June 2003

More busy-ness around here. Dan's parents stopped by on their giant road trip of the west and visited with us. Sonya's been sick with some sort of cough/cold thing for weeks! The doctor is trying to figure out why it won't leave.

Dan's birthday was here all of the sudden and we decided to pack up and head to somewhere we hadn't visited before. We both needed the rest and relaxation badly. We decided to spend a long weekend in Coeur D'Alene and exploring the surrounding area. We had a great trip. Here's the specifics.

Friday June 13, 2003 -

Dan took the day off from work, so we were up early and on the 8:45am ferry to Seattle. There was a little confusion about the best way to get to the freeway now that our favorite onramp is closed, but we were quickly heading east on I-90 over the Cascades.

As soon a we got off the ferry in Seattle, it was evident that it had just been raining pretty heavily. The skies were cloudy, but dry on Bainbridge. By the time we were above Issaquah it was pouring rain. It only got heavier as we got higher up into the mountains. We were out of the rain by the time we got down into Ellensburg, but the skies were very dark behind us.

We made a quick stop in Ellensburg to check out the town. We parked near the historical Main Street and walked around a few blocks. As we walked, it started to get darker and darker. It was raining a little bit by the time we ducked into the Clymer museum and gift shop. We saw a book in the window that appeared to be one Dan had been looking for that would teach us about the geology of Washington. It wasn't what we wanted, but inside we found an even better book. I fell in love with these cute stuffed animals put out by the Audobon Society. They were birds and if you squeened them, they would make their appropriate bird call. I'm pretty sure I annoyed everyone in the store completely by playing each and every one of the bird calls. :)

We left the museum and it was starting to drip a little more heavily so we headed straight to a deli to buy some sandwiches for a lunch later on. We stopped at a place called "Sweet??? something" and bought a turkey sandwich for me and reuben for Dan. We dashed back to the car as it started to rain. By the time we were back on the freeway, it was pouring and pounding us with rain.

We got ahead of the storm again by the Columbia River. We stopped at the Ginko Petrified Forest State Park to see some petrified stuff and have our picnic lunch. We drove a few miles off the highway to the park and found a picnic area. We got our lunches all set up and dark clouds started to come in and the wind started to howl! At one point my can of soda blew over it was blasting so hard. We headed back to the car to get out of the wind. Just then a bus full of teen aged kids on a field trip pulled up. Maybe this was a sign we should leave. :)

We finished our lunch in the car as the wind pushed us around. It was nearly impossible to even walk outside because it was so blustery. We decided to head out of there before it got any worse.

We drove across the river and stopped at the Wild Horse sculpture and vista point of the river. It was beautiful and windy. We took some pictures and headed on our way.

Around that time the drive got really boring. It reminded me of the drive from Buttonwillow to Grapevine on I-5. Just one field of green stuff after another after another after another. It's pretty at first, but then it gets old.

I was glad to finally see trees again as we got closer to Spokane. It seemed like we had gotten ahead of the storm again and we headed into downtown Spokane to check out the Riverfront Park. We found a parking space on the street next to the park and by the waterfall. We got out and put a couple quarters in the meter and headed for the falls.

I had been looking for a bridge that my tourbook said afforded a good view of the falls, but it was torn down and under construction. We saw a guy feeding some strange furry creature carrot pieces. Dan said it was a marmot, but I'm still convinced that it was a mutant ferret/beaver cross breed thing. Okay, so maybe it s a marmot, but it's weird looking anyway.

After the falls we went into Riverfront Park. I was feeling a little tired and didn't want to start a huge adventure when we still had more drive to go, but I wanted to see the park. We headed in and a little ways down the path, it started to rain again. I ran into the carousel building to stay dry while Dan headed back to the car to get my umbrella. It was such a beautiful carousel.

We wanted to see a bunch more of the park and even thought about taking the tour train, but the tour was over and hour and we didn't have that kind of time. Instead we walked around a bit and then headed back to the car after getting a sno-cone.

We hit a little 5pm traffic on the way out of Spokane that took us most of the rest of the way to Coeur d'Alene. It wasn't too difficult to find our hotel at the intersection of highway 90 and 95. We weren't right downtown, but the location wasn't too inconvenient from wherever we wanted to visit.

We checked in and headed to our room (#225). It wasn't too bad to get to. Just into the "B" entrance, up the stairs and turn to the right. Nice considering we had brought so much stuff in the car. :)

We took a few minutes to unload the car and get organized and then we were off to visit downtown. When we got downtown we found that the main streets were blocked off because of a giant classic car show, the Car d'Alene. The town was jammed full of people, much to my dismay. I read in the paper that some 30,000 people came to town for the car show, so you can imagine. It was packed and the crowds were way too much for me.

We parked by the Tourist Bureau/Visitor Information Center and used our free hour of parking to walk into the park by the lake. It was so beautiful. It really is a nice puddle of water. We walked through the park and along the waterfront to some benches by the water. We also walked down the pier and checked out the prices of some seaplane rides that Dan was interested in.

By this time it was late and we were both hungry. We headed out of downtown to try to find someplace less crowded to eat dinner. After much confusion we ended up at Chilli's just north of our hotel. There was a wait and after a little bit of argument, we ended up waiting for a table instead of getting something to go.

We had a yummy meal with some difficulty. There was a seriously loud family behind us at first with a crying baby. They were replaced by a quieter couple, but the guy, who sat on the other side of the bench from me, had that nervous tic where you bounce your leg. This was shaking the bench I was sitting on. It was like eating with a 5.5 earthquake every 15 seconds or so. It helped me to remember why I don't like eating in restaurants. :)

We finished up dinner and headed back to the hotel. It was late and had been a long day so we curled up with some maps and books to plan tomorrow and watched a little TV.


Saturday June 14, 2003 -

I woke up to the sounds of Dan taking a shower. He was up earlier than me (as usual) and he headed to town to find a place to get a coffee and read the paper while I got a little more sleep. He ended up at a Cyber Cafe where he met some former Southern Californians who visited Coeur d'Alene and fell in love with it enough to move there.

I called him when I woke up and I got dressed and ready to go. The plan had been to head out on I-90 and then go south on 97 to travel down the eastern side of the lake on what my book called "the most scenic drive in Northern Idaho". Dan decided that we could go through town and find a way to get over to 97 without having to get on the freeway. He was wrong. :) We had a very lovely drive, but we ended up doubling back to town and getting on I-90 anyway.

The road south did not disappoint. It was gorgeous! We took that road all the way down along the lake and then through some beautiful small towns and farm country. We took highway 3 back to the northwest, stopping at a small store to get a snack to tide us over until we could find a place for lunch.

We got back to I-90 and headed east to Wallace. We stopped at the Visitor's Information booth and met Colleen, a VERY enthusiastic lady who really loved her town. She loaded us up with brochures about the area, maps and recomendations for where to get a sandwich in town. She also filled us in on all the dirt about the filming of Dante's Peak in town. Her husband is the first forest ranger who comes out of the forest in the movie.. or something like that. We set up a wish list on Tivo so we can see it again now that we've been in town. She was delightful and made me really want to come back and spend more time in Wallace. I even made note of the Best Western in town. I'm ready to go there for the weekend so Dan can mountain bike and I can gold pan.

We went into town and stopped at EJ's and got some sandwiches. While Dan was waiting for sandwiches, I went across the street to a store and rock museum. The store was so cute! The man in front had tons of amazing rocks and minerals in his collection. I loooked around at everything in the store and then headed into the back. I wanted to get Dan some huckleberry beer, but couldn't find any in the back where some ladies were tasting local wines.

By this time Dan found me in the store and I showed him all the cool things I found. We left there with a Moose Drool beer, some BBQ sauce and huckleberry jam and were on our way. Colleen suggested a route over the mountains that was a little different than the one we had planned, but turned out to be better. We drove out of town on the street she suggested and met a torn up, graveled road. I hesitated, but Dan thought it was the right road so we went forward. Scary!

But the road became better paved and was beautiful. We headed over the pass towards Thompson Falls, MT. We went north to the Pritchard "Y" and then east into Montana. Somewhere around Thompson Pass we stopped and had our sandwiches for lunch.

In Thompson Falls we headed northwest on 200 back towards Idaho. The vistas were really beautiful. I think that both of us expected to see mountains like the Eastern Sierra or the Cascades. We didn't, but the lakes and rivers were amazing. We stopped at a little campground along 200 for a break. It was so lovely and quiet there. It was difficult to leave.

We had a decision to make just past Noxon, MT. We could either continue on 200 and along Lake Pend Oreille into Sandpoint, or we could go north on 56 to Troy, MT and into Bonner's Ferry and then south to Sandpoint. It would add some mileage, but for whatever reason (I can't remember now) we both decided we wanted to go through Bonner's Ferry.

We stopped for gas in Troy and both were really tired on the drive south. I can't remember what we saw, but mostly I think it was mountains and lakes. :) It was a really long drive.

We did stop one place on the way south. We passed a woman selling jerky on the side of the road and bough some Buffalo and Elk jerky from her. It was probably overpriced, but when in Rome. :) I'd been wanting to try it and it was well worth the stop. Yummy!

We stopped at a mexican place we'd seen the night before just north of our hotel. We picked up some dinner to take back to the hotel. I called my mother while Dan waited for our food. I asked her to go to Bainbridge and sell all our stuff and mail the kitties and money to us in Montana because we weren't coming back. She said that we didn't want to live there in the winter. I guess she's probably right. :)

We got everything unloaded in the hotel and Dan went to go get us some silverware while I set things up. I moved the table out into the room and set up our chairs and plates. We had a nice, quiet, yummy mexican dinner without someone shaking my chair every 30 seconds. :)

After dinner we put our shoes back on and went into downtown Coeur d'Alene. Dan had wanted to pick up some beer at the brewery to take home. I hadn't walked around downtown yet, so I agreed to go with him. We had an uneventful drive to the brewery where Dan tasted the 4 kinds they had bottled and we picked up a 6 pack of the Honeymoon Wheat and another 6 pack of , surprise surprise, the Huckleberry beer I had wanted to buy him in Wallace. He also got a t-shirt.

We put that all in the car and then walked around downtown. Lots of restaurants were playing music and people were dancing and drinking and being rowdy. There were lots of people cruising around downtown in their classic cars too. There were lots of cops downtown too, but we didn't bother with the drama. We just looked in the store windows and enjoyed the warm evening.

We headed back to the car and decided to cut over to 4th avenue and back to the Dairy Queen to get an ice cream for dessert before going to bed. Dan waited at the stop sign and then turned into the far right lane of 4th avenue. I was looking at the map of downtown to figure out the best street to get us back to the Dairy Queen when Dan said, "Oh shit!" I said, "What" and looked up to see flashing lights. There was a cop behind us. I looked at the spedometer and we weren't even going 20 mph yet, so we weren't speeding. I asked if there was a stop sign or something. Dan didn't know.

Dan pulled over and we waited as the police walked up to the car slowly and carefully. I almost sensed some disappointment when the police saw we were old tourists. :) They looked in the back of the truck and saw the beers and asked us what we'd been doing. Dan said we'd been walking around downtown and were heading back to our hotel. They checked Dan's license and registration, but decided to just give him a warning for his infraction. Oh.. the infraction. Apparently, when you turn left onto a street, you're supposed to turn into the first available lane. On a one way street, which 4th Avenue was, we were suppposed to go into the left lane, instead of the right. Neither of us knew that was a law and I'm not sure we even knew that 4th Avenue was one way. :) We're just glad that there wasn't a ticket issued. They said that they were primarily looking for drunk drivers and drugs. I guess they were pulling people over for any minor infraction. We felt like bad fugitives or something. I kept telling Dan that now he was my "bad boyfriend'. :)

We got our ice cream and went back to the hotel for some TV and then Dan was ready for bed. I was still too wired, so I read my book for a couple hours more on the couch while he slept.


Sunday June 15, 2003 -

Last day of our trip. Dan and I were both tired, but we had decided on a fairly long drive home to make the most of the scenery and places we wanted to check out for future visits. Again, Dan was up before me and headed to a coffee shop while I got some extra sleep. I called when I got up and started packing and getting ready to go.

We got a Jamba Juice for breakfast and headed north on 95. We cut over to Spirit Lake from Atholl and then north to Newport on the border. We stopped at a visitor/rest stop on the border briefly and then headed north and west on 20. The scenery was, again, beautiful. Mountains, rivers, lakes.

We stopped for gas and sandwiches at the Safeway in Colville. The deli took forever to make our sandwhiches, which made me question our choice, but there wasn't really anything else in town worth stopping at that wasn't fast food. We headed west on 20 and stopped at a park near Sherman Pass on 20 to eat our lunch. It was beautiful and we enjoyed being out in the mountain air at 6000'. Unfortunately both of us got bit by a bug and we had to dig out the bug bite lotion out of the first aid kit before driving on down.

We didn't have time to stop in Republic to check out the state park there, but I want to go back. They have a fossil dig there and you get to keep any fossils you find. Sounded like so much fun!

At Tonasket, we headed south on 97 though apple country. I can imagine what this place smells like in the fall. I hope to come back when they're pressing the apples at TreeTop!

We took the Alt route off 97 so we could check out Chelan. The lake is beautiful and there are some nice hotels, including the Best Western right next to the water with a park and beach, that I'd like to come back and visit. I'm not sure how enthused I am about the idea of the ferry all the way up the lake, but I'd like to drive and explore around the lake and maybe rent a boat or something.

The alternate route added some time and miles we didn't need, but this drive was obviously going to be long anyway. By this time it was after 5pm and things were starting to close up on Sunday evening. The visitor center in Chelan was closed and many of the local business were shut down too. We turned off of 97 and onto 2 just above Wenatchee, saying goodbye to the Columbia River.

We stopped in Leavenworth, a Bavarian town in the Cascades briefly to grab something to eat at the Burger King Haus. Okay, so it was just a Burger King, but had the Bavarian architecture mandated by the whole town. I didn't want to wait around to eat as we were already getting home after 9pm. I drove out of town as Dan ate his hamburger in the car. It was nice for him to get a break in all the driving too, so I didn't mind. After he was done eating, I got a little help from him and ate my burger too.

The drive over Stevens Pass was uneventful and gorgeous, as usual. We made really good time on Highway 2 and then had some decisions to make. There was a 9pm ferry out of Seattle that meant no driving once we arrived at Bainbridge, but it was a big uncertainty if we'd make the boat. If not, we'd wait until almost 10pm for another. Instead we decided to take our time to get to the 9:20pm out of Edmonds. I'd have to drive us from Kingston to home, but it's not too far away and I know a short cut. :)

We stopped for gas and easily made the ferry as the sun was setting over the Olympics. What a gorgeous red sky!! Dan went upstairs to get a better view while I stayed in the car. I packed up all our stuff so it would be quick to unload the car. We'd be home well after 10pm and Dan needed to unwind and get to bed for work on Monday morning.

We got home, tired, sore, maybe a little worse for wear, but we had a wonderful time. We got to see some really amazing places and some great scenery. I know that we've found lots of places that we're anxious to get back to really soon. We've got a whole summer of places we'd like to visit again, and we still haven't managed to go South or North from here. :)

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