This week brought us our first state crossing in over a month as we started the journey to the middle, northern part of our country. Tuesday we began the journey east, though not quite making across state lines - we decided instead to stop and sleep at Medical Lake, near Spokane. It’s the same location we did our last 70.3 triathlon, we’re familiar with the area and knew of a wonderful place in the woods, next to the lake, where we could park for the evening. We rolled in around 4pm and had plenty of time to don our wetsuits and get in an open water swim, the water felt so wonderful on a warm day and we happened to show up at the exact same time another tri club was there doing their open water swim. Getting out of the lake and being able to jump right into our warm shower was quite the luxury. We spent the evening relaxing and taking in the sounds of nature around us…only to be woken the next morning by the local sheriff. He was there to ensure we paid our $10 parking fee so after a quick stop at City Hall to pay, we were off to Idaho!
We pulled into Coeur d’Alene Wednesday afternoon and it was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day. We headed directly to the main parking area next to the lake and couldn’t believe our parking luck, they have large pull through spots that fit Bertha and even allow overnight parking! For free! We parked there and went straight to our first volunteer shift for this weekend’s Half Ironman race, the race was the main reason we were in CdA this weekend. After a few hours of stuffing athlete packets, we headed down to the lakeside beach for some sunbathing (definitely a different kind of beach going experience from San Diego). As the sunset and the air cooled down, we headed out for a stunning 5 mile run along the lake (Jim was crazy enough to jump in the lake in his running clothes as we finished!).
Thursday morning we left the super sweet parking spot by the lake to meet up with Heather’s friend, Phil. They met in San Diego but he’s from Coeur d’Alene and moved back about three years ago. The best part was his giant driveway and the location of his house being so near the lake and city center. We got Bertha all settled into his driveway and hooked up on shore power before heading to the library for a few hours of work. Later in the afternoon, Jim decided he wanted to head out and ride our bikes on the Half Ironman bike course, he had a new tri suit he was dying to try out and he flew up and down those hills with the new speedsuit! It was an absolutely beautiful course and easy to understand why it’s such a popular race (the pic to the left was the view as we finished the 56 mile ride (or 45 miles in Heather’s case, she couldn’t quite keep up on this one)).
Friday was weird! It started pouring rain, even hailing a little bit, and didn’t let up the entire day! We were scheduled for another volunteer shift that ended up being cancelled due to the rain, we started to head down there before calling to see if they still needed us…that may have been the only time we left Bertha the entire day, it was super cold and wet! So we spent the day indoors, using Phil’s wifi and getting what we could done on the computer.
Saturday morning was a completely different story, we woke up to a clear, sunny day! Albeit, there was still a chill in the air as the day started and we headed down to Ironman Village for our next volunteer shift. For six hours, we were on bike checkin duty and our jobs were to guard the exit and direct people to the proper entrance. We were also there to field questions from the athletes and we became pros at reciting the course route over…and over…and over again. After our shift ended, we had some extra time and decided to spend it getting our bikes maintenanced and cleaned, a chore that takes time but must be done regularly. And when you have access to a hose and unlimited water, you do what you can!
Sunday was the day of the Half Ironman race and we both filled our day with volunteer spots, this meant a 3:00am wake up time! Ugh! Heather had to be down there for a 4:00am start as a body marker (writing the race number and ages of the athletes on their arms and legs), while Jim was scheduled at 5:00am to be motorcycle support for the bike portion for of the race - he could not have been more excited! He was paired with a course marshall and got to ride with the first place pros for the majority of the course. Once the pros finished, he circled back to the amateurs and helped hand out penalties to the athletes who were breaking the rules. Meanwhile, Heather moved on from body marking to sunscreen applier for the athletes transitioning from the swim to the bike (it ended up being a very warm, sunny day so sunscreen was a must! Crazy Idaho weather went from the 50’s to the 90’s over a course of two days). Thank goodness they give you gloves as you rub down wet, sweaty strangers. Following those shifts, we both headed to the finish line to help as catchers - by far the most fun part of the race and of volunteering (well for Heather anyway, Jim loved the motorcycle part!). Heather was there at the finish line opening and was able to watch the first pro athletes cross the finish line…in under 4 hours! It was amazing to watch them finish, Heather even got to meet and take photos with the male and female winners (Andy Potts and Heather Jackson)…kind of a big deal. Jim also had two of his athletes racing, one of which was doing her first ever 70.3, which made being at the finish line that much more awesome. Both of them did amazing and had a blast on the course, both are now thinking ahead to the 140.6 distance…what a crazy sport. As the day wears on and the athletes that have been out there for 7+ hours are crossing the finish line, it’s amazing and actually emotional to watch people finish. It was very hot at this point in the day and people were crossing who were physically exhausted and overheated, some even collapsed as soon as they crossed the finish. You see tears from both the feeling of completion as well as tears of exhaustion; it’s really awe-inspiring and amazing to see everyone’s reaction, especially when compared to the pros who barely look winded.
We were out there for 11 hours in total on Sunday, starting with a very cold, dark morning and ending with a very hot, sunny afternoon. We were both pretty exhausted ourselves as we headed back to Bertha for a shower and to rest. The evening ended with watching the final episode of Game of Thrones (omg what an episode and how is the season over already?!) before turning in early for a long night of sleep.
Phil, our driveway host, was gone all weekend for a wedding in Montana (terrible timing), so Monday morning we got up to take him out to breakfast before we planned to hit the road. He took us to a super yum greasy spoon diner with the biggest, best cinnamon pecan rolls in the world (it was featured on Diners, Dives, and Drive-Ins even). We then loaded up Bertha and set out to be productive, Jim spent the day working while Heather got the laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping done - Bertha even got a long overdue bath at the over-sized car wash. We set out in the evening with a clean home and laundry pile, empty dirty tanks, and a full fridge and freshwater tank…it’s the best feeling to have when you live in an RV! At Phil’s recommendation we set sail for Bayview, about 25 miles north of CdA, where we found a nice level place to sleep near the lake. It was already late and dark so we ended the evening with frozen pizza and beer with the idea to explore the area the next morning.
Thanks again for following along with us!
Total RV Trip Miles: 3,297