan while the girls picked some very nice berries. We had hamburgers on the barbecue for dinner.

7/14/05 I made some delicious huckleberry sourdough pancakes for JB, Joe, Scarlet, and Linda. Doug again wimped out on me for rafting, which again made me even more unhappy. I was ready to raft alone but Linda would not shuttle me. I did find a closer put in about 4.1 miles from camp. Bob and Paula arrived today taking site 3. Bob, who used to run a canoe business, said that he would go rafting with me.

7/15/05 Dustin Grosse, Lana’s son, arrived last night. Dustin and I did a 4.1 mile rafting run on the NF Clearwater. We had a fun time. The rapids were about the same difficulty as last year. The hardest one was perhaps the rapid right at Aquarius campground. Dustin is a Microsoft Executive and he promised me copy of MS Office Professional. Scarlet prepared a Carne Asada Mexican dinner for nearly the whole camp ground. Joe, Bruce and I barbecued the Carne Asada on two grills. We probably ate 1.5 pounds of the scrape pieces while doing the barbecue. The dinner turned out great and was lots of fun.

7/16/05 Joe loaded his truck with 6 bikes and drove us up to the Beaver Divide 16 miles up. Had a very pleasant coast down the mountain. In a flat marshy area we saw a mother and baby moose at close range which made the trip priceless.

7/17/05 Did another 4.1 mile raft trip down the NF Clearwater at 9:30 a.m.. Linda shuttled us and the boats upstream in the Chevy Duramax pickup. Lana and I went in the 14’ Soar. Dustin and Jackie Grosse went in the 12’ Soar. Had a very pleasant float with no problems until we hit Whitefish Rapids near our campground. Lana and I did the short drop past a big boulder on the right, which pushed us left causing us to hit a big boulder on the left at a 45 degree angle. We both paddled hard and got off this boulder passing it on the left which put us moving backwards through a couple of big waves. It wasn’t pretty but we made it. Dustin and Jackie were not as lucky. They hit the same boulder head on, which immediately flipped the boat. They both stayed with the boat through the rapid as we lined up to intercept the boat and a loose paddle. Dustin, a very strong swimmer, actually got back into his boat without assistance and then helped his wife Jackie into the boat. Jackie incurred no injuries and Dustin only a small bruise on his ankle. It was a neat adventure. Something for Jackie and Dustin to remember every time they visit Aquarius, nor will I ever forget it. I did a 3 mile hike with Meghan up the ridge south of the Clearwater River. It was 1.5 miles up at a very steep grade. Even Meghan got a little tired. The view at the top was beautiful making the work of the hike worth while. Had a really good barbecued fillet mignon steak, garlic bread, salad, and green peas for dinner. Attended campfire at the German couples camp. Peter a retired nuclear physicist is very energetic German. He played German music on his boom box and danced with his two grand daughters well into the night.

7/18/05 With the help of Bruce I got 250’ of garden hoses together and filled up our 5th wheel fresh water tank. Yah Yah I am going to have a hot shower tonight in the 5th wheel shower. The baths in the river have been lethally cold and that soap doesn’t get you clean at such low temperatures. Refilled the 5th wheel batteries with distilled water today. Joe Willingham and I did another rafting run in the afternoon. We again started 4.1 miles up. Joe in the 12’ Soar capsized on the very first rapids. I hit a large rock on this rapid and nearly flipped. Had it not been for some quick paddling and high siding weight transfer I would have experienced my first flip in a SOAR. Joe is tall with long legs and a weight lifter type upper body which made is center of gravity way high if he rested on his knees as recommended by Soar. We stopped at a beach and moved the seat back so Joe could sit flat in the raft. This really made Joe’s raft stable and he did great the rest of the run. At the final class 3 White Fish Rapids I decided take the right side line and found it to be really easy on this side. I will advise all beginners in the future to take this line. I love rafting down this river. We had some of Linda’s left over French Onion Soup for dinner. Yummy.

7/19/05 I drove with Meghan 7 miles up Isabella Creek road to the trail head of Heritage Cedar Grove Trail. It was about a 4 mile hike with 1,800’ of elevation gain, hard work but a very beautiful trail. Meghan had a wonderful time smelling all the forest animals and birds. She worried me on some of the steep drop offs as she ran to and fro like a mad pup but her sure footedness prevailed. On the way out she flushed out a Ruff Grouse which scared me big time. Got back to trailer around 1:00 p.m. and took a 3 hour nap with Meghan in the 5th wheel. Had spicy shrimp, steamed rice, and green peas for dinner. Attended campfire and stayed until 10:00 a.m. Checked out the stars in the opening in the forest by the road, but still some twilight so couldn’t see much.

7/20/05 Had fresh hash browned potatoes made with the hand salsa maker, eggs, and bacon for breakfast. Yum yum. Cleaned up the rafts and put them away. Tried using the Honda 1000 watt generator on the 5th wheel but it did not work because the Inverter/charger drew too much current and tripped the generator out on over load. I tried the 8 amp DC output of the generator connected directly to the batteries which may have worked but I wasn’t 100% sure it was actually charging. 8 amps is a small charge on 4 batteries at 440 amp-hours. I decided to set up my telescope this evening just outside the campground in a triangle area junction of the roads. Got some nice views of Jupiter before it went under the horizon. The seeing near the horizon was very jumpy. It was a full moon, but because of the northern location at 46 degrees latitude and the mountains with trees the moon was actually blocked. Its ambient light however still washed out galaxies and star clusters. At 10 p.m. several grand children and a few campers came out to take a look. Jupiter was down so we viewed binary stars Mizer and Alberio. A pair of wild kids driving an old Ford were making dangerous spin outs and fish tails near us so all left except my self and few concerned men. Doug got his gun, came back, told the wild drivers in no uncertain terms that they should not visit our camp. I stayed until 11:30 p.m. at which time the wild kids returned. Doug again came with his gun and told them to get out of here and never come back. All felt it would be too dangerous for me to stay up alone out there, so I packed up my astronomy and returned to the 5th wheel.

7/21/05 Did another 16 mile bike ride down from the Beaver Divide. The following people went; Joe Willingham, Doug Willingham, Bruce Roberts, Beverly Roberts. Peter Braunlich, and myself. It was a bit hot and humid but yet a very pleasant ride. No moose sightings this time. I got more acquainted with Peter Braunlich . I discovered that we both enjoy the same types of food. He lives in Coeur d’Alene and Hawaii. When in Hawaii he prepares his own fresh sushi and sashimi. Yum yum. He and his wife Elke are both German. The campfires were at their site every night. They had two charming grand children Maria about 6 and Gracie about 4 with them. Lana and Doug’s charming energetic grandchild Joshua about 6 had a budding romance going with Maria. Joshua was allowed to extend his stay a few days so the romance could continue. It was very entertaining to watch their interactions. Peter occasionally played German music on his CD player while dancing with his grandchildren around the campground. I usually don’t like music boom boxes played while camping, but I must admit that the German music CD’s they selected where very good and played at a soothing low volume.

7/22/05 Left Aquarius Campground at 8:00 a.m. and drove to Clarkston, WA the grueling curvy steep drive taking us about 4 hours. We checked into the Granite Lake RV Park which is a lush green facility located right on the Shores of the Snake River. Doug and Lana also stayed here. The temperature was high with lots of humidity when we first arrived. Later we had high wind and it eventually cooled down. Linda did laundry while I got the truck washed and did research at the local RV service center regarding our AC problem. Its almost a cinch that I am getting icing on my AC evaporator coil caused by low air flow. If I leave the quick cool vent open I have not yet experienced icing. The technician recommended leaving this vent open as a temporary fix. The real problem is probably caused by restriction in the air duct system (poor alignment, connections, or restriction of some kind). Another possible cause could be a malfunctioning freeze thermostat which is suppose to turn off the compressor when coil approaches freezing condition, however apparently not all Dometic AC units have this thermostat. The AC technician also recommended setting the thermostat high enough so that the compressor will cycle off allowing the evaporator icing to melt when the compressor is off. Linda and I did some shopping at the local Costco. We bought a Cobb salad and garlic bread for dinner. We and the Willingham's had dinner together on a picnic table in the RV Park overlooking the river.

Last updated on February 6, 2019