LIBERTY LOOP TRAIL

"Liberty Lake Loop" Liberty Lake, ID
"Liberty Lake Loop" Liberty Lake, ID"Liberty Lake Loop" Liberty Lake, ID
"Liberty Lake Loop" Liberty Lake, ID
"Liberty Lake Loop" Liberty Lake, ID
As previously mentioned, one of my big three requirements when traveling is a good hike. This year I've taken a really liking to hiking, and have made a point of going on at least one in whichever city I am visiting. I had a relatively hard time trying to find a moderate hike in the Spokane area. I wanted a half-day hike, and most of what I found were short hikes with little to no elevation. More like a walk, really. Blame it on my lack of knowledge about geography, but I wasn't sure what kind of terrain I'd encounter in Spokane. Turns out it's less mountainous and more hilly, so that's that.

I stumbled upon Liberty Lake Loop, which seemed to be my best option. The hike is 8.9 miles with 1,251 feet of elevation. It is located in Liberty Lake Regional Park, which is roughly a thirty minute drive out of Post Falls. Entry to the park is $2 a head, and there is also a campground. The is a parking area followed by a short walk down to the campground. The trailhead isn't very well marked, and we ended up having to ask for directions. The trail seemed way too easy for the first mile or so. There was little elevation, and I wondered out loud it this was going to be a shoot-you-up-the-mountain type hike. It most certainly was! Shortly after, we reached an area that was marked as being eroded and not suitable for walking. After checking some trail websites, the sign seems to be meant to keep day walkers out and hikers in. The next couple of miles were a series of very steep switchbacks uphill to the waterfalls. There is a viewing area once you're halfway up. I didn't realize that it was the only viewpoint on the trail, so we didn't bother to take photos. My bad! It didn't look nearly as spectacular as some of the photos online made it out to be. Nice, but the air was thick that day. We trucked on uphill and came across the waterfalls. Again, I think it was a case of timing, because they were more stream like than a fall. Online reviews note that spring is the best time to see the falls, likely due to winter run-off. Nevertheless, while they weren't exactly spectacular, the falls were still a sight. The main highlight was the cedar forest. Once you've reached the top, the trail evens out for a while until you reach a series of signs. One leads up to a Scouts cabin, another back to parking, and another reading More Hiking. We figured that was it for the loop, so we followed the parking sign. There are no switchbacks on the way down, so we found ourselves jogging most of the way. Once we reached the bottom, we discovered that we ended up on the Equestrian Route, so I'm not entirely sure if we actually did the entire hike. Other websites agree that yes, we did. The More Hiking route would have added another four miles on to the hike for a total of 11 miles.

We left the rest of our crew to their own devices for the day, which turned out to be a good idea. While it wasn't an incredibly challenging hike, the switchbacks were quite trying at times, and it takes at least an in shape individual to do the hike without complaint. Pros of the hike were the falls and difficulty. Cons were the lack of viewpoints and the HEAT, which I suppose was our own fault for starting late in the morning and wearing too much clothing.

FIRE ARTISAN PIZZA

Fire Artisan Pizza Spokane, WA

Fire Artisan Pizza was my culinary saving grace while in Spokane. After three days of eating terrible fried chain-restaurant dinners, on the final evening we had a family meal at Fire to celebrate my dads birthday. Oh, I could go on and on with lovely things to say about Fire, but we'll leave it at four words: it's delightful and delicious.

Fire is located in the heart of downtown Spokane across from the Davenport. The building boasts high ceilings, modern decor and an open kitchen. When we arrived late afternoon, the space was relatively empty, which was a surprise as I expected it to be bustling on a Saturday. We seemed to have come at an opportune time, because shortly after being seated near the front of the restaurant, other patrons began flooding in.

Fire Artisan Pizza Spokane, WA
Chocolate chip cookie - Fire Artisan Pizza Spokane, WA
Fire Artisan Pizza Spokane, WA
Fire Artisan Pizza Spokane, WA

Our waiter was cheerful and offered some great wine and beer selections. We skipped the appetizers (although in hindsight I would have liked to try the Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Salad) and dove straight in to the pizza. Two vegetarian options being Billy (goat cheese, roasted red pepper, Kalamata olives, tomato sauce, fresh arugula* - $14) and Crimini (crimini mushrooms, thyme, garlic olive oil, mozzarella cheese - $13). Two meat options being Camino (roasted chicken breast, Kansas City bacon, red onion, aged white-cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, chipotle bbq sauce, finished with fresh cilantro and habenero sea salt - $15) and Thai (mae ploy, mozzarella, roasted chicken breast cashew satay sauce, serrano chilies, green onions, finished with cilantro, cashews and sriracha - $16). The pizzas cooked up in minutes, and I think that we were all surprised by which pizzas ended up being our favorites.

When I looked at the menu ahead of time, I was unimpressed that they had only one dessert option: a Bitter Sweet Chocolate Chip Cookie with Gray Salt and Ice Cream. We were going for a birthday after all, and a chocolate chip cookie seemed an underwhelming way to end the evening. I couldn't have been more wrong. My brother was excited about the cookie, so were ordered one and split it between us four. Oh, my. The cookie was thick in the centre and still warm when it arrived at our table. On top was a giant scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. The salty-sweet combination of the ice cream, chocolate chip and gray salt was a huge hit, and I'm so glad that we got dessert. We left the restaurant with full bellies and smiles on our faces. My only complaint about Fire was the lack of cocktail list. While I was content with my wine, I was hoping for some unique cocktails, which I think would have gone well with the vibe of the restaurant.

In Spokane, Fire is located 816 W Sprague, and they also have a location in Coeur d'Alene.

Fire Artisan Pizza on Urbanspoon

* Pizza descriptions taken from fireartisanpizza.com

THE AUGUST PLAYLIST

August Playlist

The theme of these playlists seems to be "better than than never." I'm starting to wonder if in the two years that I've been posting playlists here, I've started to repeat songs. Whatever though. Some tracks are good enough that they deserve multiple listens. This is what I've been listening to all month. Some really great artists have released some great tracks this summer!

Find the playlist on Rdio.

GARDEN UPDATE: JULY

Broccoli and Basil
Carrots
Radishes
Sprouted BroccoliBeet Greens
RaspberriesAfrican Violet
Salad Greens
Zucchini
Early Girl TomatoBroccoli
Raised Bed
This months chat about the garden will be summed up into one, slightly sad, slightly exciting post. There are no photos to show from the Ys garden from this month. Before I left, the peas had overgrown the trellis and had begun to droop back over the bed. The lettuce was getting nice and big and some of the mesclun had begun coming up. Fast forward to this week, when I returned to work and the garden only to find that some little shit head had pulled most of the plants from their roots and left them in the bed. Yeah. Thanks, bro. Now, had they simply harvested some of the plants, I would not be so bothered. It's the act of actually killing the plants and leaving them there that really gets me going. It's sad, and it's disrespectful. The garden was there for the community to enjoy, and now we are left trying to salvage the remains. The beans remained untouched, which I suppose is good. Most of the lettuce was pulled, and some of the peas. The peas are the most sad, because they were JUST started to produce actually pods, which were so, so good. There is nothing like fresh peas. Well, I am sad, but what do you do? I suppose that is the risk that you take with a community garden, but you hope that people will be kind and respectful. Let me say this though: Karma will find you, and you will deserve whatever is coming your way.

Onto, er.. Happier things. My home garden is doing relatively well, despite being neglected for a week. We will soon have raspberries, zucchini, broccoli, radishes and tomatoes. Has anyone ever actually seen broccoli plants? They are the strangest thing. The rhubarb has run its course, as have most of the herbs, which i am currently drying. The lettuces are doing well, although they could use another planting. The arugula is done - it's just too hot at this point that whenever I plant more it goes straight to seed, ultimately rendering it useless for consumption. It's getting to the point in the season where I'm not sure if I should keep planting more salad greens (requiring me to purchase more seeds), or if I should hang up my apron and gloves for the season and try again next year. I'm looking forward to the rest of the harvest, and it has been quite enjoyable to get the majority of my, well, just my salad greens at this point, but even to not have to purchase those has been great. Is it time to pass off the torch to the farmers and get the rest of the summers bounty from the market? After the sad event described above, I'm thinking so, at least for this year. Soon, I hope to have friends over to celebrate the taste of summer and to enjoy the remains of the things that I have grown. Soon enough.
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