My son and daughter came to visit us last week for the first time since we moved, and we were so excited. Finally...they would get to experience what made us fall in love with Idaho.
When they got off the plane, we immediately whisked them off to the Northern Quest Casino, just a few minutes from the Spokane airport for a couple of hours of slots and blackjack. My son apparently inherited some of his grandmother's luck, as he was "up" when we decided to head home for the evening.
After a big dinner and a good night's sleep, Day 2 dawned early since both kids were still on East Coast time. They decided it was time to go hiking, so we bundled up and took them exploring around our property and the adjoining acreage. We had about a foot of snow in the forest, but only a couple of inches on top of an inch of ice on our private road. Less than 50 feet from our door, my feet went out from under me and I ended up flat on my back, cracking my head pretty good on the ice. I haven't seen stars like that in years! Luckily I wasn't hurt badly, and we were able to hike a couple of miles and take some pics.
Then we hopped in the truck and made our way down the mountain to do some sightseeing. We had to stop to take some pics along Lake Pend Oreille; even with the cloudy skies and snow on the way, the view is outstanding.
Our first stop was at The Wolf People, our local wolf sanctuary. There was only one wolf available at the shop that day, a five-year-old female named Legacy. She's half Arctic and half timber wolf, and such a beauty. Doesn't she look hungry? She's a sweetie, though, and even licked my hand through the fence.
Hopefully they'll have some wolf puppies this spring. We'll be checking back with towards the middle of April to see if any are expected. If so, we're definitely going back!
Next up: Time to hit the Winter Carnival in Sandpoint and check out skijoring. We'd been hearing about this unique sport for months now and have been looking forward to checking it out. The premise: one horse, one rider, and one skier on a tow rope navigate an obstacle course with three small jumps, competing with others for the best time. Events are divided by age and gender; we happened to be there for the women/children events.
It was snowing like crazy, as you can see, and we snuggled up in the stands to watch the fun. The announcer was a hoot, whipping the local crowd up into a frenzy of excitement.
Here's a very short video of one of the contestants in the women/children's competition. Don't you just love the cute tutu she's wearing? Video is so much better for sharing...you get the whole experience: the sights and sounds as well as the excitement.
I think the kids spent more time at the concession stand than watching the events, but it was definitely an adventure. Several bowls of chili, cups of spiked coffee, and hot chocolate with marshmallows helped make the cold easier to take.
After skijoring, it was time for some adult refreshments, so we stopped by the Laughing Dog brewery. They set us up with beer samplers—which were much enjoyed—then took us on a tour of the brewery.
We got a kick out of the "dog" theme at the brewery...the samplers were nestled into wooden trays shaped like dog bones, and the bar mix was served in stainless steel dog bowls. Too cute!
The next day we hiked up to our neighbor's home, about 200 feet above us up the mountain. Don't fool yourself...200 feet in elevation means at least a one-mile hike, all uphill. I was huffing and puffing by the time we made it to the top.
He has the best views in the area, and graciously allowed us to come take pictures from his deck.
My new camera has a panorama stitching feature, and this was the perfect opportunity to try it out for the first time:
We took the back way down the mountain towards home, slogging through knee-deep snow in some places. And yes, I managed to fall flat on my back yet again. *sigh* My firstborn couldn't resist the opportunity to tease his mom.
Day 3 it snowed some more, leaving us plenty of snow on the deck to make a huge snowman. We had hoped for a photo op with him, but unfortunately the snowman only lasted a few hours...the temps started rising and he soon crashed.
Taking the kids to the airport was so sad...I wanted them to stay longer. But before they left, we managed to finally get one family shot:
The weather was so funky while the kids were here; it snowed every day. They got to see northern Idaho at its winter best...from sugarcoated to clumped with snow. Unfortunately it was misty and gray most of the time they were here, generally looking like this:
The day after they left, the sun came out and the view was back in all its glory. Unfortunately, the kids missed it:
While preparing this post today, I heard an odd screeching noise coming from outside. I grabbed my camera, thanking my lucky stars it had the long lens attached, and ran out on the deck to catch my first good pics of a bald eagle...perched at the top of the large pine on the back of our property. But I'll save those pics for another day. ;o)