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Content in Coeur D' Alene

A 1,500-mile drive in three days is rewarded with breathtaking scenery

Posted: July 4, 2009 6:25 p.m.
Updated: July 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Michelle Sathe and Loren pose in front of Lake Coeur D' Alene in Idaho. The duo had traveled almost 1,500 miles in three days before stopping in the tranquil town for two nights of relaxation.

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Editor's note: Signal features writer Michelle Sathe will be taking a seven-week sabbatical to promote homeless dog adoptions. She is taking a rescued pit bull, Loren, along with her as a companion and mascot during the cross-country trip. The Signal will be following Sathe's and Loren's trip every Sunday with a column of their latest adventures on the road.

Driving almost 1,500 miles in three days through Wisconsin, North Dakota and Montana wore me out. A rash that I determined to be an allergy - which required Benadryl - made me even more exhausted.

I had planned on staying at a budget motel off the freeway in Coeur D' Alene, Idaho, but once I got a view of Lake Coeur D' Alene, I thought, no way. If you're here, you've got to do it right.

So I drove along the east side, praying to find a cute little lakeview hotel for under $100 a night, a place where we could just sit and look at the water.

The Bennett Bay Inn appeared just a few miles up the road. I pulled over and not only were they pet friendly, they had a room for us. It was $85 with a whirlpool bath. Each room was decorated in a different theme, kind of like a mini-Madonna Inn. Ours was "The Roman Room" with faux plaster walls, tiny Grecian statues and plastic vines in every corner. The whirlpool had pillars. It had a fantastic view of the lake. It was perfect.

Before passing out for a long nap, we went to O'Shay's, a quaint little pub and restaurant with a patio just before the entrance to town.

Our waitress, Sarah, was afraid of pit bulls as she had been bitten by a pit bull when she was 20.

It was her brother's dog, or something like that, and it was old, blind, and not familiar with her. When she came in the front yard, he jumped up and bit her in the hand, requiring several stitches.

"I don't blame you for being scared," I told her. "But Loren would never hurt a person, unless they were trying to hurt me."

Sarah still kept her distance, though she was kind enough to bring Loren some water and provided me with great service. What can you say to someone who had that experience? I don't know if I could be swayed to believe any differently than she did, either. You have to respect everyone's boundaries.

In the evening, Loren and I sat on the patio and watched the sun turn the lake a shimmering silver before disappearing.

The Bennett Bay Inn had several Adirondack style chairs and benches for us to lounge on and we had the place to ourselves.

Though I originally thought Asheville would be my top town in the United States to live after this trip, I think it has been replaced by Coeur D' Alene.

What a gorgeous place.

The next morning, we got up bright and early, taking a long walk along the paved bike path that encircles miles of the lake, which is the site for the Ironman Triathlon.

The docks groaned in the water like beseeched animals at times, making Loren cock her head. She sniffed and even jogged a little bit, looking up in fascination as a women with a big blonde fro of permed hair skated by us or when bikers would whiz by from behind.

Then we headed out for the 37-mile or so scenic drive. I had stopped by Java on Sherman first for provisions - a bagel with lox and cream cheese, a massive blueberry scone, and an Arnold Palmer.

The drive was amazing, offering a view of the incredible bridge that perched above the lake, as well as some dazzling waterfront properties and the many boats docked alongside them.

Mountains and water - there is no better combo for beauty and harmony, in my opinion.

The two-hour round trip had me worn out, so we took a three-hour nap. This time Loren snuggled up against me. We awoke around 4 p.m., so we went for another walk before going back to O'Shay's for a dinner of shepherd's pie and salad.

The pie was delicious, a huge slab of rustic mashed potatoes, vegetables and savory ground beef smothered with a rich brown gravy.

It comforted my soul. I got Loren a cut up grilled chicken breast, so she was pretty pleased, too.

For dessert, I had spotted a homemade ice cream stand called Michael's, so I pulled up for a vanilla scoop for Loren and a cookies and cream with hot fudge for me, which we polished off in the car before heading back to our place.

The night ended with us in the Adirondack bench, Loren laying by my feet as I read, before we retired to watch "Wipeout" and crash.
She really is the perfect traveling companion.

Never a complaint.

Okay, so she's occasionally stubborn about where she wants to walk and it can be annoying waiting for her to go (already), but other than that, Loren's been the best.

It feels good to be back in the Pacific time zone, heading home.

We made it 335 miles to Mukilteo, Wash. where we are staying with my good friends Michelle and Randy, as well as her mom, Vicky.

They made us a dinner of fresh clam chowder and made us a home in their RV, which we'll also be staying in over the weekend at Deception Pass - on Whidbey Island. My parents are meeting us there tomorrow night.

Yeah! Family, friends, nature, and good food.

It doesn't get any better than this.

To follow Loren and Sathe on the trip visit the road blog at www.dogdaysbook.com.

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