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.
An obstacle course set up in the trees is right up my alley. But before we were allowed to adventure in the branches, we were given full harnesses and run through a safety talk showing us how to clip and unclip ourselves. There are two safety ropes for everyone. One is locked and one is unlocked the whole time. In order to unlock from one platform or obstacle you must first lock into the next section. This will unlock your other clip, which you then clip next to the locked one. Might sound confusing, but in reality was quite simple. Everyone is always safe and secure, and it took moments to transfer from one obstacle to the next.
Your ticket purchase allows you two hours of climbing and you can choose from five different courses. Doing as many as you can finish in your time span. We managed to make it through four of the five, missing the last one, which was the most difficult. The hours were spent flying, climbing, sliding, crawling, and jumping. Some obstacles were a snap to finish and others took work or getting tips from those in front of you.
We were disappointed we ran out of time to finish the last one, but quite honestly, we were all tired from the other four. The safety crew on duty told us the last one is difficult and would take a significant amount of time to finish. My husband was bummed we didn’t get to it and was tempted to lengthen our trip just for the purpose of coming back to it the next day. That elusive, last course. The most difficult of them all. I wouldn’t be surprised if we went back one day just for that.
Another perk was encountering other families with kids of all ages. We caught up to a family from England with two little ones. Their father was with them and was one of the most patient people I have ever seen. He would slowly talk his kids through each of the obstacles while he took up the rear. It was amazing to watch these small kids and the pride they had in themselves when they finished their course.
This was an exciting, fun-filled, family adventure. One of those experiences where we worked together as a team, encouraged, and helped each other.
Written by J.L. Haler
Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to fly. Getting my pilot's license was something I dreamed of as a child, flying helicopters and soaring over the treetops like the birds. I don’t have my pilot's license but the thought of flying over the treetops on a zipline brought that same awe and excitement from my childhood forth.
The excitement in all of us was evident in our non-stop smiles as we waited to zoom across mountain peaks and over the treetops. There are different options at Whitefish and we selected the seven zipline option. First, we were fitted with harnesses and helmets. This is where I discovered that, apparently, I have a tiny head as all the adult sized helmets were way too large. I was given a youth helmet. We were then shuffled off to a room to watch a safety video showing us how to carry our equipment as well as the positions to hold our bodies in. Not so exciting, but an important part of the adventure.
Finally, we were off. The guides at the resort were kind, helpful, friendly, and had a great sense of humor. They started us off on a small zipline, low to the ground so everyone could practice their positions and ask any questions if needed. There was some hiking involved in-between zips but nothing too strenuous.
We were in a group with other families so had ample time to strike up conversations with each other as we waited for our turns. We met some wonderful people.
My favorite zip was the fourth one. At 1900’ long and 300’ up it was thrilling. Long enough have a chance to enjoy the view around you and high enough to have the thrill of flight. I finally had my chance to soar through the air like a bird, flying above the earth. And of course, since they sent two at a time, side-by-side, there was a bit of competition to see who could zoom the fastest.
There are requirements for weight, clothing, loose items, etc. So make sure to check out their website for the details.
It starts with a chair lift ride to the top of the mountain. These are always fun to do: sit back, kick your legs, and enjoy the view. Once at the top, you hand an attendant your ticket, load up into a little cart, and take off. The slide itself is a third of a mile long with twists, turns, and bumps. You control your speed with a lever. The five of us took the slide at full throttle. Not nearly as fast as sledding can get but still quite fun. Every one of us finished with a huge smile on our face.
Whitefish Resort offers a discount when you purchase four tickets at a time, so we bought two four packs. We gave the kids the extra tickets, so they were lucky enough to ride a second time each. So, while I didn’t get to zoom down the mountain again, I did get to watch their smiling faces as they pulled into the ending platform.
We would have loved to do the slide several more times, but this was our last day at Whitefish and we had a five-hour drive ahead of us. But I won’t bore you with the time we spend in the car. I will, however, tell you about resort.
I called ahead and, after talking on the phone, got a great rate for renting a condo for three nights as well as paying for the whole family to participate in some of the summer activities.
This was the first time we’d ever rented a condo, and we were shocked at how much we enjoyed it. You can pick what kind of condo you are looking for; ours had two bathrooms, enough comfortable beds for everyone, and an appliance stocked kitchen. This meant it was very easy for us to prepare our own food and save money from eating out. Making our own food is always a nice option for us as we have some food allergy issues to deal with. The condo was also walking distance to the main lobby and stores making it convenient to stop by and grab anything we needed. Every worker we encountered from the lobby to the activities to the shops was kind and helpful.
The views all over the mountain were gorgeous. I mean how can you go wrong staying high in the mountains. The place must be breathtaking in the winter, I can see why it’s a hotspot for the winter holidays.
The one thing we missed out on was hiking the Danny On Trail. We simply ran out of time, but hope to go back to it one day.
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.
Run for 271, 2017
Written by J.L. Haler
This last weekend we went to a run for the second weekend in a row. What made this run special was the massive community event it turned out to be. This was the first time we attended a Run for 271, but its sixth year running and I came away amazed at the community support and fun of the whole thing.
It started at seven in the morning but to be honest with you I can’t tell you what happened that early. Not being a morning person there was no way I was going to make it there by then. We did, however, make it to the 5k by nine. My son, the runner of the family, was participating in this event. So we sent him and all the others off with cheers, then (as bystanders do) prepared to wait.
While my son was off running along the lake the rest of us wandered from booth to booth and explored the area. Held at McEuen Park, the whole east side of the park was set up for the event. There were booths for local police, businesses, and events. One we always love to see is the booth for the Special Olympics in the area. Twenty-five minutes later we met our son at the finish line and proceeded to the Spokane Photo Booths area where we ran through twice getting fun and goofy, memorable photos made of us. Word bubbles, face masks, glasses, and lei’s were just some of the props they had. But you had to be quick. You got three photos with a few seconds in-between to swap out what you were wearing or doing.
At ten they started the kids obstacle course events. Ranging from 2-10, the kids were sent out in waves, running under parachutes, weaving through orange cones, jumping up and over hurdles, climbing mats, and in general having a great time. Spectators cheered and rang cowbells to encourage everyone just as they did with the 5k runners.
For all the little ones they had face painting, princesses walking around, bounce houses, a giant inflated slide, etc.
We decided at this point to sneak off and get some lunch at Sweet Lou’s. Having filled our bellies on salads, fries, and burgers we headed back to the event for the finale, the raffle. The whole time during the event you could purchase raffle tickets and place your stubs in one of the variety of prizes you would like to win.
My daughter walked away with some CDA Vikings swag (do people still say swag?), we didn’t win the rafting trip we wanted, and our neighbors won the kayak we tried for. 😊 The variety of things to win was great. Around $9000 worth of prizes was donated for the event. So, besides the kayak and rafting trip there were four different bikes, artwork, clothing, wine and dinner baskets, NIC swag (I’m going to stick with it even if it dates me), passes to Silver Mountain, family memberships to the Kroc Center, the list goes on and on.
What was amazing about this whole event was the fact that all of the proceeds, that’s 100%, went to support the CDA Elementary Schools. My son’s entry fee to the race, all of the raffle tickets, all of that money went to support our kids in the area. This money can make such a difference in the lives of our kids. And I found out they raised over $24,000 this year! Woo Hoo!
We will be donating and attending the event from now on. I wish I had known about it sooner. It is well worth it. It does an amazing thing for the community and it was wonderful to see so many people support the local area.
I would like to personally thank all the vendors, donors, participants, volunteers, and anyone else that made this event possible. Thank you for thinking of our kids, our future, and helping to ensure they have what they need to be successful in school.
I have been working on something new and very exciting for CDA Fun. It has been in the process for months now and I am hoping to get it up soon. This other project is the main reason for so few blogs this year. Keep checking back for the new add on. And thanks to all of you who keep checking on the site and use it as it was intended.
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.
Kootenai Falls, MT. (In-between Troy and Libby)
Recently I decided to take the kids out to Kootenai Falls as we had never been there. We grabbed my mom for the trip and headed out. It’s just over a two-hour drive to get there from CDA and thankfully my kids are old enough that we can handle trips like that without too much problem.
The parking for the Falls is right off the highway. It seems more like a rest stop than a place to go to see a waterfall, but it was quite convenient. There is a picnic area and small concessions stand and a couple of bathrooms.
You begin the trail winding through some pretty forest and then crossing a bridge that takes you over some train tracks. Continuing down a couple flights of stairs you walk a short distance until you reach a sign saying Kootenai Falls to the right and Swinging Bridge to the left.
We decided to hit the Falls first and walked the short distance to the falls. And man! What a view! Across the river you could see animal trails on the mountains but the falls took my breath away. Because of the layered rock under the water there are many little mini falls which then fall into several large falls where the river divides and flows around other islands in the water. My kids found a tree to climb and we snapped a ton of photos of the water. With the varying levels of rock, it is a place that would be worth seeing at different times of the year.
We walked down a small trail near the water, the small trail is doable but filled with loose shards of rock so you want to watch your step and be careful with little ones. Climbing up a bit we found ourselves at the top of the falls and got to play in the water a bit. Mostly we dipped our feet in. There are some nice shallows but also some swift moving water so it’s important to watch where you are playing.
After playing at the falls we headed for the swinging bridge. This was about a third of a mile from the sign and was a lot of fun. You have to be patient as only five people are allowed on the bridge at one time and is really only wide enough for one. Each side must take turns crossing. But eventually we made our way across the river and found a nice small beach to rest at. It was so relaxing there. We played in the water a bit and listened to the river flowing past. We found some cool rocks and again played in the water. After we were done messing around we went back to the trail. You can continue on the trail to meet up with some other hikes but we headed back to the car. Of course, on the way we climbed more rocks, ledges and trees.
Once back at the rest site we stopped to eat the picnic lunch we had packed. There are some nice picnic tables to eat at and we picked the one that had a carved wooden bear sitting at it. All because my daughter loves bears. :) The concession stand has water and snacks but most of the snacks are sugary and would be considered junk food. After eating hopped back in the car an headed back to CDA. If you haven’t been out to Kootenai Falls, it is well worth the drive.
Overall, we had a fabulous time in the Snoqualmie area and would love to go back someday. There were so many recommended trails we didn’t get a chance to try. And we got to bring out our dorky side a bit. All over there were safety signs for slippery surfaces, falling off mountains, climbing dangerous areas, etc. So the kids and I stood in front of the signs and made the same body shapes as the signs while my hubby snapped a photo. It takes a little bit of time and work to coordinate all of us to look as if we are falling off a mountain, slipping on ice, or getting squished in an automatic gate, but it is doable as long as you are willing to ignore the askance looks directed your way. :)
If you are curious about the hikes we did check out my blogs from the last several months or click on the Washington link on the side.
I love spending time with my family doing all the wonderful activities in the Inland Northwest.