Since the 1860s, boats have been delivering mail to residents who live in rural areas on Lake Pend Oreille. The steamer Mary Moody was the first official mail carrier; today, the mail is delivered six days a week by Wes Jones in a 22-foot Duckworth that he’s dubbed “The Liquid Limo.” I had the privilege of riding with him this spring and discovering everything he has to offer for those looking to romp around Lake Pend Oreille.

I had heard that Jones was a warm and interesting person, even before I met him. Originally from Pennsylvania, he has experienced many things in his life, and it is evident in how open and welcoming he is with everyone. Natalie Huls, a local resident hoping to offer lakeside massage in the near future, told me how he easily related to her mother and deaf sister on a recent ride. “He just makes anyone feel comfortable,” she says. “My mom cried when we got off the boat.”

Jones spent four years in the Navy right out of college, then worked as a hospital security guard, medical assistant, flight attendant, pastry chef, truck driver, and other odd jobs. “I’ve got lots of stories,” he says, “but that’s about all I’ve got.”  While driving trucks, he discovered the majestic allure of North Idaho and decided it was time to get off the road. He worked a handful of part-time jobs around Sandpoint before becoming a security guard at the Naval Sea Systems Command in Bayview and eventually buying the mail boat from former US Postal Service contractor Scott Bjergo.

Photo by Joel Riner.

Karen Wilmoth, Wes Jones, and Natalie Huls at rock slides. // Photo: Joel Riner

Jones has been the area marine mailman for about four years, and he knows all the urban legends, history, and best spots to adventure on the south end of the lake. This past year, he decided he wanted to share all of this with others. Thus the Bayview Shuttle and scenic tour service was born.

On my ride, we ran the line of Jones’ mail route, which leaves the Bayview public dock at 9:30 a.m. and doubles as a scenic route on the way back for passengers. The captain took us past Whiskey Rock campground, the rock slides near the now-closed limestone mines, and cliffs perfect for climbing at Granite Creek. “If you want to go to the campground on Friday,” says Jones, “You can ride the mail boat, and I can drop you off at the end of the route. Then I can pick you up Saturday or Monday morning, weather depending.” He makes supply runs from the Bayview Mercantile, hauls out your trash for $5 per bag, belays climbers from the boat, operates scenic tours that include James Horner music and wildlife sightings, and has even recently added a kayak/paddleboard rack to the top of his boat for paddlers.

Jones’ business model doesn’t just promote his own services. He truly believes in working with other locals to provide amenities that are beyond his expertise. Karen Wilmoth joined us on the boat and talked about her passion for kayaking. She plans, with the help of the Liquid Limo, to teach people how to safely paddle on the often unpredictable waters of Lake Pend Oreille. For lunch, we pulled into the dock at Lakeview and jumped on a van to the newly-renovated Gold Creek Lodge. Jones is working with owner Dave McCahill to bring expanded awareness and accessibility to the lodge, the restaurant, and the many outdoor activities that McCahill and his staff are providing. It’s truly a community mindset in this incredible corner of the lake.

What You Need to Know about the Liquid Limo

  • The Limo can hold up to six passengers at a time.
  • Fare is $20 per person for a 90 minute scenic tour.
  • Shuttle service runs Monday through Saturday and Sunday by appointment only.
  • Boat rides depart from Bayview public dock at 9:30 a.m.
  • Weather conditions can affect a pick up or drop off.
  • Tour and shuttle booking info at Bayviewshuttle.com. //