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Archive: Outdoors & Recreation / Spokane and North Idaho

2014 Spokane Auto Show goes international

It's hard to figure out just exactly where cars fit in our lives. For most of us, they're necessities. But they're also useful for recreation. And for more than a few of us, especially for my one Ferrari-owning friend Dan, they're actual pieces of art.

However you look at cars, though, the opportunity to see a lot of them at once — especially those still carrying their new-car smell — is hard to pass up. I, for one, usually stop and look at the cars that sit on display occasionally in the various shopping malls around the area. It gives me a chance to fantasize, especially when the models are foreign and I can imagine what it's like to speed down Italy's autostrada on warm summer afternoons.

That's why I just might head to the Spokane County Fairgrounds over the weekend to check out the 2014 Spokane International Auto Show, which is being sponsored by the Spokane New Car Dealers Association. If you're going to the show with the intent of buying, then it might help to check out this article.

If you aren't aren't looking for a deal, no biggie. The auto show offers plenty of chances for pure fantasy, whatever your tastes. That includes both those interested only in U.S. models and those with a taste for something exotic. You aren't likely to find any Ferraris on display, but among the 27 or so exhibitors you will see names such as Porsche and Audi, Fiat and BMW, not to mention Mercedes-Benz.

Hmmmm, wonder what my friend Dan would think if I bought a Fiat?

Epic deals

The next REI Garage Sale happens August 3!!! Prices on slightly used or returned gear and clothing are way less than what you'd pay for it new. Everything is sold as-is, and all sales are final. But, seriously, with these ridiculously low prices, who cares?

The sale starts at 9 a.m. and numbered tickets will be handed out starting at 8 a.m. Members only. Get there early. Like, camp out on the sidewalk early.

You'll find REI at 1125 N. Monroe, just north of downtown.

Shop early, save a buttload

Friday is final day to save up to $200 on your 2013/14 Mt. Spokane season pass! You know you're gonna go up there. Shop now or you'll regret it once the snow starts to fly. 

Those su-huh-murrrrr niiiiiiiiiiights

Sometimes outdoor summer movie lineups are kind of hit-and-miss. But the Outdoor Movies at Riverfront Park's summer lineup is filled with nothing but crowd pleasers. Organizers left it up to the public to choose this summer's features and I gotta say, my opinion of public opinion went up a couple of ticks with this list. Seriously, check it out:

  • July 17: Grease (The rules are … there ain't no rules!)
  • July 24: The Lion King (I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts …)
  • July 31: Ghostbusters (Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say YES!)
  • August 7: The Sandlot (You're killin' me, Smalls!)
  • August 14: Marvel's The Avengers (Thor. No other words are necessary.)
  • August 21: The Princess Bride (As you wish.)

Seating starts at 7 in the Lilac Bowl in Riverfront Park. Movies begin at dusk. $5 gets you the night's flick plus movie trivia and even a live act or two. 

Ain’t no herbs in the washtub

But today I will change that, at the Inland Empire Garden Expo

This event is all things garden, with a little patio and front porch goodness thrown in. Trees, birdhouses, herbs, organics, hammocks … it's all here, sprawled across the grassy SCC campus. 

There's no admission fee and the sun is shining, so get there — it runs from 9-5, today only. 

I'm headed there now. With a little luck this washtub will be brimming with herby goodness by sundown.

You'll find the Garden Expo at 1810 N. Greene Street, on the SCC campus.

Time for some … dodgeball

One of the funniest sports comedies to come along the past few years was “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” the 2004 movie that starred Vince Vaughan, Ben Stiller and a number of others. Turns out, Oz Fitness has its own version of the school-yard sport. On April 27-28, Oz will offer a dodgeball tournament for teams of six to 10 participants, with the grand prize being a trip for seven to the national finals in Las Vegas.

Admission is $15 per person. Teams are six on a side (at a time). For information, contact your local Oz Fitness location (or click here). Tell them Vince sent you.

Below: Scenes from the 2011 Oz Fitness championship game 2.

First day of spring …

It's a beautiful thing!

I dislike paying for water. But …

I dislike paying for air even more. Seriously, 75 cents. For air? First-world problem, I know.

Luckily a friend saw this pic on Instagram and shared a happy little nugget of information: Holiday stations don't charge for air! But you do need to travel with your own tire gauge. Don't we all have one in our glovebox? Heck yes we do, because we're not ever going to a place that charges us for air ever again. Right? Right. Way to stick it to the man. Yay. 

New host for guilty pleasure ‘Dual Survival’

Forgive the irony of my posting about a television show under the category “Outdoors & Recreation.” But fans of the Discovery Channel show “Dual Survival” get the “best” of both worlds: They get to watch about outdoor survival from the comfort of their own homes.

“Dual Survival” is only one of a number of survival shows. “Man Vs. Wild” stars Bear Grylls. “Survivorman” stars Les Stroud. “Man, Woman, Wild” stars the husband-wife team Mykel and Ruth Hawke. But of them all, “Dual Survival” may be the most entertaining — if only because of the mismatched duo of Cody Lundin (who refuses to wear shoes, even in the snow) and Dave Canterbury.

Lundin comes across as a latter-day hippie, while Canterbury is cast as the ex-military sniper and survival expert. As they say, opposites attract.

But even as Discovery is competing against football on New Year's Day by running a “Dual Survival” marathon, it seems Canterbury has been replaced. I can't find any real word why, though some have complained that Canterbury fudged his credentials.

Anyway, as the series begins its third season (with a special one-hour special airing today), a new host will fill the ex-military role: Joseph Teti.

Be interesting to see if he's as much of a backwoods caveman as Canterbury.

For a relaxing holiday, 10 reasons to try a cruise

I’ve made mention of the cruise that my wife and I took between Dec. 6-24 from Sydney, Australia, around the islands of New Zealand and back. Now I want to list to the top 10 things about going on a cruise, especially when you stop in exotic ports of call.

1. You can eat pretty much 24-7. But, of course, you won't. If only because you'd end up vomiting all over the poop deck. Anyway, I pretty much got mugged by 80-year-olds who kept muscling past me to the serving troughs. Still, if you show some judiciousness, you can eat gourmet meals day and night. Complete, if you choose, with a bottle of wine or two.

2. You can be as social as you want. Cruise ships schedule activities that begin as early as 6 a.m. and continue well past midnight. And since no one polices what you do in the privacy of your own cabin, you can keep going until your body gives out.

3. You can be as antisocial as you want. We upgraded to something called Aqua Class, which didn’t get us all that much except access to lunch at the “healthy food” café and a table for two at one of the ship’s premium restaurants (we could have eaten, including the deck grills and room service, at 17 different places). And, yeah, when you’re on a ship that houses 2,800 people, a table for two is worth the extra cash.

4. You can see lots of cool things. Let’s begin with the Sydney Opera House, which is enough of a draw in itself. But we also saw the fjord-like sounds on the western coast of New Zealand’s southern island. We saw the “world’s steepest street” (in Dunedin, NZ). We saw yellow-eyed penguins. We saw the filming site for “The Hobbit” (the shire scenes). We saw fascinating museums in Sydney, in Auckland and in Bay of Islands, NZ. And, at night on the open ocean, we looked up into the sky and saw the Southern Cross.

5. You can see movies. Recent releases, such as “The Avengers” and “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” played twice (and sometimes three times) nightly in one of the ship’s theaters. But also on demand in our stateroom.

6. You can work out every day. The well-equipped gym got a bit crowded during peak hours, but I’d go when most other people were at lunch or at dinner and get free use of the treadmills, the bicycles, weight machines (and free weights) and pretty much anything else I wanted. Or needed.

7. You can forget doing the other kind of work. Oh, if you want, you can get online. But even when we bought a “discount” package, we ended up paying some $.55 a minute for non-Broadband access. Which was spotty and slow. This may sound like a negative. It wasn’t. I’ve never relaxed this much since I left grad school in 1978.

8. You can see all kinds of shows. On the night of the solstice, for example, we took in a kind of Cirque du Soleil show, which featured acrobats and jugglers and gymnasts performing on a stage that was moving with the waves. We skipped karaoke night and we dropped a single 20-dollar bill in the ship’s casino and we never showed up for trivia (even though might have won) and we avoided the many art show/sales that were held daily.

9. You can learn stuff. Forget the decently stocked ship’s library. One of the most enjoyable series of activities I took advantage of were the various lectures on astronomy, geography, cosmology and most things scientific that were offered virtually every day. On our next-to-last night, I stood on the open deck as a knowledgeable guy used a laser to point out the various star clusters and planets and explain the basics of space travel. Jupiter was so bright that night, it looked like a moon of the moon.

10. You can meet people from all over the world. Our cruise was peopled mostly by Australians, who were nice enough. But the ship’s workers came from such places as Russia, Serbia, Indonesia, Romania, Croatia and the Philippines. And our captain hailed from Greece. All were friendly and willing to talk about their homelands, their careers and what they liked to do when they got a chance to get off the ship in port.

I’m sure I could list 10 more reasons. Maybe even 20. Let me just say here that cruises can’t substitute from actually staying in, say, a specific city (our three and a half days in Sydney gave us a far better idea of what that city has to offer than our seven-hour stay did for our knowledge of Auckland). And I can’t say that we actually got a chance to see the interior of New Zealand, the place of high mountains and evergreen forests (but I have been to Montana’s Glacier Park anyway).

So I’ll finish by saying that for a relaxing time, and for a chance to at least get an idea of what a country is like, nothing beats a cruise. I’d do it again.

Always with that table-for-two dining option, of course.

Above photo: The Sydney Opera House is even more impressive when seen in person.

It’s all downhill from here

49 Degrees North opens for the season this Friday! Chairs 1,3 and 5 (and possibly 4) start running at 9am. That outghta knock the tryptophan outta your system!

You'll find 49 Degrees North 42 lovely miles north of Spokane. Click here for directions. 

Stone Cold

Tell me you weren't totally crushing on the Olympic curlers last winter. Those pants. Those sweeping motions. And, oh, the way they could make those heavy stones glide accross the ice like a hot knife through butter. 

I, for one, stayed up way past my bedtime more than once just so I could check out the action on the ice. For a few weeks after the Olympics ended I even toyed with the idea of picking up the sport. But then I was like, “Really? How does a person go about 'picking up a sport' like curling?” It's ridiculous. It's absurd. It makes no sense … and that's probably why the idea has never really left my mind.

So, because sometimes the universe drops stuff in your lap when you least expect it … there I was at Bon Bon Saturday night. I randomly picked up a flyer from the counter and eventually got around to looking at it. 

And I was all like, “NO WAY!” I passed it down the row of bar stools so my cronies could take a gander and they were all like, “NO WAY!” Turns out I wasn't the only one harboring a crush for this WTF sport.

The Lilac City Curling Club, is hosted by Spokane Parks & Rec and they're holding hour-long Intro to Curling clinics next Sunday at the Riverfront Park Ice Palace. After that there's a 7-week co-ed rec league that'll meet each Sunday through the middle of December. 

Tell me you're not just a little bit intrigued …

I can’t help it …

Car washes freak me out. Well, not so much the car-washing, but aligning my tire to roll onto that clunky metal track that's supposed to pull the car through the car wash. I'm always worried I'm going to get it wrong. What if I miss? What if I overshoot the guy's directional thumb by six inches and wedge my tire somewhere it doesn't belong? Or, even more scary, what if I get it close enough only to discover halfway through the process that I was actually teetering precariously on the edge of destruction? BOOM there I go, off the side of the track, forever stuck between the slappy waving rags and the hot wax spray. My god, it's horrifying. 

This is why I typically roll around town in a car of a nondescript color. Not entirely true, I suppose. The color of my car quite often fits one description: dirty. But last week the sun was shining, the birds were singing and the grunge of my car became more troublesome than the fear of demise at the hands of the maniacal mechanical track system at the Mister Car Wash so I ignored my anxiety and rolled in.  

I handed over my cash to the nice girl at the pay station and maybe because it was my lucky day, maybe because she noticed the manic glaze in my eyes, or maybe because it's her job to do so, she offered me a free car wash in exchange for my email address. What? Free stuff? Talk about a brilliant distraction tactic. I was halfway through the bubbling foam before I even thought about the prospect of being yanked off track and smashed to bits by the sweeping spraying thingies.

Car washes still freak me out. But not so much as wasting a free car wash coupon.

Face your fears at Mister Car Wash at one of 3 Spokane locations, North Division, on Pines and just north of downtown. I mean, really, what's the worst that could happen?

Sweet surprise, courtesy of Mother Nature

Saturday afternoon, on our way home from what will likely be one of the last freckle-inducing fishing excursions of the summer, Eric and I decided to stop in at a place we'd rolled past plenty of times, but never made time to see. Just this side of Metaline is a big sign that says Sweet Creek Rest Area — even if you don't feel like resting, pull in and get out of your car. Walk to the trailhead, and follow the meandering path to a fantastic surprise.

This respite was discovered by a bunch of homesteaders (back in the day when there wasn't a whole lot of respite going on) who cleared some of the dense forest, created a log flume that led to the Pend Orielle, and left behind some amazing scenery that still holds traces of their history. 

It takes only 5 minutes to reach the falls from the trailhead, and just about anyone can make it to the overlook bridge. Along the way there are secluded picnic tables, loads of flora and fauna and all around the sweet smell of the forest. There are other trails aroudn the water that you can hike, one that takes you up to the top of the falls where you'll see the remnants of a bridge that I think used to lead to the original homestead plot. 

Bring a sweatshirt if you plan to get close to the water because all that flumage creates a chilly wind. Also, bring a camera. It's worth writing home about. 

You'll find Sweet Creek Rest Area on Highway 31, just south of Metaline. 


Those su-huh-mer niiiiiights

They're almost a thing of the past. Hope you made the most of 'em. 

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