I arrived back home in Idaho at about noon, 02 August. My wife, in-laws, niece, Pastor, and about 30 members of my church were there to greet me. It was kinda cool, my wife met me at the outside of security, and everyone else was waiting over at baggage claim. So, I got to enjoy my first kiss without feeling like I had to greet everyone else right away.
That first night, we ate dinner at Texas Roadhouse, which is one of my personal favorites. Texas Roadhouse was the first meal I had on Family Day, the 48 hour pass between basic training and AIT. It's a place where they have piping hot biscuits with some killer cinammon butter, and EXCELLENT steaks. I am the kind of guy that really enjoys eating GOOD food. My wife says she loves to watch me eat. Good thing she is a dietitian, too.
The next day, my wife and I drove to Coeur D'Alene (CDA), Idaho, for some alone time. We had a great time. After sleeping on my single size matress for the last 8 months, the king-bed was AWESOME.
We drove 9 hours straight to get there. Now, that sounds like a long drive, and it was, but it was a wonderful opportunity to have a long conversation, with no distractions, like TV or telephones. Communication is, at best, difficult while deployed, and it was wonderful to be able to talk. Just talk and do a little re-connecting.
The next day, we got up early (well, I got up early, as I was still on Iraq time, and dragged my wife out of bed, which is a complete departure from the norm, where she is the early riser) and drove up to Silverwood, a theme park just north of CDA. It had some big wooden rollercoasters, which I had a great time on. I am very proud of my wife, she actually rode on one with me, "The Timber Terror". She is not much for high-adrenaline rides, but she got on. I think she enjoyed it, too. They had the pre-requisite high-priced food and drinks, and we rode everything we wanted to ride. MDG Wife got some footage of me on the one she decided to sit out. Then, we went over to the water park, and worked on the tan while floating the "Lazy River". There are carnival games there too, and I, fully knowing it is nearly impossible to do, had to attempt to "Shoot out the Star" with the full-auto BB gun. No dice. Just a little shred of red was left. Oh well.
We then ate dinner at a nice Italian place, on the patio. As we prayed over our meal, some really shady looking homeless guy stopped next to our table, and when I finished praying, I looked up and there was a smelly, hairy guy standing waaaay to close to my table, just on the other side of a little plastic fence, staring at our food. I tell you, he just about got to meet my Kimber Custom TLE II. I think he sensed I was not happy with his presence, and he quickly moved on.
Dinner on the Patio
Then, we walked down to the boardwalk and watched the sun set over the lake. For the un-initiated, Lake Coeur D'Alene is a large lake in northern Idaho, about 30 miles east of Spokane, Washington. CDA is a resort town, and it is a popular destination for water skiing, sunbathing, and shopping.
Evening walk on the Lake Coeur D'Alene Boardwalk
Coeur D'Alene was great. There was a street festival in CDA, and we enjoyed meandering through the festival. There were many homemade products, arts and crafts. There were food booths everywhere, too.
The next 2 days were spent bumming around CDA. We just went where we felt like going, shopped where we felt like shopping, and ate where we felt like eating. We went to a sushi restaurant, and, well, it was not as good as we had hoped. We did find a good breakfast spot, however, a place called "The Breakfast Nook" (The name kinda gave it away). I had some great pork chops and hash browns. They were big shreds of potato, and super buttery.
On our fourth day, we drove north to a friend's cabin on Lake Pend Orille (pronounced pond o-ray). We spent the day lounging on their little beach, floating on the big inflatable islands anchored just off their dock, jet-skiing, and wake-boarding. We had dinner with our friends that evening, and I finally got some watermelon.
On the fifth day, we slept in, because a day at the beach and zipping around on the water, and swimmimg really takes it out of you. We relaxed and hung out. We went to "The Taste of Coeur D'Alene" for lunch. I have been to "The Taste of" Honolulu and Seattle. I was not so much impressed by CDA. The most exotic thing they had there were some wok-fired yakisoba. They were mediocre. I did get a pretty good fresh squeezed lemonade, though.
That night, we went on a dinner cruise on Lake CDA. It was a great night, in the high 70's, clouds just kinda randomly dotting the sky. We really enjoyed the food, which was served buffet style. Prime Rib, baby.
Me and the Mrs on the dinner cruise
The next day, we drove back home. We were gonna take it easy, and stop halfway for the night, but MDG's sister-in-law and her family had arrived from Oregon, and my niece, who is 2, could not understand why Uncle Mike was not home from Iraq. I guess her parents told her the whole 2 day car trip that she was gonna see Uncle Mike when they got to Nana and Grandpa's house. So, we hauled on home. I am not one who would ever try and disappoint my nieces.
The rest of my time home was very relaxing. We did some more shopping, hung out and played with my nieces, I tried my hand at welding while helping my father-in-law build some hitching posts in the barn. I loaded up all my .22cal guns and went up to the mountain behind the house and shot a brick of ammo. I love the smell of burnt gunpowder.
I was lucky enough to be home on my 3rd Wedding Anniversary. I woke up and thought, "OH, NO, I FORGOT FLOWERS". I had a gift, but forgot the roses. There was a fire about a mile away from our house, so I told MDG wife I was going to see what was burning and ran into town. That evening, we drove to the next major town south of where we live, and stayed the night in a 'theme suite' hotel. We stayed in the "Jungle Falls Suite". RAAAARRR!!!! We did arrive in town a few hours before check-in time, and my WONDERFUL WIFE even let me go to a couple gun stores. What a woman.
The Jungle Falls Suite
My wife also cooked me up some of my favorite Filipino food dishes. Sinigang, Pancit, and Lumpia. And REAL rice, none of the 'Uncle Ben's' type ka-kaa they serve in the chowhall. To me, if it doesn't stick together, it ain't rice. With soy-sauce. Yeah.
My Auntie M. and Uncle P. (Auntie is my Dad's older sister), who had been visiting MDG Sis in the Midwest, were driving back to Washington and stopped by to see me for a night a few days before I left to come back here. It was good to see them...we grilled steaks and talked all night.
MDG Wife and I saw "Four Brothers" and "Must Love Dogs". I enjoyed both of them. No, really, both of them. I like John Cusack movies. I can watch "High Fidelity" or "Grosse Pointe Blank" anytime. The dude is hilarious. Language warning for "Four Brothers", and gore too, but a good movie nonetheless.
The rest of my time was unremarkable, yet completely wonderful. It was a great time of relaxation, good food, great company, and wonderful interaction. I really can't think of anything I missed doing, and don't regret anything I did while at home, except possibly the sushi restaurant.
R&R was everything I could have hoped for, and nothing I feared. It was wonderful to be home, however short it was, but I can't wait to make it for good. We're in the homestretch now.