Day 5: Goodbye MT, Hello WA (and a nod to ID)

Firstly, it’s my dad’s birthday and I’d like to electronically wish him a Happy Birthday (along with a phone call, of course).  Happy Birthday, Pops!

We were up and at ‘em fairly early today, as we wanted to get to a certain place by 2:00 PM.  It was kicking and screaming that we left Montana, a state we’d grown to love.  We made some comparisons to Maine, where we’d visited a couple years ago and loved, and it is a tough call to decide which one we’d like to live in most.  I think the nod goes to Montana slightly, only because Montana seemed to have bigger towns interspersed with the miles of wilderness, and sometimes you just need a Home Depot.

Our end goal today was to get to Spokane, WA, and the route we took was via Highway 2 through Libby, as it is supposed to be more scenic than going down to I-90.  Well, let’s see:  we saw deer, a couple young mule deer, a bald eagle, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and miles of evergreen forests intersown with gold larch trees.  And this was through fog and snow, as the weather was being temperamental again.  Imagine if we had seen it all at once in full sunlight – I think our heads would have exploded with how breathtaking it was.  So as it turned out, the fog helped portion out the scenery into bite-sized pieces so that our heads stayed intact.

As the sign indicates, this is the Buck Knives Factory

With our heads stuffed with scenery, we entered Idaho and headed south on US 95 to Coeur d’Alene before hopping onto I-90 for a hop/skip to Post Falls, ID.  Why Post Falls?  Well, Post Falls is home to Buck Knives and Buck Knives just happens to offer a (free) plant tour.  And even though I had less than zero interest in going, I had seen it online when doing a search for factory tours on this trip (see?  This is why we do pre-trip research) and figured since I had dragged Jim off the road so many times to view the World’s Largest something-or-another, it was the least I could do to throw him a bone and make a stop at the Buck Knives factory.  Besides, this might buy me a little latitude with future potential stops.

As luck would have it, the 2:00 PM tour had been completely booked but they had a last-minute cancellation and so we were able to join it (they limit the tour to 10 people at a time, and for darn good reason.  Can you imagine a group of 30 being turned loose in a knife factory?).  After signing a waiver that we promise not to touch anything and donning protective eyewear and headphones, we were finally led into the factory.  I must admit, it was pretty cool to see how these things are made.  I also kept thinking how brave they were to allow neophytes onto their plant floor.  One false slip…  But the tour took us through the entire process, from cutting the steel shape, to the heating/cooling process for strengthening the metal, to putting on a handle, to sharpening it, and finally polishing and inspecting it.  Many of these steps are by hand and they produce over 12,000 knives a day.  It was crazy to see the whole operation and Jimmy especially would recommend it to anyone passing through the area.  He was very pleased with this stop, especially since it didn’t involve him posing for something while I fussed with the camera.

After the tour we were back into the car and arriving to Spokane a short time later.  We had a great evening in Spokane having dinner with friends and made it an early evening to bed as we will be in Kent, WA, the next 4 days and will need all the energy we can muster to deal with the family.  Kidding, Ma…

(speaking of our 4-day stop in Kent, it’s a family visit so I may not be posting very much, if at all.  Don’t fear, there is a lot more to come in the next couple weeks as we continue our trip so please stay tuned!)

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