Sandpoint, Idaho

One of the great joys of having children is that they grow up and sometimes travel to wonderful places. Naturally, when they do we, the parents like to go and visit. This winter we were fortunate enough to visit Sandpoint, Idaho for a ski vacation to visit Dave’s daughter Melissa, and her boyfriend Adam.

The kids headed west with plans to spend the winter in Sandpoint working at Schweitzer Mountain. This lovely area is in Bonner County and the mountain overlooks Lake Pend Oreille, the largest lake in Idaho.

We flew into Spokane and rented a car for the approximately 90 mile ride to Sandpoint. We elected to stay at the Schweitzer Mountain Resort, rather than commute the 9 miles up and back down the windy mountain pass each day from Sandpoint.

View from our room

Did you notice the lights of the groomer coming over the backside in the upper left?

Schweitzer has an interesting history, (Wikipedia link here), but especially the basis for it’s name. I would encourage you to go to the link and read a bit about the mountain’s history.

The resort area includes several facilities and is known as the village. We roomed at the Selkirk Lodge, which was convenient and very comfortable. They provided a ski room for our equipment, included a complimentary breakfast buffet in the Chimney Rock Grill, had a spa, coffee shop, and movie theater. In addition there was a lovely sitting area near the front desk and a parking garage for our rental vehicle. Oh yes, and did I mention the heated swimming pool and three hot tubs?

View of the village from the trails

Coming from a less than ideal ski season at Burke Mountain, we were ecstatic with the ski conditions at Schweitzer. The temps were mild – in the 30s and 40s at the base and high teens to mid-twenties at the summit. Our first two days we were blessed with several inches of fresh powder. The ski area boasts 2900 acres of skiing, 9 lifts, and 92 trails. Melissa and Adam often mentioned that they were continuing to find new terrain on the mountain regularly. When we chatted with a nice local resident he said that he had been snow-boarding on the mountain since he was seven years old and he still finds new places to ride. I will let some of the pictures speak for themselves:

Notice the building at the top of this last photo. That is called the Skyhouse and we enjoyed a nice lunch there during a respite from skiing and riding.

Of course, all of these pictures were taken on the one absolutely spectacular sunny day. We were thrilled to have been gifted with the big sky day as it allowed us to see all parts of the mountain. On one of the days of skiing we experienced quite a bit of fog, which can be disconcerting ~ all that white on white makes one wonder where exactly they are, and if you don’t know the mountain well it can be a bit intimidating. Another day it snowed quite a lot so the visibility was limited, but as the kids say – it just refreshed the powder skiing all day long.

We awoke early one morning and traveled down the access road a bit to get some shots of the sunrise and it was so worth it.

Lake Pend Oreille

Along the access road there are a number of homes and condominiums, but this was my favorite.

Lake Pend Oreille is amazing. It sits as if in a bowl in the valley, surrounded by mountains. The Selkirk mountains surround the valley on one end.

One of the things I most appreciated about Schweitzer was the diversity of terrain and the expansiveness of the trails. In some of the photos you might have noticed the perfectly groomed corduroy in the foreground. Well, all day long we were able to access that groomed terrain – the corduroy never got fully skied off all day. Often we felt we had the entire mountain to ourselves – there were no lift lines and frequently we saw no other people on the trails.

In addition there were plenty of fresh powder glades to enjoy and even some cliffs to huck yourself off, if that’s your thing.

We are so appreciative of the kids for finding this wonderful area for us to visit and for being such great mountain tour guides throughout the week. In addition, the found some great local restaurants for us to enjoy in Sandpoint.
Thank you Melissa and Adam!

Traveling Europe ~ One City at a Time ~ Rome

Our last stop on the European tour was in Rome. We spent a long day of what I call trains, busses, cabs and trains to get there from Monte Carlo. We began about 7:30 am, by train only a short hop. There we discovered that the tracks into Italy were being repaired so we had to take a cab about 20 miles to Ventimiglio, Italy. No problem – there were a number of cabs ready and willing to take us, though it was much pricier than the train would have been. Once in Ventimiglio we discovered that our next train was not running either and we would have to take a bus to Limone, which is north. It seemed odd to us since Rome was to the south, but evidently going north first was the only way to get our connections to the high speed train. As it turned out, we had to wait about three hours for the bus outside in the cold and damp. Few people in the vicinity seemed to speak any English, so we did our best to ensure we were waiting in the right location, for the right bus.

The bus ride to Limone ended up being the highlight of the day’s travels. We were headed into the Alps and traversed through a number of small villages as we worked our way up the mountainside – often only centimeters between us and other vehicles as we passed one another. We climbed and climbed for about two hours until we came to a one way tunnel, where we had to wait about 20 minutes before we could continue on. Limone ended up being a lovely little ski village, and our train was waiting in the station when we arrived.


The rest room at the station left a great deal to be desired as it was simply a hole in the floor. A bit awkward, but better than no facility at all.

From Limone we began to travel south, with two more stops and train changes before we reached the high speed train in Turin that would take us to our final destination. The train was the first we’d encountered that was packed full, so it wasn’t as enjoyable as most of our other train excursions. We finally arrived at Rome’s Termini station about 10:30 pm where we took a cab to our flat. The flat was perfect and in a fantastic location only about one and a half blocks from the Coliseum.

Our host was delightful and incredibly helpful, and the neighborhood was wonderful. We ate the best food in a couple of local restaurants just minutes from our Air B&B. Ravioli, pizza, tuna and wine ~ lots and lots of wine.

We spent the next two days seeing as many of the sights as possible. We bought tickets through OMNIA, which allowed us to get on and off their busses as often as we wanted, and also allowed us to use the metro whenever. The card also included tickets to the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Coliseum. I will let the photos speak for themselves. Our first stop was the Coliseum:

Then the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica. The main hall was an incredible feast of murals and tapestries. Then we traversed through various rooms with unending works of art before we finally reached the Sistine Chapel, which was a great disappointment. It is not a huge space, and they crowded about 200 people into it, with guards continually shouting “NO PHOTOS.” So, my apologies, but there are no photos of the Sistine Chapel.

My Map Lover

There is no end to the sites in Rome. As we walked along the streets there were ruins amongst the shops and apartments.

There were street performers like this one everywhere:

We visited the Castel Saint ‘Anglo, with amazing views of the Tiber and the city from the top:

Our host arranged for a cab to pick us up on departure day and get us to the airport. It was bittersweet to be leaving ~ we really wanted to see and do so much more, and we will. . .on our next trip to Europe!

Traveling Europe ~ One City at a Time ~ Monte Carlo

It was quite the adventure traveling from Barcelona to Monte Carlo by train over a 12 hour period, but we absolutely knew when we had arrived in Monte Carlo. The train station was fancy schmancy with beautiful lighting and a long marble tunnel. It was kind of amazing as far as train stations go. We had directions that indicated out hotel was only a 5 minute walk from the train station, but after half an hour of up and down the streets of Monte Carlo, we finally figured out the problem. None of the hotels have names on them. I know, weird, right? There must be a city ordinance prohibiting hotel signs because we never saw a one. Finally we walked into what we thought looked like a hotel and asked in the lobby for directions to the Port Palace Hotel. “Oh, it’s right here,” the lovely desk clerk said, as if it should be obvious.. By now it was about 10 pm, so when I said, “Oh thank goodness, we’ve been walking and walking and walking,” she asked how we’d arrived. I said by train, and she informed me that “We’re only a 5 minute walk from the train station. Duh, I thought.
Anyway, we fixed any lingering train-lag when we found our room. We promptly ordered room service – pizza, fries, pasta, and a bottle of wine. That was lovely as was the huge jetted tub in the luxurious bath. We so deserved that!

We had about 36 hours to enjoy the this lovely city in Monaco, so headed out in the morning for the Prince’s Palace. It was a sweet walk up to the palace with amazing views.

Near the Prince’s Palace are amazing gardens, which we walked along on our way to find the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium. The views along the way were stunning.

The Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium was very interesting and one of the nicest aquariums I have ever visited. Here are a few of the highlights of the museum.

With relatively little time in Monte Carlo, that Palace, gardens, and museum adventure kept us busy. The rest of the time we were looking for good food (and found quite a bit), and walked up to the Casino area. Here are a few photos from our night time adventures.

We discussed the idea of visiting Monaco again in the future and when the best time to visit might be. Summer is out for me – too many people (I hate a crowded beach!). I’m thinking spring would be lovely.

Trapeze Yoga Now Being Offered

UPDATE ~ Gentle Yoga