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Oh, To Be Rich in Coeur d’Alene

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Hotels In Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene is the largest city in the Idaho panhandle; a mix of remote nature, urban ease and ostentatious wealth. It’s well-known in the Pacific Northwest as a resort destination, with a prime location on the lovely lake which shares its name. We had been eagerly anticipating our short, two-day stay there, and found it to be just as memorable as advertised.

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On the banks of gorgeous Lake Coeur d’Alene, you might not see another person for hours. We drove up and down Highway 97, through the historic town of Harrison and right alongside the eastern coast of the lake. On an old dock sticking out into the water, we took a lunch break, with nothing but a cool breeze for company. The faraway sound of a boat motor eventually broke the spell; Coeur d’Alene is actually one of the most popular lakes in Idaho for water sports, especially among the rich weekenders who come in from Washington and California. (See more pictures of the scenic drive.)

No, Coeur d’Alene is no hidden gem. A stroll along the boardwalk of the Coeur d’Alene Resort should convince us of that. Hundreds of expensive speedboats, sailboats and cruisers anchor in hotel’s marina. It was hard not to feel inferior while passing by. Even the floating boardwalk is over the top: the world’s longest. We stood on the bridge for awhile, watching a sun-tanned gentleman and his young, unnaturally voluptuous wife (we’ll be kind, and assume “wife”) steer their yacht underneath us and into its parking spot. A parking spot which is probably more valuable than my life.

With the lakeside resort as its nucleus, downtown Coeur d’Alene extends to the west, where there’s a beach and park, and also to the north, where we found art galleries, upscale souvenir shops, slow traffic, a couple good bars and cafes, and … hipsters? Yes, Coeur d’Alene harbors a healthy population of trendy young hipsters, complete with tight-fitting jeans and thin mustaches. We spent a couple hours in Java on Sherman, sitting next to a couple fashionable young dudes who were playing chess and discussing Grizzly Bear’s new album (their verdict: it’s great). I almost felt like I was back in Savannah!

CDA, as the cool kids call the city, takes its name from the Coeur d’Alene people … who take their name from the French for Heart of an Awl. This strange name was bestowed upon the tribe by a French Canadian fur trader, who was impressed and frustrated by their unforgiving negotiating style. If there are any tribe members left in the city, they stay out of sight; like the rest of Northern Idaho, CDA is overwhelmingly white. 96%, in fact.

We stayed in Coeur d’Alene’s Best Western, just north of the city center along Highway 95 — it was a comfortable place to rest, with decent restaurants in walking distance. After a long day of sight-seeing, we had dinner at Tomato Street, where one portion was enough for a small family. I slept well that night, belly bursting with pasta, and dreamed that I was a rich playboy tooling around the lake in my new mini-yacht. Coeur d’Alene is the kind of town that inspires such dreams of grandeur when you’re asleep. And fits of jealousy, when awake.

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October 25, 2012 at 11:22 pm Comments (4)

Kellogg – Our Base in the Silver Valley

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Although it’s not as well-known as nearby Wallace, Kellogg is the Silver Valley’s largest town, and was our base during our four-day stay in the region. It’s a nice village stretched out along the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, with a population around 2000; less historic and picturesque than Wallace, perhaps, but with a burgeoning tourism industry of its own, thanks largely to the Silver Mountain Ski Resort.

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We stayed at the The Summit, a small house rented out by Kellogg Vacation Homes. Comfortable, with plenty of room to stretch out, a fully-equipped kitchen, washer and dryer, and an enormous hot tub. Our days in the Silver Valley were packed with activity, and an extended soak in the hot tub was the perfect way to end every night.

In 1885, prospector Noah Kellogg was searching for his lost donkey, and found it grazing near a large deposit of valuable galena lead. The town was established shortly thereafter, and people from the Silver Valley are fond of pointing out that Kellogg was “founded by a jackass, and still inhabited by its descendants”. Like every town in the region, mining was the only industry that mattered for a very long time. It was in Kellogg that the Sunshine Mine Disaster of 1972 happened. Almost a hundred men were trapped in the mine when a fire broke out, and 91 of them died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

We took a self-guided walking tour of Kellogg’s historic downtown; it’s just a single street and took all of five minutes. Not overly impressive, but we did stumble upon one unique shop. From the window, Sideways looked like a model train shop, but inside we found an RC funpark where model car aficionados can come to play and race. The bulk of the shop is an enormous track, complete with mountains, ponds, shops and even a zeppelin landing-pad. Spectators can sit in dining booths, and a motorized train putters around the shop delivering hot dogs and snacks.

We really enjoyed our short stay in Kellogg; an unpretentious and surprising little town. For those looking to spend some time in the Silver Valley, it’s a good alternative to Wallace.

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October 22, 2012 at 12:26 am Comment (1)
Oh, To Be Rich in Coeur d'Alene Coeur d'Alene is the largest city in the Idaho panhandle; a mix of remote nature, urban ease and ostentatious wealth. It's well-known in the Pacific Northwest as a resort destination, with a prime location on the lovely lake which shares its name. We had been eagerly anticipating our short, two-day stay there, and found it to be just as memorable as advertised.
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