Day Two: SandPoint, Schweitzer, and Sleep

For some odd reason the second day of our vacation adventure started early.  We appeared at the hotel's front desk ready for breakfast, but a very pleasant woman named Jennifer uttered some words to us that we had never heard before on vacation, she said, "You're too early for breakfast."  We are not morning people.  When we hear people say that "mornings are the best part of the day," we agree, we just feel they should be spent in bed, so it was unusual for us to make an appearance at breakfast. Alas, we are in Sandpoint, that odd part of the panhandle that was conquered by the Pacific Time Zone crusaders years ago, our mistake.  So we WAITED for the lovely "Trinity on the Beach" hotel restaurant to open for the morning meal.  To kill time we chatted with Jennifer who we questioned as to the odds of spotting Ben Stein of Hollywood and Washington, DC fame.  I knew Ben had a place somewhere in Sandpoint as he mentioned it repeatedly when he keynoted the Boise Chamber Gala a couple of years ago.  Jennifer shared with us that Ben was a regular at the hotel, and the little restaurant we were to have breakfast in.  Evidently he has a place just a few yards away down the lake.  We never saw Ben, but had a fine start to the day looking over the lake and watching a light snow fall and listening quietly for, "Bueller...Bueller...Bueller," to no avail.

So, today we explore Sandpoint. Off to Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, which is just minutes from downtown Sandpoint, much like Bogus is to downtown Boise.  We have never skied there, but we were blown away by the snow.  6-8 inches of fresh powder on top of a healthy base.  It was a spectacular ski day, sort of a once in a lifetime kind of ski day.  Not to miss if you go, a tiny little bar called "Wang's" which is at the summit, it might fit eight people at the most.  We didn't get past the bouncer, but had to take a picture, classy spot.  Also, don't miss the chili dog at the "Outback" lodge on the backside of the mountain.  We skied hard for about four hours and on the last run, about 50 feet from the base lodge, I managed to catch my snow pant cuff on a binding and launched myself about five feet in the air, both skis flying off going totally ass-over tea-kettle and landing in a Pig Pen-like cloud of snow.  Evidently the sight of a 200 pound, 60-year old man making an ABC Wide World of Sports-type wipe out amused the onlookers from the chairlift above.  Anne said they were "gasping" not laughing.  A concerned ski patrol guy came running up from the lodge in anticipation of my certain death.  But like Truman, news of my demise was premature.  However, that was it for the day on the slopes.

After downing a few aspirin, we went back to explore downtown Sandpoint.  I was impressed with the variety of interesting local retail, lots of rustic type crafts and other neat little shops, who'd have thought?  We also visited several downtown restaurants to see which menu went best with my cracked ribs.  We settled on a little place called the "La Rosa Club."  It was perfect, fireplace, great light food, unique salads and entrees. Try the whiskey-honey glazed French cut chicken or the braised pork shoulder with fried kale, great end to the day. 

So, back to the Best Western for what will be a very short sleep and a wake-up call at 1:00am.  No, we haven't converted to being insanely early morning people, but our big Empire Builder train arrives at the little Sandpoint Amtrak Station (see Anne posing in front earlier today) at the convenient boarding time of 2:35am.  Perhaps we'll run into Ben Stein at the station.  On to day three, and the real purpose of this trip, to take a classic American train trip. "Good Morning America how are you?" -Arlo