Mission Idaho: Mom, Daughter, and the Open Road


Did you know that there's a beach in Idaho!

The best thing about road tripping is that, if done right, you find weird and wonderful things around every bend.

Coeur d’Alene, ID, was about as surprising a town as we’ve stumbled across. I’m not sure what I thought would be there, but I wasn’t expecting the hip, artsy, resort vibe that suffuses the air. Cool little shops, a beautiful and expansive lake, mountain views.

It was a just a fast food stop, honestly. My daughter Earl and I were starving after a late start from Spokane, and a break in Coeur d’Alene gave us a "thing to do" in Idaho rather than just driving through on our way to Montana.While we were in the drive-thru for food, I realized it was Saturday. Now, we are in desperate need of postcard stamps, which I know you can probably get everywhere, but I haven’t had the chance to be everywhere for whatever reason. Velma the Nav told us the post office was through the main drag of town, and it wasn’t far, so I crossed myfingers that it would be open on a Saturday morning before noon. It was not.

But know what was? The Museum of North Idaho! And my kid is a sucker for a museum these days.We parked in a lot full of beach-goers (“There’s a beach in Idaho?” I asked myself.) and my child disappeared into the building.

Mission Idaho

ROADTRIPPERS TIP: Salmon River in Idaho is known as The River of No Return. But don’t let that deter you from visiting. It’s actually one of the most scenic places in the state. It’s 425 miles of wild adventure from whitewater rafting, to swimming, tubing and fishing. If you’re anywhere nearby, you’ll want to spend a few days here at least (camping is always a fantastic option to make the most of your visit

Admission to the museum was cheap, parking was included...it was already a win.

The lady up front asked if we were interested in a quick video about the area. Obviously, neither Earl nor myself knew a lick about town, so we excitedly nodded and followed her into a small room in a small wing of the small museum and settled in. Earl wrapped my arm around her shoulders as we learned about Coeur d’Alene area’s native Schee-Chu-Umsh/Coeur d’Alene tribal history, the arrival of the black-robed Jesuits, and the area’s industry cycles through mining, logging, steamboats, and the boon of tourism.

Mission Idaho
Harvey and Earl
Mission Idaho
Harvey and Earl

I’m not sure what surprised me most: That I had no idea that Idaho had this to offer, or that I was surprised I had no idea, seeing as I hadn’t yet been to Idaho and thought it was all about potatoes and salmon.

We left the museum chock-full of new knowledge about a new place and figured we’d be-bop our way straight on to Montana. Until something caught my eye off the interstate.

Mission Idaho
Harvey and Earl

Earl shot me a look as I quickly exited to explore.The Mission of the Sacred Heart (or The Old Mission or Cataldo Mission) was built in a cooperative effort between earlier mentioned Jesuit priests and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. It stands today as the oldest original building in Idaho, although it’s been renovated a couple of times for preservation’s sake.

Mission Idaho
Harvey and Earl

I walked around the mission and gawked at the colors and the handiwork. The vision and craftsmanship that went into this building are amazing. The ceilings were even stained blue using native huckleberries.

Mission Idaho
Harvey and Earl
Mission Idaho
Harvey and Earl

The statues on either side of the altar were hand-carved by De Smet, leader of the Jesuit priests. He painted most of the pictures himself and crafted chandeliers to look like expensive fixtures…using tin cans.

Mission Idaho
Harvey and Earl

The floors were hand hewn, the walls decorated with painted newspaper before they were able to get enough fabric. The building is a true labor of love, and the power within those walls still reverberates. I can’t imagine how heartsick the Coeur d’Alenes were when they were removed from this truly sacred space.

We finally made it to Missoula and checked in to a Holiday Inn right in the thick of things. There was a cycling event going on, and we had to dodge cheering sections and roped off areas to walk to dinner at an awesome little Mexican joint recommended by the desk clerk. Earl watched cyclists zoom by while I added some stops to our itinerary on Roadtrippers and marveled that this trip had gone bonkers enough to reach the max number of waypoints (60), and we were still 2,500 miles from home. Time to be less specific perhaps?

Post-dinner, I was done for the day. Earl, however, was not. Or perhaps she was over done. As soon as we were back at the Holiday Inn, I lost her (and my iPad) under the sheets of the cozy bed. And let’s be honest, she deserved it.

Mission Idaho
Harvey and Earl
Mission Idaho
Harvey and Earl

By Harvey and Earl

A mother/daughter road trip of massive proportion, Harvey and Earl have set out to explore the US of A by way of the open road. You think Homer was epic? Homer wasn’t trapped in the car with his kid for a month-long 7,500 mile adventure around America. 

 

More inspiring journeys from the road, presented by our friends at Holiday Inn...

The amazing story of one son continuing his father's road trip legacy

Road trip wisdom

3200 miles, 14 states, in 7 days: This is how you have the trip of a lifetime

3200-miles-14-states

Unexpected surprises in the heart of the Dakotas

Bison in the Dakotas

Abandoned Midwest relics, Backroads and a Cherry Festival... 

beauty-in-midwest-abandoned-ruins

Two brothers' 100-mile road trip to see the Tulip Trestle

Tulip Trestle

NYC to Tahoe in 18 Days via Route 66...With A Baby

Route 66 with a baby!

This was originally written for Roadtrippers, a great resource for anyone interested in travel.
Want more articles by Roadtrippers? Find them here!