ENAVILLE - It was about 2 p.m. Friday when the driver behind the wheel of the silver truck turned off Coeur d'Alene River Road.
He steered into the black-topped lot of the rustic, log bar and restaurant called the Enaville Resort or "The Snakepit," and rolled up to the front steps.
There, at the bottom, was the whiteboard with a message:
The word "CLOSED" was printed in large, capital letters.
Underneath, this is what it said: "Due to ongoing medical issues we will be closed for some projects. It has been our sincere pleasure to serve you since 1978 - 2 days closed each year! Stay in touch ... Rose Mary & Joe need your support."
The bottom line said "THURSDAYS. BAR OPEN 5 p.m."
The driver slowly turned around, back to the road, and drove away.
More came and went.
The future of the Snakepit, operated by Joe and Rose Mary Peak since 1978 and a Silver Valley fixture for more than 100 years, is uncertain.
Both Joe and Rose Mary are fighting cancer. Joe had a stem cell transplant last year, and Rose Mary is in a hospice program in Coeur d'Alene. In December, they reduced days of operation because of the medical issues, but even then, it was difficult to operate the popular resort.
It's been rough, said Joe, a few minutes before driving his van 27 miles west to take his wife to a doctor's appointment.
"I don't know what we're going to do," he said quietly.
The iconic inn about a mile off Interstate 90 has long been a gathering point for recreation on the river and community events. The Peaks organized Ride the Wall in the summer, a fundraiser for emergency medical services. On Thanksgiving, they held the Turkey Trot, an event that was more about fun, family and friends than running. Last summer, the Peaks were grand marshals of the Pinehurst Days parade.
John Specht of Osburn said the Peaks are wonderful people who have been good to the community. Joe volunteered with youth sports and gave time to help others whenever needed, while Rose Mary often played the piano at church and for the community theater.
"They've been tremendous supporters of everything that's gone on with the valley," he said.
Specht, who worked for the Forest Service, said Joe Peak was instrumental in keeping the river clean. They held an annual clean the river day each spring, and Joe pitched in with a barbecue in the outside pavilion for the volunteers.
"Whenever there's people in need, Joe's always the first to step up," he said.
Bill Scudder, a friend of the Peaks, stopped by the Snakepit Friday, too, after hearing it was closed.
He said the Peaks have always given back to the community, "over and over again."
"You can't find a better business or people," he said.
The Peaks, he said, supported schools, sports and kids. He held barbecues for bands and gave free meals to graduating seniors.
Joe was always there, greeting customers, serving the free huckleberry ice cream after dinner, joking with friends and telling stories of the season.
The Peaks made the Snakepit special. Guests didn't just arrive to have a beer, grab a bite, or check out the decor. They came to see Joe and Rose Mary.
"Just all good stuff," Scudder said, his voice cracking. "Nothing you can say bad about him."
Joe, in his most recent column, The North Fork Notebook, wrote this:
"We have put our business and community first since 1978. It's been a good run, but it's been hurtful to our health and our family's interests. So ... we have a meeting with a couple of friends and our employees to see what the future of the 'Pit and the near future will bring. Hey ... stick with us, it's been a helluva ride, we'll figure this out!
It was hard to see the doors locked on a Friday, Scudder said.
"It's just a shame this had to happen to them," he said. "They spent their business life building this place up and giving it everything they have."
That they have both had to battle cancer has been extremely difficult, Scudder said.
"Hopefully, it's not over," he said. "Hopefully, good things will happen."