Archive for August, 2015

Summer Vacation 2015 (Part One: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho)

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

Our family took out first real-deal vacation this summer.

It was full of so many good gifts.


We spent the first half of our trip in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and loved every minute of it.  It is a small city nestled in the mountains of northern Idaho.  It borders a very large lake in the valley.  I hadn’t even heard of Coeur d’Alene before planning this trip. But when a friend originally from the very beautiful state of Oregon recommended Cd’A because it was very beautiful, we decided to look into it.  I thought it might give us a bit more civilization before heading to the more remote Glacier National Park.


Why did we love Cd’A so much?  There are so many choices of active, walkable fun right at your fingertips.  All the public spaces of Cd’A are fabulous.  We could leave for a couple of hours and then return to our super cute VRBO cottage and kind of shut down for a while.  It was easy to have fun with minimal effort.  And THAT is a huge plus for parents. (By the way, the beach wasn’t always this crowded.)



We flew out Wednesday midday.  We hopped from San Antonio to Las Vegas and ended up in Spokane, WA.

Greg got carded for his beer.  The kids were sitting in the row in front of us so they didn’t give away the fact that he is a couple of months shy of 40.  The flight attendant–either out of embarrassment or as a way of saying congratulations–gave Greg an additional, free beer.

We met our rental car for the week, a sweet, white Kia Sedona minivan.


Once in Coeur d’Alene, we got a pita sandwich at The Pita Pit and ate a picnic underneath the giant trees of Coeur d’Alene’s main park.

After a hot shower, Greg and I slept with the windows open.  Even with a “heat wave” the temperature would drop into the 60s at night.


Thursday morning started with a game of Uno.  Even though it should be an individual game, the boys made up the rules as they went and conspired liberally and blatantly against Greg.


Our VRBO hostess, Deryn, left us with farm fresh eggs and homemade preserves. Our kids made us breakfast.  Emmeline is a master egg cooker.  Carter was on toast duty.  Harrison was a floater.

One of my favorite things about our entire trip was eating meals together.  We made a real breakfast each day.  And about 75% of our meals were outside.

Greg cracked the boys up by telling them how out of it they were the night before when he checked on them.



We gave each of our kids a small gift to enjoy on the trip.  Emmeline received a book about birds from Montana.  We gave the boys a different booklet on animals and wildlife in the area.  And I went soft on Harrison and replaced his wrist watch that he had lost before our trip.  Time telling is super important to Harrison.  Here’s his response when he recognized the replacement watch:



We headed to the grocery store to stock up our kitchen.  We bought bear spray to prep for our trip to Priest Lake in search of the elusive huckleberry. . .

We put some hard miles on our minivan as we traveled down old logging roads.  We found out that although Priest Lake is usually a haven for huckleberries, this year there were very few due to dry weather conditions.

So we returned from our wild goose chase with very few berries and poison ivy for Harrison.


Priest Lake was an all afternoon affair.  We ate dinner on the road home.  The boys headed to the park again.  Emmeline and I went on a jog.  Then we all met up for a walk home.


We had eggs, toast, and homemade jam for breakfast.

Then we played a family Uno game.  (I LOVE this photo of Greg.  It is the expression that I most associate with him.)

He and Carter are engaging in a little trash talking here.


Greg was victorious this round.


We walked down the block and hit the beach for a couple of hours.


The water was crystal clear and cold.


Greg hosed the small gravel-like sand off the kids’ feet.



After drying off and changing clothes, we went back to the amazing park for yet another picnic.

Carter and Harrison played on Sherman Playground of Coeur d’Alene City Park.  (Carter tore his hands after this shot.  Good thing mom is an expert in this area.)


We drove to nearby Kellogg, Idaho to the Silver Mountain Ski Resort.

. . . Greg can get Emmie to laugh too. . .


We took a gondola ride way up to check out the area from another perspective.

Greg and Emmeline don’t love heights.  This was payback for Greg basically burying me alive deep within Hoover Dam last summer.  No, actually, in all honesty, it was a huge expression of love and courage that they were both up for trying it.



Once up the large mountain, I took the kids even higher on a chair lift.  Greg watched us from the ground below.  This area is transformed from ski resort in the winter to premier mountain biking area in the summer.



Carter often used our time in the car to recharge.


We ate dinner at home.  Then we walked into town to enjoy some ice cream at Shenanigans.  I shot while eating some peppermint ice cream.  Everyone else opted for huckleberry cheesecake.

Some great group of people converted the empty lot next door into a park.  We ate ice cream then played with some local kids.



Did I mention how perfectly green the grass is?


I applied medication to Carter’s hands before bed.  He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mom, thank you for taking care of me.  It means a lot to me.”


We hiked up Tubbs Hill, the hill that overlooks Lake Coeur d’Alene after a family breakfast.  Harrison spotted a doe with two fawns.


It was a hot day.  Good thing Tubbs Hills is right by McEuen Park which has an amazing splash pad. . .


AND a nest for real eagles AND a super creative playground!


This ended up being a sweet time with Harrison.  Greg hung out with Carter and Emmeline in the shade.  Harrison invited me to play with him and kept asking me to shoot.

I saw him take lots of good risks–like balancing on this wire apparatus and not using his hands.  I observed him communicate with kids he had never met in order to share equipment.

He doesn’t use a whole lot of words with new kids.  He patiently watches and then inserts himself.  When he does engage verbally, every word he uses has weight.

(In general, we ran into a lot of really cool kids on this trip–kids who played hard and who thought about other people around them.)


We went back and forth from the chilly water in the splash pad to the hot sun of the playground.


Harrison paused in between playing and asked, “Is this an imagination place?”  I looked puzzled.  He explained, “Because THIS is what my imagination looks like.”

This was his favorite piece of equipment:


We went home and rested.  We had a fabulous pizza at Fire.  I recommend the meat lovers with added serrano peppers.

I walked home alone and swung by the skate park.   Although the light was dying, these guys were kind enough to allow me to shoot them in action in their world.


I’m just a guest in this world, but Ricky’s riding really stood out to me.  He’s powerful and aggressive. It’s as if he wills the bike to launch into the air.  Here, he cleared the score board for the nearby baseball field.


Owen (in the middle) was fun to shoot.  He is a skilled skater and has a really expressive personality.


Each full day ended with doing some laundry.  I crashed into bed and breathed in the mountain air.


I want all of my friends–especially my friends with kids who like to be active–to know how fabulous this small city in the mountains really is.

We are already dreaming about a return trip. . .