If you can't go home for Christmas, the next best thing is to have a white one. After a Christmas morning with coffee, muffins, presents from Santa (Mira was especially excited about her trampoline), and video chatting with our scattered family, we headed east towards the higher elevation of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

I've wanted to do this drive with the family since my own drive in to Seattle. The sudden shift from snowy evergreen mountains to the high desert is not something you can experience on the east coast. Then the rugged mountains of the Idaho panhandle are a whole new experience.

There were Christmas decorations everywhere in the Coeur d'Alene resort.

The drive out was uneventful; there's not a lot of traffic on Christmas Day. We reached the resort in time for dinner and had an early bedtime after. Even easy drives can be tiring.

Mira trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue.

Our Boxing Day started without any real idea of what to do. Sonali's younger brother attended the University of Idaho in Moscow. It could be interesting to see a piece of the family's past. After a half hour of driving, it was clearly that nobody was really up for a 3 hour round trip and we detoured to the Heyburn State Park on the southern tip of the lake for a hike.

The excitement over being out in falling snow was almost too much for Mira. We ended up spending the first quarter of the hike doing a lot more playing than hiking. In fact, the only reason we didn't turn back was that we assumed we had gone past the half way point of the loop. Soldiering forward up the hill turned out to be the right decision, as the top of the trail offered panoramic views of the valley below.

The view from the Ridge of the Indian Creek Trail.

The complaints about the climb vanished as we took in the winter landscape.

The top of the Indian Creek Trail in Hayburn State Park.

The snow started coming down harder on the way back, but that wasn't the only road hazard we had to be weary of.

Deer crossing.

We returned to a Christmas Wonderland. Just like the inside, there were plentiful holiday decorations on the grounds of the resort. The softly falling snow added to the magic, at least for those of us that weren't done for the day.

Ajax borrowing Mira's dolphin as a cuddle buddy.

The rest of us went out to take in the lights.

Catching snowflakes is no less exciting in the dark.

Us in front of the lights in the Marina.

The Marina without us in the way.

After a stroll along the lakeside of the resort, it was time to cross the street for dinner.

Sonali and Mira at the resort entrance.

With our tummies full, we walked out to find that the dusting of earlier had turned into real accumulation of fine powdery snow. Mira got to fulfill her lifelong ambition to build a real snow angel.

Snow angel under construction.

Hark the angel sings.

Of course, no time in the snow is complete without a snowball fight.

Mira was not too happy with the size and aim of Daddy's snowballs.

With that, it was time to call it a night as we had plans to go tubing the following morning.

The end of the night.

For the final day of our vacation we booked a tubing session at Silver Mountain. We've had some disagreements about whether we should be using the weekends this winter to learn how to ski. If you've spent the entirety of your life in either flat or temperate locations, winter mountain sports don't seem entirely logical. It's already cold, why go somewhere colder, on purpose. It didn't help that our Thanksgiving attempt at skiing was a bust, with 32 degree rain/snow and closed highways.

Riding North America's longest gondola to the top of the mountain.

Silver Mountain's parking lot is a 3.1 mile gondola ride away from the recreation areas that takes you from a base of 2,300 feet to 5,700 feet, giving you plenty of time to get excited about the activity ahead. Even after a few days of mountains, clouds, and snow, we still couldn't get enough of the view.