Sandpoint, Idaho 4th of July 2009

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The first question always is: where are we going to celebrate the 4th? What I mean is, will we do the City Beach fireworks put on by the Lion's Club, or maybe we'll try Hope, or Hayden Lake, or Garfield Bay this year. While Sandpoint has what many believe to be the premier display, plus there is the cool factor of being able to walk about downtown and get a beer or a slice, there are a dozen other venues within twenty miles that offer the rocket's red glare all around Lake Pend Oreille and outlying areas.

City Beach facing the Beach House

City Beach July 4th

Sandpoint City Beach - Early before July 4th 2009

Nope, the decision made, Sandpoint became the choice, but where to park our party? Some people like to take in the pyrotechnics from their boats offshore. From past experience, the tiny gnats have made me appreciate an on-shore location. So, across the water at 41 South is pretty cool, and from a distance, the far away view from off Lefaye's Way and Forever View is awesome. My friend's, Gary and Laura Peitz, had parked their travel van at City Beach and extended the invite, so the final destination was selected.

Going across the Long Bridge is always inspiring with the majestic mountain and lake views, at least when there isn't construction and delays. However, it was especially heartening this year.  We now know that our current economic woes were affecting people even to last summer, and combined with the high gas prices, there were fewer  boats on the lake, and summer 2008 numbers were way down compared to the previous few years. As I drove across the bridge the numbers of out-of-state license plates was the first good sign. The readily apparent increase of boats on the water was another. In my mind, even though it was early on Independence Day, the beginnings were auspicious.

Lake Pend Oreille boating 

We had gone to see Jesse Colin Young the night before at the Panida, and had put on the Concert after the concert at Kaye Delanius' home. She was back in town to visit and spruce up her 2nd home here. So, we were moving kind of slow. Even so, downtown was hopping, and there were already several hundred people at City Beach by the time we plopped down around 6pm. Again, the guitars came out and the singing kept the children entertained. Speaking of entertainment, thanks so much to the hilarious drunks at Trinity at the Beach. Trinity did a very good job of serving good drinks fast, but the floor show of the unnamed inebriated fellow was infinitely better than the cocktail.

The first deafening boom of the initial fireworks went up around 9:45pm, though from our vantage point, we could see pretty cool bursts all around the lake, on Sunnyside and Oden Bay, across to  Highway 200 leading out to Hope.

 City Beach pre-fireworks

July 4th fireworks Sandpoint

July 4th fireworks Sandpoint

There is always a small delay between the first burst and the proceeding deluge. I was told this is so people can get situated and train their cameras for the onslaught. While last year's fireworks were somewhat disappointing, this year lived up to the great years past.

The oooos and aaahhhs from the crowd was as pleasing as the illuminations. The delighted squeals of the children were added to the crrraccckks and kaaaaboooooms and baaannngggs that were followed by reds and blues and greens. At times when  the phosphorus lighted the crowds, reflecting off the water and smoke in the air, every soul on the beach was clearly visible, then the light would die down, and all was dark again. Our eyes, normally adjusting to darkened situations, could not recover in time, and pitch black was the rule, until the next blaze in the sky once again took our collective breaths away.

The crowd has swelled to roughly several thousand right before the beginning of the event, so that leaving was a massive moving of lemming-like humanity. Most had parked some place other than at the beach. Parking at the beach has some convenience, but leaving can take hours, or at least it seems like hours.

 July 4th fireworks Sandpoint

July 4th fireworks Sandpoint

As I drove back home across the Long Bridge the areas all along Lakeshore Drive and Bottle Bay Road had several large fireworks launches, the missiles colliding with open air, showering their umbrellas of pretty pink and white, yellow and stardust. Most surprising was the gigantic display taking place in Sagle right down Highway 95. Seemed just as big as the Sandpoint show, and I almost drove out there to check out that party. Maybe I'll go there next year.

All of this took place under a three quarter full moon. The temperature during the day was in the mid 90s, but cooled down to the 70s but the time the show started. My friend went to the Oregon coast this weekend, and he told me they skipped the fireworks because the fog was so thick. Temps there were in the 40s-50s and the wetness of the fog made life outside just not comfy.

The next day the temperatures had dropped to the high 80s, and the forecast was for high 70s to 80s for the next several days. We who live here sometimes forget to notice the wonderfully temperate weather, and take the striking beauty for granted. As I drove to Dover Bay to host an open house at Marina Town, one of the waterfront developments there, I noted that, with the exception of one Canadian speeder, all the people from Alberta and Washington, Montana and British Columbia, and all other points from afar, drove with that wonderful rubbernecking tourists are known for. They had the right idea. Look at this gorgeous place, this land of mountains and big lakes, rivers and beautiful landscapes. I saw over a dozen cases of allowing the random car to move into traffic, stopping for the multitude of pedestrians and cyclists. Good manners have been the rule this weekend. People take on the mantel of kindness and courtesy here in Sandpoint, regardless of big-city attitudes left behind. On the 4th, children asked "please" and said "after you," and "thank you, sir." This is paradise for so many more reasons than startling scenery.

Loved being in Sandpoint this weekend, and as I write this report, sitting on a balcony on the Pend Oreille, as boat after boat cruises by, I can think of no better place in the world to be than Sandpoint and North Idaho.

 Okay, it's me


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Gary Lirette

Business & Investing in the Inland Northwest
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