Category: Travel

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

The end of summer was approaching and Jon & Megan (and Emmarie) invited us to their family’s lake cabin in Coeur d’Alene for Labor Day weekend. Megan and Amy’s grandparents bought the property and built a cabin in 1905 and their family has been going there ever since!

We last came to Coeur d’Alene in 2005 but didn’t visit their cabin. Gay last went to the cabin almost 30 years ago and I’ve never been there until now. Megan’s sister, Amy, and her family – husband Chad and kids Leo and Kathleen (“Kaki”) and dog Oscar – also came. Barley came with us too. 12 people and 2 dogs in a small cabin on the lake.

After Gay took Havana and a bunch of her friends to a tour of the Seattle famous Fran’s Chocolates — owned by the family of a college friend of Gay’s and one of our neighbors — on Friday, we took the Basecamp and the Discovery to Spokane and drove to Gay’s dad’s house where we spent the night. The kids slept in the Basecamp and Gay and I slept in our tent in the backyard.

Saturday morning, we packed up and all of us, including Gay’s dad, aunts Lillian and Ginny, drove the 45 minutes to Coeur d’Alene for brunch at the resort, leaving the Basecamp behind. We made a quick stop at Starbucks, of course, and Spokane’s REI for a dog leash and headlamps that we (meaning me) forgot at home in our haste to get on the road in Friday.

The Discovery got its first off-roading experience on the 2-mile dirt road from the road down to the cabin. The kids put their mark on it:

Hanging out at the cabin was super fun. We sat on the beach drinking beers, watching the kids play in the water with all the water toys, barbecuing dinners, making breakfasts, taking the boat out on the lake, reading in the hammock, having a bonfire on the beach with neighbors in the Bay. The kids all got along and played all weekend long with zero conflicts. The kids even helped clean up after meals without complaining. 😲

Highlights:

  • On Saturday, Chad took all the boys (me, Jon, Leo and Hudson) across the lake on their boat to Carlin’s where the boat got gas and we got beers, sodas and pretzel bites.
  • I slept both nights in the Discovery despite me and Gay’s plan to sleep in our tent. Gay fell asleep with Eva the first night and while setting up my bed in the tent, I realized the Discovery was empty. So I put all the seats down, put our inflatable mattress pad in the back and slept great. I could even see the stars through the moonroof.
  • A water trampoline kept the kids busy all day on Sunday.
  • Havana went tubing behind a friend of Chad & Amy’s boat. Havana also got to steer Chad & Amy’s boat, a first.
  • Barley loved the beach and the water and ate very well: eggs, bacon, sausage, salmon and English muffins (what he just calls “muffins”, being an English Bulldog).

While trying to take a selfie before we all left the lake, the drone lost its GPS connection and flew out of control, a common criticism of the drone since its inception, and crashed into the lake. Barley then retrieved it from the water and brought it back to us, very proud of himself. My drone is dead, 9 months after GoPro killed it. Next drone: DJI’s Mavic Pro 2?

Portland

After Gay and Havana made crab eggs benedict for breakfast, we packed up and left for Portland.

In Portland, we had lunch at Pizza Jerk (Eva had 3 slices!) and then stopped in for what I thought would be a quick sampling of beers at Modern Times PDX. I’m not as big a fan as Gay is of Modern Times and I’ve had a disappointing string of beers on this trip, especially hazy IPAs, so I wasn’t prepared for all the beers that aren’t available in Seattle. Wow! I loved their hazy IPAs and loved their imperial stouts even more. We ended up buying what we could in cans/bottles to take back home to share with Optimism peeps.

Next, we tried to make reservations at Tasty ‘n Alder, which we missed out on last time we were here. That didn’t seem promising. Then we checked into Hotel Lucia, including giving them 2 cases of beer to store in a fridge for us.

We tried again at the restaurant at 6pm, were told they’d call us in an hour to get a table, we walked around and stopped at Clyde Common for a cocktail and sodas and by 7:30pm we were back at the restaurant and seated. Good dinner, the kids even tried some unusual (for them) food.

Klamath Falls to Seaside, Oregon

We got a house on Airbnb in Seaside for 3 nights and met the Carders there. But on the way we first had dinner at Pelican Brewing Co.

We spent Saturday on the beach, then walked into downtown Seaside along the Promenade by the house, drove the bumper cars, rode the tilt-a-whirl – Eva hated it, Havana loved it, hudson refused to ride it – Hudson and Bowie played miniature golf, played games in the arcade, got salt water taffy, had dinner and walked back.

We went to the beach again Sunday morning and then to Cannon Beach for a late lunch at Public Coast Brewing.

After dinner, we went to the beach, started a fire, made S’mores and played Mafia/Guardian Angel, a morbid game the kids know.

Tahoe to Klamath Falls

Before driving to Klamath Falls, we went to Tahoe Mountain Lodge so the kids could swim for a couple hours. We left at 2pm and drove for 5.5 hours to Klamath Falls, had dinner at Klamath Basin Brewing Co – Gay remembers stopping there 10 years ago; I don’t.

Hudson was feeling car sick, something he sometimes complains about when driving. We picked up some Dramamine and after 10 minutes was feeling better and was back to normal. I think we’ll be buying lots of it in the years to come as we take long road trips.

I’m loving the car. I felt fine sitting in it for over 5 straight hours without even using cruise control (because of the two-lane roads most of the way)! I turned on Lane Keep Assist for the first time. It’s a little disconcerting to have the car steer back into the lane when I get too close to a line, not sure if I like it or not. We hit 1000 miles on the car on this leg of the trip.

Napa to Tahoe

It was a 3-hour drive to Tahoe. We packed only hot weather clothes not realizing how cold it gets in the evening in California. So on the way to Tahoe we stopped at an outlet mall in Vacaville and bought some warmer clothes at The North Face store. 50% off North Face gear is a great deal!

We were last here 8 years ago — Havana and Hudson were 3 and 1.5 years old and Eva didn’t yet exist.

All we did each day was go to the pool, enjoy the scenery, listen to Yacht Rock (Gay’s new favorite SiriusXM station) and barbecue dinners on our deck. I also read the entire Owner’s Manual for the Discovery.

I cracked the screen on my Apple Watch at the pool when it fell off a table and onto the concrete – 4 years without a scratch until now. Since the next version of watchOS doesn’t support the original watch, I have to get a new one anyway. Plus, Apple is (supposedly) coming out with a new model in the next several weeks. So assuming this one survives a little longer, it works out fine.

San Francisco to Napa Valley

After a short driving tour of San Francisco – the kids were not impressed, with Lombard Street being a possible exception – we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in a deep fog and north to Napa, stopped for lunch at the very cool Oxbow Public Market, and then to our house at Carneros Resort and Spa.

The kids, especially Havana, loved the place. We went to the pool for a couple hours, I ran to a nearby grocery store for dinner and we had a nice dinner outside in the house’s courtyard. It was very chilly.

We stayed here 10 years ago when we only had Havana and Gay was pregnant with Hudson.

Pismo Beach to San Francisco

We had a long drive ahead of us. We got really good doughnuts for breakfast at Surfside Doughnuts and ate them on the pier, then a short walk on the beach before checking out of the hotel.

Pismo Beach:

We took the longer but more scenic drive up Highway 1, aka the Pacific Coast Highway. Somewhere along the Pacific Coast Highway:

The very foggy 6-hour drive was an 8-hour drive due to traffic into Carmel. We got to our hotel in San Francisco at 8:30pm.

We wanted a quick dinner and there is an In-N-Out Burger 3 blocks away. Perfect. That was my first experience with In-N-Out: good burger, bad fries.

Seattle to LA

After weeks of scouring the country for a Land Rover Discovery with the options and colors we wanted, and running into roadblock after roadblock, I got one in LA yesterday. Instead of shipping it back we decided to drive it back and make a trip out of it. It works out well because we don’t have childcare while Maddie is vacationing with her family in, of all places, Germany; we can’t get much work done while also keeping the kids active.

Our flight to LA was scheduled for 6am so we woke up at 4am, got the already-packed kids up and dressed and were in an Uber by 4:35am and on our way to the airport. Then we got a message from JetBlue that our flight was delayed 2 hours. That extra 2 hours would’ve been appreciated for sleeping!

While waiting at the gate, I was sitting next to a guy who was also flying to LA to pick up a car that he bought.

On board, we had free WiFi and I could watch the second half of the Steelers/Eagles preseason game via DirecTV:

We landed at Long Beach Airport (hot!) and took another Uber to Land Rover Encino. LA traffic is insane. We met our super nice sales guy and 18-year Land Rover sales veteran, Bill, who I had been phoning/emailing/texting with for a couple weeks. He showed us the car, let us drive it and handed me off to the finance guy (Shaquille O’Neal look-a-like) while Gay took the hungry kids to lunch next door, then Bill gave us a tour of the car and helped us get it connected to the iPhone apps and to the internet. Our car is on the internet and even has a phone number.

I didn’t have good experiences with most of the salespeople at Seattle Land Rover dealers but I liked Land Rover Encino (the largest Land Rover dealer in the west?). When we upgrade to the Range Rover I’ll come back here and do this trip again.

Frankfurt

We took the train from Cologne to Frankfurt for our last day of the trip. We didn’t get to do much in Frankfurt other than have lunch, do some shopping and get ready to fly out early the next morning.

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Breakfast before leaving to the airport:

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Trip observations & notes:

  • There are generally at most four beer choices in Germany: light (as in color, not in calories), dark, wheat and Pilsner. You almost always have two of those, usually three and rarely all four. Brands don’t matter at all, you order “Helles” (light) or “dunkel” (dark), “Weiss” (white for wheat) or “Pilsner”. There is never two beers with the same style from two different breweries. That is very unlike the US beer market. The US has come a long long way in beer in my lifetime.
  • There is no nuanced technique to beer-pouring — beers are poured roughly down the middle of the glass to release much of the carbonation and create a huge head of foam, often with a top-off pour. Lagers are traditionally carbonated at higher levels than ales but lagers in Germany are not “spritely” like they are in the US — they are almost creamy because they were poured so roughly. At Optimism, we teach the servers to pour beer in one motion down the side of the glass and time it to deliver the “perfect” amount of foam on top for each style. I think I’d like to get even more over-sized mugs for our lagers and pour them German-style with 2 inches of foam on top!
  • “Craft beer” in Germany is disappointing – muddy flavors, poor fermentation and cloudy. I just stopped looking for and ordering them. I don’t understand why they can’t make quality beers given the culture is so beer-centric and their big breweries make very high quality beers. My guess is that anyone who leaves the big breweries to start small breweries never learned the science of brewing, they simply learned the rote practice and it doesn’t translate to anything other than making Pale lagers.
  • Germany and the Czech Republic are averse to credit cards. Cash-only places are all too common. I expected Germany to be far more modern. Do Germans really carry $300 around in cash all the time?! Seems like easy prey for muggings.
  • People don’t care about World Cup soccer as much as I’m led to believe in the US. Lots of bars and restaurants have the games on TV but most people were disinterested. Maybe because Germany fell out of it in Round 1.
  • People smoke too much in Germany and Czech Republic — they rank 32nd and 7th, respectively, on the worldwide smoking list, whereas the US ranks 68th. And they seem to chain smoke, smoking 2-3 cigarettes in an hour of sitting. Coming from Seattle, where it’s unusual to see anyone smoking (mostly hipsters), it’s surprising.
  • Google Maps makes everything so easy and is surprisingly accurate with European travel. But it was wrong a few times with train schedules and bus stops.
  • Apple Maps and the Watch integration was nice for walking. I wish Google Maps didn’t drop their Apple Watch app.
  • The famously no-speed-limit Autobahn has a lot of speed limits. 100 km/h (62mph) and 120 km/h (75mph) seem to be the norm with some short stretches of no limit. Max speed I got to was 172km/h (106mph) and I was going faster than other cars. I don’t think the Autobahn is any faster than US highways but the drivers seem to stay in their lanes more than in the US.
  • It’s harder to watch the Tour de France while in Europe than in the US where the stages can be watched (or recorded) live but all I can find on TV in Germany and France are short broadcasts of the end or just summaries and are on late at night, as in 11pm or later.