Unfortunately, due to work commitments, Eric wasn't able to join in on the fun this go around ... I don't know HOW he could possibly pass up 6+ hours in the car ... each way... with our kids in exchange for a quiet house, no squabbles, and no one to tattle on anyone else!
|Pit stop in Ellensburg|
|Pit stop selfie|
On our way to Idaho, I decided to make a bit of an unplanned stop at the Wile Horses Monument, which is located just east of Vantage, WA. Ever since I was a little girl, I'd wanted to stop and see the horses up close, but never (a) took the time if I was the driver or (b) didn't have the opportunity as the passenger. This was my chance and I took it! Unfortunately, we weren't wearing the ideal footwear for a hike up a rather steep, sandy, gravely hill ... tennis shoes would have been MUCH better than our flip flops (DUH). Regardless, we conquered the hill in the blazing sun (it was MIGHTY HOT) and smokey air (seems like practically our whole state is burning these days). When we got to the top, the view was limited (see smoke reference) but still incredibly impressive. Seeing the horse statues up close didn't disappoint; the graffiti on the horses did disappoint me, though. The kids enjoyed the opportunity to burn off some energy and find all sorts of neat rocks along the path.
|Headin' up the trail|
|Annika and her volcanic rock|
|"See my rock, Mama??"|
|The kids with the horses|
|Vantage bridge (and smoke) backdrop|
After our spur-of-the-moment hike, we were back in the car and continuing our journey east ... east .. east. Eventually, we made it to the cabin and I could immediately feel myself start to unwind. Nothing like seeing the lake to ease your breathing and heart rate. It really is one of my zen places.
Over the next few days, the kids spent countless house in the lake swimming, doing flips off of the dock, taking the peddle boat out for a few spins, and playing all sorts of made-up games. While they were having the times of their lives, I was soaking up the time with my sister and brother-in-law. We live too far apart in my opinion, so sharing air and the same space with my sister is something I truly cherish.
Speaking of my brother-in-law, Randy was truly amazing with the kids. He is incredibly engaging and takes the time to make them feel special and cherished. He took them to the marina for ice cream/popsicles, they went on walks, and the took them out on the peddle boat just for fun.
|1st mate Annika, ready for boating|
|Conor chillaxing in the hammock|
|Happy hammock girl|
|Off to the marina with Uncle Randy|
|Sunset at the cabin|
|Peddle boat kiddos|
On the 3rd day of our trip, it was time for Randy to head home for work, so he and Suzanne drove from the cabin to Pullman (to drop off a car with our nephew at WSU) and then drove to the airport in Spokane. Because Suzanne was going to be gone for the vast majority of the day, I decided that was the perfect opportunity to take the kids to Schweitzer. On our way to Schweitzer, we stopped in Sandpoint to pick up some supplies (aka my annual allotment of Pend Orielle Winery pinot grigio), poke around a few shops, and have lunch at Jalapenos restaurant.
My brother (Troy) and his family went there about two weeks prior, which is what inspired me to trek up the mountain with the kids. Little did I know how many summertime activities were there! There was a rock climbing wall, a swing set, giant checker and chess games, a zip line, horseback riding (8 year minimum age, so we didn't go), and a ski lift that took people up to the summit. I'd hoped to get some great photos of the lake from our higher vantage point, but (once again) the smoke proved that my plans don't always end up working out. Big picture... oh well!
|Annika scaling the rock wall|
|Conor scaling the swing set's climbing wall|
|Sayin' hi to the horses|
|Our little gold diggers|
|Heading up the ski lift|
|Summit, here we come!|
|Creek from the ski lift|
|Lookin' back down as we went up, up, up|
|We made it to the summit!|
|A post-summit game of giant checkers|
On our way back to the cabin after exploring Schweitzer, the kids and I stopped in Sandpoint for some much-deserved ice cream (gelato, to be exact). It was a lovely way to wrap up a fun day adventuring together.
Back at the cabin, the kids enjoyed some more lake time while Suzanne and I enjoyed our dinner of goat cheese and pistachios served on crackers... we live the life at the cabin, let me tell you!!
The rest of our time at the cabin was spent doing much more of the same ... relaxing, taking in the gorgeous view, chatting, playing games, and swimming. It really couldn't have been more ideal (except if Eric had been there with us ... THAT would have made it perfect-o!)
Before I knew it, we were packing up and heading back home. I'm not saying there were tears when I hugged my sister good-bye ... oh wait ... who am I kidding??? Saying goodbye to her is never easy, especially when we don't have our next visit already on the calendar. After a few extra hugs, I wiped my eyes, sucked in as much lake air as my lungs could hold, and pointed the van homeward. The drive home was smokey but easy. The kids were so tuckered out from their 4+ days of playing in the lake that they were incredibly mellow the entire drive home... much fewer "are we there yet?" moments. Plus, we were all excited to be reunited with Eric!
Home sweet home. Cabin sweet cabin.