1. Byrdman swung by the house around 11:00 or so this morning and we went on a beer drinking scenic tour up the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River. When we closed in on the silver bridge a little past Enaville, Byrdman said, "Let's go on the old road" and so we did. Earlier Byrdman had stated that he wanted to take me to a place I had probably never been to and that I might not know even existed. When we arrived at the turnoff for the Country Lane River Resort, a place up the river I'd heard of, I realized that, in fact, I'd never visited it.
The morning bartender, Donya, was at the entry taking care of something on the door and welcomed us, saying, "Just pretend I came out here to greet you at the door." I said that I would include that in my Yelp review and we all laughed and Byrdman and I got settled on a stool at the bar and Donya joined us. Before long we learned that Donya is an old friend of the Country Lane Resort's new owner, Amy, and, in turn, a friend of the other new owner, Amy's daughter, LE (pronounced EL-ee).
Donya is a fascinating conversationalist. She has deep ancient family roots in Kellogg, grew up in Portland, has lived in Alaska and Utah and back in Portland again, and was eager to talk with Byrdman and me about political matters once she discovered that the three of us have similar views of things. Most of the regulars who come into the Country Lane Resort see the world differently than Donya, but she's learned -- and I've known this for years in North Idaho -- that the snowmobilers, hunters, river dwellers, anglers, trail groomers, and others who come in are funny, great customers, eager to help others, and all around good people, but she enjoyed the relief today of having two guys close to her age to talk with who have similar worldviews.
2. Byrdman and I each ordered a huge and juicy burger for lunch, served with hand cut fries. Donya had to leave to run errands in Wallace and LE took over at the bar. She's in her mid-twenties. She and her mother moved up the river from near Kalispell where they had rejuvenated a motel located on the way to Glacier National Park and, having found out from LE's dad that this resort was for sale, made an offer, and, once it was accepted, they got another rejuvenation project underway at Country Lane Resort.
LE told us about the many of the ideas she and Amy and Donya are trying out at the resort: football happy hours, live music, a Christmas white elephant party, a visit by Santa with gifts like bicycles and other great things for the children who came, sip and paint evenings led by Donya, and a host of other things. LE is eager to improve the bar's beer offerings (currently the bar has no draft beer) and she's getting involved in the Valley Chamber of Commerce, meeting with Fred from Radio Brewing, and doing other things to help improve the resort and to get herself and the business well-known in the area. The resort is open 365 days a year, starting every day with breakfast at 7:30. I was very impressed with LE's energy, enthusiasm, imagination, and eagerness to work hard.
And, she loves North Idaho, referring to it as her "positive bubble". As she put it, "We do all we can to keep things positive here" and Byrdman and I had an awesome time eating lunch and drinking a few beers in LE and Donya's postive bubble.
3. Our original plan had been to drive up to Pritchard and Murray and to go over Dobson Pass and come back to Kellogg via Wallace. But, that plan had not included stopping at, and not wanting to leave, the classic rock music playing at our request, the great food and beer (and I had a shot of Hennessy Black cognac), and the invigorating conversation at the Country Lane River Resort.
Whether it's at the Inland Lounge, Pine Creek Tavern, Pritchard Tavern, Sprag Pole, Corby's, One Shot Charlie's, Joe's Bar, Midway, White Horse Saloon, or anywhere else in Shoshone, Kootenai, Bonner, or Benewah County, riding or driving in beautiful rural North Idaho, soaking in the glorious vistas, stopping at an everyday bar, drinking a few day time beers, eating some solid everyday food, and getting in some solid yakkin' gives me a pleasure that extends back to spending daytime hours in bars from Dick and Floyd's in Kellogg to Dixie's in Tangent, Oregon with Dad (Pert), enjoying a few cool ones and drumming up some excellent conversation.
So, Byrdman and I didn't travel beyond the Country Lane River Resort. We headed back to Kellogg. Byrdman dropped me off at home in time to watch Maryland play Michigan State, a game I'd been looking forward to and hoped might be a tight one. It wasn't. The Spartans were stronger, quicker, and more experienced than the young Terrapins and coasted to 69-54 win. The second game I watched was a nailbiter as Creighton snapped a four game losing skein and topped Georgetown, 91-87.
The River. An honest bar. Delicious food. Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac. Superb yakkin. Splendid college basketball. Pretty good day, I'd say.