Welcome to North Idaho

To live in a place other people dream of visiting is incredible. Through the lens of my camera OnLocation North Idaho will bring you a slice of life as we know it in the Idaho panhandle. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Seeing Spots

This beautiful Appaloosa mare didn't seem bothered by the heat on Sunday afternoon, grazing contentedly on the Rathdrum prairie. The Appaloosa is the state horse of Idaho. Bonus points if you can name the state fish.

Wedding Bells

Love is always in the air in Coeur d'Alene, the city with a heart. At the Kootenai County Courthouse, where clerks work on Saturdays 11 a.m to 4 p.m. and weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., thousands of couples, young and old come to start their lives together. Coeur d'Alene is one of the most popular wedding destinations in the Northwest, as much for the honeymoon scenic beauty as for the simplicity of getting a marriage license. In Idaho, couples 18 and over need no witnesses or blood tests and there's no waiting period or proof of residency required.
And they lived happily ever after...
this little flower girl decided the rose petals were too special to leave on the lawn so she set about to retrieve them for her basket. The bride and groom are Meaghan Cooney and Josh Hissong, who married June 28.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Down by the River

As the temperatures head for the 90s for the first time this year, I'm eager to join the throngs for lazy summer floats down the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River. But alas, late spring floods might delay prudent floating for a few weeks. I have "people" scouting the river conditions and will keep you posted for when we can safely enjoy my favorite North Idaho pastime.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In the Swim

North Idaho has far fewer in-ground swimming pools than southern climes boast but there are some spectacular backyard "cement ponds" in these parts. Last week I peered over the back fence from the Highlands Country Club golf course at one of the finer examples of private pool ownership. This pool is larger than those to be found at many Las Vegas hotels, its width extending beyond the right and left sides of this photograph.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ode to Iron Muscles

As the sun sets on Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2008, these final images pay homage to physical achievements. Much is written about the dedication and mental drive that carries an Ironman across the finish line but as I perused my photo files of the day I observed that toned and taut muscles are a good thing. I may even try to uncover the washboard abs of my own that are currently hidden under a couple loads of "laundry."

Monday, June 23, 2008

He Ain't Heavy...

There are as many inspirational stories as there are athletes when Ironman comes to Coeur d'Alene every year. Throughout the day I noticed two runners connected by a tether. As they did the turnaround at the top of Bennett Bay Hill, I happened to be standing with Bryan Ogle, an Ironman himself, and asked if he knew why they would be running with a tether. He did. Seems Robert Plaskon, #1729, is blind. The Floridian has finished multiple Ironman competitions, including Hawaii. Competing in the 60-64 age division he finished in 15 hours, 33 minutes and 29 seconds on Sunday. The communication with his companion runner was subtle as I noticed when a slight rise in the trail was coming up. With a touch of the hand and a few words of caution, the pair ran safely past.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Home Stretch

By about 8:30 p.m. there were still hundreds of athletes out on the marathon course but the miles to go before being declared an Ironman didn't slow down the enthusiasm. Smiles were outweighing the grimaces, and some runners even broke into spontaneous dance moves after nearly 14 hours since hitting the water for the starting swim.

Cheering Section

There are 1,000 more volunteers than there are Ironman athletes. The volunteers who staff aid stations along the marathon route can make all the difference in keeping spirits high when legs turn to rubber and the finish line seems out of reach. Late afternoon on the Centennial Trail at Bennett Bay, Rob Davidson donned a coconut shell bra and grass skirt to hand out water and in the early evening the 80-ish couple, Colleen and Bob Hough were dancing on the sidelines at 9th St. and Pine Ave. in Coeur d'Alene as the sun set on the course. The Houghs are the grandparents of Dancing with the Stars cutie, Julianne.

Cycling Start

After finishing the 2.4-mile swim, the athletes leave city park and head east on Lakeside Avenue for the 112-mile cycling leg of Ironman.

Underwater Safety "Net"

Many spectators aren't aware that during the swim leg of Ironman, professional divers are positioned below the surface of Lake Coeur d'Alene to watch for signs of trouble.

Hitting the beach

At 6:25 a.m. the elite athletes were in the water for the start of their Ironman while over 2,000 competitors watch from the shore at Coeur d'Alene's city beach.

At 7 a.m. the sea of humanity flows into Lake Coeur d'Alene for the swim leg of the race.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ironclad Vows

On the morning of the eve of Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2008, love was in the air for a San Antonio, Texas couple. Dr. Pete Valdez is running his first Ironman on Sunday but he crossed the finish line with his sweetheart, Carrie when they were married on the front lawn of the historic Roosevelt Inn Saturday. The wedding party consisted of the good doctor's three teammates from San Antonio. Dr. Valdez' race number is 1066 so if you see him out on the course, tell him congratulations!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Race Routes

In preparation for the annual Ironman competition on Sunday, roads in Coeur d'Alene and Hayden Lake are sprouting signs like the one pictured on Government Way. There are a lot of opportunities for the thousands of fans, friends and family of the thousands of athletes to watch the action. You can find info on the race routes and everything Ironman at ironmancda.com and a calendar of North Idaho events at fyinorthidaho.com

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bike the Wall

On Saturday, the 11th annual event will start at Enaville's famous Snakepit and travel the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes from there to Cataldo before getting into some serious elevation and scenery over the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River. There's five miles of paved trail and eight miles of one-lane gravel road, one mile of which is a killer hill. All this and a bbq with beverages for your $30 entry fee. The Enaville Resort aka the Snakepit, is right off of I-90 at exit 43. Since it's too early and the river is too high and fast to start the float season, this is the next best way to enjoy the North Fork this weekend.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Using their heads

The Big Back-in Lawn Mower Drags in Spirit Lake were a rousing success, if the several hundred spectators were any indication. With stock mowers cruising at 6 mph on Maine Street and the modifieds reaching speeds over 30 mph, it was safety first for the eclectic array of mower jockies. Head gear was as diverse as the heads they protected.
If you missed the Father's Day event, there are more opportunities to see lawn mowers in action on the asphalt in North Idaho ... during Rathdrum Days, July 20; in Priest River on July 27 and Smelterville on September 6.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Dad

While this is my fourth Father's Day without mine, I had 52 years with him in my life. My father was bigger than life in Idaho politics and his beloved Kootenai County Veterans Memorial Plaza now bears his name. But it's the simple and fun memories of my dad that are cause for reflection. He loved America and the Marine Corps and for years his iconic Lincolns bore the VOX POP (voice of the people) license plate. He also loved riding high atop the tank at the head of the Coeur d'Alene 4th of July parade with fellow veterans. My father loved life and he loved me.

Ronald D. Rankin, 1929-2004

Friday, June 13, 2008

Soggy Trail of Coeur d'Alenes

Our daughter and son-in-law went on location to the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene's during a visit home last summer. They're among the estimated 100,000 users of the 72-mile asphalt trail that runs from Plummer on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation to the Idaho/Montana border town of Mullan. The flooding last month took a toll on the trail, washing out a large section and closing nearly 20 miles near Harrison. The hope is to have the entire trail operational in July but this weblink will give you updates on the progress.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cruisin' in Coeur d'Alene

You don't need to be a classic car buff to enjoy the aptly named "best cruise in the Northwest", Car d'Lane. On Friday night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., hot rods, beaters, antiques and every manner of four-wheeled glory will take to Sherman Avenue. The best part for me is to see the longtime locals driving their personal cars in the cruise. Gray hair and grandchildren not withstanding, some of these guys and gals were the cool kids in high school cruising the night away. On Saturday the car show will be downtown followed by a Saturday night street dance. If you want to know what it was like to grow up in Coeur d'Alene in the 1960s ... catch the Friday night cruise.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Start Your Engines!

On Father's Day Sunday, you can join us OnLocation in Spirit Lake for the 8th Annual Big Back-In lawn mower drags. We attended for the first time last year and it was a hoot! There's the Redneck Racing Team and riding lawnmowers unlike any you've ever seen before. The people and dog watching are as much fun as the actual races down the main street in town. This "sport" might not be unique to North Idaho but no one does it better than Spirit Lake.
Go to www.bigbackin.com for details.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Double Take

While stopped at the light on North 4th Street at Best Ave. in Coeur d'Alene, I caught sight of this sign and did a double take. Like an oasis in the desert of skyrocketing fuel prices I thought for a brief fleeting moment I'd found $1.29 per gallon gas. But instead it was slushies and bags of ice, neither of which were in high demand on one of the coldest 10th day of June in anyone's memory.

Dangerous? Try Just Plain Cold.

In a little more than a week, we'll welcome the first day of summer. The city beach at Q'emiln Park on the Spokane River is still posted for dangerous waters, alas. With the wide open dam at Post Falls in the background, it's hard to imagine that any time soon we'll be boating, swimming or floating in North Idaho. And waking up to temperatures in the 30s today and snow in the mountains I'm wondering just what the heck Mother Nature has in store.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

What Rain?

Following a winter of record snow and a spring of record flooding it seems fitting that the first in North Idaho's community parade season would be rained upon. Rained on but not out as these entrants show.

On behalf of the Post Falls Days Parade Committee, thanks for making it a parade to remember!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Post Falls Days Parade Winners

Actually, everyone who entered today's parade was a winner in my book. After 16 years of heading up the local parade, this is the first time we've gotten soaked. Hundreds of spectators braved the weather and the entrants were similarly enthusiastic. Thanks all!

Best Community Float: Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce
Best Commercial Float: Community 1st Bank
Best civic/non-profit Float: Red Hat Tootsies
Best Marching Unit: Post Falls High School Band
Best Equestrian Entry: Idaho Omoksee Royalty
Best Antique/Classic Car: Norm Anderson, '53 Cadilac Coupe deVille
Best Commercial Entry: Coeur d'Alene Casino-Julyamsh Pow Wow
Parade Committee Choice: Tri-Cut Landscaping
Winners may pick up their plaques after 12 p.m. Monday, June 9 at Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty in Post Falls.
*parade photos will be posted by early evening

Friday, June 6, 2008

Through the Glass

The windows of the rotunda in the new Post Falls City Hall are reflected in a stained glass panel. The building is officially dedicated on June 6, 2008.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What's in a Number?

In case you were wondering ... this sign is located at the top of Lookout Pass, at the Idaho / Montana state line on Interstate 90. Why zero? Don't know the answer to that one.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Sheriff Sam is usually found on stage at the Rockin' B Cowboy Supper Show but he made a visit to Post Falls recently. The Rockin' B is a Northwest favorite attraction located 100 yards south of I-90 exit 299 at the Idaho/Washington Stateline.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fiddlin' Around

The annual River City FiddleFest draws some of the best talent in the region to compete for the opportunity to advance to the national fiddling championships in Weiser, Idaho. From the small fry division to the most senior of citizens, this local event is a free festival of family fun at Q'emlin Park in Post Falls and takes place the first weekend of June each year.