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!
Written by J.L. Haler
Alright, I already wrote about visiting the town of Leavenworth, but this post is all about my favorite feature of the city. It is such a wonderful place it deserves its own blog.
Right next to the main street in Leavenworth are several parks that run the length of the Wenatchee River; Enchantment Park, Blackbird Island, and Waterfront Park.
You all know that cities are not my thing, I much prefer the great outdoors. These parks kept me sane when I needed a break from the bustle of people and shops. And they were so close by we easily walked to them whenever we wanted. Need to get some steps in on your fitbit? Leavenworth is the town for you. So much walking!
The parks consist of well-maintained trails that meander throughout. Bridges connect the parks and make it easy to walk from one end to the other along the river. There were many spots to stop and play in the water and watch the rafters paddling by. Benches lined trails making an easy spot to stop and rest if needed.
The trails are wide and easy to walk. In the winter time you could easily cross-country ski or snowshoe among the water and pines.
When entering the park, we were greeted with a sign stating a mama bear and cub had been spotted in the area, but we never encountered any. However, we did encounter a mama quail and her babies. I love quail. They never seem to know what they are doing. It’s as if they are confused all the time. As we approached them they just ran back and forth across the path trying to figure out where to go. It was entertaining to watch. Eventually the babies and mama ran into the tall grasses for safety.
We were surprised by the lack of people on the trails. It was nowhere near as busy as we would expect with the city just a block away, but we enjoyed the quiet of the parks and the peace of being in nature.
Another cute feature of the park area was a kids only (15 and under) fishing spot. The pond was stocked with fish that were jumping out of the water. It was filled with ducks sunning themselves and paddling by and I watched a heron come soaring in from up high and drop low as it rounded a corner and swooped in front of me, and the whole time we were there we never spotted another person at the fishing pond. Peaceful and quiet.
I can’t recommend these parks enough. The trails are made for anyone to use and are well-maintained, the parks give you the sense of being in the outdoors but with the city close by, and the wildlife was abundant.
We stopped by the parks every day we were there for some quiet. If you go to Leavenworth make sure to visit the parks.
Written by J.L. Haler
My mom’s favorite location is Glacier National Park. She hasn’t been in over a decade so this year the kids and I decided to take her. We went there several times when I was a kid and it’s where Steve and I spent our honeymoon. There are a multitude of activities in and near Glacier.
Just before you get into Glacier (coming from Kalispell) there are some spots I remember as a kid, the House of Mystery, and The Amazing Fun Center. And some new ones including zip-lining, tree adventures, rock walls and more at Glacier Highline. If we had more time I would have spent a day at the highline doing all their fabulous activities. But we did get to The Amazing Fun Center.
The fun park has a giant maze, bumper boats, mini-golf, go-carts, and bankshot basketball.
I’d been telling the kids all about the maze and how their dad and I did it on our honeymoon. They were excited to give a try and thought it might feel like they were on Survivor. 😊 The maze has wooden walls that you can see under if you want to with a tower in each of the four corners. You are given a card that you stamp as you go in with your starting time. Your goal is to get a stamp at each of the four towers then find your way out. There are several easy ways out and one difficult way out. The Haler puzzle solving gene runs strong in my family so we had to find the difficult way out. My kids just look at me like it’s not even a question. But for those with less competitive streaks or little ones who want to find the exit there are easier ways to get out.
Within the maze are clues on the walls if you would like to look at them but again, my family tends to go all out. So, no clues for us. We wound our way through wooden walls, split apart to find the best routes, and planned our attempts with views from the towers. There is also an attendant on one of the upper levels of the maze that will help you out if needed and a viewing platform for those who want to watch the fun but not participate in the problem solving.
We did find the difficult way out and gladly stamped our end time on our cards. We completed the maze in 55 minutes and that was at a walking pace because it was in the 90’s that day and we were hot, not much shade in the maze. We had a blast watching families split up and compete yelling at each other as they went, kids rushing around and problem-solving, and others getting into the towers and attempting to mark pathways to their next destination.
This is a nice family location to do some activities for all ages. They sell water/soda, and ice cream. But if you are looking for full lunches then there are some restaurants close by. If you want to have your own Survivor experience 😊 or just want to have fun walking in a maze then make sure to check out the Amazing Fun Center.
Written by J.L. Haler
For the first time ever, I found myself in a campground surrounded by fairies and steampunkers. A major change from the usual attire for camping and hiking.
Recently, we had the pleasure of attending the wedding reception of two truly unique and wonderful people. I know all of you are hoping to see a large group of 30, 40, and 50-year olds all dressed in their costumes, and as much fun as that would be, I don’t want to risk their privacy. So, no adult fairies and steampunkers for you. But what I do have... is some great photos of the park this party was in.
The party took over the group campground area of Kanasket-Palmer State Park in Washington. This state park is on the smallish size but still has sizable charm. Along with the group campground the park hosts other camping areas, including yurts for rent, and day use areas. There is a total of 3 miles of trail to hike or mountain bike. We hiked through most of the trails while there and I got my first opportunity to try out my new Peak Design Capture Clip for my camera. Woo Hoo! (And it was awesome! Also, not affiliated with them. Just like my clip.)
The forests in that part of Washington are very different than the forests around here. Much wetter, thicker, greener, and more slugs sharing the trail with you than I have ever seen here in CDA. 😊 So, make sure you watch your footing. Don’t squish the poor little shell-less mollusks. The only time I saw more slugs was the nature trails at Tiger Mountain in the Snoqualmie area. There were so many there we stopped talking just so we could watch our footing.
The trails at Kanasket-Palmer had numerous spots to stop and watch the Green River flowing past. We climbed on rocks, a fallen tree, and dipped our feet in the water. Kayaking and rafting is allowed on the Green River but is for experts only.
If you are looking for a place to gather friends and family or for a small park to set up for the night this is a worthwhile stop. It would be a great place to start for those first trying out camping.
A huge thanks to our friends for making a truly unique weekend of hiking come alive.
P.S. Don’t forget your Discover Pass when going to Washington State Parks. The money from these goes towards maintaining the parks. It is $30 for a year pass and $10 for a day pass. Definitely worth it if you plan on visiting the state parks in Washington.
Written by J.L. Haler
For our anniversary this year my husband picked an awesome hike: Serene Lake and Bridal Veil Falls. It’s just over an hour away from Leavenworth, WA and since we had never been to Leavenworth we decided to stay in town.
Unfortunately, the hike we planned was waylaid due to logging in the area cutting off access as well as my husband healing from a sprained ankle. We did end up finding a shorter hike to do, and I’ll tell you all about it in another blog.
Right now, I am going to tell you all about our stay in the quaint town.
First, Leavenworth is about a 3 ½ hr drive from CDA. Unless you are me and can’t sit still for that long. As I write this I am at my standing desk bouncing side to side on my feet, interspersed with leaving my computer to do a chore around the house……I’m not kidding.
I can sit for half an hour, an hour is pushing it, but can do. And the reason I rarely go to a movie theater is because sitting for an hour and a half to two hours drives me insane. I start getting antsy and then believe it or not my rear starts hurting from sitting too long. So, on trips my wonderful husband gets to listen to me complain that my butt hurts and I need to get up and move so help me watch for signs for a rest stop so I can get out and take a walk. "AAAGGGHHH! I'm going crazy! Where's the next rest stop?!" Lucky for me while Steve is the navigator, I’m the driver which means I can stop whenever I want to. Needless to say, we always add time on to our drive because otherwise I would be bouncing off the inside of the car like a rubber ball by the time we made it to our destination and driving Steve insane to boot.
So, in more than 3 ½ hours we made it to Leavenworth.
Leavenworth is a small town done in the Bavarian style (Bavaria is a state in southeastern Germany). The whole concept of the town was created by the city in the 1960’s. The town did renovations and restyled the businesses. They created festivals and holiday gatherings in an effort to draw people to the once popular town. The idea worked, and Leavenworth is now a big tourist destination. There are huge festivals throughout the year so if you are looking for an Oktoberfest or a winter or spring festival they are a town to check out. Also, of note. They are a fireworks free town during the 4th of July. This could be a great place for those with PTSD.
The town itself is quaint and picturesque. With Christmas lights wrapping most buildings, painted wooden signs marking each store, flowers decorating streets, and horse drawn carriage rides (I love horses). I imagine in the winter the main street is breathtaking. The town is small enough and we had a hotel close enough to the main city center that we walked everywhere. An interesting site were the skydivers in the area. Every day we would look up and see 4 or 5 people slowing floating back to Earth with the Cascades as the backdrop.
Front Street is the area where the majority of the shops and restaurants are. We walked in a shop, Kris Kringl, that has Christmas decorations year-round, similar to Christmas At the Lake in downtown, CDA. However, the one in Leavenworth is a couple of stories. And yes, they did play Christmas music the entire time we were in there. I asked one of the workers about it and was told it plays all year long. It added to the feel of the shop but made me feel bad for the employees. But none of them looked like they were ready to go insane so it was safe to shop. :)
The main strip was nice, but some of my favorite shops were on the side streets of Main and Commerical. There is a nice park area in the center of Front street that had a gentleman singing and playing the accordian several times, and other times was empty except children playing and people stopping to snack on ice cream. The main street is also undergoing some more construction.
One of my favorite things about the town was a goat. The outdoor miniature golf area we walked past everyday keeps a goat. Being the animal nut that I am that was the best part of the walk to the village every day. I’m aware that may seem weird, but I’ve always been more comfortable with animals and in nature than I ever have been in a city. Check out my goat friend in the photos.
The city has too many places to list and depending on what your interests are your favorites may be different than mine. I’ll list some of my favorite places to stop into but don’t let that prevent you from hitting the other stores. There were many restaurants and shops we didn’t make it into or didn’t spend much time in such as a Russian store and a game shop. As, I am not a shopper and have a difficult time staying indoors that much. However, my oldest kiddo is, and the whole time I was there I kept commenting on how much she would love the town and how she needs to visit it one day. I think we wouldn't see her for a week easily. I will also list some areas recommended to us that we did not have an opportunity to hit but did get rave reviews about from others we know who have been there.
Now, I did not partake in any beer or sausages. I have never been able to develop a taste for beer or wine. Give me whiskey or rum and I’m good. So, I can’t give any feedback on the brew choices. But there were countless places to stop and get a cold one. As well as, I am vegetarian so no meat products for me. But, my husband did enjoy the meals he ate. I enjoyed my meals as well and noticed it was not difficult to get vegetarian or gluten free options for those who need it.
Overall, for me. Leavenworth was a cute town. I would like to see it in the winter time, but I don’t have a driving desire to visit again, with the exception of all of the amazing hikes they have around (the hike we did coming up soon in another blog). Again, though, that is because I am an outdoors girl, I’m not a shopper and don’t really enjoy cities. My daughter however, would be able to gladly spend days there roaming the shops. She would thrive in an environment like that, she'd go in and just text me on occasion that she is alright. While I found myself feeling cooped up. There are some nice B&B’s in the area as well. So, it all depends on what you are looking for out of a vacation or trip. Leavenworth was worth seeing at least once. I am glad we went and there is one attraction to the city I haven’t even mentioned yet. It was my favorite part of Leavenworth and I’ll tell you all about it soon. It's what helped keep me sane during the times we shopped.
Stay tuned for some amazing adventures coming up. I have several outings planned for this summer that will have some incredible photos and activities. Until then, keep having fun CDA.
I filled my lungs with some of the freshest air I have breathed in a while. The kind of air you just can’t find in the city. And surprisingly, this air was not deep in the woodland after hours of hiking. It was there the moment I climbed out of my car.
I threw on my pack and headed down the trail, smiling at some cyclists as they rode by in the opposite direction. It was one of those wonderful Idaho spring days where it started out at that perfect temperature for hiking, not too hot and not too cold. Soon enough though, I found myself taking cover under a tree to avoid the downpour of rain. Within a half hour I was sweating from the sun beating down on me. And at the end I barely missed another rain storm. As I said, a perfect spring day in North Idaho.
I walked for a few miles along the trail spotting heron, geese, and ducks before coming across a moose. Deciding to let the pretty lady have the trail to herself, I backed up and returned the direction I came. I passed my car in the lot and continued on the trail in the opposite direction. To this side there were more heron and turtles sunbathing on logs.
The Bull Run Lake Trailhead is part of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s and offers a nice place to have a picnic and to see a variety of wildlife without having to go deep into the forest. The trail is easily accessible. After a short drive from Hwy 3, that includes a one-lane bridge, you arrive at the trailhead. The trail is used by walkers and bikers alike. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail, which adds to the peaceful quality of the area.
The trailhead has limited parking but does have a nice picnic area and a bathroom. So take your bike or grab your pack and enjoy a wonderful day breathing in the clean air, spotting wildlife, and soaking up the beauty of nature.
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.
I love spending time with my family doing all the wonderful activities in the Inland Northwest.