Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
We are approaching Canada, but that border can not be crossed. Instead, we crossed from Montana into Idaho on our way to Cousin Tom and Kathleen's place on Priest Lake. We are taking a couple of days to explore Coeur d'Alene, at least long enough to remember the spelling.
Friday, June 11, From Hamilton to Coeur d'Alene
We packed up as early as practical and shared one more breakfast at The Moraine B&B. We avoided political comments. Whew!
Our drive started with Lost Horse Road and we paused for a picture of a much-photographed red barn with part of the Bitterroots in the background. Our B&B had this same picture, but with the Aspen trees in their fall yellow, not spring green. Either way is good. Out on Highway 93, I tried some windshield shots of more of the mountains, always questionable, but we needed to capture the June snow that had arrived the day before. Spring comes late here.
We drove north, through Missoula, where we picked up a decent coffee for the first time in days. Then we continued west for about an hour to the village of Superior, whose claim on us was a Tesla Supercharger. The four-station facility was busy, with three or four slots filled for our whole stay. As Tesla's get more popular, I'm afraid this will become more common.
We had one more Montana stop. Mangold's Store and Motel had signs posted along the road saying they had the best cherries around and we never pass up good, fresh, cherries. We turned off I-90, into a dumpy little village, and found Mangold's, covered in right-wing (and other) posters and political statements. We grabbed a pound of fruit and left ASAP.
Crossing the Bitterroots, we entered Idaho and returned to the Pacific Time Zone. Somehow, it felt more welcoming and, besides, the highway was much smoother. Coming up on the other side, we saw a half-dozen heavy trucks hauling giant wind-machine blades, reminding us of the time monsters like these passed by our home in Pommersfelden.
Down from the pass, we stopped at the town of Wallace, Idaho, for no particular reason, and discovered a cute, if touristy, stop. This part of Idaho boomed with silver mining and, reportedly, Wallace was the center of the prosperity. Mines wore out and the prosperity left, but ornate commercial and residential buildings remained. When Interstate 90 was in its final building, the town fought back plans to pave over much of that history by having the entire town declared a historic site. The road building compromise was an elevated bypass that spared the old parts of town.
Now, tourists visit quaint shops and restaurants (we hit a bakery) and visit one of the old silver mines. We already had a Butte mine tour under our belts, so we passed. One claim to fame for Wallace was as the hometown of Lana Turner. The town fathers reposted one of her famous pronouncements: "A gentleman is just a patient wolf."
Pretty soon we were entering Coeur d'Alene, a pretty lake city that shows a history I need to research. After our last B&B experience, we opted for a chain hotel, simple and non-political.
Dinner was at "315 Cuisine", a tapas and drinks place in an old Coeur d'Alene home. Although it wasn't quite 5:00 in the Pacific Time Zone, we took credit for starting the day an hour earlier, in the Mountain Zone, and ordered drinks. The food was interesting and we still enjoy sharing evening drinks and "Friday picnic food".
After food, we drove around the town, impressed with the commercial and residential area along the lake. I think we need to wander the town more.
Tonight, however, we had to rush back to the hotel to start our own tradition of Friday Games with Brian, Jen, and Geoff. It's always worth it to take the time to chit chat and catch up on Colorado and Maryland happenings. As for the game we play ("Codenames"), I was particularly unskilled and lost two of the three rounds. Oh well, it's the talking that matters.
Saturday, June 12, Tour Coeur d'Alene
We needed to tour quickly, because our time here was limited. Nevertheless, we needed to start the day with our normal travel routine: Starbucks first. By now, when I get my morning coffee, inside seating is open, and I no longer have to sit in the car to work on the diary. When the store is as empty as it was this day, it even feels safe.
Diary done, I returned to the hotel for their (included) "hot breakfast". Marianne had scouted earlier and concluded that there was enough variety to have more than just cellophane-wrapped sweet rolls. That was the good news. The bad news was that, by the time we were ready to eat, the place was crowded full. We looked at each other and thought: no matter what the governor said, we are not OK. It was back to Starbucks for a simpler and more costly breakfast, but with the distance we are comfortable with. When will it be different?
We were due for some art exposure and downtown Coeur d'Alene ("CDA" to the locals) has a few galleries. Our first stop, after getting a photo of a bug-on-a-flower as is my practice, was CDA Galleries. The basic theme here was Western Art, but several were done with a contemporary flair and warranted more examination than we normally give to cowboys, Indians, and moose. Nice stuff.
Just up the street, we stopped in at Art & Spirit and were treated to three floors of some of the best art we've seen on our trip. Two-dimensional paintings and tile-work were excellent, and drew most of Marianne's attention, but I was particularly taken by three-dimensional sculptures and work in wood. "Floating Art" by Mark Vore was particularly eye-catching as he has created graceful kayaks that seem perfectly at home being hung as art pieces. If we only had a house grand enough.
After art comes food and we were directed to a few doors from Art & Spirit to Bier Haus, just in time for Second Breakfast. In our Bavarian life, we had been acquainted with the traditional breakfast practice of a small meal of a roll and coffee early, and sausage and beer at about 10:00, a second breakfast. The most traditional sausage for this mid-morning meal was weisswurst, a mild wurst made from the parts of hogs most likely to spoil. That's why it was served early in the day. Well, the weisswurst served at Bier Haus was good, if not completely authentic. The beer was German-imported excellent.
Fully-fed, we went for a waterfront walk. Lake Coeur d'Alene is spectacular and the day's blue sky and mountains of white, puffy clouds made the views even more dazzling. Mostly, we hung around the boat harbor, wondering who exactly owns the millions of dollars worth of lake boats in all the fancy covered boat slips. No rowboats or canoes here.
The rest of our touring was by car. We drove around the downtown residential neighborhoods first, noting the mix of grand homes and simple bungalows. The feel was old Seattle or Portland, so it seemed very familiar to me.
Our last tour stop was Hayden Lake, just on the northern edge of the city of Coeur d'Alene. Looking at the swimming beach brought back childhood memories of when I went with my family to similar places, maybe exactly the same spot. Part of my growing up was in Spokane, Washington, less than an hour away, and we did go to Hayden Lake from time to time. (It looked as cold this day as I remember from 60 years ago!)
Sunday, June 13, Final Drive North
For our last event in Couer d'Alene, we left town and even left the state. When we searched for a breakfast place, we came across "Old European". They advertised German Breakfast, so it was the place for us, and just 10 minutes away in the community of Post Falls. We didn't even recognize that it was across the border in Washington State. As with "second breakfast" the day before, the fare was German-ish, more than authentic as-we-remember German. Interestingly, the clientel was perceptibly more conservative than we had seen in Coeur d'Alene establishments.
This has been a quick visit. Stay tuned.
John and Marianne