Coeur d’Alene, the Hiawatha Trail, visit by Kirk & Tammy (and a new car!)

It was a big week. We celebrated our birthdays (mine was last Sunday, Susan’s was yesterday), bought a car, traveled to Idaho and Montana, and were visited by Kirk & Tammy Lindstrom.

It started out with just wanting to do something fun this summer and we decided that our birthday week would be a good time to do it. Susan suggested Coeur d’Alene, Idaho because she’d heard is was beautiful. I found a place to stay on Airbnb.com – a rustic little cabin near the edge of the lake. We were also counting this as our 10-year anniversary getaway since we didn’t do anything special in April due to the pandemic.

A couple of days before we left, Kirk Lindstrom called to say they were in Washington and wondered if they could visit. More on that later, but when I told him we were going to Coeur d’Alene, he suggested a visit to the nearby Hiawatha Trail and I’m glad he did.

Before I say more about the trip, I want to mention our new (to us) car. Our 2015 Ford Fiesta had 90,000 miles and was showing some wear. The body looked great except for dimples caused by hail damage in New Mexico and it ran great except for a slipping clutch that caused the car to shudder when accelerating. Cost to repair the dimples was $2400 which the insurance paid for. Cost to fix the clutch was estimated to be around $1700. Then there was the fact that it wasn’t the most comfortable car to ride in – a little too small.

My job with the Census Bureau has been providing enough income that I thought it might be a good time to think about trading the car in for something better. We visited the nearby Toyota dealer on Monday, looking for something newer. The salesman showed us a several cars including a 2014 Honda Accord. It was definitely older than what we thought we wanted, but the mileage was only 42,000 – less than half of what the Fiesta had.

We took it for a test drive and Susan loved it – definitely a step up from the Fiesta – roomier and more comfortable — looked good, too. The price was $16000. After checking out a couple more cars, we decided to test drive the Accord one more time. This time, however, it wouldn’t start! Not a way to make a good first impression! Nevertheless, we told them we liked the car and decided to go ahead with the purchase based on their promise to fix it. They said the battery in the key fob was bad, but ended up replacing the entire starter.

We ended up picking it up Tuesday morning and then leaving immediately for Idaho. Fortunately, the car ran like a charm the entire trip. We made it to the cabin – not really sure what to call it. It was a very tiny house on the same property as our hostess’s home — not as remote as I had originally envisioned it. Also not in great condition or with as much space or as many amenities as we typically get, but the view was great.

The next day, we drove 1 1/2 hours or so east to just past the Idaho/Montana border and found the Hiawatha Trail. It used to be a train track and the Hiawatha was the name of the last train that ran on the tracks (which have been removed). We decided to try a tandem bike which we’ve always wanted to do. It was a beautiful day with the temperature close to 90 F, although you wouldn’t know it when riding through the tunnels.

We decided to only ride the trail downhill and then return via shuttle — yes we’re wimps. The ride starts and ends with a long (1.6 mile) ride through a tunnel. There are several other shorter tunnels as well, and several trestles to cross. Otherwise the ride is along mountainsides covered with trees so it was a good mixture of sun and shade. The trail was busy, but we were the only ones on a tandem.

They also gave us a lunch and a little pack to carry it in on our backs. Susan had been worrying about the ride because she hasn’t felt well for the past few weeks. Plus she hadn’t ridden since 2012 when she was forced to quit when we realized that the position of her body on the bike was not good for her neck, causing severe pain and the loss of arm movement. It took several months to recover from that.

Fortunately the tandem bike allowed her to sit upright which didn’t force her neck into a bad position. The trail was 15 miles long and we stopped frequently so it took a couple of hours to complete. At the bottom, we got on a shuttle (school bus) which took us almost to the top, but we did have to return back through the same long tunnel we started with.

Elmo (our dog) waited back at the cabin all day for us to return. After taking him for a walk, we looked for a place to eat, ending up just buying a Subway sandwich and eating it on the deck of our cabin.

The next morning, we packed up and headed out, deciding to return by way of Grand Coulee Dam. The dam is an amazingly sight and an engineering marvel, but we were disappointed to discover that the visitor center is closed because of Covid 19.

The disappointment was dampened, however, by the views on the way back toward home. We passed by Dry Falls, location of a pre-historic waterfall that would have dwarfed Niagara Falls.

On the way, I also enjoyed a phone call with Emily whom I haven’t talked to in several months. Sure miss her and her siblings.

We arrived home without incident at around 8 pm. The next morning we got up a little early and prepared for a visit by Kirk and Tammy. They arrived with their 14 month old granddaughter. We enjoyed lunch here, then drove to downtown Olympia and walked around, seeing portions of Capitol Lake, the Puget Sound, and finally, the capitol building. It was slightly rushed because I had to be at work at 3:30 (working until midnight), but it was great to see them, renewing our 40+ year friendship.

Here a few pics of our week:

Lucky we didn’t wreck! A selfie taken while riding a tandem bike on the Hiawatha Trail.
Another selfie
What a cute couple!
Just past one of the many tunnels.
One of the many signs along the Hiawatha Trail
Waiting for the shuttle
Our “cabin” on Coeur d’Alene Lake.
Our new car and my sweetie, packing up to leave Coeur d’Alene
Grand Coulee Dam (duh)
Hmm — looking a little grizzled there…
That’s Susan overlooking Dry Falls. She’s standing on a short bridge that spans the gap between the cliff on the right and a very high section of rock coming from the canyon floor.
Dry Falls
The story of Dry Falls
Kirk, Mila, and Tammy walking near the capitol building
Where’s Grandpa and Grandma??
Kirk, Tammy, Susan…

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