My Own Private Idaho, Day 4

It was the kind of day folks who live outside the Pacific Northwest think of when they think of the Pacific Northwest: A touch of grey. Chilly, but not cold. A little drizzly for short bursts but never rainy. And it was beautiful to me. I tell people all the time I think I that’s my weather preference and that I could really get used to that. They tell me they don’t think it’s all that great once it happens for 45 straight days. I still think it’s better than 45 straight days of 100 degrees.

And we did what folks do on that kind of day. We took a coffee cruise between showers. We read. We hot tubbed. We ate. We took the afternoon cocktail cruise. We read. We hot tubbed. We ate. We chatted. We went to bed. So there isn’t much to discuss.

Except for Bear’s.

Not “bears” like the animal.

“Bear” like a guy’s nickname. He runs a restaurant called the Ice House. Here’s how Sanpoint.Com’s dining tab describes it:

Old Ice House Pizzeria & Bakery

You want atmosphere? Check Hope’s historic old ice house only 20 minutes from Sandpoint. Enjoy Bear’s signature New York-style, thin-crust pizza made from the freshest natural ingredients. Smoothies and juices, too. Great menu, laidback funktitude, and live music several times a week. And baklava, if you’re lucky! Typical entrée cost: $ = Under $10. Amenities: Live Music, Outdoor Dining

Well, I wanted atmosphere…and I got it. We parked & started to walk into the place, which only had a few tables available. There was a sign by the door with an arrow on it that said “Hippies Use Side Entrance.” It pointed to the only entrance. There was a sign touting free wi-fi. There was a totem pole in the parking lot. You walked into the room and there’s only a large bucket of ice filled with beers, some t-shirts, and enough room to pay for your pizza. There was a sign, printed by a computer that said, “Due to the recent economic downturn, we’ve been forced to cut back our staff’s hours. Please remember it may take a little longer to get your pizza but we think it’ll be well worth your wait.” We’d called ahead so it wasn’t an issue either way.

And I’ve had New York pizza in New York and this was definitely New York-style and it was made with the freshest natural ingredients. Good pizza.

While we weren’t staying for the live music, the evening’s band had parked their tour bus right outside. It was an old yellow school bus with the words “Grateful Blues” in stencil/spray paint on the side. Inside the bus you could see a bar to hang clothes, a bamboo blind for some privacy, music gear & a bunch of guys wearing tie-dyed shirts. The license plate frame read, “Have a Grateful Day.” Guess what their playlist was heavy on?

On the wall of the stairwell there were two things: Newspaper articles about his restaurant that had been laminated and thumb-tacked for the world to see, and posters from blues festivals that I’m guessing Bear had been to. There were several from the Russian River Blues Festival. I looked it up and they had some really nice artists every year. The photos made it look like a place hippies would enjoy.

Upstairs had a nice deck with a lake view and a foosball table. What more could you possibly want?

All in all, I really dug the local flavor even in Bear wasn’t in (I kinda wanted to get my picture made with him because all the photos in the laminated newspaper articles showed you why he was called Bear…he had a serious Jerry Garcia thing going if Jerry Garcia was heavier). It’s about the size & vibe of how I picture The Diner.