In a couple weeks I’ll be heading out on a long road trip. As I prepare to launch myself toward parts unknown I’ve become aware of just how good I have it in the home territories with regard to landscape and the natural world. My old stomping ground has, unfortunately, one fatal flaw: winter. It’s long and brutal here. We’re through the worst of it now that it’s the end of February but it’s not over yet. There’s no clear sailing in the Spring department until mid-April here. My departure is set for mid-March and can be characterized in one simple phrase: running away.
I’m heading south for a couple months to get a jump on Spring, maybe even find a spot of summer before June comes along. I have the itinerary carefully planned out to see all kinds of things I’ve never seen before — the coastal redwoods, the sequoias in the Sierra Nevada, the Pacific coast near Big Sur, and the list goes on and on. But as I’ve done my research in the planning process the thought has come to me repeatedly that I’m spoiled for landscape here in my own back yard. I’ve driven over to Sandpoint for shopping a few times the past month on days that were cold but sunny and the landscape is simply stupendous. I never tire of the drive along the Pend Oreille River and once in Sandpoint the combination of the mountains and Lake Pend Oreille creates a physical environment that requires superlatives at any time of year, if the truth be told. So in this post I’m setting the record straight, for myself as well as for you the reader, about just how beautiful it is here in my neck of the woods. I really don’t think the grass will be greener in any place I see during my travels over the next couple months — it will just be warmer. That’s the lure of the South for me, temps that make a walk outside a pleasure rather than something one steels oneself against.
But the landscape here is hard to beat. That’s what this post is all about. I know when I’m on the road seeing new things that I’ll be delighted, but I also know that I’ll have in the back of my mind the spectacular landscapes of the home patch. Comparison is not the name of the game — we’re not in the business of doing a Miss Landscape America pageant. But there are certain landscapes that impress on so many levels they induce peak experiences and impress themselves indelibly on the memory. The landscapes of Lake Pend Oreille around Sandpoint definitely fit into that category. But don’t take my word for it, that’s what the pics are for. 🙂
The pics I have are from a day trip last year when I set out to tour and see the sights. It was mid-May, so still a bit nippy up in the high mountains. The day itself was on the cusp between Spring and Summer, as days in mid-May can be. Things were leafed out and some flowers were already in bloom, so I decided to take my chances and see what I could see.
Sandpoint has changed signficantly from what it was when I was young. In the 70’s it got on the artsy-fartsy bandwagon, albeit with a hippie take, not a chi-chi one. A few restaurants opened serving lentil soup in earthenware bowls purveyed by waiters with long hair named Brent or some such thing and everybody thought it was too cool for words. There’s a ski place on Schweitzer Mountain just outside town so that business brought its own caché to the proceedings. Over the years Sandpoint has transformed into a full-on boutique town, like a piece of Northwest Portland transferred to the boondocks. There’s a Starbucks, there a farmer’s market on the weekends, there are ethnic restaurants, there’s a boat tour launching from the city marina, and there are summertime concerts in the park. Things have gone considerably upscale from the down-and-out logging town I remember from my youth. The pics will be proof of that pudding: