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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.

Location of Coeur d’Alene on our Map

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

The Artsy University Town of Moscow

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Hotels In Moscow

Moscow is best known as home to the University of Idaho. It’s a college town through and through, with the kinds of shops, restaurants and environment which cater to students and professors. With its tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly streets, youthful population and progressive, laid-back atmosphere, Moscow might fit better in New England than Idaho.

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We spent a couple days walking around Moscow, exploring its bookstores, parks, museums antique shops, art galleries and other stores which defy categorization. Everywhere, there were college students with books, backpacks, and that slightly obnoxious enthusiasm of youth. Moscow was more liberal than anywhere else we’d been in Idaho. It’s the seat of Latah County, which was one of only two in Idaho to go blue in the 2012 election.

Join us on a walk through town.

Espresso Trailer
Retro Espresso was our first stop of the day. A cute espresso trailer found on the southern entrance to downtown, you can either walk-up or drive-through to get your caffeine fix.
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Main Street runs north/south parallel to Highway 95, and is a heavily pedestrian street featuring a neat old theater and fun shops. We browsed the selection at Book People and Howard Hughes Video, then enjoyed a great humus pita sandwich at Mikey’s Gyros.
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We spent half an hour in Gem State Crystals, on Main Street, learning about Idaho’s star garnets and other gems, and admiring the live rattlesnake kept in one of the display cases.
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The 1912 Center on Third Street, east of Main, is a grand building which used to be the high school and is now both a public gallery with photos depicting Moscow life in 1912 and a senior citizens center.
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In the city hall, we accidentally interrupted some sort of town council meeting, while attempting to find the Third Street Gallery on the second floor. This gallery was currently showing the results of a painting competition of scenes around Moscow and the Palouse Valley.
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Cowgirl Chocolates brings two of my favorite things together — cowgirls and chocolates! Well, those things are actually #43833 and #248 on MY list, but I’m sure they rank a lot higher for a lot of other people. The owner is an artist who decided to get into chocolates, and sells her (very spicy) creations here, along with cowgirl-themed memorabilia.
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We’d be remiss not to mention the University with its massive Kibbie Activity Center and pretty campus. We didn’t spend a lot of time here, but only because we were in a hurry to get to…
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The Appaloosa Museum, which focuses on the famous spotted horse bred by the Nez Perce. Appaloosas which has played a big role in the equestrian history of Idaho. Many of the exhibits were lost on us, but if you’re into horses, this is a fun place to check out (and it’s free).
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Toward the end of our day, we got a drink at Bucer’s — which was most notable for the fact that every single conversation going on around us was about God or Jesus. A lot of “we’ll pray for him”, and “well God bless you” and “This one time at Bible Camp, I stuck…” which is when I turned my brain off.

We finished our day with an excellent dinner at Nectar, a casually upscale joint that serves a meatloaf for the ages. Here, we met a group of locals and stayed around drinking wine until closing time. It was an unexpectedly fun night, and a great end to our busy stay in Moscow.

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October 6, 2012 at 1:50 am Comments (11)
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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