• Donna

Trip Report: Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area and the Missoula KOA

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

July 29 – August 5, 2017

There’s a quote attributed to Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoist philosophy, that goes “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” Did Wendy and I ever live the way during this leg of our trip.

The plan: knock out some chores during our three-night stay at Lake Roosevelt National Park, like big box store shopping, laundry, and toddler-proofing a light. Maybe fish or swim in the lake. Then head to a U.S. Forest Service site for three nights before driving to Glacier National Park.

What actually happened?

The General Store at Fort Spokane
The General Store

As we approached Fort Spokane Campground we realized I’d selected a far-flung temporary residence around the lake, nowhere near a large retailer. The only store within 20 miles didn’t even bother having a name. It didn’t need one. It was the store/restaurant/propane seller/fishing license purveyor.

The temperature had crept into the high 90s and none of the sites at the campground had electricity. On the bright side, someone else’s stuff—including an empty boat trailer—was strewn about the site we’d reserved; a site in full sun even at 4pm. The audacity was irritating, but allowed us to select a site with partial shade. We’re near a lake, I thought, it’ll be fine.

It wasn’t fine. We had to put the kids “to bed” in their stroller outside because it was too hot in the trailer; we moved them inside around 9:30pm, after they’d fallen asleep. The next day, the trailer’s thermostat held steady at 99 F, the lake’s beach was in full sun, we were sweaty and filthy from our dusty campsite, the dogs were listless and panting, and we put the kids to bed in their stroller again before moving them inside, where it was still 88 F at 11pm.

Although we were supposed to stay another night, I took advantage of a nearby casino’s cell service to find a KOA en route so we could all have some air conditioning over the next few days. We lucked out and found one in Missoula with space for four nights. So we left early in the morning, ditched our plans for the U.S. Forest Service site, and headed giddily to the promise of air conditioning and big box stores.

Giddily into the epicenter of seven wildfires.

We pulled into a truck stop to focus on finding another place to stay. But everywhere we tried was booked. We’d changed time zones and now it was 5:00 instead of 4:00. Offices were closing. We decided to stay the night in Missoula and then figure out what to do for the remaining three nights.

Blanket of smoke aside, the KOA is nice and very convenient. The local news is covering the fires ad nauseum, and we realized the situation isn’t that bad. Air quality is deemed “moderate” and we’ll get plenty of warning if an evacuation becomes necessary. So we decided to stay all four nights.

Plus one more night.

Odie has spent the past two days at a local vet’s office on an IV drip. Our first morning at the KOA, Odie did #3 so we gave him some rice for dinner. That night, Wendy “shot the shit” with him hourly. We withheld food all the next day to give his body a chance to work things out; it kept trying, and added vomiting to boot. That night, Odie threw up at least 10 more times. Wendy took him to the vet the next morning, where he spent the day on anti-nausea medicine and an IV to rehydrate. Wendy took Darwin to the vet’s last night so she could pet Odie and tell him night-night. Today he’s doing better and we’re supposed to pick him up at 4:30.

The vet thinks it was just a normal bout of stomach upset that had devolved into the beginning stage of dehydration. When we leave the KOA tomorrow, we’ll be armed with anti-nausea medicine, an anti-diarrheal, and newfound knowledge that we can give him Pepto tablets later on in our trip if he needs it.

We’ve missed Odie. CeCe has missed Odie—she has barely eaten since he left. But this evening we’ll be whole again and the freshly-washed blanket on the bottom bunk will be covered in a thick coat of dog hair, like it’s supposed to be.

Read the next trip report: Glacier National Park


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