Thursday, January 29, 2015
Packing It In with Swiss Miss
Dear Fritz and Caroline,
Thank you. Our extended family is facing the end of a very pleasant interlude in our lives, thanks to your daughter's visit with us and our community over the past few months.
You have done well as parents with Laura, whom we have fondly called "Swiss Miss" more often than not. We have all appreciated her talents, her good manners, her love for animals, her quick but subtle humor and the extended opportunity of getting to know her in a variety of ways.
Yes, Laura is a typical teenager, but along with that comes a mature young lady very astute, knowledgeable, open to being seen in public with old ladies like me and, more importantly, willing to embrace all aspects of living with a close knit rural family, et. al. here in North Idaho.
Laura took on challenges during her stay here----most notably learning a brand new sport and giving it her all. Of course, having a coach for a surrogate dad made all the difference in that we can confidently say that she performed the best basketball screens of anyone else on her team.
That team faced an uphill battle with only one experienced player, but they never faltered and gave it their all----even winning one exciting game in over time after starting out their season with a 69-0 defeat. Now that's progress, and Laura contributed significantly to that progress.
Laura also exhibits a pleasant sense of humility, never bragging about her skills or talents. Instead, these traits quietly emerge in the doing, and whenever that has happened, we've all been so impressed. I saw this firsthand with her horsemanship and also when I turned my camera over to her.
And, yes, I do appreciate Laura's sense for the quirky, exemplified yesterday with that camera when she saw her first-ever pile of elk droppings.
"They're so big," she said, pointing the lens downward as we stood on a hillside above the scenic village of Hope, overlooking the main channel of beautiful Lake Pend Oreille.
That moment marked the finale of a fun-filled day spent with Laura, driving the Bonners Ferry, Troy, Clark Fork Loop, which is officially part of the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway.
We did not have too much on the agenda except for making sure we arrived at Clark Fork in time for the mid-afternoon elk feeding session and later the added benefit of talking to the locals about Viggo.
Along our way, we did stop at the signs, though, so Laura could officially note that she had, indeed, visited Idaho and Montana.
After driving a ways up the Yaak River Road and visiting the ice cold Yaak Falls, we moved on to visit the spectacular Kootenai River Falls but had to turn back when the rather steep, narrow trail to the river turned into a solid sheet of ice.
Still, we enjoyed the beautiful babbling brook in the forest and the wonderful sign at the park entrance.
And, yes, we made a "feeding" stop or two at the Mennonite eateries along the way. First, Bread Basket Bakery north of Bonners Ferry, then Big Sky Pantry at Bull River and finally The Pantry at Clark Fork.
No, we did not eat THAT much food. What we did consume, though, was melt-in-your mouth delicious with every bite. Those cream cheese, blueberry filled "pillows" at the Bread Basket are to die for.
Laura grazed off from her cinnamon roll for a couple of hours as we admired what scenery showed itself beneath the clouds. The sun appeared a couple of times, but for some reason, it wasn't in the mood to stick around.
We did not let that bother us because, in addition to scenery and good food, the conversation was wonderful too.
Getting to be the surrogate granny and taking Laura on an outing was a true pleasure for me, one which demonstrated all the more that your daughter is truly someone special.
We're gonna miss her when she takes off Saturday and heads home to Switzerland and, later, to Malaysia to see her mom and dad. All good things must end, and we can all truly say that the young lady you entrusted to Willie and Debbie in this student exchange is a "keeper."
And, let me add that Willie and Debbie have done everything in their power to ensure a wonderful experience for Laura. I might add that Brooke and Todd have done the same as have my sisters, Barbara and Laurie.
As Mom Love, I've been really proud of their continued dedication to her best interests and toward providing her some phenomenal experiences while living in North Idaho.
Today Laura is packing her suitcase (s) with a friend. Tonight Debbie is hosting a pizza party and movie night. Tomorrow, probably more packing topped off with dinner at the same place where she started last Aug. 19. Where else? Laura's choice: Second Avenue Pizza.
Again, thank you for trusting all of us with your daughter. We hope the opportunity comes some day for both of you to accompany her back to Sandpoint where we promise: dinner at Second Avenue and a trip to the Bread Basket Bakery!
P.S. I would add that Laura has properly become a full-fledged ZAGS fan with her ZAGS apparel, her participation in our ZAGS eatfests with virtually every game, her attendance at a ZAGS home game, thanks to a certain ANGEL I know and finally, her mastery of the first words learned minutes after her August arrival at Spokane Airport, "GO ZAGS!!!"
Maybe she'll greet you with that proclamation when she arrives in Zurich!