Every year I take an eight hour journey to a place that I think is heaven on earth, Coeur d’ Alene Lake, Idaho. My family of four: my dad, mom, my little brother, and I all pile into our white GMC pickup and take the drive from Olympia to Coeur d’ Alene. We take the I-90 east, all the way across Washington State. We begin this trek at “o’ dark thirty”, which is supposed to be about four, but we usually don’t get out of the driveway until about five. My brother and I take turns sleeping in the back seat on the stack of pillows in the middle, and we dance to the music on our iPods.
After a butt-soaring, back-aching, energy draining ride, we can finally see the lake. We take Exit 22 and take on my favorite and least favorite part of the ride. It is my favorite because it is a beautiful ride around my favorite lake. But it is my least favorite because we still have fifteen or twenty minutes until we reach the cabin. We head up the hill, around twists and turns, and then we finally take a right up Eddyville Road. After we go from the pavement to the gravel and go up the hill a mile or two more, we turn left, and we have reached the cabin.
After hugging all the family and parking the camper, I race down the 139 steps of the hill to the lake. On my way, I grab my towel and pull off my shorts and t-shirt, run off the end of the dock and into the water. And that moment begins my ten days of bliss.
This “family resort” as we call it, is by invitation only. You must be deemed “lake worthy” to come. We treat the lake like hallowed ground—because to us, it is! It is the place where you can do anything you want and just be yourself. Whether that is lying on the dock, sunbathing, finishing your summer novel, messing around in the paddle boat, water skiing, wakeboarding behind the boat in Beauty Bay, or putting together a puzzle on the table. If when at the lake you ask anyone “What should I do?” the common answer is “Whatever you want, you’re at the lake!”
Once a year, we also have a crazy family party. We make tin foil hats, have a gift exchange, and watch a movie on a sheet that is hung up for the projector. But honestly almost every night is like a party at the lake. After a day of swimming and laying on the dock, there are always games to play: Risk, Phase 10, dice games, Scrabble or Sequence.
But like all trips, it has to come to an end eventually. The last night there, I always sit at the end of the dock, feet in the water, and look at the stars and think. I soak in the moment, the peace, the fun, the lake, so that I can make it through another year in the “real world”. And I can’t help but think; even though life’s a journey, the stops and destinations along the way are far more than worth it.
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