curious traveler plane

Thanks to a gentle summer breeze and bright sun reflecting off the water, Lake Coeur d’Alene was not just tolerable, but refreshing. The cozy little city of Coeur d’Alene is only 30 miles east of Spokane, Washington and it oozes with class and an upscale ambiance that defines its Idaho panhandle locale. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but wonder how this blue paradise got its sexy French-sounding name.

I learned that the name was first given to the indigenous people of the area by French traders. It seems a shame that the name, admittedly so beautiful and intriguing, is abbreviated by locals as simply “CDA.” Why? Is it the strange spelling, the lower-case “d” in the middle? Or the apostrophe? Who knows? All I can say is: “CDA has plenty to offer.”

Lake Coeur d’Alene is certainly the big draw in this area and the adjacent city capitalizes on it in every way possible. From the moment I pulled into the parking lot near the iconic clock tower at Independence Point, I knew I was in a true resort town. The Coeur d’Alene Resort with its Spa and Golf Course, the grassy park and the lake itself, all called on me to enjoy the day.

There is a nice sandy public beach, a walking path along the lakeside and a busy marina with plenty of covered boat slips. From the pier you can book a sightseeing lake cruise or get an aerial view from a sea plane. I found my time spent walking along the lakefront quite exhilarating and, if it weren’t for the lack of wave action, I could have been at a Southern California beach.

The lake is an absolute haven for water sports. In the summer there is jet skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding, water skiing, sailing and more – and for the more laid back, there is even good old fishing. The winter season offers its own array of outdoor activities including two nearby ski resorts.

For golfers the 18-hole Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course features a world-famous Floating Green on the 14th hole. You actually have to take a boat to the green to tap your putt into the cup. I didn’t play it, but I saw the little island green from the lake. It’s not for duffers like me.

Curious traveler bridge

After an enjoyable lunch at the Resort, I ventured into business ​district to visit some of the shops and get a feel for the town. One of the shops on Sherman Avenue was Becky’s Pendleton. The whole store was stocked with genuine, all-wool Pendleton articles. I spent plenty of wampum on pieces to complement my collection of dry goods emblazoned with their Chief Joseph pattern.

You’ll find activities and events scheduled year-round in CDA. A marathon and a half-marathon for runners, an iron-man competition, bicycle paths, hiking trails, blues festival, and even a classic car show. They also have a classic car parade called “Car d’Lane.” huh? The parade cruises around the downtown shopping district to the delight of locals and visitors alike.

You might have seen the CDA scenery in such movies as Bus Stop with Marilyn Monroe in the 1950’s and Pale Rider with Clint Eastwood in the 1980’s.

After spending a few days in this elegant, but friendly, little town, I decided I was willing to forgive the locals for the common-sounding nickname. There was no snootiness or pretentiousness and I felt right at home. I think “CDA” fits the personality of this place just fine.


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