Aspen Untucked: Lake Living |

Aspen Untucked: Lake Living

WHEN IT COMES TO anything involving water, my family tends to look the other way. I’m not sure what the root of this aversion is, but aquatics have never been a particular thrill for my relatives. My mother thinks any pool of liquid – from a dish full of sink water to the Atlantic Ocean – is a cesspool waiting to give any innocent indulger a life-threatening disease. My uncle, who is a car collector, thinks the only beach worth a damn is Pebble Beach, and only during the week of Concours d’Elegance, a highly prestigious car show. Even my siblings and cousins don’t prioritize water-centric fun. They prefer hiking and skiing in the mountains or exploring new cities in the U.S. and beyond. As a kid, I was obsessed with oceans, lakes and pools. I always wanted to be in or near them. My parents would acquiesce to my requests, but they rarely wanted to join in on the fun.

However, a few years ago, my aunt broke the trend of water hating in our family when she and her husband decided to buy and fix up an old cabin on Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. Each summer, there’s an open invitation from them to come visit and spend time on the lake. Members of my family have been slow to accept the invite, however more and more are getting out there, spending time on — and occasionally even in — the lake. This summer, my boyfriend Matt and I accepted my aunt and uncle’s invitation to check it out, going up there last weekend for a couple days of lake time.

Now, my knowledge of lake culture and boating is at a minimum. What I know I’ve only learned in the past few years from Matt, whose family was practically born on lakes, as they’re all from Minnesota. At this point, I kind of know how to drive a boat (if someone starts it for me) and I can stand up on a wakeboard for all of three seconds before I crash miserably. I like to think my enthusiasm for the lake lifestyle helps make up for my lack of experience.

Despite my rookie status, I have learned a few things very quickly about lake life. Number one: Relaxation and fun are key. We aren’t out there to save the world, although that is an admirable goal. We’re simply out on the water to enjoy ourselves and the pristine nature around us. Number two: No matter the situation, a beer tends to make it better. Any time of the day, if you’re on a lake, light intoxication is typically encouraged. There are exceptions to this, of course, but out on Lake Coeur d’Alene, it seemed like everyone was following this social expectation very well. And, number three: Don’t mess with someone else’s boat unless they have asked you to. Boats are not like scooters or bikes, they are big and pricey and tend to be the pride and joy of the person who owns them. These are the lessons I gathered from this past weekend. Oh, and that everyone is generally at least 15 minutes behind.

Lake Coeur d’Alene, which I will now refer to as CDA for the remainder of this column because the town’s French name seems to get harder to spell each time I try, is located in the northernmost slither of Idaho. The town, also named CDA, is home to around 50,000 people year round and probably several thousand more in the summer when lake home owners come to enjoy the pleasant weather and clear lake water. All in all, Lake CDA spans 25 miles and has more than 109 miles of shoreline. Up and down the shore, there are small cabins, gigantic mansions, boys and girls camps, hotels and even several restaurants and quaint towns. Some of the older houses even have mailboxes on their docks, and, yes, the mailman still delivers their postage from the water. It really does seem that some Lake CDA residents come at the beginning of the summer and don’t use their car until the end of the season.

Two days of exploring was not nearly enough to get to know this lake paradise. However, in just a short time, I can easily say it’s one of my favorite destinations in America. If you are in the market for a lake vacation, I highly recommend researching CDA.

As for the rest of my family, they’re still reticent of the aquatic lifestyle. However, with a place like CDA available for weekend getaways, they’re beginning to come around to the idea. My mother still thinks any body of water is a cesspool, but at least we’re making progress.

Now, please take me back to the lake.

Barbara Platts wants to be a lake person when she grows up, no matter what her family says about it. Reach her at

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