My daughter and I were recently discussing a boating incident she saw which resulted in one boat having to sit out in the water until someone came to rescue them and tow them back to the marina. That led to my casual comment that on my family vacations, way back when, that wouldn't have happened because we would have been in small wooden boats that would support a small outboard motor, but that the main construction of the boat was as a row boat. She had never heard the story of my annual childhood vacations, so here it is, for her, for her brother, and for her Allen cousins.
I'm not sure how early family vacations became trips to Twin Lakes, in Ferry County, Washington. I know Mom had friends there, from the days when her father had run a saw mill at Inchelium. Both the town and the Lakes are part of the Colville Indian Reservation. When we were there over a weekend, we always attended church at the Inchelium Community Church, where Mom was always greeted warmly. The people there may have known her, or my grandfather, or both. Sometimes we would stop at a small there for supplies, grocery items she forgot to pack, or that couldn't stand the longish trip to get there.
Speaking of the trip, we always looked forward to riding the ferry across the Columbia River to get there. We knew we were almost there when we got to the ferry. I googled this and found out it is free now, runs every 15 minutes, and is operated by the Indian tribe members. I don't know if any of those three statements were true back in the 1950's and early 1960's. But I do know that Dad was always upset if we "missed" the ferry, even though the wait for it to cross the river and come back was pretty short.
Our "resort" was on the North Lake, and it was quite rustic. Most of the accommodations were rustic log cabins. When I say rustic, I mean we pumped our own water, chopped our own wood, and cooked on a woodstove. The larger cabins had two rooms, with the bedroom having two double beds. I don't remember about latrine facilities. I know there was one shower house for the entire resort, and there would have been restrooms there, but I suspect other locations were more primitive. The wood for the stove was kept in big sheds, but the wood still had to be chopped, by the guests, into suitable sizes for the stove, and for kindling. Dad usually volunteered for that but he had a weak back and often Mom would end up finishing the job.
The main purpose of the trip was fishing. We would go out every morning after breakfast (in rented boat, then later with a small outboard motor) and sometimes even before breakfast. We would come in for lunch and usually rest and then have some activity like swimming or hiking, and in the later afternoon would go out again sometimes. There was usually a post-supper trip, too, ended only by nightfall.
There were two kinds of fishermen on that lake, trollers and still fishermen. Each one thought the other a little strange. We were trollers, but I do remember trying the still fishing sometimes, just because we'd heard reports of a good catch here or there. Mostly we stayed on the North Lake to fish, but usually once or twice a trip we would go through a narrow, log filled channel to the South Lake and try our luck there. I don't remember that I ever caught anything there, and I don't remember the particular places we fished on South Lake.
Food during those vacations was simple, for the most part. We would have cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and then usually fish for supper. I don't remember what we ate if we didn't have fish. Eating was not easy, because if true cooking was being done, then the fire had to be started, and Mom had to relearn how to cook on a wood stove. It seems that I remember at least one year that she baked a cake in one, because we were vacationing over a younger sister's birthday. Then there were the dishes to do, with hand pumped water that had to be heated on the stove, and then dishes were washed in a big enamel pan. Somehow we survived, and even enjoyed, these "hardships".
One of the big treats of going to the Lake was that we would get a small allowance to spend at the company store. This wouldn't have been more than 50 cents and may have been only 25 cents, but we were allowed to spend it on candy or pop if we wished, and boy, did we wish! My choice was usually a "Sugar Daddy", a sticky caramel concoction on a stick that took forever (like, most of the week) to eat.
Twin Lakes was located in what some referred to as mountains and some as hills. There were pine trees and there were also open areas, but looking across the lake was one of my favorite sights in the whole world, especially as the sun went down. The hills seemed taller and the woods more wooded, and it was truly a lovely place for a vacation.
My strongest memories are of one particular fish, a rainbow trout almost 14 inches long, and of the year friends from the church Dad was pastoring in Othello went at the same time. We had good times that year. There is also the year we found minnows shooting out of a water pipe, and had fun catching them with milk cartons. I remember trying to walk logs that were used to form a sort of fence around a grassy area near the path to the dock, and I remember how proud I was when I could finally manage some of the uphill or downhill logs, as opposed to level and straight logs at the top or bottom of the area. I remember spats with my sister, good times with my parents, reading and playing cards on a rainy day or two. Those were good times, and even though I might have wished, as I grew older, for other vacation spots, I wouldn't trade them now.
Perhaps I'll write another time of the other kinds of vacations we had, as a family growing up. But always and forever, the smell of pine trees will take me back to Twin Lakes, Washington, and the family vacations we shared.
For my "Harshbarger" family readers, I'll try to find something new to post in two weeks. I'm running out of subjects in that line!