Saturday, February 17, 2007

24 Hour Vacation

This time of year the cabin fever strikes and we get the itch to travel. The recent stretch of foggy, rainy, grey weather hasn't helped much. Neither has the pre-planning of our Spring Break trip. We've got our week on the Oregon Coast booked and are counting down the days.

To shake things up a bit, we embarked on a local mini vacation. Out the door and back within 24 hours, traveling less than 30 miles and spending just about $55, we played tourist in our own town.

Hudson's Hamburgers

We started the adventure with a trip to Hudson's Hamburgers in downtown Coeur d'Alene to join in their 100th anniversary celebration. I hadn't enjoyed a Huddy burger in quite a few years since we never seem to be able to squeeze in the time. We arrived just before noon, but didn't have to wait too long for seats to open at the counter. For you out-of-towners, Hudson's has only one dining counter. It seats about 16 people. You can watch the hamburgers cooked right from your perch. The hamburgers are hand formed from a large pile of ground beef right at the grill. Your choices are simple and haven't changed much during the past 100 years: single or double, cheese, onions and pickles. You add your own ketchup or Huddy sauce from the squirt bottles on the counter.

And you never, ever ask for French fries. They have never been and never will be a part of the Hudson's menu. It's rumored you will be denied service if you even mention the word. I dared DD to ask for fries, but he was too chicken. Good thing, because I was hungry for a hamburger.

I wasn't disappointed. One taste, and I was reminded why Hudson's has been a downtown staple for so long. It's just down right good every time. You know your food is fresh, down to the pickles and onions being sliced just before being put on the bun. Your order is taken right at the counter, and never written down. It is also never messed up. You get exactly what you asked for. Seconds, often even thirds are carried over by hand and placed on your plate. It's simply good food and good service.

Cost for 2 hamburgers, 2 cheeseburgers, 1 soft drink and tip: $12

On our way out of town to our feature destination, we stopped by the Subway on Northwest Blvd to pick up sandwiches for dinner. This has to be my all time worst experiences in a Subway. There was one employee working. Since it was 3 p.m., there was only one other customer in the restaurant. I lost track of time, but it took about 20 minutes to have three sandwiches made. DD was waiting in the car with a sleeping Munchkin and started to become concerned I was being held hostage or something.

The problem was, the one employee working was new. I had to tell him what meats go on certain sandwiches. Then, he was distracted by the batch of bread overcooking in the oven. Finally, he labored over how to ring up the sale. I must have been in a good mood not to walk right out. The only reason I didn't was the employee was really nice and trying very hard. It wasn't his fault he didn't have help. It seems to be more and more common in fast food around here. Besides, the sandwiches tasted excellent.

Coeur d'Alene Casino
Just a quick 30 minute drive from town, the Coeur d'Alene Casino appears to sit in the middle of nowhere. In reality, is only a few minutes from the small towns of Worley and Plummer. It is an expansive building consisting of two hotel wings, hundreds of gaming machines, a cafe, buffet and deli, plus convention and event facilities. Across the parking lot is the Circling Raven golf course and club house.

Reservations are a must on Friday and Saturday nights, especially when the Casino issues coupons. We cashed in on our Coyote Rewards Club $19.95 hotel coupon. That's right. A hotel stay for only 20 bucks. Anyone can join the Rewards Club. It allows you to get points for the money you spend gambling. They also send a monthly newsletter with coupons (the more you spend, the better the coupons).

The room we had was a hundred times nicer than the Motel 6's we usually stay in. They are decorated with twig furniture and Indian inspired fabrics. Our room had two queen beds, a desk and chair, two arm chairs with an ottoman and a tv armoire. The room was large enough that it didn't feel crowded with all of the furniture. Since we are cable tv deficient at home, we were happy to crash on the beds and catch up on the non-network channels. Munchkin thought he was pretty cool having his own bed to spread his cars out on.

The Casino buffet is pretty well known in the area. I've had the Friday night seafood buffet and it was really good. For $17.99, you get all-you-can-eat top quality seafood. And trust me, I can eat a lot of King crab legs. Anyway, during this visit, we decided to forgo the dinner buffet (prime rib is available most nights) and save the calories for breakfast. We dined on our Subway sandwiches in the room before heading down for a swim at the indoor pool. Munchkin had a great time splashing and swimming. The pool even has an area at one end that is just 1 foot deep.

DD and I switched off hanging out in the room with Munchkin so the other could take a chance with the slot machines. Being the big gamblers that we are, we hit up the penny machines. I, as usual, lost my funds. Luckily, DD won it all back. We came out even in the end, not bad for a few hours of entertainment.

The breakfast buffet at the High Mountain Buffet could make you go crazy trying to decide what to eat. They offer made-to-order omelets and eggs, waffles, French toast, at least three different potatoes, sausage patties and links, bacon, biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, breads, desserts and even more that I can't remember. The $7.99 includes all beverages. It was hard to leave, especially after I tried a mini eclair. Who would've thought they make an excellent breakfast item?

We just made the 11 a.m. checkout time, not in an hurry to end our mini vacation. We were treated with sunshine for the drive home. A taste of spring to help get us through the rest of winter.

Cost for hotel and breakfast: $37.13

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