After 5 years of travel we find ourselves beginning to return to places we have already visited. This happened not only at Glacier NP but most recently at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Returning to places offers options for exploration to areas we didn't have time for the first visit. As we have learned it is often difficult to do everything there is to do in an area in just a week or even in a month long stay. .
As we usually do before traveling we google for free things to do in the area. The last time we visited we parked in town to do the Tubbs Hill Hike, a town walk and of course a walk on the world's largest floating dock. This time we wanted to rewalk the town area and dock but not redo the Tubbs Hill Hike. These we did on our first half day after arrival. Our plan for the next day was two scenic drives. One was a long loop completely around the lake and the other was a St Joe River drive.
After breakfast we packed a picnic lunch and our last package of Wisconsin cheese curds. Our friend Penny told us that if you place the curd package in the front window, the sun would heat the cheese making for a delectable treat. We tried this once before at Glacier and agreed with Penny that this was a wonderful way to enjoy our cheese curds. The plan was to do the lake loop and part of the river drive. This would be a bit more than a 100 mile trip.
Not long after embarking on the lake loop drive we came to the Mineral Ridge Trailhead. We donned our hiking boots along with a small backpack with water and set out to conquer Mineral Ridge, a 3.2 mile loop trail. The first part of the trail was an upward switch-backed trek through a wooded area marked with numbers that correspond to an interactive brochure. Sadly there were no brochures left at the trailhead but it was entertaining to challenge my spouse's plant ecology knowledge challenging him to provide a narrative for what he thought these stops were meant to point out. He identified many different plants and trees as well as several birds along the way.
At the top we were promised "spectacular views" but we were a little disappointed as our view were marred by road views more than lake views. We should have been a little more patient as those promised views were around the corner on the way back down the trail. We paused at one of the benches to take in views of not only the large blue lake but the mountains surrounding it (without any highways spoiling it).
We returned to the car to continue on the planned route. We passed many large homes along the lake and many more being built. The farther we got from town the smaller the houses became giving us the conclusion that these smaller ones were probably summer retreats. Mostly every home large or small had a dock, water rafts and/or boats of all sizes. It was fun to imagine the enjoyment the owners receive at these homes.
Once we came to the town of St Marie's we side tripped down the St Joe River. There were more RV parks concentrated there than anywhere we have seen before. We travelled about 10 miles down the road thinking we would make our way out of the urban area onto the gravel portion of the 75 mile road. It didn't happen and since we did not have enough time to go the 75 miles we turned around to retake our lake loop .
WE chose to eat lunch at one of the lake turn outs and to save the cheese curds for a mid afternoon snack. They were fantastic and I felt they were almost as good as the fried cheese curds. John said he wouldn't go that far... We ended our day at the Trickster Brewery and enjoyed a nice craft beer! It was a very enjoyable day at Coeur d' Alene and after the drive we now feel we've thoroughly toured NW Idaho making us glad we did return. It's great to return and rediscover places which is yet another reason why we love this lifestyle. Our next stop will be a night boondocking stay at North Quest Casino in Spokane, another place we will rediscover...
NOTE: We are now in Umatilla, Washington at the COE Plymouth Park until the 22nd when we start heading towards Portland Oregon as we trek down the Columbia Rover Gorge.