You are invited to hop along for a ride in the little orange Jeep.
This is a ride that Lowell makes almost every workday. All 92 miles worth of it. But first we must head to the post office at 7:15 in the morning to case all the mail. I have no pictures of the next 2 1/2 hours since it is the most stressful 2 hours of the whole day. There is quite a learning curve to memorize where all the address slots are on the route mail case!
We get all the bulk mail consisting of magazines, catalogs, flyers, etc filed in the appropriate slots (on the route’s case) in our little corner of the post office. Next we have to put in all the first-class mail. After that we check and put markers for all the parcels in the correct slots. Finally, we’re ready to pull down all the mail from each separate customer’s slot and stash it in a mail tray to be loaded in the Jeep.
Oh yes. Loading the Jeep. Um, this has been a struggle for me since I only run the route about once a month – I haven’t gotten very good at fitting all the mail and packages in to where they aren’t a jumbled mess by the time I am 2 hours down the road.
Lowell would cringe and shake his head if he looked inside his Jeep on days I run it. But I might just have room for you, provided you can hold a mail tray.
These nice little mailboxes will greet you over 370 times. Winter is actually good in that the bees and wasps are not sitting just inside the little mailbox door – ready to sting your poor, unsuspecting hand.
My rearview mirror has become my best friend with these big trucks on my tail. Many times I’ve been thankful Lowell got an orange Jeep since orange is easy to spot on sunny days and foggy days.
There is so much beauty on this route! It takes us up Highway 95 and 1, going off on several roads and back to the highway again.
You will see wildlife. Can’t get away from it! I took a picture of a deer I saw on Westside Road – but since deer are a little more common, plus I have 21 pictures in this post, we left poor Bambi out of this story.
This is an elk farm we deliver mail to up the highway. They look majestic – even if they are inside a fence!
This picture was taken at the crossroad where a small dirt road meets the highway. On this dirt road lives a couple……..who had a grizzly bear show up in their yard – while their children were playing! Thankfully, the father was able to shoot it.
However, the Department of Fish and Game wasn’t too happy and the family came under heavy fire for killing a grizzly bear. Lowell says you pretty much have to get teeth marks before you’re allowed to shoot a grizzly.
Serving over 370 customers can lend itself to several mistakes. Probably my worst one on this day was when I accidentally delivered the wrong parcel to a customer. Finally about 30 minutes down the road, I figured out my mistake. So I made the several mile trek back and sheepishly delivered the right one. Bless the couple’s hearts, but they had been looking up the address on the wrong parcel in hopes they could deliver it to the right customer themselves!
Talk about humble pie.
Once I reach the Canadian border, I empty out 2/3 of the parcels at a shipping depot on the U.S. side. Then we go pick up any mail at the small town post office near the border and begin the trek across the other side of the valley.
And, yes. That REALLY says 57 degrees.
The day was positively gorgeous, my cd was blaring “Holy is the Lord God Almighty” and my sandwich was making its way into my hungry tummy. It was a good day.
Of course, I didn’t tell you about the incident where I sat on my barcode scanner. It beeped at me “INVALID BARCODE SCANNED”.
What a relief! At least it didn’t read “WEIGHT LIMIT EXCEEDED”.
Now we cross the Kootenai River as we head over to the west side of the Kootenai Valley.
Have I mentioned yet about how popular I am when I do this mail route? Everybody and their brother waves at this little orange Jeep and I secretly like it. It’s a testament to the fact that Lowell’s customers truly appreciate what he does for them.
Of course, being the normal blonde, I’m always about two seconds behind and finally start waving as I see their taillights heading past me.
As I run this route, I can see why Lowell loves it as much as he does. He is so good at seeing each customer for the person they are – not just a number on a mailbox. It has challenged me so much!
They are all people and God loves them like He does the rest of us:
- From the little granny who makes chocolate cake to the little boy who was panting hard from pulling his wagon up the mountain.
- From the family doctor with a dozen kids to the old hermit who Lowell sometimes gets groceries for.
- From the sweet lady who was so incredibly proud to show me her brand-new twin grand-babies to the young man who questioned me about trespassing on their land.
Now we are going to drive along the foot of those mountains and head north back towards Canada again. But there is a little treasure I want to show you in one of the most northern points of our route.
Most times, I have cell service along this road. I’ve often wondered “what would I do if the Jeep decided to quit on me up here?” But folks are usually very helpful and would at least inquire if they could help . . . plus I could get out and walk towards cell service. Although I might want to carry along my lunchbox as protection against the cougars. “Here kitty, eat this while I run!”
In fact, the Jeep did quit on me last month. It wasn’t in this part of the route, but I had hit a huge pothole and the engine died. Thankfully, Lowell had warned me this could happen and that I would have to change a fuse to fix it.
*Snicker* Me? Change a fuse? Is that sort of like changing a light bulb? And can only one blonde do it?
In my defense, I actually got it done. Although I had to do it with my cell phone on one shoulder and my dear hubby walking me through the process. I told him, “Hey, at least I knew where the hood was!” That’s where they keep those fuse thingys – under the hood.
This is the real reason I wanted to bring my camera along.
This is the treasure!
Way up north, at the foot of one of those mountains, is a creek called Smith Creek. And not too far from the road is where it tumbles over a cliff to give us our beautiful Smith Creek Falls.
I love to hear the water as it crashes below!
Now wasn’t that worth coming along for? I should have taken a video of it so you could hear the waterfall too.
Now we are heading south towards town and the end of the mail day. But first we must make a little jaunt down into the valley and through the hops fields. Leaving these hops fields is where I had to put it in four wheel drive to make it through the muddy road – or I might still be sitting there today.
The Westside Road is mostly paved – except for these few miles where it takes great concentration to dodge the potholes and muddy ruts. Just don’t dodge them so much that you roll off the opposite side!
THAT, my dear folks, takes talent.
But should you ever come upon a little orange Jeep that did a tumble-bumble all the way down – simply follow the instructions. And send me back on down the road.
One more last picture before we enter town and take all of our outgoing mail to the post office. It’s been lovely having you along! You were so nice and quiet and didn’t even require a bite of my sandwich.
However, can I have my scanner back?
You’re sitting on it.