Making the Perfect Weekend
If you live in Spokane, you already know that Coeur d’Alene is the designated default spot to peace out for a day.
Consider scoping for a good deal on a room at the Resort, or just head East for a mini-day trip on the weekend of July 30-Aug. 1, when the yearly COEUR D’ALENE DOWNTOWN STREET FAIR will beckon like a picnic of merchandise eye candy. It doesn’t matter if you like shopping or not — with over 250 vendors peddling everything from plants to pottery to paintings — a purchase of some sort is inevitable.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, stroll over to the Coeur d’Alene City Park, where TASTE OF THE COEUR D’ALENES will be waiting with 25 different booths to tempt your taste buds into gastronomic bliss. Remember that scene in Charlotte’s Web, where Templeton goes to the fair and eats himself into oblivion? It’ll be something like that.
When you’re too full to walk, a free shuttle can take you to ART ON
THE GREEN at the old Fort Sherman Grounds on the North Idaho College
Campus. Here you can peruse handcrafted thingamabobs in mediums like
glass, clay, leather, wood, metal and fiber and have a chance to chat
with the artists who made them. (BT)
A Little Culture
The WSU MUSEUM OF ART in Pullman will feature Spokane artist Matthew
Leiker from May 18-July 2. The collection showcases a hybrid of high-end
clip art meets futuristic doodles — think The Jetsons. Americana
subculture is on display in this bubbly pink exhibit. Alongside the
showcase will be a nostalgic selection of record album covers, tiki mugs
and roadside ephemera from the artist’s personal collection. (JB)
Flyin' Sign at Pines
Who says you can’t have a bit of summer fun in Spokane Valley and not MAKE SOME COIN at the same time?
All you need is a Sharpie, some cardboard and imagination. Yes, we are talking about holding a cardboard sign at the end of a freeway off-ramp, known as “flying sign.”
People already out there do this for a living or to survive another day and may not appreciate tourists doing a bit of slumming, so don’t hog the corners.
But do have fun. Newcomers were in town recently with funny signs: “It’s a long story…” Several years ago an art student showed up every morning with an executive briefcase and a suit and signs suggesting he needed gas for his Hummer. Have fun, donate your haul to charity of you like, and be careful out there. (KT)
This one’s easy. Get a bear costume (available for rent at Spokane Civic Theater). HIDE IN THE BUSHES of any park, preferably Riverfront. Jump out at passers by. Did you see their faces? Classic. (ND)
For a city that so obsessively compares itself to its Northwest brethren, Spokane doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about Calgary. Portland and Seattle, yes, but not this Canadian metropolis, just on the other side of the B.C./Alberta line and only an hour farther away than Boise, by car.
But Spokanites should take note. The “Nashville of the North” is home to a diverse population of around a million people, a thriving downtown and a ton of fun stuff to do. This is especially true in winter (check out the still-operational facilities of the 1998 Winter Olympics), but it’s also evident in summer, when cyclists take to the streets, cowboys take to their horses and the arts arrive en masse. (Don’t worry, they don’t speak much French here.)
Take, for example, the CALGARY JAZZ FESTIVAL. Put on by the grassroots organization C-Jazz, this year’s fest is bringing Chick Corea, Poncho Sanchez, Daptones Afro-Soul collective the Budos Band and Ben E. King (ever heard of “Stand by Me”?), among many others. The festival runs June 21-27 at about 10 different venues throughout town. Tickets are $15 for the cheaper shows, up to $60 for the headliners.
Things get even better the following month, when the city hosts the CALGARY FOLK FESTIVAL. Far from a mere hootenanny, the festival will host the Avett Brothers, Greg Brown, DJ Logic, Roberta Flack, Michael Franti, St. Vincent, Stars, the Swell Season and a heap of other up-and-coming indie, folkie and world musicians. The whole thing happens on seven different stages in Prince’s Island Park, right downtown. (July 22-25, $47/day, $165 for all four days).In between is the requisite CALGARY STAMPEDE (July 9-18), a legendary orgy of rodeo madness, the advertising for which claims that “It’s where hides are raw, hearts untamed, and the world’s toughest stock walks on two legs.” It may also be the reason Spokanites discount the city as Hicksville, Canada. Maybe so, but Calgary stands up as a Northwest metropolis to be reckoned with.
Following the Mullan Trail
Ever cruise down Coeur d’Alene’s Mullan Avenue, or pass through Mullan, Idaho? Both are nods to John Mullan, the 19-century soldier and engineer charged with building a wagon route from Montana to Walla Walla in order to expedite the settlement of the Northwest. His “Mullan Road,” carved out with great pains by civilians, soldiers and surveyors, achieved its goal, despite frequent setbacks. It became a major east-west arterial — hundreds of thousands used it the first year — and it inflated the population of Walla Walla.
This summer, why not re-trace his steps? You don’t even need a pickax. Just a car, a bike rack and about a week to kill.
Get away from me, you time-traveling creep!
Start where Mullan started, at Fort Benton, Montana, and head down Highway 87 to Great Falls. Celebrate his predecessors at the LEWIS AND CLARK FESTIVAL on the Missouri River. This weekend-long event (June 25-27) will get you in the trailblazing spirit, with campfires and re-enactors, old-timey food (mmm…), float trips and a relay race (Meriwether and York used to totally tear up the Oregon Trail). Stick around for the auctions and the quick draw contest.
On Sunday, head through Helena, across the Great Divide on Highway 12, and turn west on Interstate 90. Just a few miles up the freeway, you’ll come upon the ghost town of BEARMOUTH, a long-dead trading post for the mine economy. Check out the livery stable and the old balconied inn.
Next, head to MISSOULA. Don’t be surprised if you see us there, legs dangling over inner tubes on the Clark Fork River, beer tube in tow. This lazier portion of the river runs right through downtown, where you can disembark, catch a movie at the Wilma and watch paddlers shoot the rapids just below the Higgins Avenue bridge.
Head upriver to ALBERTON GORGE. This is where you’ll find the best, most exciting rapids on the Clark Fork. (Google “rafting Clark Fork” to make an appointment with one of many whitewater outfitters.) Get some perspective: Early pioneers like Lewis, Clark and Mullan probably found these waters less “exciting” than “piss-worthy.” Their toil allows you to shoot the rapids with ease.
On your way back to Idaho, hit up the ROUTE OF THE HIAWATHA, an easy, stunning, 15-mile bike trail that takes you through 10 old train tunnels and over seven high trestles. This is a must-do for any Inland Northwesterner.
Cross into Idaho near Mullan and skirt the southern edge of Lake Coeur d’Alene, south of Spokane, and across the Palouse. South of Ritzville, in the tiny town of BENGE, WASH., where wagon ruts from the original road are still visible. Between there and nearby WASHTUCNA, you’ll find the still-labeled, gravel-paved Mullan Road.
You’re almost there. Now just cruise down to WALLA WALLA and treat yourself to a biking tour of the area’s wineries, knowing that you may never have gotten this chance to sip and pedal had a certain Virginia-born West Point cadet not paved the way for you.