Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Sleep: The Greenbriar Inn - 315 E. Wallace Ave, Coeur d'Alene, ID {bed and breakfast a few blocks outside of downtown, still within walking distance- also the location of 315 Martini and Tapas bar- which isn't open Sunday-Monday, so make sure you stay here or spend time in CDA when they are!} 

Eat: 315 Martini and Tapas {inside the Greenbriar, I can't speak to the martinis but the TAPAS.. omg. So creative, so damn delicious. My favorite were the chicken curry cakes with a spicy aoli sauce of some sort} 

The Cellar {I want to chalk up the really weird/bad customer service we had here to it being an 'off' night because the food was outstanding- I had a gnocchi and M housed a giant bowl of paella and declared it the best he ever had- worth chancing some maybe suspect customer service for the food! They also have a cool wine pour area where you can buy a refillable card and sample a ton of wines}

Fire {Artisan pizza in a brick fired oven- lots of variety, tasty, a good casual spot for the artisan pizza lover}

Crafted Taphouse {fantastic place for a burger and a beer- with a twist. Their "OG" menu is, as promised, very original. I had the tacos and M had the chicken and waffles (you can see the literal tower of them below)- also a really awesome indoor/outdoor seating, so try to go on a nice day to enjoy the patio!}

The Garnet Cafe {just a really good old fashioned greasy american breakfast- but with local, sustainable, organic fare. Gotta love the PNW} 

Whispers Lounge {inside the CDA Resort, great spot for a hand crafted cocktail. The first night we went there I was exhausted and got coffee- but the second time I was alert and ordered the huckleberry cocktail- so. damn. good, and I don't like hard alcohol. They also have a really nice patio with a glass wind shield where you can enjoy the sunset over the lake}

See: Mineral Ridge {the photos I found everywhere of this hike sucked, but the views were spectacular. It's a bunch of switchbacks up a hill, but the nice part is the 3 mile loop doesn't backtrack at all, so the "exit" back down to the parking lot is still all "new" territory (and shorter- most of the hike is the trek up, the trek down is only another .5 mile or so) - pretty drive to the area too, and may be worth cruising along the scenic byway if you have time}

Tubb's Hill {Again, the photos of this hike weren't great, and I put it on my list simply because I hadn't found a ton of other things to "plan" but it was so much more than an afterthought. Tubb's is located right in downtown off the big park by the water and follows the ridge out into the lake. It's convenient, not a tough hike by any means, and again- really beautiful} 

Downtown CDA {really cute downtown with shops, restaurants and antique stores- M and I popped into one and wandered around for an hour or so one afternoon/ also pretty much the lake area as a whole- the CDA resort boasts the largest floating boardwalk in the country (world..?), and we made more than a handful of loops on the boardwalk. There's also a little food spot on the dock where we grabbed drinks, ice cream, and snacks at various points} 

The "see" category up top pretty much covers what we did- hiking, eating, walking, sleeping, repeat. It was low key but beautiful and the perfect type of "active-restful" vacation. I'll let the pictures do the talking. 

{315 Tapas and Martinis}
{Whispers Lounge- CDA Resort}
{Mineral Ridge}
{Greenbriar Inn}
{Tubb's Hill}
{Tubb's Hill}
{Tubb's Hill}
{Tubb's Hill}
{Crafted Taphouse}

Now, to plan our fall/spring getaway. I've been trying to coax our entire family (well, some combination of siblings/parents on some side) to take a big vaca. Will report back if I have any luck. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


First up, the logistics! If you're uninterested in the details, feel free to scroll past. 

Sleep: Spokane Club Inn - 1002 W. Riverside Ave, Spokane, WA {cute, historic, boutique hotel in the  downtown. Within walking distance to Riverfront Park, downtown, and plenty of shops and restaurants}; 

Eat: Clinkerdagger {upscale steakhouse- make reservations! The main draw is its location on a cliff overlooking the waterfall and the Spokane river. Matt had a giant slab of meat and was drooling. I had the Italian sausage pasta which was homemade and spicy and amazing}; 

Casper Fry {we ate here for both brunch - Saturday and Sunday only} and dinner and both were out of this world delicious. The menu is an incredible combination of "southern with a twist". For dinner we opted for small plates and sampled the sausage, pork belly, hush puppies, and blackened radishes- I had a single bite of pork belly as M inhaled the rest. The sausage was to die for}; 

Central Food {we had breakfast here during the week- they serve it up every day. Food was outstanding- and the view wasn't too shabby either- located just across the bridge from the Spokane Club Inn, and a nice walk along the cliff above the river}; Scratch {we stopped here for lunch after getting into town, get the adult grilled cheese- if it's still available- the best combo of cheeses on a grilled cheese I've ever had. 

See: Riverfront Park {walk around, check out one of the oldest carousel's in the country, ride the Sky Ride across the falls! The park is huge and there's actually a small amusement park in the middle. We spent the early afternoon into the evening of our first day just walking around the park}

Riverside State Park {located in 9-Mile Falls just 20 minutes northeast of downtown Spokane, it's worth the drive to get out of the city for a leisurely hike along the Spokane River. I use the phrase leisurely quite literally, as the trail we walked on was paved. Not a lot of tree cover, so if it's a hot day- bring water! Also, if you get to the trailhead and note the "permit required" signs, do not fear! You can buy one online or by phone and then write the confirmation number on a piece of paper and put it in your windshield! This is brilliant because the spot to buy permits was about 10 miles down the road and we totally below past it.} 

{Riverfront Park- Canada Island}

I may have mentioned it in the past, but Coeur d'Alene was put at the top of Matt's domestic travel list when he drove through it last summer on a family road trip from MN to Seattle. I've equated it to the Lake Tahoe of the northwest, but maybe a little less well known. (We remarked upon arrival that it was definitely more of a regional attraction than a national one).

After googling some photos of the area and seeing the beautiful lake surrounded by mountains, I obliged and eagerly began planning our itinerary. When researching Italy, I spent more time on the "what to see" vs. "what to eat" because WE'RE IN ITALY who cares what we're eating!? I knew I wanted to invest more time in the meal aspect of things for this trip since it was a bit of a more low-key vacation location, thus, the food had to be part of the 'destination' as well. 

I'd actually had a couple cases based out of Spokane and defense counsel split time between Spokane and Coeur d'Alene, so I had heard them talk about the area in general. After some initial research I realized spending 5-6 days in Coeur d'Alene alone probably would've left us a little bored and antsy. After seeing that there were some neat things to do in downtown Spokane and in an effort to diversify, I planned the first 2 and a half days in Spokane.
{Riverfront Park}
We arrived around 1 local time and after dropping stuff at the hotel, took a short walk over to Riverfront Park. Be sure to check out the map of park attractions as there's a lot tucked inside! There's a sky ride that takes you out over the falls for 15 minutes and provides some spectacular views of the river and waterfall. For only $8 a person, it's worth the expense. 
The park also has a small amusement area- so if you're visiting with kids, it's worth perusing. Sans kids, M and I still wound up sitting inside the carousel building for a good half hour watching kids geek out while riding it. It's a Looff carousel and one of the oldest in the country, so it was ornate and beautiful as well.

Dinner that night was at the Clinkerdagger- which is an historic old steak and seafood spot located on the cliffs overlooking the falls and river in downtown. Despite a reservation, we weren't seated with a view of the falls (although I did make a reso late) so it may be worth reserving earlier (both WHEN you make the reservation and at what time you select) - or try it out for lunch! You'll likely be guaranteed a better spot with a better view. View aside, it was still a fantastic meal. 
{Casper Fry: counter clockwise from bottom- Sausage, blackened radishes, pork belly with an over easy egg, and hushpuppies}

That night we ventured out of downtown to a cute, hipstery little neighborhood to have dinner at Casper Fry. It was a beautiful night so we sat outside and caught the tail end of what appeared to be a farmer's market closing down. The spot next door was bustling, and there were restaurants or shops on the other corners packed with people - it seemed like a very vibrant little neighborhood. 

The food was nothing short of incredible- southern food with a twist. We opted for the small plates because why have one meal when you can have 4 small ones, right? (see above photo)- I got one bite of that pork belly with the sunny egg because M was salivating over it like a rabid animal. But that's okay because I didn't do too good a job of sharing the sausage either. 
{Central Food}
{Riverside State Park}

The next morning we walked across the river from our hotel to Central Food for breakfast. We were there on a Friday morning (one of the few places I found that served weekday breakfast!) and it was quiet and practically empty- although started to fill up as we were leaving. It was another beautiful day so we sat on the patio overlooking the river. Happy accident, in all my internet research I didn't realize they had a patio! 

After walking back and changing, we hopped in the car for provisions before taking a quick 20 minute drive northeast to 9 Mile Falls Washington to go for a "hike" along the Spokane River. Really it was more of a walk because the trail was paved, but it was such a nice morning and we had some great views along the way. It was also insanely hot, unfortunately, and the pavement reflecting the sun meant we only walked about 3.5 miles total instead of longer. 
{Riverside State Park}
{Spokane Club Inn}
{Casper Fry- eggs benedict with spicy hollandaise}

Saturday morning we packed our bags and checked out of the hotel to head to Coeur d'Alene. BUT not before stopping at Casper Fry on the way out of town for brunch, because NOM. 

Up next, Coeur d'Alene. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


This is hardly going to be a "travel post" as I've barely left my hotel room, but I just wanted to pop in from Great Falls, Montana and say hi. 

I've been here for work since Monday and actually spent a day and a half even farther north near the Canadian border. I made a mental note on the drive up when I passed a scenic overlook to stop and take a peek on the way back. 

I've always wanted to be more spontaneous, be a "stop when you see something cool on the side of the road" person... but usually my hyper logical side kicks in and says, "eh, keep going. Not that big of a deal, you have somewhere to be anyway." There's always something to justify not doing it. 

So when I passed that creepy old building you see above on my way north, and again on the way back, I got about 100 yards past it going 75 on a 2 lane highway before thinking "what the heck am I doing? I have nothing to be back in Great Falls for until tomorrow afternoon!" So I slowed down, whipped a U-turn, and pulled off. This decrepit looking building was set back about 200 yards from the freeway off a dirt road marked for hunters. I parked the car, got out, and walked around the outside of the building..wondering what it was back in its heyday. It kind of looked like an old schoolhouse, but there were no historical markers around to note anything of significance. Whilst creeping, the wind blew, and a piece of tin that was nailed to the roof creaked, nearly sending me out of my shoes and into an early grave. I quickly reminded myself that what I was doing was the basis of the poorly scripted storyline for many a scary movie, and hightailed it back to my hatchback. 

A few miles further down the road, I had remembered seeing a sign for a scenic overlook. During my first approach of this area on the way north I kind of laughed- this road cuts through a flat, desolate, very barren part of the state of Montana, so in my head I was all, "scenic what...?".. but just as quickly as the sign came up, and I saw a dad with his small child looking out over the valley, I caught a sliver of the view of the Missouri river and audibly gasped "oh wow!" So on the way back to Great Falls, I stopped. 

This trip cropped up quickly after returning from our vacation in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene, so I'm hoping to get that recapped over the weekend, along with some general life updates. If it seems by the tone of my posts I'm in the midst of a quarter-life-crisis, you may or may not be correct. I'm hoping some recent life changes (not pregnant) will help shed some light on my inner angst I've been experiencing. 

Until then.