8:00 AM

Morning wake-ups at IRMR are like nowhere else. The room is mercifully dark thanks to excellent blackout shades but thankfully a tiny ray of sunlight comes streaking through a crack. Outside birds are chirping and fish are jumping on the pond. But the sheets are so soft and the comforter feels like it’s 3 feet thick, so you steal 5 more minutes before . . .

8:30 AM

You don your hoodie and some fleece sweats and step out onto the porch. The sun is already glinting off the highest tips of the Sawtooths and the dew is melting on the grass. Head for the main lodge and grab a cup of coffee and sit in front of the fire to collect your thoughts. Is this the best cup of coffee ever or is it just that you’re in a worn leather chair and in front of the massive stone fireplace that makes it taste better? In a place this rustic they really have breakfast specials like “garden fresh veggie scramble with homemade chorizo and spiced potatoes?” Naturally the kids go for the “pancakes of the day” and the fresh cinnamon buns. They’ve never been happier.

9:30 AM

Bag lunch and water bottle in our day packs, we have elected to do the “must see” day hike to Sawtooth Lake. It’s a short drive to the trailhead then a gorgeous climb through wildflower meadows and across brooks to the most pristine alpine lake I’ve ever seen. The kids find a patch of snow and can’t resist the urge for a summertime snowball fight. Pictures can’t even do this place justice, but suffice it to say, there’s a reason they named the whole mountain range for this lake.

12:30 PM

It’s hard to imagine that anyone has ever had a more scenic spot for a picnic. No, chipmunk, you cannot have my home-baked chocolate chip cookie. I feel like I’m in an Outside Magazine shoot. We all position ourselves for maximum viewing pleasure, debate how cold the water must be, and dare each other to take a swim. In every group, there’s always one.

3:30 PM

On the way back a quick stop in Stanley. Coffee brewing and fly fishing are the core industries in this bustling town of 100.

6:00 PM

Sitting on the porch with quite possibly the greatest view in the world, I start listening to Richard Blair, one of the talented local musicians who plays one of his crowd-favorites, “Lonesome Larry” on guitar. Connie asks me if I want a beer as Scott rides by on one of the ranch’s horses, Sundance. On the lawn, the kids are playing horseshoes and chasing around snowshoe hares, and I’m in heaven.

9:00 PM

After dinner we have a tough decision to make. Back to the hot pool for a starry night soak or sit on the porch and have an after dinner drink. Decisions, decisions. I think I’ll just tuck in with a book and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.

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