Day Eight: This Blog's Caboose

Last night the Empire Builder dropped us and two other Idaho souls off just before midnight at the Sandpoint station. We walked about 100 yards back to the faithful Best Western Edgewater Hotel, which we left in the middle of the night a couple of days ago.  Despite the strange hours we kept at this accommodation, I don't think they thought we were shady Mr. and Mrs. Smith types.  Indeed, they where most gracious.  We checked out this morning and met the General Manager, Troy Hancock to congratulate and thank him for having a great staff and putting up with our odd comings and goings.  We assured him we were married, and to each other.  Kudos to Troy and his staff, hope we can highlight his hotel at future Boise Chamber Galas.  

After checking out, we walked the Sandpoint City Beach, which is right in front of the hotel, and took in beautiful Lake Pend Oreille and the mountains of the Kaniksu National Forest.  Two days ago we were on the shores of Lake Michigan taking in one of the world's great urban skylines. Today we are on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille and taking in one of the world's great natural skylines in spectacular north Idaho...two majestic American images in one vacation.

We packed up our rental RAM 1500 pick-up, which I now felt comfortable driving, as it was about the size of the train we just got off. Leaving the fine city of Sandpoint behind, we headed to Spokane to catch our 3:00pm flight home to Boise on Southwest Airlines.  Having some time to kill we popped over to the Northern Quest Resort right near the Spokane Airport.  I'm not a big casino fan, but this one is very nice, very clean, very classy, and they have been Boise Chamber partners in the past.  We had lunch at the "Epic" sports bar. There I had the second best Reuben I've had in the Northwest (best would have to be at Bardenay), but pretty amazing, and I'm a snobby Reuben guy. Great lunch stop before you're catching a plane out of GEG.  We both wandered through the non-smoking casino, leaving our obligatory donations to the Kalispell Tribe in this case.  We left for the Spokane airport before losing any serious cash, and boarded WN-2752 for Boise at 3:05 and arrived on time, with bags at BOI.  Troy Teeter and his team at Southwest do a great job, and are valued Chamber members as well.  We then exchanged a box of Chicago Fanny May Mint Meltaways for our dog, and headed home with memories of a wonderful and eclectic American excursion.

Our thanks to all the interesting folks we met along the way, and a special thank you to our friends at Amtrak.  As I mentioned, they donated the train trip to the Boise Chamber Gala, where we aggressively bid on it last October. The money we spent went to a good Boise cause, and we thank Amtrak for their participation.  Specifically, Martin Tijmes and Lisa Van Dyke from Amtrak's western region get our special thanks.  My long tradition of partnership with Amtrak started years ago in the travel industry in DC, and in case they are reading this blog series, thanks to Alan Orchison and David Lim who both kept community partnerships like this going for years.  Thanks Amtrak folks, keep the trains rolling, and lets bring back the Pioneer to Boise!  Also, many thanks to Caroline Merritt who took my daily reports and photos from the road and formatted them into this little series on the Chamber Website.  It was a fun vacation, but as Dorothy said to Toto, and as Anne said to Minne today, "there's no place like home."