After my week in Coeur d’Alene I decided that it was time to scratch one off of my “Bucket List”. I have wanted to take the Thompson Falls cut across to Missoula from Sandpoint Idaho for years now. Without regret I made the trip :-). Sandpoint is just a quick jaunt north of Coeur d’ Alene that is a trip all in its self. We spent a few hours in Sandpoint hanging out at the beach and eating breakfast at the Beach House Lounge. Breakfast was great! After a few minutes on the beach it was time to get on the road. We stopped along the way several times to take in the scenery and enjoy the small towns along the way. If you are ever in that area I highly suggest you make the turn because the Thompson Falls cut across is amazing to say the least. My next trip back from that side of the rocks will take me through Libby and Glacier National Park.
I am running a little behind on my blogs for the month… The up side is that over the last three weeks I have rounded up plenty of blog material. Over the 4th of July I spent the week in the beautiful town of Coeur d’ Alene. I try to make it there at least twice a year and every time coming home gets harder and harder. I enjoy the scenery, the people, and the general ambiance.
I have covered a good deal of the globe and Coeur d‘ Alene is one of the few places I have been that I have felt instantly at home. The experiences are always memorable. One Memory that I don’t think I will forget any time soon was the afternoon I came back after swimming on the south side of Tubs hill. I had just realized that I left my wallet back at the house and didn’t have the $3 I would need to pay for parking by the resort. I was just commenting to my wife that I didn’t have any cash on me and what happened next just left me in bewilderment. As I was pondering how i was going to get the cash a younger gentleman overheard our conversation and approached me with “Excuse me SIR”… I then turned and he asked me if I needed cash for parking and in his hand is $3. Completely dumbfounded I asked him to repeat himself with an “Excuse me”? (Now understand that this does not happen where I am from) I reluctantly took the money with a cautious “Thank You”. To this day I can’t believe that a bystander over heard my conversation with my wife and stepped in to help. After sharing my story with my brother and sister who live over there, apparently this kind of thing happens all of the time.
We spent the morning of the 4th at the parade. The “Small town feel” of patriotism at that parade was emotional to say the least. As I came in with my family folks moved to the side with a smile to allow for my kids to squeeze in with their kids. The parade comprised of the local schools, fire departments, soldiers and just about everything you would see at a small town parade. That night we found a great spot next to the resort to watch fireworks. The colors were brilliant reflecting off of the lake, and the sounds reverberated off of the surrounding mountains. I consider this to be a “Perfect” 4th of July celebration.
The last night i was there we took a walk as a family down along the lake while the sunset over the Tubs hill. Not a breath of wind and nothing but the sounds of the lake next to the trail. Unlike other adventures, I never get home sick when I am in Coeur d‘ Alene because I already feel at home.
I don’t know about for you but July has been NUTS! I have had one weekend to relax and hit the Rivers Edge Trail. This is commonly something I do 3 to 4 times a week and every Saturday and Sunday in the mornings. The weekend before last was my one weekend of the month to do this. The Rivers Edge Trail takes you all the way to Ryan Dam east of Great Falls. It is a little bit of a “jaunt” to say the least but well worth it (keep an eye for upcoming blogs). The Great thing about the trail is the constant changing scenery. A few weeks ago I was on the trail one evening and I see they are building a Sun Dial just off of the 10th street bridge. The timing was perfect for a great image. I rode by once and got to the Black Eagle Dam before I realized that the sunset that was evolving was lining up right behind it, so I raced back to grab the picture. Luckily the gentleman that was working on it was still welding away. Another night I was out and about on the west side of the river and was able to catch the sun bouncing off of the BNSF train yard shop building. I have found that Great photos are made by being at the right place at the right time. I find myself pretty lucky to be able to go out on the trail any night of the week or any weekend and catch images that stand out.
These trips always go so fast with so much to pack into a short amount of time. When we arrive at SeaTac the race is on. It is off of the plane, onto Tacoma, and rush to the first meeting within a half hour. It is great to meet with the project management staff and catch up on a months’ worth of progress. The day is spent in meetings, site walks, and working on any issues that may be going. After a Dinner at the RAM bar and grill it is hard not to go back to the hotel and crash for the night. This last week I was out there I resisted the temptation and headed out to Steliacoom to grab a few shots. To my surprise when I arrived there was a Jazz band playing in the park that sits on the hill side above the sound. The intensity of the music was awesome to say the least. The music filled the town and the bay below with the sounds of Jazz. Just as the sun is setting the ferries from Anderson Island come back and forth making their final run for the night with the sun setting behind the Cascades. I sat there until the sun set and took it all in; what a great night!
The next morning we were up with the sun and grabbed breakfast at Denny’s in Lakewood WA. The goal was to be on McChord before the job site opened. At 5:30am we rolled out by the end of the tarmac where there is a museum with planes posed ready for flight. Behind the planes mount Rainier stands tall and proud with the sun rising behind it. I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to visit the places I visit and even more lucky having the gift to capture them in an image to share. Needless to say that once the day started the peace and tranquility of the morning was over and the race was back on. I arrived back in Great Falls that Afternoon in disbelief of the amazing things I was able to see and the Images I hoped I had captured.
It was a great ride this morning… Not a breath of wind and temps perfect for recreation. I took the Rivers Edge Trail to Giant Springs and back through downtown. I am still working through my photos I got this morning but wanted to get a few out. On my way down the trail I stopped by the City of Great Falls Skate Park. I have wanted to stop and grab photos of the structures and maybe a few action shots however by the time I get done working the park is a little too busy to stop. This morning was the perfect opportunity. After scoping the area there was a guy with his two boys just finished cleaning the entire park. I was not too sure what was going on so I continued to take photos while keeping to myself. As usual it didn’t take to long for someone to start asking questions about what it is I am taking photos of. After talking to the dad and his two boys I was completely blown away. He brings his boys down on Saturday for the same reason I chose to stop this morning. They clean the entire park from the ill-mannered folks from the previous days so they can enjoy the park the way it was meant to be enjoyed. His older boy (17yrs) Proceeds to explain to me that it is a privilege to have the park to use. Good people and a great dad getting his boys off to a good start. As sad as it is to see people take advantage of our parks and recreation structures the true silver lining is to know that there are people that are taking care of it.
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Last weekend was the bachelor party of bachelor parties. The original location for the party was going to be Helena. We had planned to float the Missouri river for the day. After the float trip we planned to get into your typical bachelor party adventure on the party bus that evening. As plans often times do they changed. It was decided by the bachelor party committee that we would have it at Lolo Hot springs. I had never been to Lolo Hot Springs however I have always heard how beautiful it was. As it turns out Lolo Hot springs is in the center of everywhere for bachelor parties. By the time we arrived in Lolo that Friday one of the members of the party had lost his pants along the way and was down to his chonies. He was intoxicated enough that he politely asked bystander for a pair of shorts to borrow… and the adventure had begun. The first adventure to be undertaken was the 30min drive back into Missoula. A bachelor party wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a strip joint and this one was no exception. We started the establishment on the west side of Missoula out by the truck stop. The “environment” was “okay” but not appealing to our group. From there we took the party to the Fox Club downtown. Let me tell you things were looking up! The “environment” was just right for having a good time. After an S&M beating for the soon to be groom by two beautiful women and more liquor then the human body is supposed to take we headed back to Lolo. I would also like to add that during this little adventure we had two Designated Drivers to get us around; they drank pop and water all night. It was cool how easy it was to find someone in the group willing to stay sober all night to take care of his buddies…. On with the adventure! In Lolo there is a nice little bar and grill that serves not too bad of a breakfast and dinner. After a night like that we are going to need some breakfast!
The Mountains around Lolo and on the Idaho border are amazing to say the least. We found hours of entertainment back in the sticks. Starting with panning for gold, we found ourselves back a few miles behind the resort. I can’t tell you the thrill of seeing flakes in the bottom of your pan. Needless to say that between the three of us with pans in our hand we came a long way from making wages. After lunch and target practice we decided to head over the pass into Idaho. The Locsha river drainage is something to put on your “Bucket List” for sure. There are amazing vistas, warm mountain springs, raging rapids and trails that don’t stop. We ended up going on the Warm springs Creek Trail to the Jerry Johns Hot Springs. Honestly they were more of a mud puddle however for the price of a small walk there are not to many other places in the lower 48 that you can see people openly walking around stark-naked. Just to add culture to your life makes it worth the walk :-). Over all it was an awesome weekend with a great group of guys.
When I am not on my bike I throw the dog in the back of the truck and chase the sun. the last few nights I have been lucky. just out of Great Falls there are some great photo opportunities. From the Ulm Pishkun to the Eden Road. Photos of Square Butte, pictures of Great Falls from the Pishkun, to Belt Creek as it winds through the canyon out of the Little Belts to the Missouri. As I am wrapping this blog up I am getting ready for a trip to the Bitterroot Valley. I am looking forward to hanging out in the Bitterroot and capturing Western Montana. In the meantime I am capturing Central Montana for you!
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