Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Farragut History

Tuesday, August 1 was the fiftieth anniversary of the Boy Scout World Jamboree, held at Farragut State Park. 40 to 50 visitors gathered in celebration of the event where some of the original scouts came together along with current scouts and leaders. One such was a retired man from Australia who traveled from down under all the way to North Idaho for the original Jamboree, then came back this year for the reunion.

In recent years the park is undergoing a face lift, but the venerable brig, or navy for jail is the only structure left from World War 11. It was turned into a museum which is constantly evolving. A new wing commemorating local history and the scouts was opened a year ago and new exhibits abound in all areas. Erin Bair, park ranger and mother hen over the museum is still in fine form.

Between 2009 and 2015, a state of the art sewer system was built which allowed much expansion from when septic systems limited how much growth could occur. This five million dollar project brought forth many changes now in the works in many areas of the park. Two new dump stations which were made available to the public were installed. These dump stations are located near Gilmore and Snowberry Campgrounds.

Gilmore Campground now holds fifty camp areas with partial hookups. This is out for bit to enlarge to 100, double it's current capacity, with the new sites having full hookups. Scott Field, a group campground will soon host up to 600 campers. A new access off of Monagham will shorten the way in.

Sunrise day use area has had remodels of shelters as well as guest cabins re roofed recently.
The newest expansion will be started this fall when Tree to Tree, Idaho will start construction on an obstetrical course at Locust Grove. Among other attractions if will feature a zip line for easy aerial travel. This will be the second for profit concession ever at the park. (Currently, River Odyssey West is operating guided bike rides within Farragut, booked out of Coeur d'Alene)
Several favorite places in the park are Buttonhook Bay, a protected area at the extreme south end of Lake Pend Oreille and Beaver Bay, a swimming area.
After the U.S. Government deeded the former naval training base to the state of Idaho, it still hadn't been dedicated as a park until the hurried plan for a huge Girl Scout Jamboree for 1965 was developed. This followed by the world jamboree of boy scouts in 1967.

A four mile former railroad right of way formed another state park between Howard Road and the western park boundary. This Railroad brought recruits from Athol to the training station and was torn out after the nay closed the base. Ironically, a different railway was deactivated just four year earlier when the Lime kilns in Bayview closed down in 1938.

Today the park is managed and staffed with the best crew in years. They rightfully should take pride in the work they do and the attitudes of welcome that prevail.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


I was stunned by the sudden news that we only have one week left for our North Idaho blog, Huckleberries. It isn't just a blog site, it is the glue that holds our blogging community together.

Only time will tell, but I think many of our blogs will bite the dust when Huckleberries central gos away. DFO got me started blogging when I barely knew how to turn on my computer.

That in turn led to my 5 year stint as a correspondent for the Spokesman-Review. Now we will hear the sound of one hand clapping.

I grieve. 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Boy Scout Reunion

August 1, 1967 marked the First World Jamboree in Idaho for the international Scouting movement. Between 40 and 50 attended this celebration, many who attended the first one in 1967. There were also many current Boy Scouts along with many in scouting leadership.

I met a former scout that traveled all the way from Australia for the first Jamboree, and returned for the reunion.

1:00 pm saw a flag raising, with the Friendship Tower in the background. There are actually two of the awesome towers, but one has been gobbled up by a spreading forest.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Much about aging sucks. The only saving grace is that you didn't die young. Having said that, as I grow older, (79) I acquire more aches and pains. Since my three siblings all have sleep apnea, I decided to get checked out. Sure enough I have it too.during my sleep study, the technician told me I stopped breathing 29 times out of an hour.

So, I ordered a CPAP machine which gives positive air flow during sleep. It does however, make one look like a Martian. Naturally, as soon as I donned the mask, my nose itched and I couldn't scratch it.

Other than that, I passed my annual physical with flying colors yesterday.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bonner County Embarrassed

It would appear that the failure of Bonner County's equipment to find John Key's body has resulted in embarrassment for not seeking help from Kootenai County, who may have more sophisticated equipment that would help with the search.

Said help was requested and was granted by sheriff Ben Wolfinger recently, according to a blurb in the paper.

Without a declaration of death by authorities, his widow and family would have to wait seven years for a death certificate to be issued. In the mean time, the family is going to suffer severe financial difficulties in addition to the horror of loosing this fine man and father/husband.

I recommend that his closest friends start a "go fund me" account to help out.

We can only hope that the intensified effort will find the body, even if it isn't recoverable, which could lead to a declaration of death, triggering social security benefits.

Sheriff Wolfinger is to be congratulated for his marine division offering help.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Drownings Revisited

By happenstance, as I was walking up the boat ramp in Bayview yesterday, I spotted a pickup with Bonner County Sheriff lettered on the side. I meandered over and asked the person who was not in uniform why they were not doing more to find Santa.

He introduced himself as the  officer in charge of the marine division in Bonner County. He went on to explain very patiently about cold water drownings. Bodies in the water go to the bottom rather quickly, unlike in warmer areas where they pop up before taking the plunge.

In other words there is no chance of recovery or discovery in water 1100 feet deep. Side scanning sonar is only effective in shallow water above 200 feet deep.

In the interest of accuracy and fairness I felt it necessary to retract the allegations I repeated about Bonner County.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Bad Santa

John Key, alias "Bad Santa wasn't really bad at all. He was loved by many, especially his two best friends, Anne DuPont and Chris Gormsen. None of us ever heard a bad word either from him or about him. Most that knew him well did not automatically assume he was drunk when he and his boat separated company off Cape Horn over last week-end. Many feel at age 67, he may have experienced a heart attack.

Personally I prefer that a huge fish dragged him into the water. What is terribly disappointing is the lack of cooperation from the authorities in Bonner County. According to Chris Gormsen, best friend and side kick, the Bonner County water cops told him first, they would stay out there until John was found.

Then made the excuse that their side view sonar was broke and they withdrew. Last weekend the community responded with over a dozen boaters scouting the shorelines looking for their friend. I called Sheriff Ben Wolfinger with a question. Did Bonner County ask to borrow the needed equipment that could discover where Santa's body is? " Ben replied, not that I recall, and I would have been told if they had."

The attitude sucks. One wonders why citizens that are not Bonner County residents are perhaps second class. Or maybe they treat their own that way too. Just be glad we live in Kootenai County where we have a government that cares, a sheriff's Department that pulls out the stops to support our citizens when in trouble.

We will always miss Bad Santa.  He was the real deal.

 "Please join us as we celebrate the life of John A. Key, A.K.A Bad Santa. The celebration will be held 7-15-17 at the Bayview Community Center located at 20298 E. Perimeter Rd. Bayview, Idaho 83803 from 2-5 pm. This will be a casual event with light snacks provided. Please feel free to share this post so we can celebrate with ALL who loved John."