By Ben Olson
Some time ago, I surprised my girlfriend Cadie with a weekend at one of the many amazing vacation rentals in the area. We ended up having such a great time, I thought I’d share the experience with you, dear readers.
To start with, there wasn’t any occasion for the surprise. I’ve found that most surprise gifts and excursions are more meaningful when they aren’t attached to any sort of obligation. We like to get out of town on the rare weekends when we’re not playing music, but what’s better than leaving town without actually leaving?
Enter the Lovers’ Retreat spiritual getaway. I first heard of this gem through Jeanelle Shields, who owns the home with her husband Jack. We made a trade arrangement for her to run a few ads and I would get a weekend rental. I’m always a fan of barter and trade, so I went for it. I had no idea at the time, but I was about to score major brownie points with Cadie.
To start with, Jeanelle is a sweetheart. She treats customers not like a source of income, but as valued, honored guests. When we pulled into the driveway, after driving a grand total of 15 minutes from Sandpoint, we looked out over the expansive views of Lake Pend Oreille and couldn’t believe this was our home for the weekend.
The house has a big, beautiful deck that is very private. An intimate hot tub hugs one corner, while an outdoor fire feature and chairs take up the other side. The rest is wide and open, the perfect place to do naked yoga. Or lay drinking whiskey and ginger ale naked. You can actually do anything you like on this deck, as long as you put the word naked in there somewhere. There are neighbors, but you would never know it.
After a short conversation with Jeanelle, who gave us the lay of the land over the phone and was genuinely excited for our weekend, we made ourselves at home. The floor plan of the home is open and inviting, with lots of windows that give it a bright, comfortable feeling. The kitchen is neat and modern, with everything you’d ever need. You could bake a cake just with the ingredients Jeanelle has in the pantry. She even left a dozen farm fresh eggs and a bottle of wine for us to enjoy.
The bed is one of our favorite spots in the house. It sits perched before a series of floor-to-ceiling picture windows that look out over the deck and the lake. It’s just like sleeping outside, without dealing with cold, heat, bugs or rain. We had two sunny days and one rainy one during our stay, but we weathered them all on our bed with absolute comfort.
Near the bed is a fireplace next to a television. We brought along old, classic movies and watched them by the firelight. If you tire of this fireplace, there’s another one in the living room. In fact, the living room is a whole other area of the house we hardly even tapped into.
Though it’s difficult to leave the house once you arrive, inevitably cabin fever sets in. Like Jeanelle said, “Once you get there, you won’t want to leave.” Luckily, there is a great little hiking trail at the end of the road, and Hope is just five minutes away. Ice House Pizzeria is a great lunch option, and also provides much-desired leftovers. If push comes to shove, Sandpoint is just 15 minutes away in case we forgot anything crucial.
After this weekend perched on the edge of Eagen Mountain, Cadie and I vowed we would return as often as we could. We sometimes neglect leaving town because of all the preparation it takes, but when you can drive 15 minutes away and feel like you’re staying in another world, that’s even better.
Though it was sad to leave, we drove away from Eagen Mountain refreshed, happy and ready to face the real world again. In the ad, Jeanelle advertises this home as a “soul experience,” and she couldn’t be more correct. Our souls had been cleansed by a weekend away, vacationing in our hometown. I can’t recommend it more.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Check out the website for the Lovers’ Retreat and plan your own weekend away. It’s worth it, trust me.
To learn more or to book a weekend away from it all, go to www.LoversGetawayRetreat.com, or call Jeanelle Shields at 208-255-9927.