Saturday, September 5, 2009

Panhandle Paradise

After two weeks in Glacier National Park, we decided to pick up and continue our westward trek, but staying on a northern route. David had always heard about beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, but had never been there, so we decided to make that our next destination. We were determined to stay in national forest campgrounds because to us they seem more scenic. We found a lovely spot near Beauty Bay on Lake Coeur d’Alene-- a location that definitely lived up to its name! The lake is much larger than you might expect and on the day we arrived was quite busy with water skiers, knee-boarders and tubers. Where there were quiet coves, the deep blue water reflected the images of the pine and fir forests encircling the lake. The city exuded the charm of an old tourist ‘hot spot’ blended with a more progressive and upscale feel to the lakefront locations downtown. The city park is one of the neatest I’ve seen with a fountain and steps leading to the lake, public beach and a large green space which includes a fantastic wood-constructed play area. Of course our visit wasn’t complete, without a scenic tour of the 25-mile long lake and we had a pleasant late afternoon cruise on the top deck of one of the “Fun Fleet’s” best. We learned the name Coeur d’Alene is French and it means “heart of the awl. It was given to the Indians by early French traders because of their sharp trading practices. We finished our day with a visit to the local farmer’s market and bought some fresh picked green beans and tomatoes. Unfortunately, the tomatoes didn’t have much flavor. We did pick up a bottle of huckleberry syrup, so we’ll just turn our palates toward sweeter rewards. Another delight for us was finding a great hiking trail near our camp site which took us through the forest and up along a ridge which overlooked the lake. This hike was not for the ‘faint of heart’ as we climbed a quick 600 feet in little over a mile! The views were worth the climb as most are out here and were very glad we did it. We thought we might be in Coeur d’ Alene for just a couple of days, but we ended up staying twice as long. I guess that says something about this picturesque city of the Idaho Panhandle.

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