Friday, July 30, 2010

Dinner on the Water

As a small celebration of our 25th anniversary Denny and I treated ourselves to a dinner cruise in Coeur D'Alene last night. Operated by the Coeur D'Alene resort, the dinner cruise consists of a two hour ride around Lake Coeur D'Alene with a buffet dinner catered by the resort staff. The evening's menu was a round of beer, baked salmon, organic green salad, rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans with sliced almonds, pasta salad, broccoli salad and blueberry topped cheesecake. Coffee, iced tea and lemonade were provided with the meal and there were two cash bars (top deck and bottom) for those who wished something stronger with their meal. There was an interesting looking drink in a huge 1/2 gallon styrofoam cup which sprouted multiple straws for sharing but it was too far away for a clear picture with all the people around.

Coeur d'Alene ResortImage via Wikipedia

My only complaint about the cruise would be I would have liked to have had some commentary about the lake, the homes, the resort and the area from either the ship's captain or a staff member. Not a running commentary, but a few remarks here and there to explain what we were seeing. One example would have been the floating island green of the Coeur D'Alene Golf Club that we passed.

Although we didn't see any eagles or wildlife on our cruise, the resort does sponsor special cruises for wildlife viewing and eagle watching. Perhaps our next time through. We did enjoy our special evening--Coeur D'Alene is a beautiful lake and lovely, vibrant town.

When we first arrived at the dock, imagine our dismay when we saw this:
However, this cruise boat turned out to be the "Rock 94" party boat that sails about once a month. It appeared everyone aboard was ready for a rockin' good time!

Denny and I decided that given the right amount of money, we would definitely buy one of these condos as our summer residence on the lake. When we win the lottery.....
McMansions on Lake Coeur D'Alene.

The happy couple.

Coeur D'Alene after dark. Definitely not the best picture since I didn't have a tripod and the boat was being affected by the waves.
Everyone on board seemed to have a great time. I know we did!
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Terrific Municipal Golf Course--Indian Canyon

I wasn't anticipating a good day at the golf course since the high temperature for the day was supposed to be 90 degrees and I tend to suffer from heat exhaustion if not careful. Thankfully, the skies were overcast which made for a much cooler day and so we were able to really enjoy playing at the Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane.

Recommended to us by two different golfers, we decided to give it a try and we're glad we did. Indian Canyon is hilly but water hazard-free and the sand bunkers aren't too evil nor too many. Denny played from the blue tees at 6255 yards with a rating/slope of 69.8/124 while I played the reds at 5336 yards with a rating/slope of 70.2/125. I have to say I was amazed at the number of hardy golfers walking this course because it is not but hills, slopes and inclines the entire eighteen holes and there were times I found myself huffing and puffing as I walked up to a green to putt out.

The par 3 fourth hole.
The ninth hole. And no, my camera wasn't tilted, that's the actual slope of the fairway.The tenth hole.Of course, there were a few visual distractions, like deer and the fact that the golf course seems to be in the flight path of the Spokane airport, but that just added interest. The city of Spokane maintains four municipal golf courses, plus there are many others in the area. When we played with Mike, a Spokane native two weeks ago he was kind enough to list some of his favorites with comments so I've listed them below in case some day you'd be in the area and want to enjoy some great golf.

Indian Canyon * (* means favored by Mike) Hills. $28 Municipal course.
MeadowWood * Water. $28
Liberty Lake * Water. $28
Hangman * Hard. Water. $28
Circling Raven *** Best in area. $80 (leaves us out!)
Qualchan Hard. Water. $25 Municipal course.
Downriver Shady. Small greens. $25 Municipal course.
Esmeralda Easy. Open. $25 Municipal course.
Fairways Links style. Fast $25 See my post.
Coeur D'Alene Resort (Idaho) Resort style. $150 (yeah, let's play a couple of rounds!)
Wandermere Resort style. $25

There you have it--enjoy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hot Fun in the Summer Sun

Wanting to do something a little different for our anniversary, I planned a morning adventure to the Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington. Located on the banks of the Spokane River, the one hundred acres of the park is given over to providing fun and entertainment for adults and children alike while also provided a peaceful place to enjoy the falls, the river, the flowers and the trees in the middle of town.

My intent this day had been to start off with a gondola ride over the falls but it seems that the staff closes down the ride when the temperatures get too high. The interior of the glass enclosed gondolas gets a good 15 degrees warmer than the outside temperatures and 100 degree temperatures don't make for a pleasant experience. So we'll have to put the gondola ride on our "we'll do it the next time around" list, which seems to be growing exponentially to our travels.

The Spokane River and Falls are a very obvious highlight of the park. Rushing, tumbling clean green water waters churning over black granite made for great pictures but I'll only include a couple here.

Meandering trails take you back and forth across the river and small tributaries, with totem poles, markers and statuary sprouting up in hidden nooks and quiet corners throughout the park. With the background white noise of the falls, it's a soothing place if you need it to be, or a place of high activity if you're a child as there is a small amusement park with an Imax theatre situated on the grounds. The city has done a great job with this gem of a park.Read about the carousel here.

Although it was uncomfortably hot for our morning jaunt, I'm glad we took the time to visit Riverfront Park--it was well worth it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Doldrums

Wandering through blog-land this morning it's pretty apparent the summer doldrums have hit a lot of bloggers. There's not much new out there and the heat is starting to get stifling even here in Washington. Blog posts have become few and far between for a lot of folks, sometimes including me.

Today? Denny and I are going to the park. We're celebrating our 25th anniversary today and we're going to play like kids. In the 90+ degree heat. Yeah, we're stupid sometimes. But still in love!

Tell ya about it later.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dining Out

On our way to Green Bluff growers the other day, Denny spotted this train car on the side of the road so on our way home we stopped to check it out. It turned out to be Frank's Diner Newport and what a delightful experience it was.

I've already mentioned that we prefer to try local restaurants over chain restaurants whenever we can and we'll pick a diner over a regular restaurant in a heartbeat. Frank's turned out to be a delightful place to have lunch. The diner was crafted from a Pullman sleeping car, retrofitted to be a diner after extensive (and expensive) renovations.

Original magazine ads from the 1940s line the walls, the upholstered booths are comfortable, the food is nicely presented and very tasty (I loved my turkey club and Denny's bacon cheddar burger was good too) and the wait staff were very friendly, courteous and efficient. I was very tempted to try their huckleberry milk shake but I knew I would have no room for lunch otherwise. Perhaps the next time through.

There is a second Frank's Diner in downtown Spokane that has been voted Spokane's best breakfast place for ten out of the past eleven years. Sounds like our kind of place, doesn't it?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bountiful Harvest

There's no rhyme or reason to how we plan our days or spend our time when we're in a new area. Sometimes we may be in a small campground in the middle of nowhere so we use the time to relax, read, work on the rig or the truck and socialize with the neighbors. Often we're in an area near a well known national park and we spend our time exploring the area and its natural wonders. Usually we'll play a round of golf if it's not too expensive (that's getting harder to do nowadays when we pay for two.) Museums are always a good bet for us and we've been known to hit a casino or two also.

Yesterday I was reminded that we were within driving distance of the Green Bluff growers group, located north of Spokane off Rt. 2. Driving up there would accomplish two things; allow us to look for Rainier cherries and also to see what driving Hwy.2 through Spokane would be like. That route is the shortest one between Newport, WA (our previous location) and Cheney (our current location). When we left Newport last week one of our neighbors told us to take a different route (through Idaho) that would be a little longer but would have fewer traffic lights and less traffic. The man had even counted the traffic signals through Spokane along the way; 28 to be precise. What we discovered is that he was absolutely spot on about taking the slightly longer route--Hwy 2 takes you through the heart of downtown Spokane and all its traffic and delays (and a 13'3" bridge overhang which could be a little tight for our 13' tall 5er.) We'll remember that for the next time we come this way.

Green Bluff growers is an association of local farms located on a loop off Hwy 2. While there are a variety of items grown, we forgot that Washington's growing season is well behind Ohio's, especially since it's been a cooler summer. So we were too early for tomatoes and corn, but imagine our surprise when I had Denny pull into Knapp's farm to discover they were picking strawberries! Oh yay! We had tried California strawberries this past winter and discovered them to be fairly hard and not real flavorful this year. Denny and I have always raved about Ohio's produce and especially its strawberries but after popping a couple of the Washington strawberries in my mouth while picking--well it was just like eating candy they were so sweet. I was in strawberry heaven.

Our next quest was to find some Rainier cherries. Rainier cherries are a firm, plump, sweet, yellow/red cherry that have become Denny's favorite. We stopped at farm after farm only to hear that all they had left were pie cherries (Montmorency cherries) and a few Bing cherries. Denny was ready to give up, but I insisted we stop at one last cherry orchard. The lady at the counter said there may be a few left in their trees way up high, but that Denny might be able to reach them. And reach them he did! So we ended up with strawberries, Rainier cherries and even a few Montmorency cherries for pie. And we were introduced to a new taste treat: tayberries. Tayberries are a combination of raspberries and blackberries that are very good and would probably make great jam and probably a killer pie. However. How much fruit can two people eat before it goes bad? So we passed on the tayberries this time.

While driving the grower's loop we saw pear trees and apple trees and signs indicating that later in the summer corn and tomatoes and melons would be available, but by then we'll be further west in the state as we work our way towards the Seattle area. As you wind up the loop you have a chance to look out over the valley and the surrounding hills, plus you'll pass the Alpaca farm and some beautiful homes. It's a pleasant drive and you'll end up with some great fresh produce. I'd call it a successful day trip.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Playing at The Fairways-West Terrace Golf Course

Seeing that there was a golf course within about 2 miles of our campground and adding to the mix that is was in our discount Golf Card book, Denny and I decided to give The Fairways Golf Course in Cheney, Washington a try.

A links-style course, the fairways are slightly rolling but mostly open. There are a few ponds and some bunkers but for the most part the course is pretty open and fairly easy IF you stay in the fairways. But isn't that the way of most golf courses? Denny played the blue tees at 6546 yards with a rating/slope of 71.3/120. I played the red tees at 5168 yards with a rating slope of 69.5/123.

Our cost with the golf card (2 free rounds with the rental of an electric cart) was $26.00 and our only complaint would have been that there were no water coolers on the course, nor did they have a snack cart driving around with beverages and it was a very hot day. We did have a small insulated water bottle with us fortunately, otherwise I might have been in trouble since I get heat exhaustion easily. Someone we played golf with in Blanchard, Idaho had told us that a lot of courses in Washington no longer provide water coolers on the course due to health risks, so it's something to keep in mind if you are going to play golf in this state.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ah Ha Moments

Just to the left of our camp site is a small play area which includes a swing set.  Yesterday two toddlers, a little girl about 2 years old and a boy around one year, wandered over to the swing set where the little girl tried to swing by herself.  Her mother eventually came over to give the little one a push but then she walked away, leaving the tiny one to try once again to make the swing go by herself.  It wasn't long before she gave up and got off, walking off with a sad little face.

And that's when I realized my earliest "ah ha!" moment was at age three or four in the backyard of my grandmother's house where there sat an old metal swing set for use by my two cousins and me.  My father was trying to teach me how to make the swing go and I so clearly remember the sunshine, the pickerel fish head mounted on the side of the garage that I faced sitting in the swing, the row of cushiony pink peonies lining the base of the garage and the effort I was putting into throwing my shoulders forward and then back, flinging out my feet at the wrong time and thus going nowhere.  Over and over until my father lost patience and walked away while I continued to strive to make that darned swing move.  Forward and back, forward and back until at some point my feet moved in conjunction with my shoulder movement and suddenly I was actually swinging!  Eureka!  Ah-ha!  THAT'S how it works!  Glory!

What was your earliest "ah-ha!" moment?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Home IS a House

A frequent question from people curious about our full time RVing lifestyle is "don't you miss your house?"  Our answer is always, "but we have a house--it's just on wheels!"  Today the US government confirmed that by sending us our home buyers tax credit for purchasing the Beast in December.  We had a couple of paperwork issues that had us wondering if Uncle S*m would allow it, but the funds showed up today so we're pretty pleased to say the least.

It didn't help our golf games today, but it was a nice start to the day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tree Too Many

Trees are the bane of Denny's existence.  And here at our current campground, they've got 'em in abundance.  And so we've been off-line because no matter where we place the tripod and satellite dish, we were blocked by trees.  Sometimes by just this much, but it was enough that we couldn't get a strong enough signal to get the dish set up.  And believe me, we tried.  For four hours we tried. In six or seven different locations within our site and sometimes encroaching on the next (currently empty) site.  And then we finally gave up in frustration.  Because it was five o'clock somewhere.

There is a fee-for-use wi-fi system here, but I'm not a fan of unsecured wi-fi since we do all of our banking and make many of our purchases online.  There are too many computer savvy folks out there nowadays for me to feel comfortable using an unsecured connection that way.  So we either try again today to find a small, clear view to the southern sky or bite the bullet and pay to use the campground's connection.  If I can talk Denny into it, we'll be moving that big dish all over our site again today.  It's too bad air cards don't have a "pay as you go" system for the rare times this happens to us.  Not that Denny griping about the trees is rare, but simply that the times we actually are unable to find a signal are rare.  I'm just grateful Denny doesn't have access to a chain saw--his idea of the perfect campground (for satellite access) is a barren plain.  With no kids.  Or yapping dogs.

Yes, he can be a curmudgeon.  Yesterday was his day.

Edited in the evening: Yes, we got our satellite dish up and running, after we paid for one day's usage of the campground's wi-fi and ordered an Align-A-Site with expedited (read expensive) delivery.  So OF COURSE we were able to set up the dish and find the signal after that.  *sigh*

Monday, July 19, 2010

Head 'Em Up, Move 'Em Out

Denny and I have enjoyed our week here.  A day at the golf course and an afternoon at Coeur D'Alene were the high points, rig and truck maintenance along with just visiting with our neighbors filled the rest of our days.  The tall pines, the clean air and the quiet surroundings all conspired to make this a very relaxing week and the small friendly town and well run campground here means we'll probably try to come back some day.

Today we're moving a whole sixty-some miles down the road to the far side of Spokane, which is yet another area that's new to us.  Five years ago we explored the western half of the state of Washington before we needed to start working our way back towards Ohio for the Christmas holidays so this summer we'll see a bit of the eastern half before we have to be in the Seattle area to fly out for our cruise to Alaska.  I can't believe that's only a month away.  Time is starting to fly scary-fast.

Denny is up and moving around so it's time to start the fixing breakfast/clean up/pack up routine for our move.  Patches will be confused because she'll get a morning walk before we leave instead of just being tossed into the truck to keep her out of the way (and to prevent her from crawling into a hiding spot so we can't toss her into the truck) since we can't arrive at the next campground too early.  After all, not everyone gets up at 5 or 6 in the morning, right?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Day at the Lake

Twenty-five miles long, one hundred thirty-five miles of shoreline, averaging 120 feet deep, clear as a bell, blue as can be.  Named Heart of  Awl in French after the negotiating skill in trading of the Schee-Chu-Umsh Indians who lived in the area (the French traders likened those skills to the sharp point of the awl), Coeur D'Alene Lake is a sparkling counterpoint to the lovely town of Coeur D'Alene.

Called a resort town, Coeue D'Alene's downtown area is compact and walkable. Filled with upscale shopping, art galleries, wine bars and restaurants the clean streets are lined with huge hanging baskets of wave petunias and many doors are open to allow the pine-scented air in along with customers.

There is whimsy to the town, personified by the Mudgy and Millie characters that dot the Mudgy Moose Trail.  Ya gotta love a town that honors the creations of one of its local residents while encouraging tourists and locals to explore the area.

Another local attraction is the 3300 foot long floating boardwalk that fronts the Coeur D'Alene resort on the the lake.  As you wander its length you can pick up some goodies at the little convenience store at one end, sit at a picnic area and watch the boats come and go or simply gaze at the beauty that is the lake and its surrounding hills.  The marina is filled with pricey toys and you can rent Sea Doos, take a sea plane ride, rent a para-sail, take an afternoon or sunset dinner cruise around the lake or simply play at the beach located at the public park next to the resort.

Denny and I made the hour long drive here because years ago his brother Doug told us that he wanted to retire to Coeur D'Alene.  That was before his diagnosis and death from lung cancer.  So we wanted to see the place that so intrigued Doug and now we know why he wanted to live here.  Good choice, Doug.
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