Coeur d’Alene (Cd’A): Day 1

I’m tagging along while Andrew attends a conference on grease and lubrication (insert cheeky laughter here). This a bonus ‘vacation’ for me; with my new job (from which I recently resigned), I wasn’t going to be able to take any vacation time until the end of the summer, so we didn’t plan anything for this year. So, this seemed like a good opportunity for me to ‘get away from it all’ after an incredibly stressful season.

The conference is in beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which is located at the northern end of a lake in the most northern end of the state. We landed in Spokane, Washington, and drove about 40 miles directly East to reach this charming lake town.

One thing we noticed right away was the difference in topography here. I’ve lived and traveled up and down the East coast, in the Midwest and even the Southwest, but never the Northwest. The trees here are incredible! They are almost all pine/evergreen and are SO TALL. The land is so flat for miles, with mountains in either direction.

The resort where the conference is taking place was booked, so we ended up at a local option, The Roosevelt Inn. It’s a 16-room refurbished schoolhouse located just a couple blocks from the lake with a homey feel (including family photos and the owner’s class pictures when he attended the school here). The owner, John, is quite the character and we’ve enjoyed talking to him about the area. Be sure to check out this episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Hotel Hell, which featured the inn approximately ten years ago. (Things have improved, clearly.)

After we checked in, we headed to the main drag, Sherman Avenue, for some lunch.  It was a nice day and we were STARVING by this time (up at 4:30 am East coast time, landed at 10 am Pacific time–1 pm for us–with only a few snacks to get us by).  Huckleberries are big here, and we’ve seen it in teas, sauces and ice cream so far.

We did a quick ‘hike’ (it’s really more of an easy walk on a trail) around Tubbs Hill, located just off the main road and adjacent to the lake.  The kids just got out of school around here (so early!), and throngs of them were sunning, swimming and jumping from rocks into the icy water.

It was a ridiculously beautiful day, and we were sad we didn’t have more time for water activities. The resort, below, has a prominent spot on the lake.  To the left of the resort (in the photo) is a small public beach and the City Park; beyond the resort and to the right is the ‘downtown’ area with shops and restaurants.

After our walk, we headed back to the room to change for dinner, followed by a VERY early bedtime!

my stay-cation with emily

OK, so now that I’ve divulged my senior moment about losing my sunglasses, here are some highlights from my recent trip to Emily’s:

First, I arrived to the cleanest, freshest, calmest, most tranquil house I’ve ever entered, and there were even snacks and tea to welcome me!  Soft music was playing, candles were flickering and the lights were dimmed.  I mean, I guess bringing work home with you as a massage therapist may not be the worst thing in the world…  See it here.

A few shots of the new place (as fate would have it, Emily and her husband bought their first house the same day we bought ours’ here in New York!):

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Just like Andrew and I, they’ve done a lot of updating their already move-in ready house.  They have plans for a new kitchen, soon.  I cannot wait to see what they pick!

After we spent a relaxing evening snacking, drinking wine, catching up and running some errands, we went off to bed WAY TOO LATE, yet woke up refreshed and ready for a workout.  I think that is one of my favorite things about Emily–she is as into working out as I am and is so creative with what she does.  She can get exercise out of anything, and we often make up our own ‘circuit training’ session at least once.  Saturday morning, after a leisurely breakfast with her husband, Dan, we bundled up and set out (extra sunglasses in hand for me) for Sugarcreek Metro Park, which seems to be a favorite location of ours.’  I’ve done 5ks here and we always seem to find ourselves there for a hike.

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After our hike–in which I wore my new YakTrax (metal coil-like rope you attack to the bottoms of your shoes to help in snow and ice) and Emily wore her snow boots.  The YakTrax one, hands down.  I could have run the entire trail no problem, while poor Emily was reduced to slipping and sliding.  We even got lapped by some little Asian women armed with both the proper footwear and poles!

Speaking of Asian…we headed out for Thai food for lunch!  Thai is definitely my ‘go-to’ food of choice.  Thankfully Andrew likes it, too.

Emily was a good sport and agreed to try the green curry with me–it was HOT.  And we got a 1 on a scale of 1 to 5.  I introduced them to Thai iced tea, which is such a treat for me.

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Next, Emily and I split off for some more shopping.  We found ourselves at Zebra Girl Boutique, which is owned by a friend of Emily’s, named Natasha.  It’s filled with fun accessories like jewelry, purses and scarves.  Natasha treated us like queens and I picked up some goodies and gifts. I swear, all I did was walk around the store and say (out loud), “That is so Carolyn” or “That is so Abigail.”  My sisters-in-law really like their bling.  And Carolyn has a thing for zebra stripes.  I may have picked up some goodies for them, too….

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That night, we’d arranged to visit our friends, Jen and Dave, and their almost-one-year-old, Aiden.  Their house is across the street from our old neighborhood.  We packed up our slippers (we like to make ourselves at home there) and some belated Christmas presents.

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Aiden may or may not have gotten ahold of my phone…

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Emily, the consummate ‘planner’ of the group (she blows me out of the water, folks), got our dinner ordered–and she makes it look so easy.  Funny anecdote:  While on our hike that morning, we had to institute a no-planning-the-next-workout-until-we-finish-this-one rule!  We just can’t help ourselves.

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We chose City BBQ–a favorite of mine–and got a small family pack.  We all fondly remembered the time we ate this same meal (plus Andrew), in this same living room, around a tablecloth-covered DOOR.  (I went and checked for the post–it was back in April–but no photos of door/table.  Sad.)

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The happy momma and poppa wearing their new gifts 🙂

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Remember I told you that Emily and I can come up with a circuit workout at the drop of a hat?  Well, we did just that on Sunday morning before church.  We drove to a local high school in hope of using their track, but found the gate locked and assumed it would be covered in snow, anyway, so we settled for the parking lot, instead.  We did laps around the cleared lot and alternated with calisthenics each time we rounded the car.  Thirty minutes later, we were bushed.

We all went to our church, Apex, and it was as if I’d never left.  I tell you what–I’ve never loved sermons like the ones I’ve heard here.  I’m definitely one of those ‘daydreamers/mind-wanderers’ in church (well, really, is there anywhere I go where I’m not already thinking of the next place/thing/to-do item?), but not at Apex.  Why can’t we find a church like that here (insert whiney voice)…:(

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We sat with another friend from our Bible study group, Brett, who picked up his two girls after the service.  They were a little camera-shy, but I was able to catch a few shots:

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Yet again, the girls broke off for some more shopping (we kidnapped Jen!) and the boys went home to take care of the kiddos.  At First Watch (a must-do for me while in Ohio) a sweet older lady pointed out we were all wearing scarves….PHOTO!

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Lunch of champions: some sort of veggie/egg thing covered in salsa and cheese, along with an english muffin and greens.  Sour cream ON THE SIDE.

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Back to the mission: YakTrax for Emily and SUNGLASSES for me!  Pardon the lack of smile/pose; Emily had the brilliant idea that I should take a picture of myself in the pairs I was trying on so I could compare them quickly.  Below is the winner 🙂

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While there, sweet Emily gifted Jen with a new–and bigger–purse (the one she’s been carrying around wouldn’t even hold my lipgloss collection).  Note the gray/green scarf–A Zebra Girl find and her gift from us.  Jen and Dave as new parents without family around don’t get out much, and are so, SO, SO (and I cannot stress this enough), SO low maintenance, I thought it would be nice to get them some things to wear on those rare occasions they DO leave the house.  A scarf for Jen (even childless Holly and Emily know necklaces and earrings are just baby playthings) and an athletic jacket for Dave.

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After dropping Jen off at home, Emily and I made a mad-dash to Trader Joe’s so I could stock up on our favorites.  Good news!  We have not one, but TWO TJ’s coming to Buffalo soon!  The one that’s led the rumor mill will be located on Niagara Falls Blvd. up in Amherst (read: FAR), but there is talk of another and–dare I hope–to be located in the Southtowns.  It cannot get here fast enough.

After a light baked-potato-and-salad dinner at the homestead, Emily and I again ventured out in the cold–this time for ice cream.  Just like First Watch and TJ’s, I can’t go to Dayton and NOT stop at a Graeter’s.  I had anticipated getting a kid-size scoop of black raspberry chip, but splurged on a sundae.  I consider it a personal victory that I didn’t finish it.

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Our evening consisted of magazine reading under a blanket with a well-known holiday classic movie on in the background.  Who can name it???

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Monday morning we did 45 minutes of P90X yoga, which just about killed my arms, and then we showered and got ready to depart (me) and work (Em).  I packed up my TJ’s loot–mostly frozen fish, their awesome Orange Chicken and wine, as well as some dry-goods favorites like fig butter, sunflower seed butter and red quinoa tortilla chips–and loaded the car.

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Emily and I did a light lunch at Tropical Smoothie–we split their fish tacos and a ‘Health Nut’ smoothie–before I left.  It was so nice to have some time to sit and chat and not rush out the door!

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After only a couple hours into the trip I needed a comfort/coffee break, and snapped a photo of my new sunglasses in action.

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And healthy snacks!  Veggies, hummus, TJ’s sweet and salty trail mix and an iced coffee (it was warm that day!).

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My last stop: Chick-Fil-A in Erie.  Normally we drive home on Sundays, and they are closed.  But not this time 🙂 I got my usual: two-strip kid’s meal with lemonade and bbq, polynesian and ranch to dip.  I also mix mayo, ketchup and hot sauce for my fries.  I learned it while we lived in New Orleans (that, and a ketchup/mustard/mayo/Tony Chachere’s seasoning combo dip) and whip it up every time.

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By the time I got home, I was READY to be home.  I missed my Andrew, but enjoyed my relaxing-try-not-to-plan-too-much trip to Emily’s.  My next one can’t come soon enough.

the first of many weddings

Andrew and I were out of town this weekend for summer wedding #1: his cousin Hannah’s wedding to her longtime boyfriend, Taylor.  I traveled down a couple days early and got dropped-off in Dayton, OH, to hang with this girl and the cutest baby EVER:

I hung with Jen and Aiden for a couple hours around our old stompin’ grounds (Beavercreek) before heading south to my ultimate destination.

We had City BBQ for dinner:

Kids’ plates and new outdoor seating!  I can’t decide if I like it when things change while I’m gone, or if I’d rather them stay the same.

Then we ran some errands before picking up Graeter’s to-go:

Oh, black raspberry chip, how I love thee!  ESPECIALLY in sundae form with real whipped cream, hot fudge and a cherry.  Did I tell you I discovered their secret for melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chunks?  MUST figure out how to replicate that at home.

And where were we headed that night?  To Chez Wilhelm, of course!  Emily worked late, so Dan and I power-walked for awhile, regaling each other about our recent house purchases.  Well, I did most of the regaling; Dan politely allowed me to monopolize the conversation and inserted his own house comments when I paused to catch my breath.

The next morning we headed to Sugar Creek MetroPark for a trail hike, one of our absolute favorite things to do together.

OK, between the sunglasses and headband, do I not look like an alien cancer patient??  Not sure the angled glasses are my best look…

Afterward we refueled at EarthFare for lunch!  We sampled Indian food from the hot bar, I couldn’t resist the emerald kale or broccoli cranberry salad, and we both got tea to drink.

And the highlight of our day?  Laying out by her pool!  (Don’t worry, Dad, we used LOTS of sunscreen.)  In fact, I learned my lesson from Memorial Day weekend and reapplied multiple times; I was rewarded with a beautiful brown tan and no red at all 🙂

We cleaned up and dressed to the nines to go out to….wait for it….FIGLIO!  Emily and I have been trying to fit this wood-fired pizza place into one of our visits for awhile now, and we just never seem to be able to.  Funny story: Andrew and I thought it was a furniture store the entire time we lived in Ohio!  Imagine our surprise when Emily and Dan informed us it was a relatively fancy Italian place…

We made it in time for happy hour, so we each got a mini-Martini and split a pizza as an appetizer.  We ended up getting their signature Peasant side salads and cups of the shrimp and crab corn chowder instead of entrees, but it was hard to be disappointed since they were both so good!

After all, we had to leave room for this:

Rita’s!  I went with a regular gelati (water ice with custard) with the chocolate peanut butter water ice.  I knew Andrew wouldn’t be able to resist a stop on our way out of town the next day, so I figured I’d have one more chance to get my favorite, mango, before leaving Ohio behind.

And perhaps my favorite part of the whole day?  Cleaning out Emily’s closet!

Oh, how I love a good closet clean-out!  Ever since I had a trendy co-worker come over a couple years ago and help me purge my tired wardrobe, I’ve been going through my clothes regularly to get rid of what doesn’t fit, things I just don’t wear and anything old and tired looking.  It’s cathartic, I tell you.

Emily emptied her closet of about five bags of clothes, a bag or two of shoes and a few purses.  They’re moving in a month or so, so it’ll make that load lighter.  I even got a couple items in the process–score!

The next morning, we headed to a nearby track for a self-designed circuit workout.  We matched!

After our workout and bunch at First Watch–our favorite!–we headed to Emily’s office where she blessed me with a PHENOMENAL massage.  Seriously.  This girl is amazing.  I had some majorly sore calf muscles from a workout earlier in the week, as well as some chronic neck and shoulder pain, and despite her working on those areas pretty intensely, I STILL almost fell asleep on the table!  Talk about heavenly!

Andrew picked me up from there and we headed into downtown Indianapolis for the rehearsal dinner.

Saturday brought my usual run on the Monon Trail near grandma’s house, followed by errands (had to run to Crate and Barrel for their wedding gift!  Too bad there wasn’t time to shop for myself…) and lunch at McAllister’s with the family (minus Abigail, who was in the wedding party and was already downtown getting prepped).

Here we are, all spiffy:

(Terrible shot, but it was the best I could do while Andrew was driving.)

Here’s the outside of the Scottish Rite, where the wedding was held:

(Disclaimer: this photo was actually taken on our way home from the reception, but I wanted to get at least a little of the outside for you.)  They light it up at night and the colors change.

Andrew’s grandfather (the one who passed away this past December) was a Mason and spent time each week here.  I’d never been inside before, but he’d given Andrew a tour once awhile ago.

They held the ceremony in one of the rooms and then we left for cocktail hour while they re-set it for dinner:

This picture is absolutely terrible.  It was amazing in there!  Better photos can be found here.  (It’s a FB link; hope it works!)

Here we are, hanging out before the reception:

Those Layer kids really know how to cut loose:

(Really, it’s the girls who steal the show at every dance party they attend; Andrew gives it the old college try and does relatively well.)  Ben, Luke (Hannah’s brother) and I grabbed some stretch of wall to chat and watch the ‘entertainment.’

Afterward, we all found our way to archive room to see if we could find grandpa’s pictures.

There he is, back in 1971 when he was first invited to join:

And here is a more recent picture of him we found:

It was really neat to be able to visit the archives–all of us together (well, Hannah was off being the bride and all)–to take tiny peek into part of Grandpa’s life.

And, look!  Just as we were driving away from the church, who should we spy pausing for some nighttime photos?  The bride and groom 🙂  (Very blurry, but the blob of white kinda gives it away.)