The boat moved along at a steady speed. I foolishly wore heels, but the waves beneath us were never so timultuous that I felt like I might stumble. Looking out into the tree-covered hills, I spotted high-end dwellings, which revealed themselves one after the other, tucked among the pine trees, proud but private. The sun, not yet committed to setting, was enjoying it position high in the sky, causing me and the other guests to squint, despite our best efforts at looking refined and professional. The boat cruised by a pack of kayakers—I snapped a photo. I occasionally abandoned my beer to get more good shots of the cloudy sky and the deep blue hue of the water. Sometimes, I would just relax and watch it go by.
I was in Idaho.
More specifically, I was on a boat cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene, the main attraction for the small town also named Couer d’Alene, a peaceful but fascinating place just 30 miles east of Spokane, Washington.
How did I end up on a boat in Idaho on Lake Coeur d’Alene? Work. The organization I work for put on a conference in the area, and instead of the traditional white-tablecloth banquet, we opted for something more scenic. And mobile.
I’ll be honest—I had never heard of Coeur d’Alene—the town or the lake. My introduction came in the form of my boss raving about the area, its beauty, and the possibility of a boat cruise instead of a banquet. Until then, it never occurred to me that there was such a large, enchanting lake in Idaho. (I’m clearly not a geography whiz.)
Because I associate Idaho with a potato, it makes sense that I imagined the state was somehow a manifestation of a tuber: bumpy, brown, uneven, dry, mostly flavorless. But from that cruise boat, I took in a variety of sights, sounds and smells that are just the opposite: aquatic, lush, bright, alive. Green.
After cruising for a time, we all retreated to the dining area under the deck to enjoy a hot buffet of comfort food, like roast beef (none for me, thanks), mashed potatoes and buttered rolls, finished nicely with hot coffee and overly decadent desserts. There were conference-related things to take care of, like a quick awards ceremony, but we didn’t waste too much time down there. Heading back up to the deck, the other cruise-goers and I took out our cameras and snapped some shots of the sunset, the water, each other and whatever else awed or inspired us at the moment.