Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 6: Coeur d'Alene to Fairmont Resort

273 miles

Our drive from Coeur d'Alene was interesting and scenic most of the way. One last look at Lake Coeur d'Alene and then we encountered the Bitterroot mountains which are very steep and heavily forested. For a break, we stopped at Lookout Pass (4724 feet). We used the rest rooms at the ski resort and set our watches ahead one hour to Montana time. In the summer, the ski resort at Lookout Pass rents mountain bikes for riding the Hiawatha bike trail. It goes 13 miles downhill (into Idaho) on the route of an old railroad line. At the bottom a shuttle bus brings you and your bike back to the top. It looked to be great fun.

After lunch in St. Regis, MT, we got back on the I-90 Freeway which now followed the route of the Clark Fork of the Columbia River all the way to its source. The scene was green valleys and logged over mountains. We made many crossings over the river.

From a rest stop near Anaconda, MT we could see off in the distance a very tall brick smokestack. It is all that remains of the Anaconda copper smelter that once was the economic engine of the area. In the summer of 1955, Dan and his buddy Harvey tried to get jobs at that smelter. They would hire 18 year old Harvey, but Dan at age 17 was too young, so they got back in Harv's 1948 Ford and drove to Great Falls. We got back in our 2012 Chrysler Town and Country and drove the short distance to Fairmont.

One of the great treats you can give yourself in this life is a night at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. They have every sort of recreational option from golf to video games, but the attraction for me is two Olympic-size, heated swimming pools, one indoors and one out.

The Indoor Pool

The Outdoor Pool
You can't beat the feeling of walking straight into a huge pool without any temperature shock. I had the whole deep end of the indoor pool to myself, about 4 times the size of a normal hotel pool. The outdoor pool is more lively because it has a twisting and turning water slide. It was fun to watch the kids playing, and the mountains in the distance were pretty, but I preferred the lazy dark calm of the interior.

While I was swimming I enjoyed noticing how the pool building had been upgraded. The last time we were here, it was functional green and echoed shrilly. This year the walls and columns have been tiled in tasteful shades of brown and tan, and the cathedral ceiling has been painted a pale color and decorated with hanging sound baffles in contrasting colors.