After weathering out the storm in a Colfax Best Western parking lot, I woke up at 3:40am to hit the road and get to Steptoe Butte in time for the sunrise. I was a little skeptical on the drive there, hoping that these storm clouds would dissipate before sunrise. I circled my way to the top of Steptoe to find that the clouds were going to clear in time, but I also was met with 30+ mph winds. This was an issue in terms of camera stability for photos with an exposure longer than 1/60th of a second. So I nixed the before sunrise photos, got my gear setup, and waited a half hour for the sun to start poking its face over the mountains.
Man oh man, did that sun paint a beautiful picture! I truly lucked out with the weather and couldn't have asked for a better scene. I spent almost three hours at Steptoe Butte before I thought I should get a move on and work my way to the next destination. Then I looked down at my watch and noticed it was only 7am! So I spent an additional half hour taking some video from Steptoe. It was worth every second!
I left Steptoe Butte with the intention of not stopping until I hit Sandpoint, ID, but then I saw some windmills peaking over a few hills in the Palouse. I took a couple of turns and ended up driving down a dirt road for about 20 minutes, following the clockwise rotation of those 250+ foot blades. I made it to location on the dirt road where there were windmills on every side of me. I spent my time here taking photo + video, eating breakfast, and even taking a quick shower with my REI Pocket Shower. On my way back to the "mainland" I stopped about every 2 minutes to take another photo that I just couldn't pass up!
Finally I made my way to Sandpoint, where I filled up with gas, ate some lunch and answered a bunch of emails. I hopped back in the car and drove another couple of hours to Kootenai Falls in Montana. Upon arrival I was met with more thunderstorms, so I decided to just wait it out and take a nap in the car. When I woke up around 6pm Mountain Time, the thunder and lightning had stopped and the rain felt like I was in Seattle. So I grabbed my gear and took the quick 0.2 mile hike down to the falls. These falls were different from any I had ever seen. They were enormous, spanning at least a couple hundred yards long, about 70 yards wide and dropping about 6 yards at the tallest point. Kootenai Falls displayed the power of this river. After spending time in four different viewpoints I made it back to the car and continued my drive. I stopped in Libby, MT for a burger and shake, and continued with the intent of stopping for the night in Fernie, BC. I drove for about 70 minutes. I didn't see one car the entire time, the rain picked up and the sun went down. To be safe (and smart), I pulled off at the next available stop, which happened to be the Peck Gulch Campground. I cracked the windows, turned on some John Prine, and promptly fell asleep.
Check back in tomorrow for Day 4!