Archive for Idaho

Hiawatha Bike Trail – Montana and Idaho

The Hiawatha Trail is a rails-to-trails bicycle trail, located near the border between Idaho and Montana…12 miles east of Wallace, Idaho.

The route crosses the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana.

Construction of the railroad tracks began in 1906. The last train passed through in 1980. After that the line was abandoned.  With government funding and private donations, the rails were removed, and the construction of the bicycle and hiking trail was started in 1997. The Idaho portion of the trail opened May 1998. The Montana portion opened May 2001.

It’s 15 miles one way.  The fee to use the trail is $9.  You can cycle one way and take a shuttle back… for another $9 fee. It didn’t take me long to figure out why there is a shuttle back. The entire one way is downhill on a slight grade, yet still downhill. Thus the shuttle to bring people back up.

It’s really, really beautiful. We went thru 8 tunnels.

Right at the trailhead is the long, dark Taft Tunnel, which burrows for 1.7 miles under the Idaho/Montana state line.  It is cold and pitch black in there.  A light [or two] is a must.  After mid way, it does get kinda freaky to be in there where it’s cold, and with NO light anywhere.  There is water dripping from the ceiling.  NO graffiti on the tunnel walls.

31 miles is expected to be added on the Montana side.


This is me with my headlight on, getting ready to go thru another tunnel.

The trail itself is rocky.  I was concerned about blowing one of my little bike tires, but didn’t.  There is NO trash on the trail.  There are a couple water jugs/containers along the path if you need more water.  A few wooden “outhouses”.  A bunch of benches to rest and enjoy the view.

And the view?

Spectacular. Rolling mountains covered with evergreen trees. Pine smell. You can hear the water from waterfalls and streams far below.

Deer sightings:

The path takes you over old train trestles/bridges.

Just too cool!

You see other train trestles.

NOTE: There are no bike rentals at any of the trailheads. Helmets and lights are required.

The Hiawatha Bike Trail is owned by all of us. It is on U. S. National Forest land administered by the St. Joe Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

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How Much to Parasail for 8 Minutes?

$60 for 8 minutes in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho! At first I thought this was some sort of a joke, but Ralph reassured me it was for real.

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Would You Chop Off and Sell Part of Your House?

While cycling around Coeur d’Alene, I saw this beautiful house for sale:

Now see the blue tape on the house about 2′ above the ground? The owner of this house is offering up to chop off the part of his house with the blue tape. This piece of land with the demolished house parts, plus a small parcell of land next door is for sale for $550,000! I should add that it is across the street from the lake.

Here’s another angle. Notice the grey house next door. So, if you did lob off part of the white house for an “empty” lot to build on, it’s still NOT a very big lot!

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Hudson’s Burgers in Coeur d’Alene

While walking around Coeur d’Alene’s downtown, we noticed a line forming outside of Munson’s Hamburgers. Munson’s is now Hudson’s but for some reason the old named awning is still up.

You go to Hudson’s for the nostalgia factor. It’s a NO frills hamburger joint with counter service.

Don’t even bother with the menu. All they serve are hamburgers: single, double, cheese or NO cheese, pickles, onions [sliced in front of you]. The sauces are spicy ketchup, spicy mustard and regular ketchup.

NO fries, NO anything else [except pie].

The place was packed. Cash only.

Since I don’t eat burgers, I can’t tell you if they are tasty or over hyped. I’ve read reviews stating both.

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Prius + 3 Person Bike

While staying at a small locally owned motel [Flamingo Motel. “Best summer in 6 years”] in Coeur d’Alene, we saw that another guest staying there had a Prius, which was hauling a trailer with a Thule and 3 person bike! Talk about eco-friendly people! Ralph talked to the guy, who was a dad and was on vacation with his 2 sons. He said the bike was a 4 person bike that he had re-configured to 3 after he got divorced.

And then the next day, we saw them on the highway…

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Coeur d’Alene, ID

Years ago, I was listening to an unbelievable song by Iris Dement, ”Easy’s Gettin’ Harder Every Day”. Unfortunately, I can’t provide a link to this song, since Iris doesn’t have many videos on YouTube of her singing.

I also looked for another unbelievable song of hers “NO time to cry”. But NO luck with that one either.

When I lived in Houston, my buddy Merrill and I drove to Austin to see a Kasey Chambers show at La Zona Rosa. Her encore was “NO time…”, and I remembered that the drive was worth that song alone. It was outstanding. Here is that sound recording.

Anyway…back to “Easy’s Getting Harder”… in this song, she sings “wish I could run off to Coeur d’Alene”. I had to Google where it was she wanted to go, and wondered “why?” I hadn’t heard of Coeur d’Alene. After all, I was living in Houston, and NOT too familiar with cities in the Northwest.

After living in Bend, I’ve heard nice things about the town.

So, after Moscow was a bust, we high tailed it to Coeur d’Alene to spend the nite.

Upon first arrival, all the wonderful things I had heard seemed to be true. The town sits on Lake Coeur d’Alene and it is really beautiful. There is a bike trail along the lake. NOT all the way around, but 6 miles in one direction.

There is the Centennial Bike Trail… which is a rails to trails path to Spokane… around 40 miles.

There are very few bike racks. No street people. Pretty, but not all that much to do entertainment wise – nothing in the paper re things to do.

Here they have Cinemas NOT movie theaters.

It was cool and rainy on our second day. The town rolled up its streets by 8 pm.

There was a recent Ironman competition in July. The motel owner said the town is all about running and cycling. The trails would make you think so but I didn’t see all that many people out running or cycling.

Biggest disappointment? The city boasts that it has the “world’s longest floating boardwalk that runs 3300’”. We all have a visual of what that may look like. Now put that away and imagine just a boat harbor walkway connecting various lanes of where boats could be moored. Yep it’s just the loop used to get on and off your boat at the dock.

Never did have the Bowl of Soul, which is some sort of chocolaty coffee concoction. We looked in the coffee shoppe and it was packed. Let’s just say if all the street people in town were in one place, it was here.

Saw hardly anyone around even though the hotels were booked up.

Great library. Comfy seats with nice fake fireplace. Great wooden building. Nice outside seating.

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Moscow, Idaho

I was excited to visit Moscow, since it is the home to Josh Ritter, one of my fav singer songwriters, and besides, the University of Idaho is there, and I dig University towns.

Here is Josh singing “You Don’t Make It Easy, Babe”.  Fast forward to the 1 minute mark, which is when he starts singing.

We planned on spending the night here, but it was smaller and NOT as inviting as we thought.  We cycled around town once and…that was it!  We didn’t even find an interesting place to eat or hang at a coffee shop.

Onward to Coeur d’Alene.


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More Amber Waves of Grain, In Idaho

Leaving Lewiston, on our way to Moscow we saw more golden wheat/grain fields for as far as you can see. Rolling hills. Very pretty.

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Lewiston, ID and Clarkston, WA

The Snake River separates Washington and Idaho.  The two sister cities across the river from each other are Lewiston, ID and Clarkston, WA.  Obviously named after Lewis and Clark [Lewiston is home to Lewis-Clark State College]. Lewiston is the larger and older of the two cities.

Fun fact for Clarkston: Clarkston has the highest zip code [99403], of any city in the contiguous US.

Fun fact for Lewiston:  Lewiston is reachable by some ocean-going vessels, 465 river miles from the Pacific Ocean/mouth of the Columbia River at Astoria, Oregon! This is due to dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers.  Lewiston has the distinction of being the farthest inland port east of the west coast.  Barges of timber products, grain, and other goods are shipped via the Snake-Columbia system to the Pacific Ocean.

There are several outfitters in Lewiston that offer jet boat rides/tour of Hells Canyon/Snake River. The cost is $95 for 4 hours or $175 for all day.

Hells Canyon is a 10 mile wide canyon located along the border of eastern Oregon and western Idaho.  It is North America’s deepest river gorge at 8,000’.

We were going to go on one of these, but then went on YouTube to look at videos and it wasn’t what either of us were visually thinking of. I was thinking there would be incredibly high walled cliffs on both sides of the river… as though going thru a valley. Instead, what we saw were videos of a river with rolling baby mountains on each side. Pretty but NOT spectacular and unique. Thus we passed on the jet ride.

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Boise, ID

Sorry to report that I’m NOT keen on Boise.  Take away the mountains, and it seemed like any other run down 200,000 population city with NO character.

Even though the capital and Boise State are here, I just didn’t see any livelihood.  Like probably most cities, once quitting time hits, the downtown area becomes deserted.

I think that a huge part of my disappointment was that I had done some research on Boise.  I kept finding words/sentences such as: distinctive neighborhoods; lively; full of cafes and coffee houses…and I believed this.

I am sure that if I had my bike I would’ve enjoyed Boise a whole lot more.  However, the weather predicted rain and/or snow the entire time, so we decided NOT to bring our bikes.  Of course, neither happened.

There is a greenbelt along both sides of the river, which was nice, and I suspect VERY fun to walk/cycle when the weather is better.  The town did seem like it would be bike friendly, and that I could understand if someone living here wanted to give up their car.

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