Another Home away from Home....
Trip Start Oct 20, 2012
60Trip End Jul 11, 2013
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Where I stayed
Eldon & Susan's
What I did
God-Parents, Spokane HoopFest and Rancho Chico to name a few...
As we meandered our way back through the more familiar territory having crossed the Columbia River into Washington State it became ever so much more evident that we were really "going home" and the Gypsy Tour aka The Artful Odyssey was coming to a close.
This was creating waves of both excitement and melancholy. It has truly been nine months of discovery, unknowns, welcomes, warmth, re-connection,remembrance, comfort, uncertainty, new-ness, affection and fun. There was no hum-drum, daily grind, same-ness or ordinary but more on our reminiscences in the FINAL final Odyssey posts....
...For now we'll focus on that fact that while those we will see in Spokane are not friends or family that we have not seen in 30-40 years (hmmmmm and actually more like 30-40 weeks) they include our children (getting harder and harder to use that term), Mallery & Travis, several of THEIR current friends and two of our dearest friends Eldon & Susan who were among our first guests at the bed & breakfast back in April of 1997 and have become family as well as God Parents. Susan and Eldon hosted this band of crashers.
We arrived in Spokane on Monday, June 24th (or that's what someone told me so we'll go with
that) and somehow managed to catch Eldon & Susan off guard by our timing in spite of my asking Billy numerous times since he had called and either left messages or talked to them, if they were OK with putting all of us up at the same time! That's a lot of bodies but they rolled with it!
I'm not known for subtlety or quietness but like any parent, I was in great anticipation of being with all of them and learning about any and every thing new in their lives.. JUST BEING WITH THEM, regardless of what we do (should be a song?) I swear, I can just listen and watch and love those moments.
We had a predetermined plan with the kids to go to “Rancho Chico”, our favorite Spokane Mexican Restaurant but coordinating it with the "elders" (us) and the youthful troops was creating a recurrent volley of options...Friday Night/Saturday Night/Friday Night/Saturday Night. We were actually HOPING for Saturday since Eldon, Susan, Billy & I had been just there the night before! After several evenings of incredible grilled venison, elk and salmon - with Eldon & Billy manning that ship - and Susan's wonderful salads and veggies and sides,( I was to sous chef) we decided we just wanted to take a break and to beat the heat.
Billy had received a call in May from a former client asking if/when he might be available to do some more remodeling work on her home. In agreeing and discussing some mutual dates in June, here we are! And, with that work we at least knew we'd be able to put enough gas in Ole Red and get us home to Bigfork.
The client, our friend Carolyn, has a home is right on the banks of the Spokane River in Spokane Valley...a fantastic family property that she ultimately acquired the option for, through a coin toss with one of her brothers. It's a great story. I love her place. It's bright and open and a classic '50 riverfront "cottage." Carolyn sang Billy's praises for all its best features and what he was about to do - a new bathroom, hallway updates and huge new windows in the river facing wall of the living room & dining room would make it even more incredible.
I, too, had received a phone call in early June from a my friend Debbie explaining that another mutual friend, Christie, wanted to talk to me about a project. Christie had just made through the 3rd phase of the interview process with "Shark Tank" and was hoping for some input.
So we figured out Friday was the best option for “Rancho Chico” and the whole slew of us went and had a lively evening. I believe one of the reasons we love this place so much is that the staff is engaging, humorous and attentive.
For those of you who have been, you know how amazing Spokane Hoopfest is. In its 23rd year, it is the "biggest 3-on-3 basketball tournament on Earth." Over 7,000 teams more than 20,000 more than 3,000 volunteers, 225,000 fans and 450 courts spanning 42 city blocks! As a "career event person" I have marveled not only at the enormity of it but the remarkable organization of it. It is a well-oiled machine. The planning begins two weeks after the event for the following year. I think the kids have had teams and been coming for 10 years.
The only returning “Eldon’s Angels” from several years running were Mallery and longtime
Bigfork friend Ariel. They were joined by Mallery’s new CarrolI l College roommate Lindsey. The girls didn’t have a team this year but came to cheer on the “Saggin’ Deuces” and numerous friends who had teams from all over Montana.
And OK, so the volume of pictures might suggest otherwise but there isn't much too exciting to tell about Travis’ HoopFest basketball action except he came with his teammates for the weekend. Austin and Carter, and they were enthusiastic about playing.
I loved watching them play together and I thought the "Saggin Deuces” played decent ball but were defeated in both of their Saturday games in the rain and thought Sunday might start a new trend (winning) but alas they were done after the first game. I think a late night out with some of the other 20,000 players may have had an impact… Or maybe the sun was in their eyes...
So the kids headed back on Sunday and I left for to spend the July 4th week in Bigfork while Billy finished the first phase of the work at Carolyn's.
After the 2 ½ weeks with Susan and Eldon in Spokane we hooked up the trailer for the final leg of the journey. We decided to avoid the mountain passes and drove Route 2, a beautiful ride through Priest River, Washington, Sand Point, Idaho and Libby, Montana before returning to our favorite Valley in the country.