Whether it's frozen into a cube and clinks in your glass, falling over your head in a rush, or surrounding you with blessed coolness, water is on everyone's mind during the hottest parts of the summer. Where can you go to get relief from the heat, make a big splash, or just rejuvenate mind and body? Fortunately, plenty of places — as close as your backyard — in the Inland Northwest, which benefits from an abundance of aquatic opportunities.
AMUSE YOURSELFSilverwood Theme Park's Boulder Beach waterpark opened June 5 for weekends only, then reopens and runs daily June 12-Sept. 6. Ride, slide and glide your way to cool summer fun with nine different-intensity rides for all sizes and ages. Tickets range from a one-day reservation ($36 children and seniors, $59 general, valid for reserved date only, although cancellations/changes are allowed) to multiday "any day" passes ($76-125). Tickets include access to both Boulder Beach and the main park. Visit silverwoodthemepark.com for special events, ticketing and other information.
JOIN THE CLUBThe woman tasked with helping promote water conservation, preservation and restoration via the Kootenai Environmental Alliance has spent a lifetime on Fernan Lake, mostly fishing with her father. Shelley Austin, KEA's new executive director, recalls a particularly magical moment while sitting on the dock one day.
"A whole bunch of rowing boats go sliding right past me!" says Austin, who happened to be reading The Boys in The Boat, about UW rowers in the Olympics. "The rowing club uses the public dock at Fernan as a base, and they row up and down. Made me want to join the club!"
If you're interested in joining the Coeur d'Alene Rowing Association, consider learn-to-row classes for both high school age and 19 and over. Visit cdarowing.org.
KEEP IT CLEANContinuing with the theme of environmental protection, join the Spokane River Forum for one of three possible ways to keep Spokane's waterways clean. Get your group together — school kids, church groups, co-workers, families — and either schedule a private cleanup or get an assist from Spokane River Forum, which provides supplies and basic operational guidance. Or sign up for a regularly scheduled public cleanup and join like-minded others in picking up trash. Last year, that amounted to more than 12,000 pounds of junk kept out of the Spokane River over the course of the season. Visit spokaneriver.net to sign up and learn more.
WHEREVER YOU GO (ON THE WATER), THERE YOU AREYou could camp by the water. And you can rent a boat and get out on the water. Or you could do both. Rent a houseboat and spend a blissful couple of days in northeastern Washington in one of two available models through Lake Roosevelt Houseboat Vacations. Bliss ain't cheap, though; a three-day/two-night stay on their SuperCruiser starts at $2,595 for the "value" season (through June 28 and after August 23). A week's stay in July? $5,995. But consider the amenities of the 62-foot SuperCruiser: a boat-wide entertainment system, two refrigerators and a full kitchen, two full bathrooms, a hot tub, and a slide. It accommodates 13 people with private staterooms and convertible sleeping areas, so if everyone chipped in (and didn't mind sleeping on the couch), this could definitely be a summer water vacation to remember. Visit lakeroosevelt.com.
CATCH THE WINDIf learning to sail is on your bucket list, look no further than Sandpoint, where the Sandpoint Sailing Association offers a range of camps and classes for all ages. Sessions vary in price from the Mommy/Daddy & Me for youths aged 5-8 or 8-12 ($175) to one-on-one lessons for teens ($395). And if you'd rather watch, there's plenty to see in Windbag Marina on Lake Pend Oreille where the SSA hosts a variety of events, including the annual Spud Cup Sailing Regatta, Sept. 4-5. Visit sandpointsailing.org.
SANDPOINT SWIMSpeaking of Sandpoint, the 26-year tradition of swimming the 1.76 miles in open water along the Long Bridge is on for 2021. Participation in the Aug. 7 event helps support swim lessons for local youth and keeps the cost of organizing the event down. Spectators welcome. Visit longbridgeswim.org.
DOUBLE DIPSpokane's extensive park system includes six municipal swim facilities in various neighborhoods — Cannon, Comstock, Hillyard, Liberty, Shadle and Witter — scheduled to open June 21, with open swim (reservations required) beginning July 5. Register for a no-cost Splashpass, which allows you (again, free) access to all Spokane aquatic centers, and stay tuned for reopening of select splash pads later in June. Learn to swim, save a life with American Red Cross courses, get or stay fit with water workouts, or just hang out by the pool and keep it cool this summer. City of Spokane pools are also available for private rental — how cool is that?! — and, yes, there's even a time for Fido. The last day of the swim season (dates TBA) is reserved for the dogs, whose owners need to bring $10 and proof of current rabies vaccination the day of. Visit my.spokanecity.org/recreation/aquatics.
RAINMAKING MAGICSpokane's aquatic parks are only part of the big picture when it comes to getting and staying cool. The Lilac City boasts more than 100 landscaped parks, all of which require watering, including the venerated Manito Park, which inspired this suggestion for water fun. The next very hot day, pop over to the park earlier in the day and plan on participating in the massive undertaking keeping the park hydrated. Meander through the lilac grove and enjoy the fragrance, the beauty of the blooms, and the likelihood of getting doused by the sprinklers. Or wait until one passes and stand under a nearby evergreen to emulate rainforest mist. You can even re-create the experience at home, although maybe not with the same picture-perfect garden backdrop. Next time the lawn or bushes need watering, make a time of it and set up your lawn chair to catch the intermittent sprinkle, then close your eyes and imagine yourself cool and refreshed. ♦