We had seen her as we were driving through and then beyond Sandpoint on our way to Bonners Ferry.
A Statue of Liberty about 20 feet high, and standing at a point on the beach looking out over the mountains.
While I went in search of a restroom, LC and Chris unloaded my kayak and their fishing gear, and on the way back to the truck I went in search of her.
I had seen the original in New York during my trip to New Jersey to see Chris before he left for Iraq the second time.
We didn't have time to get close, or do the tour, but we stood at a park on the mainland and saw her from a distance.
That had been a quick whirlwind trip of only a few days.
We spent time exploring the boardwalks in Jersey, paid a surprising amount of money to access the beach there, and took a day trip to NYC (my first time there) where I stood on the main drag speechless and in awe of the overwhelming sights and spectacles that were in front of me.
I had traveled all over the world. Lived in five different countries. Lived in huge cities and lived in tiny communities and lived in isolated country homes.
But New York City was a whole 'nother animal, and I felt like a country bumpkin who was visiting a concrete jungle for the very first time.
On that trip to Jersey I finally saw Chris' huge monster of an SUV that he had been raving about to me while I was down in Tennessee.
I don't even remember what it was but it was huge and black and noisy.
Chris bragged to me that he could drive through residential streets and set off car alarms with it.
As we drove he would rev the engine when we drove under overpasses, and the whole pass would vibrate and shake.
One day on that trip we passed a cop who had pulled a driver over to the side of the road, and Chris took his foot off the accelerator and coasted past the cop.
When I asked him why he told me that he couldn't hit the gas because the truck was too noisy, and he couldn't hit the brakes because both his brake lights were out, and so the safest thing to do around a cop was just coast by him.
With that I made him go to a parts store to get his brake lights fixed.
The noise was the noise, and my testosterone-driven son could keep it without a mothers' nagging.
A few years later here I was, standing in front of one more Statue of Liberty, only this time much smaller, and much closer, and located on the point of a beach in Northern Idaho...............
LC laughs at me all the time because I can power-picture-take like a pro.
In the span of a walk to the restroom and back I think I must have snapped 30 pictures.
Fall in Northern Idaho is beautiful.
Skies are blue in that way that skies can be only in fall.
The heat is gone. The tourists are gone. There are enough hard woods to bring life and color to the world..............
As I walked out of the freezing cold ladies restroom I looked over towards the mountains, and realized for the hundredth time in our trip that this place reminded me so much of Alaska.
I could hear the sound of waves washing up on the shore of what I knew was a sandy beach. Could barely see the mountains and the low lying fog banks that were caught between the mountains, and I knew from experience that they would stay there until gradually dissipating in the warming air.
Like a lemming to the cliff I was pulled towards it............
I knew that the guys would be wondering where I was, but I was compelled to walk along the beach for a few minutes anyway.
It was beautiful.
Standing there I realized again just how much I missed the water.
A desert rat.
I was now a desert rat.
I liked my home but missed the water, and resolved yet again that we needed to get a camper.
We were living in a beautiful and diverse state, and I wanted to see it..............
Liberty - barely visible on the point............
A few minutes later I was on the water.
Kayaking for the second time in two days.
Kayaking for the second time in a year and a half.
Kissing both of my guys on the cheek I pushed out into the water and headed to my right, away from the choppy open water and towards the narrow channel that moved through part of the town of Sandpoint.
Kayaking flat water isn't rocket science but I wondered how it would feel.
The day before - with Chris - we had mostly floated.
Alternating paddling, stopping, picture taking, talking, paddling some more.
More relaxing than moving. More visiting than moving.
Now that I was alone I still paddled slowly but also paddled consistently, stopping only briefly to snap a quick picture here and there.
I wasn't wearing paddling gloves so taking pictures was not the big production that it is when paddling in cold conditions.
Testing out upper body muscles. Testing out rhythm and strokes and maneuvarability.
It felt OK. Natural.
In a race once we started paddling at midnight. We didn't get off the water until 6:30 the next night.
18 1/2 hours of paddling, and then rushing to warm up and get geared up for a hike to a climbing site where we ascended 200 feet up and then rappelled 300 feet back down.
That was only seven years ago.
Times sure change.............
The boat slips were all completely empty.
The outdoor patios that I could see in back of numerous restaurants were all empty.
This was a very very good time to be visiting Sandpoint............
As I continued to slowly paddle the length of the inlet I thought about Jamie.
She was tired a lot. Sleeping a lot. Her hearing was beginning to go. She couldn't walk far.
I was worried about her, and although we had gotten her out of the motel room as much as we (and she) could manage, we had in effect dragged her all the way to Northern Idaho for nothing.
She LOVES trips. Loves adventures. Loves walks.
I was worried about my girl...........
LC and Chris bonded very quickly after they met each other. A shared military background. A love of guns. A love of fishing. The same sense of humor. The same interest in politics.
They were having a great time joking and fishing and eating and talking guy talk.
I liked to watch them together.
They had an easy going rapport with each other and no matter how long it was between visits, they always just seemed to naturally pick up where they left off............
I continued paddling, wandering under one bridge after another.
Pleased to be alone. Pleased to be on the water. Pleased to know that my boy was close.............