Friday, October 17, 2014

Going For A Walk: Fourth Of July Pass {North Idaho}

If you travel along the I-90 through North Idaho, you'll go through the Fourth of July Pass across the Rocky Mountains. Normally, people just head up the pass and back down the pass, while their ears pop at an elevation of 3,081 feet. But, it is worth a stop at the top to go for a walk in the National Forest Service recreation area. While you're there, you can check out the memorial to Captain Mullan who built the first wagon road across the Rocky Mountains to the inland Pacific Northwest. He stopped to celebrate the 4th of July in 1861 at this particular pass, hence the name. 

Nowadays, you don't need a wagon to get across the pass and explore the area. Just drive your car to the handy parking lot and set off on the trail head. As usual, we were unprepared for our walk. Well, in terms of having a trail map that is. Of course, I had snacks and water with me. I may not know where I am, but I'll always have something to eat. Usually, in the form of chocolate chip cookies. We wandered along the trail for a while and then we came across this sign which told us, "You are here." It was a little vague. 

We continued along the trail until it came to a fork. Which way should we go - right, left or back to the parking lot? The decision making process was overwhelming until we saw this sign for the Loose Moose trail. With a name like Loose Moose, how could you not decide to take that fork in the trail?

We wandered some more along the Loose Moose and found this trail map. Much better. During the winter months, the area is a used by cross-country skiers and snowshoers, so the map tells you which trails are for skis and which ones are for snowshoes. (Is "snowshoer" a word? Spell check says "no", but what else do you call them?) If you're into that kind of thing, you can check out the Panhandle Nordic Club's website for more info. During the rest of the year, the trails are used by hikers, bikers and horses. If you're hiking, keep an eye out for horse poop.

The club has a cute little warming hut along the Having Fun trail. That's the problem with skiing. You get cold and you constantly need to warm up. But of course, it is a perfect excuse to have some hot chocolate. Chocolate...yum. Maybe, we'll come back one day and try skiing on the trails. 

Walk on 29 September 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sailing Naked

Scott likes to sail naked. No, don’t worry, it isn’t what you think! It’s just his feet that are naked, not the rest of him. Phew! You can rest easy. If you’re sharing an anchorage with us, Scott will have clothes on. They might be tattered and stained, but they’ll keep him covered. I just like that phrase “sailing naked” – I read it in this great post by Commuter Cruiser about what they wear and don’t wear on their feet when sailing. And, you have to admit, it does make for a catchy blog post title. If I had called this post “sailing barefoot”, you would have probably yawned and moved onto a blog with pictures of cute kittens instead.

Nobody bats an eye when Scott sails barefoot in New Zealand. But, then again, shoes seem to be kind of optional for Kiwis. Unlike in the States where the law is “no shirt, no shoes, no service”, you can wander down the sidewalk and pop into any shop in New Zealand and they’ll happily serve you. When Scott sails barefoot in Scotland, folks think he is a little strange. But that probably has more to do with how cold it is in Scotland, even during the summer. Most folks there seem to wear shoes or sailing boots to keep their tootsies warm. For some reason, Scott’s feet never seem to get cold. Maybe it is Scandinavian heritage? Recently, Scott has been sailing in Idaho – barefoot, of course. People look at him like he is nuts. Of course, there is an advantage to not wearing shoes – you’re less likely to experience stinky boat shoe syndrome. If you are afflicted with this nasty problem, check out some of the tips from The Unlikely Boat Builder

I’m the opposite of Scott (in more ways than one, but that’s an entirely different blog post!). My feet often get cold and I’m constantly bumping into something and banging my toes, so when I’m sailing, I wear my trusty Lil Grippers. They’re dead brilliant. Made out of wetsuit material, they keep your feet relatively warm, even when they’re wet. And the grippy soles help you keep your grip. Best of all, they have adorable octopuses (octopi?) on them. Kittens might be be slightly more adorable, but the octopuses are pretty darn cute too. 

Lil Gripper2

The Lil Grippers were good for cruising in New Zealand as it never got too terribly cold, but there were a few days (and nights) where I would have been thrilled to have a pair of Dubarry boots. They’re super expensive, but I’ve heard such good things about them. Check out what Viki has to say about them on Astrolabe Sailing

What do you wear when you’re out sailing? Have you tried any of the shoes that Kevin reviewed at Sail Far Live Free? Or is there something else you wear that you’d recommend?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Going For A Walk: Manito Park {Spokane, Washington}

Spokane keeps surprising me. I've been visiting this small city on the eastern side of Washington State for over 20 years, but I don't think I've ever realized how much it has going for it until recently. We went for a walk in downtown Spokane a few weeks ago and I was surprised by all of the great architecture. (Do you ever find that you just walk through a place and forget to pause and really look at the buildings?) And then, just the other week, I was surprised to find that there are incredible botanic gardens located in Manito Park in the South Hills.

Manito means "spirit of nature" in the Algonquian language and with over 90 acres to walk around, you'll be feeling nature's spirit in no time. Here is a pretty flower to get you in the mood. 

If you like formal, European style botanic gardens, then you'll like the Duncan Garden. Even if you don't like formal, European style botanic gardens, I bet you'll still like it. Lots of color, orderly flower beds and a fountain. What's not to like? (Mom - you would like this place. All of the flowers stay neatly in their flowerbeds where they belong. Kind of like how you wished our toys would stay neatly in our toy box when we were little, instead of being scattered all over the floor.)


Fall has arrived here in the Pacific Northwest. It felt very autumnal looking at the leaves changing color, flowers fading and plants starting to die back in preparation for the coming winter. Despite the change of seasons, the roses were still going strong. Rose Hill is a really nice rose garden. Not as nice as the one in Portland (it is the City of Roses after all), but still pretty impressive.

Right next to Rose Hill is the Gaiser Conservatory. There are just two conservatories open to the public, but they're worth exploring. Unfortunately for you, we took a number of shots of plants and flowers up close. You now have to look at a few of them.

Sorry, I don't know what happened there. It turns out they were all cactus pictures. And kind of strange ones at that. But then again, cacti are strange to begin with. I feel I must regain your trust with another picture of a pretty flower. 

There has been a lot going on for us lately, so it was so nice to stumble upon the Nishinomiya Japanese Garden. Such a peaceful place. The minute you walk through the gate, you can feel your blood pressure drop and the tension in your shoulders ease ever so slightly. 

We really liked the botanic gardens at Manito Park. I bet you would too. What's the best botanic garden you've ever been to? Have you seen the one in Auckland, New Zealand? Overall, it is just okay, but the children's garden more than makes up for it. You can read more about it here.

Walk on 26 September 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

More Life In Coeur D'Alene Lately

We've been in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho for a while now, so I thought it was time for another installment of "Life in Coeur d'Alene Lately" - see here for the original post. 

Scott has been doing more sailing on other people's boats. He has been racing pretty much every weekend out on Lake Pend Oreille in North Idaho. 25 races in six weeks isn't too shabby. I'm not too sure how many races they've won, but I know he has been very happy to be back out on the water. Scott also got the opportunity to tag along while a new racing buddy of his checked out a boat that he was thinking of buying. As we're starting to look for our next sailboat, it has been great experience for Scott to watch someone else go through the boat buying thought process. (If you don't have a boat and you want to get out on the water, check out this post with some thoughts from Scott on how to sail on other people's boats.)

We love Ethiopian food. This isn't your ordinary love. This is the real deal - we really, really, really love Ethiopian food. I think you get the idea. And guess what? One of my sisters-in-law loves Ethiopian food too! She took us to Queen of Sheba in Spokane, Washington the other night for dinner. It was delicious! I was so excited about the fact that there is an Ethiopian restaurant in this neck of the woods. When the food came, we all just started snarfing it down so fast that I forgot to take a picture until after a fair bit had been devoured. So the picture above isn't really the best. But it does give you an idea of what the food is like. You eat with your hand (right one only please!), scooping up the stewed lentils, vegies and meat with injera bread from a communal dish. If you haven't tried Ethiopian before, you had better get yourself down to your local restaurant pronto and order some doro wat and miser wat. Once you do, you'll be hooked. (If you want to read more about our love for Ethiopian food or if you want to sail to Ethiopia one day - check out this post.)

We've been going out for drives lately. We have the worst maps ever, so usually we just end up driving around back roads without a clue where we'll end up. Not knowing where you're going is often the best way to explore an area. You never know what you'll end up seeing. Like these two llamas standing by the side of the road. They were really focused on something over in the distance. The goats, chickens, cats and other critters came over to check us out, but the llamas ignored us completely. Maybe they're camera shy. Or maybe they're just rude.

Do you know what this is a picture of? If you do, you probably grew up in North Dakota or Minnesota - the land of the hotdish. Hotdish is a type of casserole which usually has some sort of starch, meat, frozen or canned vegies and canned soup.* Being married to someone from North Dakota, I've heard about hotdish, but I've never actually seen one before. That is until the other night, when we had a tater tot casserole. Yes, that's right - tater tots. If you're not American and you don't know what tater tots are, they are these weird little tubular hashbrown concoctions that you got served at the school cafeteria. If you're American and you don't know what tater tots are, then you've led a very sheltered life. If you've never had them before, run out and get some. They're delicious. Grease, sodium and potatoes generally are. 

It was thanks to a friend of another one of my sisters-in-law, that I got to experience hotdish culture the other night. She very kindly brought over a couple of casseroles for the family. She's from Minnesota - they're nice folks out there. In addition to the tater tots, she also brought us a chicken curry hotdish topped with toasted Rice Krispies. Yes, you read that right - Rice Krispies. Not sure that it is a traditional topping which is served with curry in India, but, surprisingly, it works.

Well, that's more of life lately in Coeur d'Alene. What's been happening where you are? Have you had anything interesting for dinner lately?

*Note: Scott will claim that the term "hotdish" only refers to a particular type of casserole his mom made with ground beef and elbow macaroni. Other folks use the term more generally. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Looking for Mennonites {Bonner's Ferry, Idaho}

On our way from Coeur d'Alene to Yaak, Montana the other day, we made a stop at Bonner's Ferry in North Idaho. I learned three things from my visit to Bonner's Ferry:

1 - If you want to get a town named after you, do what Edwin Bonner did in 1864.  

Start ferrying gold prospectors across the river and before you know it, people will start calling the place after you and your ferry. Pure genius on Edwin's part.

2 - If you want to get the federal government's attention, declare war on them.  

That's what the Kootenai Tribe did in 1974. Through peaceful actions (including posting soldiers on the highway running through town to collect toll money to support the tribe's elders), the 67 remaining members of the tribe were recognized by the federal government and deeded 12.5 acres of land. 

3 - There are Mennonites somewhere in Bonner's Ferry. 

I had heard that many Mennonites and Amish have been coming out West as land becomes scarcer in the Midwest. There is supposed to be a great Mennonite bakery in Bonner's Ferry, but unfortunately, we didn't stumble across it while we were there. It was probably for the best as my jeans seem to keep getting smaller and smaller each day I've been back in the States.

Bonner's Ferry is chock full of great old brick buildings. If you don't pay attention to all of the people on their cell phones and the big four wheel drives parked on the street, you could almost feel like you've stepped back in time.

Scott likes to take pictures of old signs (check out the Pinterest board I made for him). There's plenty of them in Bonner's Ferry.

The Rex Theater is a pretty cool old building. It was established back in 1923.

Before we left town, we stopped at The Woodsman's Shop. If you're a hunter, outdoorsy type, prepper, fisherfolk or someone who lives off the grid, they've got what you need from knives to ammo to canned butter from New Zealand.

Have you been to Bonner's Ferry? If so, did you find the Mennonite bakery? Are their baked goods as delicious as I imagine they are?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sorry, Not Open This Week {Kellogg, Idaho}

We stopped by Kellogg, Idaho the other day. It was so depressing. Usually, we write posts about places we've enjoyed visiting. Places you might want to check out on day. We're not too sure if you want to go to Kellogg though. Unless, of course, you like seeing businesses struggling to survive, lots of empty commercial properties and a sense of despair. We saw this sign on one of the local bars - "Sorry, Not Open This Week." It kind of captures the spirit of the place.

It's a shame, really, as Kellogg has real potential. There are some interesting buildings in the upper section of town. Like this old YMCA. I bet if you had some money and imagination, you could turn this into something cute and quirky. Like a boutique hotel with a cat cafe on the bottom floor. Cat cafes are a sure fire way to get tourists to flock to your town. Of course, they attract a certain demographic - like crazy cat ladies. But, they often drop a few dollars on cat t-shirts and mugs. Every little bit helps when it comes to driving the local economy.

If you're in the market to buy a house, head to Kellogg. It seems like every other house is for sale. I bet you can pick one up cheap. Although, if you do decide to settle in the area, I'm not sure what kind of local employment opportunities there are. The only two businesses that seem to be doing well are the car dealerships and the cash advance place. It's handy. You can buy a car at the local dealership. Then, when you can't afford to put food on the table or make your mortgage payment, you can go to the cash advance place, give them the title to your car and they'll give you some cash. Once you can't make the payments on your cash advance anymore, they'll take your car away from you and sell it back to the car dealership. And the circle is completed. 

There is a ski resort at Kellogg called Silver Mountain. Maybe things pick up during the winter months. Parts of the town have a faux European ski chalet kind of feel. 

If you like old signs, like Scott does, then you might want to go to Kellogg after all. There are a few good ones there. This one is my favorite.

With the mining economy having taken a downturn, Kellogg is trying to redefine itself as a tourist destination. Maybe the next time you drive through Idaho, you can stop by and help them out?