A person or group of people, unknown to me, knits warm hats in a variety of colors and sizes for those in need. Lovingly placed in plastic to keep them dry and hung from a railing. The insert inside is slightly different every year, but the message is the same. If you have a need, take one.
While the amount of time and money that went into the creation of these is measurable, the amount of care and love are not. Someone or many people took a skill they have, a hobby, a passion, an ability, and used it to make the world a better place for people unknown. The creators will have no idea whom their hats will go to just that someone in need of warmth will no longer need to worry quite as much.
This act is a support of those in need, a support of their community, and a message to all of us. Share kindness wherever you can.
I would like to give a heartfelt thank you to the creator/s of these gifts. Thank you for caring, thank you for helping, thank you for being kind, and thank you for being an example of how an act of compassion can make a big difference.
By J.L. Haler
Music, dancing, kids laughing, bouncy castles, ice cream, photo booths, costumed runners, and the sun shining. Who could ask for a better day? This was the second year my son ran in the Monster Mash Dash for Specialized Needs Recreation.
I've said it before, but the running community in this area is a wonderful group. I have never seen anything but support, encouragement, and fun had by the participants, volunteers, and spectators. My son is the runner of the family, it seems to be his stress release. And not just a short jaunt, he prefers long distance running. So we tend to hit all the fun runs in the area. The rest of us are happy spectators. One thing to remember about the fun runs in the area is that they don't have to be runs. Often there are fun walkers. And sometimes fun dancers.
The runs are all amazing in different ways, but the Monster Mash Dash is one of my favorites. The proceeds from the race go to Specialized Needs Recreation, a non-profit that offers recreational activities for kids and adults with developmental and physical disabilities. Team Hoyt CDA, a non-profit, was there as well. Runners pushed racing wheelchairs filled with joyful men and women. Everyone thrilled to participate.
And what makes this a blast to watch is the costumes roaming around. Last year we saw two fully suited Storm Troopers, weapons playing the classic Storm Trooper music (upper pic.), and this year I watched a T-Rex cross the finish line (Lower pic. my son, not the T-Rex. Confusing, I know.). You have to love a race that leaves everyone with smiles and laughter. And there's no way to spend a better day than helping others.
What makes this one of my favorite races is the sheer joy emanating from everyone. If you get a chance to next year, make sure to check out the Monster Mash Dash. I guarantee you won't be able to leave without a smile on your face.
P.S. Did you notice the drastic attire difference from last year to this year? Just an example of what it means to live in the great Inland Northwest. Never count on a certain temperature!
April 23, 2018
Written by J.L. Haler
It’s that time of year again. The weather is warming up, then cooling, then hot, then snowing. Flowers are blooming, and the Spring Dash is on. It’s spring in North Idaho!
United Way of North Idaho hosts the Spring Dash fun run/walk. This is a five miler instead of the usual 5K.
It was a bright and sunny morning down at McEuen. But a biting cold wind was blowing in off the lake giving that wonderful mixture of confusing weather we get here. Great for the athletes to keep them cool but made it chilly for us bystanders. This was our third Spring Dash. My son is the runner of the family and since he did his first fun run, at ten years of age three years ago, he does most of the local runs. He can’t get enough of them.
The sun shone down on us all, kids were playing at the park, athletes were warming up, people were milling around chatting, and others were running to the bathroom lines (no one wants to need a bathroom break in the middle of a run. :) ). The atmosphere was positive and fun. Many walkers and runners dress up in outfits for the fun runs and those are always a blast to look at. I love seeing the costumes people come up with.
We had a first this year. We got all the way down to McEuen, parked the car, and then realized my son had left his race bib at home. But the race volunteers were great. They got him all set up with a new bib number minutes before the race was to begin.
My family did our usual cheers as the participants set off on their adventure and then we wandered around for a bit until the first runners started coming in. We love to stand on the sidelines and cheer for everyone and whether it is a big or small accomplishment for them we like to give encouragement. So we shouted, cheered, clapped, and generally had a great time. It was a great day to be outside.
I know I’ve said it before, but I feel I need to say it again. The fun runs in this area are such a positive, encouraging, enjoyable activity to participate in. I love watching our community pull together for a great cause.
So, if you are interested in walking or running the Spring Dash next year or if you want to find ways to volunteer or help the community, check out United Way of North Idaho’s Website.
Written by J.L. Haler
April 14, 2018
The constant stream of rain didn’t deter the participants of the Walk for Autism by Panhandle Autism Society.
A loving and supportive atmosphere greeted us as we walked to the start in McEuen Park. One of my favorite aspects of runs/walks in the area is the sense of community, support, and encouragement. This is something I have discovered more as my son participates in local races.
Children were bouncing in bouncy castles, getting their faces painted, and drawing at an art table. There were raffle prizes, items for purchase, and smiling volunteers all around. When I asked a volunteer what to do to donate, she laughed and replied, “We’ll take it!”
The walk started with some participants taking off in a dash and the rest following at their own paces. Standing in the pavilion and seeing a long line of people gathered together for a good cause and in support of those who may need extra help was a wonderful sight to see. Some participants were lucky enough to find hidden puzzle pieces along the path that earned them extra rewards.
When we left, the rain was still falling, and the moods were still lifted. Happy children, money for a good cause, and smiling faces all around make a good start for any day.
If you, or anyone you know, needs information/support on autism please go to the website and check it out. Panhandle Autism Society
Want to donate? You can earn them money with your smile.amazon purchases as well as link your Fred Meyer reward card.
Want to volunteer or become a member? Again, check out their site. Panhandle Autism Society
Want to participate in a half mile walk to help those who need it? Check out their Walk for Autism next year.
August 27, 2017
Written by J.L. Haler
This weekend we went down to Ironman CDA. Now, I know Ironman can be a hot topic for many. Some people love it, some hate it. There are those that don’t really have an opinion either way but those are not the ones you hear speaking up. I always considered it like other events in town. I know it’s going to happen and on what days, so I just plan my driving and errands for those days around it. No big deal.
Those who know me know I love being outdoors, but I prefer the forest to the crowded cities. However, as this was the last full Ironman in CDA and we knew a couple of people participating in it we wanted to watch it happen. We observed something amazing: one of those things that is difficult to describe unless you witness it. But I will make an attempt to give you a glimpse, an inkling of what we experienced.
On the sidelines: community volunteers cheering, encouraging, and offering aid when needed. Spectators applauding for those they knew and didn’t know. It didn’t matter the age, gender, or race. Shouts were yelled, bells were rung, and signs were waved. Some signs personalized; others more general and made to make you laugh. We watched spouses checking in on loved ones and we watched kids running alongside their parents for short distances. It was a family event. One beautiful moment that made us smile was a couple of kids whose mother and father were in the race. They ran beside the dad, then when the mom came a bit later ran with her and encouraged her to pass their dad.
During the day we saw people pushing for a goal, striving even though it was tough, hot, and they felt sick. We heard talk of stomach aches and vomiting. Not complaints, just talk of it. It didn’t matter that they felt like crap, they were persevering despite this. We saw athletes with taped up body parts to alleviate aches and pains, we saw them adjusting clothing to cool down from the 90+ degree day. We watched people walk when they couldn’t run any more but continue to take step after step getting a bit closer to their goal. We saw athletes in the zone, tuned out to everything around them, and we saw athletes smile in joy at those on the sidelines cheering them on. We saw athletes pulled from the race because, while their minds continued, their bodies couldn’t do it anymore. Others finished and then limped away, or went to medical tents. And I saw a man who wouldn’t cross the finish line until he paused on the sidelines to give his daughter, wife, and family a hug and kiss for their support.
We were thanked by finished athletes for being there, for cheering them on, and told what an inspiration it is and how much it makes a difference.
What we saw was something I love to see in this world. We saw the fight to continue despite difficulties. The drive to do something you love, to strive for and complete a goal. We saw love, compassion, and encouragement to all involved. We saw nothing but positivity, joy/happiness, and a community working together.
You may be happy to see Ironman CDA go, you may be sad, or you may not have an opinion. All I will say is farewell, Ironman CDA, thanks for the great day and thanks for showing me the wonderfulness that can happen in this world when you pursue a goal with passion and when people put differences aside to pull together in support of others. It was an inspiration.
March 6, 2017
Written by J. L. Haler
Holy Smokes! We had the best time the last two weekends. We kept hearing about Panic Room and thought it sounded like a blast. Panic Room is a business that creates escape games. For those who don’t know what that is, an escape game is where you are locked in a room for an hour. You have that one hour to solve all the puzzles in the room to find the key to unlock the door and escape. There are a variety of types of puzzles to make it enjoyable for everyone. As much as I would love to tell you about all the awesome, creative, enjoyable puzzles and clues, I will not. It’s not fair to reveal the activities in the room to others. It would ruin all of the hard work the owners put into creating the rooms and it would ruin the fun for anyone wanting to participate in the activity. But let’s just leave it with, pick any slang word from any generation you want: awesome, cool, the cat’s pajamas, the bee’s knees, groovy, fly, gnarly, wicked, sweet, rad, nifty, etc. It’s that.
At present, they have two options available, Pirates Lair and Eye Spy. They are currently building another area that will be a race/competition room. Two groups in two identical rooms compete to see who can solve the puzzles first.
Arrr, Matey. First weekend’s choice be the Pirate’s Lair. It do be a quest to find the missing pirate. Ok, I can only pirate talk for so long. Apparently, a few sentences is my limit. I don’t do well on National Talk Like a Pirate Day. Oh well.
We met the owners who are very nice, signed a waiver, watched a short video, locked our personals in a chest, and then they walked us to the room. Once inside they start your countdown clock and lock you in. So make sure you pee first. :) We started solving puzzles. Woo! We had a blast working as a team. They have an emergency key near the door in case there is a reason you need to get out, as well as they watch you on camera the whole time and keep track of which puzzles you have solved and which you still need to figure out. They have cards you can use if you are stuck and would like a clue for help. You just hold it up to the camera. It gets intense as you watch the clock count down every time you find yourself stuck. Sadly, we did not get out in time on this one. We were close, just not fast enough. At the end, they bring you out and you get to pose with props and signs for a picture they put up on their Facebook page.
Put on your fedora and trench coat. The second weekend we became sleuths determined to find a missing detective. We again, locked up personals, signed a waiver, watched a video, used the bathroom, and then got locked in a private eye’s office. Just like in the old Hall and Oates song Private Eyes, the owners are watching you and see your every move (I just made myself laugh there. I’m a dork. I know). Again, if you need help you can choose to hold up a clue card. We redeemed ourselves this time with a win! WOOOOOO! We were extremely excited to pull this one off as it is deemed more difficult than the Pirate’s Lair. We stood for our win photo and celebrated.
The games are meant to be for 13 years and older but our son, who is 12, went and did a great job. He solved puzzles others couldn’t. The Pirate’s Lair can be adapted if you let them know in advance for kids 10-13 years old. The rooms hold six people. If you go as a group of two there is a chance others can book the same time. Since we had five of us each time no one else joined us in the room.
Overall, Panic Room is worth trying and checking out if you enjoy puzzles. We had so much fun, we were wishing they had more rooms to do. We are looking forward to the race rooms being finished and we are going to keep an eye on the place in case they change the rooms so we can go again.
My son has a love of running. He is still in elementary school and last December ran his very first 5k at the Reindeer Run. This was in McQuen Field in downtown CDA. It was an ok day for running in the middle of December. Of course, it was cold and during the race it started to rain pretty hard. But my kiddo had a huge smile on his face as he crossed the finish line at the 27 minute mark. It was so exciting to see him achieve this accomplishment. The Reindeer Run is hosted by Fleet Feet. I can't say enough good things about this store. They made sure he was in the correct shoes for his size and the way he runs and they had staff posted around the entire race so my son knew there was no way to get lost. Runners definitely make this a fun run. People were dressed as Santa, reindeer, elves, some wore tutus, just about anything you can imagine. We had a blast watching the race. Although, by the end we were all frozen and sopping wet.
One of the very first things he asked me when he finished was if there were any more fun runs in the area. Which leads us to the end of February and the Leprechaun Scurry. For this race runners were in green and towards the finish line they had a band playing Celtic music. The Leprechaun Scurry was hosted by Fleet Feet and Lake City High School. The entry fee was a fundraiser for the track program. This day was a bit better for running although, there was a biting wind that we kept trying to avoid by hiding behind things. Dressed in his running clothes and shamrock hat my son set off with a grin. Since this was a two loop course we got to wave when he came by again, then we hurried off to where the finish line was. Once more he finished the 3 miles at the 27 minute mark with a grin on his face. I think it's safe to say we have a a life-long runner on our hands. The Leprechaun Scurry race kept track of ages and order of finishing. My kiddo came in second place for his age group and won a medal. A great way to end the morning.
Boardwalk, Downtown, CDA
Written by Jennifer Haler
March 10, 2014
This last weekend we didn’t have much time to get out, unfortunately, so we decided to go someplace close. We just wanted to get outside but didn’t have time to drive any long distances.
It was raining a bit but that didn’t bother us so we headed out first to the dike road. We drove along and got out at a spot we like; walking around for a little while. My kids love to climb the trees here so we let them do it for a few moments. Of course, while they were doing this I noticed that one of my daughters was wearing her brand new jeans. I have been telling her for the last month to stop wearing her holey jeans to school. I pointed it out to her and she just smiled at me. Kind of an “oops” grin and said, “You told me not to wear my holey jeans anymore.”
Oh well. :) Jeans are made for getting dirty and used I guess.
Then this same kiddo (who was wearing her good jeans) asked if we could go to the steps since we had not been there in a while. We hopped in the car, parked a bit closer, and played on the steps at City Beach. There was a group nearby doing a plunge into the cold water; we watched them for a few minutes, enjoying their cheers. Each one was brave enough to jump in!
Meanwhile my husband was bargaining with my kids and making bets. If they step down to a certain step where their feet will get wet he will give them $2.00. Go one step lower where legs get wet and they would get $5.00. Plunge all the way in and he would give them 20 bucks. I told the kids they should hold out for more. It was hilarious to listen to them counter his offers with everyone trying to outsmart each other. It would have been hilarious if they had done it but no one plunged in. Thankfully so, because then we would have had to go home right away and instead we got to head to the boardwalk. Look at that, I finally managed to get to the point of the blog.
Next up, we decided to walk around the boardwalk (see). We hadn’t been on it in long time and thought it would be fun. Currently the boardwalk is being worked on so parts are blocked off. But in general the boardwalk can be a very nice walk.
It is level with just a few spots where you are walking up or down ramps. There is a small circular set of steps to take you over an arched walkway and then another set of steps down on the other side. The arch is there to let the boats in and out of the water and docks.
While walking along you can get some beautiful views of the lake and Tubbs Hill. In the warmer weather you can see parasails and the sea planes taking off and landing.
The part currently being worked on is the seating area. This spot usually has several benches and tables making a nice place to stop for a view or eat a meal. The boardwalk is also part of the Mudgy and Millie Trail.
One thing that has bothered me a bit about the boardwalk through the last several years is the adding on of docking areas right on the side of the boardwalk. So now in the summer months one whole side is filled with boats. I feel it takes away from the experience a bit. Thankfully they have left the other side open.
In general the boardwalk is a nice, short walk with some pretty views and it is really close to many restaurants and stores in the downtown area.
Sledding Cherry Hill
Written by Jennifer Haler
February 2, 2014
Recently we had Super Bowl Sunday. Often this day is full of friends and family gathering, plenty of food and much celebration. However, in my family we do not watch the Super Bowl. So Super Bowl Sunday creates a perfect time to have a family tradition all on our own.
We love to be active and we love to do things together as a family. So our Super Bowl tradition is to spend it together, preferably outside. We have done hikes the last two years. This year though, we have some great snow. It is a wonderful opportunity to explore. Everywhere is almost empty since others are inside.
Since we have not had the opportunity to sled yet this year, and we did not do it last year, this was a great chance to enjoy ourselves with the thrill of snowing flying in our faces.
We headed off to Cherry Hill. Cherry Hill has been around for a long time and more recently has become extremely family oriented with a new Fireman’s Park, Dog Park, BMX area, Frisbee golf course, and of course the original sledding hill. The BMX trails are perfect for little ones to sled down.
Central to much of town, many activities to do, easy to find restrooms close by, and of course if there is an accident it is always nice to know the firemen are there. It makes it a nice place to go to.
We parked and right away noticed a nice change that came about since our previous years sledding. The hay bales placed at the bottom of the hill. Many times we have witnessed kids flying down the hill into the parking lot. One of our kiddos did it and it is a terribly helpless feeling being at the top of the hill knowing that your child is flying into an area where cars drive. They can’t stop themselves very well and all you can do is run down the hill as fast as you can to check on them. The hay bales prevent this and make it much safer for all.
We trekked up the side of the hill to find a good location to sled from. I always tell my kids to do that for safety reasons. Whenever I see kids walking up the center it freaks me out. It is just so easy to have an accident. In fact, we witnessed multiple collisions from kids hanging out on the middle of the hill and others sliding down at them.
Once to the top we all took our turns sledding down the hill. Sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs. The wind whipped by, the snow stung out faces, and we felt exhilarated flying down. I think every single time I went I ended up grinning like a goofball the whole way down and then laughing in enjoyment when done. We made at least a dozen runs up and down the hill and would have stayed longer except it was beginning to get dark and the kiddos needed dinner.
I love those special moments with my family. Everyone was having fun, we were getting exercise and fresh air. And it is a proud moment when you watch the kids begin to take the risk of going down all on their own. My kids are all older now and for the most part go on their own, but thankfully they are willing to let me go down with them on occasion.
I would recommend Cherry Hill for a sledding hill for sure and a great place to check out during the other seasons.
Written by Jennifer Haler
December 9, 2013
One of the lake cruises put on every year downtown is the Journey to the North Pole. We have been on this on several occasions and always have a great time.
The above website will give you the cruise days, times, pricing, and allow you to purchase tickets.
You begin by lining up near the boardwalk to wait for your ship. When it is your turn you get to board, being greeted by elves who chat and check in with the children and adults. You can find a comfy spot to sit inside or venture outside along the rails or up top. It is often freezing once the boat gets moving as you get blasted by the wind but can also give some amazing views.
While riding toward the North Pole you can view the lights on the boardwalk and enjoy some treats with cocoa that can be purchased at their little stand. We have always bought something warm to drink and a special goody to eat while listening to the Christmas music.
Once you arrive at the North Pole you get to see a spectacular array of lights. All of the families rush outside to see Santa. Santa talks with the kids and then lists off every child’s name that is on the boat. The kids absolutely love to hear Santa saying their name. One year we went on my son’s birthday. Not only did Santa say Merry Christmas to him but he told him Happy Birthday. He was thrilled, thinking it was the coolest thing ever.
Too quickly it is time to leave the North Pole and journey back to CDA. This is a good time to get warmed inside finishing your cocoa or you can stay outside enjoying the lights all over again. On the return visit one year we spied The Grinch on the boardwalk yelling at the passing boat.
This is a wonderful way to add some excitement into the kids’ lives and a great way to enjoy some time together as a family. This cruise is designed with kids in mind and as a parent it is pure joy to see the excitement on their faces when Santa says their names.
I would highly recommend this trip for anyone.
I love spending time with my family doing all the wonderful activities in the Inland Northwest.