Four Hot & New Post Falls Night Spots (Post Falls Voice)

Four Hot & New Post Falls Night Spots Spokesman Review Post Falls Voice Publication Date 5/31/07
The Oval Office Bistro and Martini Bar 620 N. Spokane St. The Blue Bay & The Blue Grotto 1910 E. Seltice Way Capone’s 315 Ross Point Road Paddy’s Too 900 N. Highway 41
For much of its existence, the town of Post Falls sat next to Coeur d’Alene like a scrawny little sister, not quite as worldly and hip. She was a little awkward and gangly, not having much of an identity in the shadow of her larger sibling, so full of Resort glamour and bustling nightlife. However, in the last ten years or so, Post Falls has experienced an enormous growth spurt, pushing past urban puberty and blossoming into a city that can stand on its own merits. Traditionally, a night out in Post Falls would frequently evolve into a night out in Coeur d’Alene, where the selection of lounges and night spots was considerably more diverse. There have always been a handful of places in Post Falls where Country music and cheap domestic beer combine to make for a distinctly rowdy North Idaho experience. If that wasn’t your kind of scene, then you were likely headed east to investigate the happenings in the city by the lake. I’d like to hope that people party responsibly and call a cab to get from one town to the next, but the reality is that Seltice Way is ripe on weekends with dangerous drivers trying to sneak home after boozy night of barhopping in Coeur d’Alene. Fortunately, some fantastic and unique new night spots have emerged recently within the borders of Post Falls itself, rendering trips eastward for a night out pretty much unnecessary. Surely the most obvious sign of Post Falls’ new uptown vibe is the opening last November of The Oval Office, an elegant bistro and martini bar. Owner Raci Erdem was already famous and beloved by many in the area for creating huge, delicious clouds of garlic aroma that waft out from his White House Restaurant, located a block up Spokane Street from the Oval Office. He is the local guru of garlic and his gourmet creations are so hardcore, one can actually smell them while cruising nearby on I-90, just passing through. The Oval Office wittily continues the political theme of the White House, complete with Martinis named the President, the Vice President, and the First Lady. If you like your martini spiked with extra olive juice, then of course you’ll want to order a Dirty Monica. The Watergate is a tart and delicious treat made with raspberry rum and watermelon liqueur. In total, there are 25 martini varieties available starting at $7.50, and each is a masterfully delightful concoction. The atmosphere at the Oval Office is upscale but laid back and inviting. The martini bar itself is extremely cozy and lends itself well toward intimate conversation over a drink and an appetizer. If martinis aren’t really your thing, a full range of cocktails and brews are also available. The menu here is not nearly as garlic-centric as The White House, focusing more on American cuisine and drink-friendly appetizers. I’ve heard the Mango Swordfish is legendary, and that the Will Barron steak is worth getting carried away over, but at nearly $25 per entrée, these items are beyond my budget. Try the simple yet elegant Cheese and Grapes Plate, or the deliciously addictive Honey Brie Phyllo cups, several of many affordable appetizers to chase down with your Hillbilly President, a huckleberry infused martini and Oval Office specialty. This place, like the White House, is constantly bustling with people, so reservations are heavily recommended. The Blue Grotto is the lounge portion of the Blue Bay Family Restaurant, which sits at the corner of Seltice Way and Greensferry Road in the building formerly occupied by the Dugout. Tony Orozco and company remodeled the property extensively and opened their doors for business earlier this year. I have to say, they’ve done an amazing job at rejuvenating the place. Gone is the darkness and clutter of the Dugout, replaced by natural light and wide open spaces. The main restaurant is a bit like being in an undersea world, with an expansive blue ceiling and fish pictures everywhere. Blue Bay serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, including traditional family-style cuisine and specializing in Mexican. When I walked into the Blue Grotto lounge, it was perhaps a little early in the evening for much excitement. The place was cavernous and empty but extremely well put together. Dozens of long black tables were lined with elegant high-backed chairs, a large stage sat at one end of the room and two pool tables at the other. Defying the simplicity of the décor was the chaos of 12 big flat screen televisions, each tuned to a different channel. Nothing here has been broken in yet, everything is still new and pristine, free of the beer stains and cigarette burns that decorate the fixtures of so many local lounges. I pulled up to the handsome granite bar and ordered a drink. As I chatted with the bartenders on duty, Darcy and Amy, the sole other customer piped up from his whiskey sour and told me that the Blue Grotto was “the classiest bar in Post Falls, hands down.” Indeed, he’s pretty much on the money. With Karaoke every Sunday and Monday, live local bands on Fridays and Saturdays, and happy hour every day from 4-6 p.m., the Blue Grotto has the raw space and potential to turn into one of the busiest, most happening places in North Idaho as well as one of the classiest. Several longtime Coeur d’Alene food and drink establishments have recently decided to get in on some of the action in Post Falls. Capone’s has been king of the microbrew scene in its Lake City location since Tom and Teresa Capone cracked open the first bottle of beer there in 1991.The Post Falls location, on Ross Point road behind KFC, sticks to exactly the same formula that made the original spot so popular: a mind-blowing variety of microbrews on tap and fuss-free delicious bar food in a non-smoking environment. It’s definitely a sports bar at heart, with a ton of TV screens to watch the game, and always a rowdy crowd to enjoy the game with. Occasionally, the sports mania comes to a halt to make way for some live music. Capone’s Post Falls has 25 micros on tap, including my all-time favorite, Pyramid Apricot Ale, the sweetest and most refreshing brew on earth, served ice cold. For those who choose to dabble in the harder stuff, a full liquor bar is available, as well as a variety of subs, pizzas, and burgers to help fill in your tummy so you don’t get too tipsy too quick from your beverage of choice. Also migrating over from the east is Paddy’s, who’ve opened Paddy’s Too in the massive new strip mall that seemingly popped up over night at the corner of Highway 41 and Mullan Ave. When I was much younger and the Coeur d’Alene Paddy’s was under a different owner, we knew it as a place where they were pretty lackadaisical about checking ID’s, and since the place managed to be an all-ages establishment while serving beer, it was Grand Central for underage drinking. Since current Paddy’s owner Rich Hanlon took over several years ago, the place has gone from a scrappy pool hall for rowdy young boozers, to a swanky sports bar. Paddy’s Too continues the upscale trend by adding a giant, three-pillared full liquor bar, ten plasma screen televisions, and 7 huge pool tables, which is more pool tables than anyplace else I’ve heard of, possibly setting a record. Like the Blue Grotto, everything is so fantastically new and crisp, and the no-smoking policy will help keep things that way (for those who just have to puff, there is a heated smoking porch.) Paddy’s Too offers a different drink special every night of the week including Tequila Tuesdays, and free pool on Irish Sundays. Karaoke is weekly on Wednesdays, a DJ is in residency on Fridays, and live music happens every Saturday night. Unlike the Coeur d’Alene Paddy’s, the new place offers a full lunch and dinner menu, and breakfast on weekends.

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Random Video Sunday: Beer, Crack and Bollywood

40 Ounce J - Beer Run
It's fun to see the different Coeur d'Alene places and faces that pop up in this entertaining video by local punk band 40 Ounce J. Otis G. and his homies totally rawk the drive-up quickie mart and then get everyone in town drunk on Olde English. Cheers!

The Dogs - Your Mama's On Crack Rock
Somehow this catchy little number slipped under my radar at whatever point in the early '90's it reared it's nappy head. In a way, it's tragic and sad, yet it's handled with such gleeful panache it somehow becomes almost cute. "I'm a bust you up!" Note: original video taped from long-dead and eternally kitschy music video channel The Box.

Mohammad Rafi - Jan Pehechan-Ho
A dance number clip from the 1966 Indian film Gumnaam. The song is "Jan Pehechan-Ho" performed by Bollywood music legend Mohammed Rafi. Also seen in the opening part of cult classic film "Ghost World." Just watching all the headshake dancing makes me dizzy.

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Happy 25th, Wild Waters!

I just read in today's newspaper that today is opening day for the season at Wild Waters. Not only that, it's the opening day for their 25th season. 25 years of Wild Waters! We're talking 1982. So many fragmented memories. I was ten and that was a long, hot, chlorine-soaked, prune-skinned summer indeed. I can't recall if my parents allowed me the luxury of a much-desired Wild Waters Season Pass that first year or not, but I was a proud card-carrying member for probably 2-3 years in a row. They even put your geeky little picture on your pass and it made me feel like I was really somebody important with it at the front of my dayglo nylon velcro wallet. It always seemed like such an enormously long climb to the top of that hill on a scorching day. Or maybe I was already lazy back then. I dunno, but it felt great to get to the top and line up for your slide of choice. The slides varied in wildness, from the mellow Jersey Cream to the intensity of the Twister and the Double Trouble. Some of the best days to go were cloudy and rainy days because few people braved it on days like that, and we could basically have the whole park to ourselves. There could be quite a howling breeze atop the mountain with just a few hardcore kids standing around dripping and shivering in the rain. The water would actually seem comfortingly warm to jump into on those days. Like anyplace where kids of various ages gather, there was kind of a caste system in effect at Wild Waters, and the 16-year-old attendants that worked the top of the hill ruled the roost. Looking back, I think they had some kind of superiority complex, power trips, and they would make you wait forever when you just wanted to dive into that slide and go go go. There was some kind of tricky science to the way the water flowed through those tubes, you weren't supposed to go unless the water was gushing a certain way. Only the uber-cool attendants knew the exact moment when it was time for you to begin your watery descent. Still, if you weren't careful you'd get stuck halfway down in a dry spot and the person after you would suddenly come around the corner and whoosh! A painful and wet collision would ensue. Then there was the threat of catching too much air on the way down and flying right out of the slide into the dirt. I don't know if that actually happened to anyone or not, but some of those corners got pretty hairy at 35 mph or whatever. Every once in a great while, a great surge of water would come up under you in such a certain, specific way that it would pull your swimming trunks or bikini bottoms right off your body, and you'd have to catch up with them when you landed in the pool at the bottom, hoping and praying that no-one even noticed. Seems like someone always noticed. I could never really get into the short slides further down the hill, the really fast ones that were basically vertical with a ten foot drop at the bottom. Those were scary to me, and I avoided them in favor of the long, slow tube float. It was fun to hover around forever stuck inside a giant round floater, slowly plopping down from level to level. The back rubber of those innertubes could get asphalt hot in the sun, so you'd have to flip the exposed side over every now and then, to let it cool in the lukewarm water of the pool. It was also endlessly entertaining to paddle around in the channels that ran between the main pools, because you could swim under the wooden footbridges. Then there was the giant silver water faucet with the red handle whose mighty water flowed so forcefully, it was daring and painful experience to stick your head under it. One place or another, we would stay in bleachy, urine-filled Wild Waters until we were red-eyed and bloated, our hands pickled and wrinkly, like those of a hundred year old woman. The Zoo was the radio station of choice and hits like "Don't You Want Me?", "Eye of the Tiger", "Rio", and "Little Red Corvette" flowed out of the omnipresent speakers, from the snack bar to the grassy area to the top of the hill. On those rare moments we weren't in the water we could be found by in the "Surfside Cafe" with a hot dog and a blue raspberry Icee, or in the gift shop caught up in a game of Ms. Pac Man. I remember the gift shop was kind of tragic - what did they sell besides a ton of useless crap with the Wild Waters logo? Few people know that Wild Waters was actually the first waterpark ever to open in the entire Northwest. In fact, there were only a handful in the entire country at the time. One early 80's summer, my cousins from San Jose, California came to visit for a few weeks and they didn't even have any water slides yet! It was the one cool thing that we had here in Idaho and they didn't. We put in a lot of hours there while they were in town, listening to Journey, sliding and diving and soaking up the sun. Eventually, the novelty wore off of Wild Waters, or maybe we just outgrew it. Anyway, it was kind of nice to return to the nature and simplicity of our abundant lakes and rivers. These days it's $25 for single day's admission, which is not too far under what an entire season pass must have cost in 1982. One of those now runs a whopping $110, which seems like it might be a little more than it's really worth. To stay competitive with Silverwood's Boulder beach waterpark up the road, Wild Waters is putting in some new stuff, including a 12,000 foot "Lazy River" ride, waterfalls and a "Wild Willy Rope Swing" (sounds kinky.) Judging by the amount of tourists who ask me for directions there on a daily basis, Wild Waters doesn't seem to have slowed down or lost it's appeal over the years. Here's an idea: I'll find someone I know with a summertime birthday and convince them to spring for one of the group birthday party packages that Wild Waters offers. Wouldn't that be kitschy? I don't know how eager I am to send my tired old body flying down any water slides, but it sure would be a fun retro way to spend the day sometime. I'm sure the moment I walked in the gate and that smell of chlorine hits my nose, a million long-suppressed childhood memories would come flooding back.

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IGA No More

News Flash: One of the last bastions of old-school Coeur d'Alene is soon to be no more. The cashier at Sherman IGA told me this morning that they are no longer going to be an IGA. They are going fully independent and are renaming the store "Peterson Family Foods." A modernization and redecoration is in the works. I suppose this is a good thing, but it has been an IGA since the dawn of time, and it will be a little disturbing when the signs come down. As long as the Chester Fried chicken remains intact it'll be OK, I suppose... When I was growing up, my grandmother lived directly behind the store , which was "Spencer's IGA" at the time, I do believe. I spent a lot of time there, annoying cashiers, buying 5 cent candy and getting mucky little fingerprints all over fresh comic books. One of my first memories (I must have been 4...5...6..?) is unintentionally walking out with an unpaid-for pack of gum in my hand, and my mother discovering it and freaking out! Boy, I was in trouble. It was my first lesson about stealing, and she made me march back in that store, tell them what I did, and pay for the gum. I've never even thought about pocketing gum since. Even back then, IGA seemed pretty run down. I have a polaroid snapshot of myself when I was about 4 sitting in some kind of funny-car parked in front of IGA, flanked by two men wearing extremely ghetto big bird and cookie monster costumes. The moment is gone from my actual memory, but the look on my face in the photo says it all: WTF? Who are these wannabes? And that is the appeal of the IGA in a nutshell. It was never a big-shot deal like Albertsons or Safeway. The selection is rather minimal, the prices aren't great, there's no "club cards" or 10 for 10 sales. However, they have basically what you need, and you can get in and out fast with a minimum of drama. Basically it's like a quickie-mart that wants to be a big-box grocery. I'm actually glad to hear they're going fully indie. I think the IGA brand name was starting to bring them down. The place is way past due for a facelift, and I think it will be nice to see what they do with the remodel. The cashier who broke the news to me this morning was also excited to reveal that they were now going to be carrying the full line of "Western Family" products. Ooh, la la! I do think the name "Peterson Family Foods" is maybe a little wordy - it just doesn't roll off the tongue like "IGA" does. I guess we can call it "Peterson's" for short. Or "Pete's." "Honey, I'm going to Pete's for some cheese." In reality, they could paint the place black and silver, hang disco balls and name it "Studio 55", but to me it will always be IGA, and that's how I'll continue to refer to it.

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Video: Gloria Huddle: "Operator" (1981)

There's just something magic about the eyes...

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Mix CD: Lightworks

The Name Of The Game Is Lightworks I used to make Mix CD's left and right, all the time. I hadn't made one in ages, but I've decided to start doing one a month, making exactly 10 copies of each to give out to friends and random strangers. I get frustrated. Mainstream music is so terrible right now and I feel a compulsion to spread the word that there are people out there making great records. Most people aren't obsessive about it like me, so they never hear of a lot of good stuff, unless maybe it hits XM Radio or is hyped in the music press. So I present the tracklist for the first CD in my new monthly series - maybe if you're super nice, you will end up with a copy. Let me know if you want to "subscribe" to my series. "Lightworks" May 2007 A Making Flippy Floppy Compilation 01 Publisher by Blonde Redhead 02 Lightworks by Raymond Scott 03 Thou Shalt Always Kill by Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip 04 Declare Independence by Bjork 05 We’re Diabetic by Pat Morris 06 Elephant Gun by Beirut 07 Lightworks by J Dilla 08 Profile Me by Vomit Bomb 09 Young Manhood by the Wild Swans 10 I’ve Still Got You (Ice Cream) by Pissed Jeans 11 Hippie Priest Bum-Out by LCD Soundsystem 12 Good Deeds by Adult. 13 Lightworks (Slow) by Raymond Scott 14 Du Og Meg by Of Montreal 15 Running Water by Kathy McCarty 16 Look Alive by Pylon 17 Void by the Mary Onettes 18 Lightworks by Venus Hum 19 All Day Long by New Order 20 Subterranean Homesick Alien by Christopher O’Riley 21 The Day Before You Came by Blancmange 22 Lightworks (Instrumental) by Raymond Scott




Graduation Compilation

Post Graduation Angst It feels a little depressing and quite strange to realize that I'm totally done with taking classes. I thought I had a Geology final tomorrow but it turns out I don't need to take it. If I did, it would only change my final grade from a B- to a B, and I can live with a B-. So then, I'm done. After basically 15 years of having college on the brain in one form or another (especially the last 4 years), I have to start looking for other things to fill that space in my life. A part of me is a little sad that I have no more classes to tackle. I honestly think I am addicted to learning. I want to sign up for some of those "personal enrichment" classes that NIC offers, just so I can keep learning. I feel like I'm dead if I'm not learning something new, moving forward. Of course, in my chosen field of Web Design, the technology is always changing and you have to always learn new things to stay on top of the game. That's all well and good, but what I'm going to miss are the extra, unrelated things like learning Geology or Art History. Since I'm a big reader, naturally I will continue to pursue knowledge in different subjects, but it's not quite the same. There's something so satisfying about working hard and seeing that final grade at the end of the semester, earning those credits. I am thinking about going back in 2-4 years perhaps to focus more on writing (English? Journalism?) I already have enough credits stocked up that it wouldn't take me very long to do. Alas, I already owe a fortune in loans and I shouldn't really add more to the pile. In the words of the band Asia, only time will tell.
Music Notes: Today My Heart Swings First off, I have a real "thing" for the new single by Interpol, "The Heinrich Maneuver." Such a strong return for these New York boys, who were criticized early on for being too derivative of '80's post-punk but manage to shake off the lazy Joy Division comparisons by arriving at a sound that the band has made purely their own. "Heinrich" is fresh with propulsive rhythm and soaring guitar, the lyrics oblique enough to be interesting, whilst Paul Banks' voice cracks with raw detachment. Near the end, when the song roars to a sudden halt only to fire back up again full speed ahead, I get chills everytime. I've got my gizzy in a twirl waiting for the whole album. Before I'd ever really heard of Feist I read something about her living with my fave electro-tramp Peaches back in the day when they first started out. So a few years back, when I saw a video for her track "Mushaboom" I wasn't overly jazzed - it was nice, but I was expecting something more electro-dancey. It didn't stick, basically. So when her latest album the Reminder hit my download service, I didn't react. Then I started reading praise for it left and right, so I became curious and was delighted upon first listen. Wonderfully, it gets better with each listen, more colors emerge each time through. Her musical palette is broad, from the high gloss and hectic handclaps of "Sealion Woman" to the awkward pop of "1-2-3-4" and many more chill moments between, Feist's melodies are earworms of the finest caliber. Her voice is alternately crackly and plainspoken, her singing style varied but singular. The Reminder is an album that completes and compliments any particular moodswing. Was there ever a more fitting song title than "Icky Thump", the new single from the ever-brilliant White Stripes? Those words collide together in exact description of the dull thud of Meg's drums and the ooey-gooiness of Jack White's boiling, Zepplin-y guitar moves. This audio mud pie slowly melts with the addition of some sick and sticky Moog synth riffs lifted straight from some obscure prog confection from 1974. Like baked Alaska, Jack's frantic rant sets the song aflame, a few sly anti-war metaphors lend it some political currency. This shit is bananas Foster.

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Random Photo: Mom's Feet

During my graduation ceremony, I gave my mother my camera to snap a bunch of pics. Thing is, the woman can barely figure out how to operate a regular camera, so my digital camera really threw her for a loop. When I got it back, there were actually a couple that turned out okay and a few of this kind of thing:
Photo by Mom 5/6/07

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Who Put The Pomp In the Pomp and Circumstance?

Lewis-Clark State College Graduation Day May 6, 2007 It wasn’t until I found myself in full graduation drag, sweaty and grouchy during graduation rehearsal, that it actually hit me: I was actually about to graduate. What finally did the trick, I think, was when the soundman cued up that crusty and trusty old graduation ditty “Pomp and Circumstance” and dear Melanie finally started getting wisty on me, “I’m gonna start crying.” I was just going to stay in and do something purposeful and boring like organizing my jpg files, but it was the night before my graduation and I had the urge to celebrate. So Char met me at the pub for a just a few little quick ones, and those turned into a few more little quick ones, and those turned into a few more, slower ones. Oh, and of course when I told everyone I was going to graduate the next day, they wanted to buy me some bonus ones and well, I vaguely remember catching a ride home with Spacebilly, and suddenly I’m cracking a crusty eyelid and looking at the blurry red glow of digits telling me it’s 10:58 AM. Ugh, that means I’ve got exactly 30 minutes to get my shizznit together and be perky and ready for graduation rehearsal. The inside of my mouth was the texture of the great Palouse in August. This wasn’t a painful, headachy hangover, it was more of a dizzy, disoriented, dehydrated kind of feeling. I was finding moving fast a little difficult, but I shifted into autopilot mode, guzzling a big ice-cold green tea (my newest and most favorite form of caffeine administration), and I was feeling OK by the time I shuffled into Boswell Hall, my cap and gown stuffed hurriedly in a plastic Safeway bag. I followed the signs up to a classroom on the 2nd floor they had set up for signing in and changing. Room 220, in the art department where, ironically enough, I began my college career so many years ago. Fine art was the first of many majors I would carry and not complete. Here I was 17 years later in the same room finally wrapping the whole thing up – the official title of my degree is Bachelor of Science in Applied Technology. That’s a nice way of saying Internet Geek. Scanning the room, it was a little comforting to realize that most of the other LCSC graduates were my age or older, only a handful of twenty-somethings were present. Actually, the youngest one in our class was 18 – I still can’t figure out how one gets a BA degree at age 18… I signed in and waited for Melanie. My wooziness returned sitting in that hot little crowded room with a bunch of strangers. See, 90% of my classes at LCSC were held online, so I never actually got to know any of my school mates in person at all. Obviously, I know Melanie already from NIC, and I know Kate Bales from being friends outside of school, and my old friend Toni McCurdy I didn’t even know I went to school with until I ran into her that day. That’s it, virtually everyone else was a new face, and there were more than I thought as well, probably about 150 people. Anyway, as soon as Mel showed, we snuck away to get dressed in peace. Who was it that invented this ritual, who designed this incredibly silly outfit? What kind of fashion statement is it? A tight skull-cap with a large square up top, and a mad tassel dangling to and fro. A long, unflattering black satin dress, totally frumpy and with unexplainable folds and a zip-up front like a big Members Only jacket. I did like the sash, simple white with the school seal embroidered in blue. I had worn a nice long-sleeve dress shirt underneath, but had to lose it before rehearsal due to the notorious and oppressive Boswell Hall heatstroke. Combined with my post-boozy blues, I needed some fresh air stat. We found a nice breezy bench outside the door and played with our hats. I never thought graduation rehearsal could be so hardcore. Unsure of where to line up, we latched onto “coordinator” Rocky Owens, who I suspect was just as confused as we were, but with an uptight edginess thrown in for good measure. Melanie nicknamed him Mr. Anal Retentive. We ended up lined up near the front behind a guy whose booze breath put my own morning-after syndrome to shame. It was hella hot up in there, and to make matters worse, some jackass was coming around handing out these blue surveys and little golf pencils. The survey was all about “How would you rate your experience at LCSC” type questions. As if we’d just eaten at Carl’s Jr. and were filling out a customer comment card. It was pure chaos already and then in the middle of it, they wanted us to just drop everything and fill out a stupid survey. We didn’t even have a flat surface to write on. I asked the guy if we could fill it out later and maybe drop it off at the college and he snapped at me “No, just fill it out!” and I said “No, I’m not going to fill it out right now, I’m a little busy at the moment getting ready to graduate, hello?” “It’s not optional.” So, I wrote in big capitol letters “BAD TIMING FOR A SURVEY.” I mean, couldn’t they have put the survey on the web or sent it out in the mail? Why must it be done right now at the worst possible moment? The tragic part is, no one ever even came back around to collect the damn things, and I saw quite a few people walk across the stage during the actual ceremony with the blue survey still in their hand. Silliness. Once rehearsal was over, family and friends began filling up the auditorium and we had twenty minutes to relax before lining up and doing it for real. For some reason, Mr. Anal Retentive decided to put Melanie and I at the very front of the entire student line-up this time, right behind the college deans in the cool, Harry Potter-ish velvet hats. I was literally the 2nd student to emerge into the throng of people and march down the stairs to the seats in the front section. The audience was larger that I had imagined it would be. The place was nearly full. “Pomp and Circumstance” played again and I looked around for my people but couldn’t see anyone. As soon as I made it down to the front, bam! My mother popped up in the aisle behind us and started clicking off pictures. Amazingly, she still uses an actual film camera, not digital – how quaint. She pointed up at the crowd and I saw the rest of my guests – my dad, Aunt Sally, second cousin Alex. Quincy and little Ella were there somewhere, I found out later, but I didn’t ever end up running into them. We settled in for twenty minutes worth of awkward speeches. Actually, I did quite enjoy president Dene Thomas’ speech – she chose to be humorous and quirky rather than traditional, and that was a fun surprise. We were called to rise and line up for the big walk. We ended up near the middle this time, me in front of Melanie. My name was called, the bright lights shined in my face, I waved to the crowd, shook hands with Dene Thomas, she handed me an empty diploma holder, and I exited stage right. It happened so fast. Melanie followed right behind me, walking across the stage completely barefoot, which garnered a whispered compliment from the president in her ear. We returned to our seats, and I was exhausted and antsy for the whole thing to be done. After a few more forgettable speeches and awards, we collectively flipped our tassels from right to left to symbolize the moment of graduation, the audience went wild, and we exited out into the lobby. I hooked up with the fam, and after a few Kodak moments I ripped off my cap and gown and said “Let us eat!” My mom had decided Bonsai Bistro was the place, and despite my Hagadone allergy, I was really looking forward to a large Sushi assortment. We got there and they were closed for a private function, so we decided to go for plan B: Dockside. I’ll save the gory details for a potential restaurant review, but overall it was a surprisingly good experience. We had a great view, the service was fine, and my Chicken and Broccoli Fettucine and Huckleberry Lemonade were very good. I opened cards and happily, cash kept dropping on my lap. Even though I’ve done the actual graduation ceremony, I still have 2 weeks of classes to complete, so the battle isn’t officially won yet. In fact, I just got a flash of panic realizing how much time I’ve spent on this blog when I should be finishing my dreaded JavaScript exercises.

This was my actually my fifth and final attempt at higher education, and I’m glad this time was successful. My choice of majors went like this: Fine Art changed to Graphic Design changed to Music changed back to Fine Art changed to English changed to Web Design/Internet Tech. I went to University of Idaho in 1990 for once semester, to North Idaho College in 1991 for two semesters, to Spokane Falls Community College for three quarters in 1994, and back to North Idaho College in 1997 for two more semesters. Between these times, I worked, I partied, I worked, I partied some more. It was hard to balance working full time, partying half-time, and school, so school was always the one to go.

In 2003, I decided to not work and not party and get every grant and loan I could to live on and just concentrate on school. I decided on Web Design and Internet Technology because it combines my love of arts and my creative side, and my fascination with the internet in a practical way that could potentially bring in a lot of money. So I decided to enter the Computer Information Technology program at NIC, where I was part of the last class to graduate from the program before they killed it off and replaced it with Landscaping Technology. A rep from LCSC had come to our class to let us know about the BASAT they were offering on their Coeur d’Alene campus and I decided to go for it, and that’s all she wrote.

Mainly for my own amusement, I combed through my transcripts and made a complete list of all courses I completed during my long and winding college career. Yes, my degree was Web Design, but I guess I must know a lot of other stuff, too. It's a little ridiculous, really...

ART 103 Visual Art ART 121 Visual Communication & Design BUSA 107 Mac Usage ENGL 103 Basic Skills In Writing FREN 101 Elementary French I FREN 102 Elementary French II FREN 201 Intermediate French I FREN 202 Intermediate French II MATH 155 Pre-Calculus ANTH 120 Social & Cultural Anthropology ART 122 Design & the Creative Process ART 232 Beginning Painting ENG 102 English Composition ART 111 Drawing I ART 210 Illustration I ART 221 Graphic Design PHOT 101 Intro to Photography HIST 244 Cooperative Study: The Renaissance HUM 101 Intro to Humanities ART 112 Drawing II MUS 127 Survey of American Pop Music COMM 101 Intro to Speech Communications CS 100 Intro to Computers ENG 104 English Composition II ENG 257 Literature of Western Civilization HIST 101 History of Civilization to 1500 ART 100 Survey of Art CINA 126 Film & International Culture PSYC 101 Intro to Psychology CAPS 108 Intro to Computer Applications CAPS 117 Intro to DOS CITE 110 Intro to PC Operating Systems CITE 112 Intro to PC Hardware & Repair CSC 100 College Transition FLAN 207 Contemporary World Cultures – France MATH 123 Contemporary Mathematics BUSO 101 Basic Keyboarding CITE 130 Intro to Internet Technologies CITE 150 Intro to Networking CITE 170 Systems Analysis and Design CITE 232 Intro to Web Page Design CITE 234 Web Design Methods and Technologies CITE 236 Web Based Applications CITE 238 Design for the Web Market ATEC 117 Occupational Relations CITE 242 Advanced Web Page Design CITE 244 Visual Basic CITE 246 Web Languages CITE 295 CITE Internship CITPT 485 Applications in Web Development CITPT 475 Web Development NS 175 Intro to Natural Sciences GNBPT 496 Co-operative Internship HIST 112 US History Since 1865 CITPT 413 Web Database Technologies CITPT 344 Multimedia Web Applications BUS 321 Principles of Marketing SS 350 Ethics: Women of the 20th Century HUM 300 Arts and Ideas SS 384 Computer Forensics CITPT 392 JavaScript Programming PITPT 392 Adobe InDesign GEOL 101 Physical Geology

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Great Glorious Road Trip to Libby, Montana

Last Sunday was grey but gorgeous, a groovy day for a nice little day trip in my new car. So I loaded up the iPod with fresh music, and Q and I headed north, with no particular destination in mind. We drove around Sandpoint trying to find Synergy, the nightclub but never did come across it. Downtown was just crawling with tourist types with their sad nineties hairdos and pastel polo shirts, looking for an overpriced bottle of wine or a crystal healing experience. We cackled as we nearly ran a few over as they jaywalked into Coldwater Creek. As we continued north, we noticed that we had pretty much crossed an invisible borderline: land as yet untouched by Californians. I'd only ever been to Bonners Ferry once, to the casino, at night. I'd never really had a chance to check out the town. On Sundays, they pretty much roll up the sidewalks and shut 'er down in Bonners Ferry. The downtown area is a bad time warp, retro but not charming at all. Literally the only people we saw down there were orange-vesters from Bonner County Jail doing some light spring flower gardening in front of the police station. Spooky. We stopped at the only open gas station to fill up and got questioning looks that said "yer not from here, are ye?" as if we were some kind of wild riff-raff from the big city. We decided to head east on US Highway 2 into Montana. I hadn't had a lot of love for the music of Nine Inch Nails in the last few years, but I'd thought I'd give the new album "Year Zero" a whirl, and it turned out to be the perfect soundtrack to middle-of-nowhere driving. I think I like it as much as "Pretty Hate Machine" - Trent's toned down the nasally drama and metal histrionics and settled into a tight, crunchy electro-distorto groove, and the album flows well from beginning to end. My jaw dropped during "The Great Destroyer" but Q was unimpressed, bitching that it hurt his ears. We drove into a little campground that sits right on the gorgeous Yaak River. There were already a few spots occupied with hardcore campers (brrr!) We pulled into a spot and parked for a while to enjoy the great greenness of mother nature. The rush and babble of the river was so hypnotic we had to wander down to the shore. I put my toes in and the water was surprisingly warm for this time of year. I picked out a few pockets full of interesting rocks to go in the aquarium. We made a vow to come back and actually camp at this magnificent secret spot (which is probably not secret at all and is overflowing with obnoxious campers all summer long.) We blinked as we passed through Troy and missed it, but right outside of town we came across a little parking area at the side of the highway with signs that said "Suspension Bridge" so we decided to check it out. A little cement pathway led down to an enormous enclosed footbridge over the railroad tracks and down five flights of dizzymaking stairs. These stairs were constructed of steel that had been cut full of holes, the edges turned up and spiky to prevent slipping, rendering the steps nearly transparent and giving the illusion that you're walking on air five flight up. They were bad enough going down, but I knew that they were going to kill me on the way back up. See, it's no secret that I'm not exactly in shape. Years of desk jobs and lack of time to exercise have rendered me pretty much useless in the physical fitness department. I enjoy walking and hiking, but I tire easily and my lower back gets unbearably sore after a while. Anyway, we followed a rocky little path that just kept going and going, with no suspension bridge in sight. I started to huff and puff and sweat and thank god there were nice rocks to roost on every few hundred feet. I felt even worse when little old ladies began passing me on the trail, "Get outta my way!" By the time we made it to the actual bridge we must have covered at least a mile and a half of winding mountain path. The suspension bridge was okay, but even cooler was the Kootenai River and Falls: I sat catching my breath overlooking one of the most gorgeous tableaus I think I've ever witnessed. I sat rapt and Q continued on the path, but I needed to relax a while so I stayed and waited. I laid back in the sun on a nice flat rock and was intoxicated by the heady sounds of raw nature until some lame teenagers came along and shattered the peace by loudly trying to push each other of the bridge. I sat up and saw Q waving at me from way across the river gorge and I snapped some photos of him. I slowly made the trek back to the parking lot, one bit at a time, and when we made it back to the bench at the top, I was out of breath and dying but actually felt good that I'd gotten in some much-needed physical activity. Now that I know it won't kill me, maybe I'll do it again. Back on the road, our thirst and cottonmouth became a primary issue, so we decided to cruise over to Libby for a bite. A big '70s sign that said "Antlers Restaurant" caught our attention. the menu was huge and colorful, varied and vivid, like Denny's. Is "Antlers" a chain or do they just have a really well-designed menu? We begged the waitress for a pitcher of water, and it was the best water we'd ever tasted in our entire lives. I was so parched, I couldn't get enough. I ordered a burger with swiss cheese and tomato on sourdough bread, and it was absolutely one of the most perfect creations I'd ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Seriously, I'd drive all the way to Libby again just for one of these. The fries were crisp and plentiful, hell, even the dill pickle spear was exceedingly green and crisp. Q agreed his Bacon Burger was worth getting moisty-eyed about. Maybe Montana cows just taste better, I don't know. We had asked our waitress if she knew a cool route back to Idaho and she recommended heading down Route 56, then back over through Hope to Sandpoint. Dubbed the "Highway to Heaven", Route 56 cuts right through the gorgeous peaks of the Cabinet Mountains and the entire stretch is untouched by homes and buildings, just ancient forests. Deer meandered in every clearing, we had to slow down a few times to avoid them in the road. Further on, the view of Lake Pend O'reille from the Hope area was breathtaking. Low purple clouds hung over the deep blue waters, making it nearly disorienting to drive due to the distraction of the natural beauty. I'd never been through here and always wondered what the hype about Hope was all about, now I understand. We decided to make it a point this summer to get out and explore or own backyard a bit more. As long as I've lived in Coeur d'Alene, I'm ashamed and amazed that there are so many places right in the area that I have never really spent the time investigating. Look out, Loon Lake, Genesse, and Polson, here we come!

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