It was August 2020. Air travel was once again allowed – with a lot of safety features built-in – and after the busiest work period I have ever experienced I needed to get away. A friend of mine was working at a ranch in Idaho, so I decided to visit her. That’s how I found myself in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, working during the day while she was giving riding lessons, and driving around the mountains in the evening.
Two things I learned on this trip:
- Even when the world shuts down, you can still find adventure.
- When driving an hour to a restaurant in a small mountain town to get a shake, call to verify the hours listed on Google are accurate. They might not be, and the owners of the restaurant might be inside watching you as they ignore your phone calls before they finally decide to answer.
But I digress.
Coeur d’Alene is a beautiful town in Northwestern Idaho. Many stars have vacation homes there and if you visit you will understand why. I loved sitting on the porch of the ranch house, watching the sky. It was so breathtaking. If you like to hike, I think this would be a place worth looking at, and I’ve heard it’s also great for water sports. I, however, can’t account for any of that because I was with people who were working pretty hard during the day so we drove around to see everything in the evening. Here are a few of the things we were able to do.
CITY BEACH & PANHANDLE CONE AND COFFEE
One of the first things we did was travel to Sandpoint, Idaho. We went to the City Beach to walk on one of the trails that go around the lake. There were signs to share some of the history of the area and plenty of places to hang out by the water.
We weren’t able to spend too much time there because we had Sophie with us and dogs are, apparently, allowed sometimes but not all the time. We left and decided to get ice cream, so we drove to Panhandle Cone and Coffee, where I tried a huckleberry flavor and it was delicious. We sat outside and a family sat nearby. We started chatting and learned that the wife had grown up in a communist country. She talked about her childhood and some of her fears about our country. I’ve thought about her frequently over the years and it was definitely a highlight of my time in Idaho.
THE BEST HUCKLEBERRY SHAKE ON I-90 BETWEEN BOSTON AND SEATTLE
Are you ready for a story? I don’t know how I found it, although I’m fairly certain I’m the one that heard about it. I know for a fact that I’m the one that was like, “We have to go, it’ll be an adventure!” And an adventure it was, but not exactly the kind I had in mind. In Wallace, Idaho there is a diner called the Red Light Garage. I wasn’t sure if I was going to name it, but apparently, I am, and I want someone to go there and try their huckleberry shake to let me know if it’s good. Just call ahead to make sure they’ll be open before you go.
I read up on the town and knew we HAD to visit Wallace and, while we were there, stop at the Red Light Garage to try “the best huckleberry shake on I-90 between Boston and Seattle.” All of the ranch activity was supposed to end at a certain time, we’d drive the hour to the diner, have about an hour to eat before they closed, and then we could tour the town.
That evening we arrived at the diner, walked up to the door… and it was closed. I double-checked Google to see the hours listed, and it was supposed to be open for another hour. I felt so bad for prompting the group to drive all that way after a long day only to find the restaurant closed.
But. Someone saw movement inside. So we called and could hear the phone ring. Called again. Finally, they answered to confirm that they were, indeed, closed. I don’t know if this was special due to it being 2020 or if this is generally how it operates, but their closing time varies based on if they had people to work, if they wanted to stay open, etc.
So. If you ever find yourself near Wallace, Idaho, call the Red Light Garage to see if they’re open and if they are, try their huckleberry shake. Let me know if it’s good.
We walked around the block and determined that there wasn’t a lot that was going on anymore, so we got back on I-90 to head home. On our way, we stopped at a gas station that also had an ice cream parlor. I don’t remember what it was called because I did not do a good job of documenting this trip or taking pictures of places we went to, but I do know it was next to this abandoned (I’m assuming) building called the King’s Inn, that had this little strange walkout with no stairs. (There was a truck parked right in front of it so the awkward crop of the photo was to cut out identifying license plates.) We got this huckleberry shake, which was delicious.
We also stopped at the Snake Pit Bar & Grill for dinner. The Snake Pit boasts a long history of over 135 hours and has been a bar, hotel, and “house of ill-repute”, among other businesses, I believe. Now, if you want good food from a historic establishment, check out the Snake Pit. I don’t remember what I got to eat, but I did get a huckleberry cocktail, and it was delicious.
Our time in Couer d’Alene was mostly spent at the ranch or driving. So, here are some of the driving views.
And here are the ranch views.
And that was my trip to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I can’t really tell you where to go or what to do or where to stay, but I can say that it was absolutely beautiful and the getaway I needed during 2020. But that’s also the nature of travels with this particular friend.
Have you been to Couer d’Alene, Idaho? If so, can you provide information that’s actually useful? 😂