On June 27, we moved to Post Falls, a small town near Coeur d’Alene (CDA) , Idaho. CDA is a satellite city of Spokane, which is located about 30 miles to the west, in the state of Washington. We were in Post Falls to see Zane Cowles, son of Jeff Johnson, son of Barbara. Which is a long way of saying that 16-yr-old Zane is our grandson. We proposed that he join us on a little camping side trip, and were pleased when he agreed. We were even more pleased when it developed that he seemed to enjoy the experience as much as we did.
Farragut State Park
We were much more interested in camping than in driving, so Barb chose the nearby Farragut State Park as our destination, located at the southern tip of the Lake Pend Oreille in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains.
The 4,000-acre park is about 30 miles northeast of CDA. Publicized activities include camping, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, cycling, fishing, boating, swimming, water sports, orienteering, disc golf, flying model aircraft, archery, and horseback riding. We didn’t do all of these, but we did do some hiking, some bird-watching, some kayaking, some Ladder Balling, some Mexican Training, some museum visiting (see below) and S’mores Eating.
The Park formerly held the Farragut Naval Training Station, a major training base of the U.S. Navy during World War II. Why northern Idaho for naval training? To keep it well inland away from possible attack by the Japanese. Ground for the base was broken 75 years ago in March 1942 and its first phase opened in early August; by September the base had a population of 55,000, making it the largest city in Idaho. It was the second-largest naval training center in the world at the time, and liberty trains ran three times daily to Spokane, Washington, about an hour away. Over 293,000 sailors received basic training at Farragut during its 30 months of existence. The last recruit graduated in March 1945 and the facility was decommissioned in June 1946. It was also used as a prisoner of war camp in 1945, run by the U.S. Army; nearly 900 Germans, most captured shortly after D-Day, worked as gardeners and maintenance men. Reportedly, many former prisoners liked the area so much that they returned after the war.
After its use and closure as the Farragut Naval Training Station, the site housed “Farragut College and Technical Institute” for three years, beginning in 1946. It did not re-open in late 1949, because of financial difficulties.
A remaining park feature is the Museum at the Brig, located in the confinement facility of the naval training station. Its displays include boot camp, naval, and war memorabilia, as well as historic prison cells.
Lake Pend Oreille
We did our kayaking outside of the Park, renting kayaks in Bayview. Lake Pend Oreille is huge. It is not a reservoir, but is instead the creation of the melting of ancient glaciers. It is the state’s largest (43 miles long, 111 miles of shoreline). It is the deepest (at 1,158 feet deep, there are only four deeper lakes in the nation). We spent about 3 hours on the lake, with Barb and Zane in a double and Chuck in a single.
On June 30 we returned Zane to his home in Post Falls. We had all decided it would be good to take him with us to see Barb’s three brothers in Wenatchee, WA (and take a train back later), but when we returned we learned that in our absence an employment opportunity had materialized, so we said our farewells. We look forward to our next visit with the fine young man.