FROM FOR THE RECORD (Monday, November 3, 1997): Correction Photo misidentified: A photograph on the cover of Sunday’s IN Life section featured early morning mist on Lake Coeur d’Alene. The picture, taken by Spokesman-Review photographer Craig Buck, was misidentified.
When Debra Miller was working in southern Idaho, she’d drive home to Coeur d’Alene several times a year.
“To make the return trip, I had to leave about 30 minutes after sunrise,” she recalls. What she remembers most about those early morning departures is the stretch along old Interstate 90 just east of town.
“The mist rising from the water as the sun peeked over the mountains made the scene ethereal, almost surreal. That vision was well worth getting up early for.”
Miller’s account and dozens of others shared by Spokesman-Review readers weave a poetic tapestry of words that captured the essence of what it means to live here. They also inspired a new book, “Visions of the Inland Northwest,” which showcases the region’s natural splendor, its thriving sense of community - and the ability of the newspaper’s photographers to convey readers’ feelings through film.
“Visions” began three years ago as a bimonthly newspaper feature suggested by photography editor John Sale.
“The idea of inviting readers to share their visions of the area was partly a way of stretching the photo staff beyond their usual documentation approach and try some things more artistic,” explains Sale. “And partly it was to connect with our readers through something I thought they would care about.”
Readers’ response was enthusiastic. Hundreds of letters arrived from throughout Eastern Washington and North Idaho.
“A number of people wrote in to say they thought a princess or fairy lived in the (Spokane) County Courthouse tower,” Sale recalls with amusement. “And someone thought St. John’s Cathedral looked like Batman watching over the city.”
The reassuring view of Spokane that travelers get from Sunset Hill was a popular theme among letter writers.
One vision that particularly touched Sale came from Margaret Underwood of Wilbur, who wrote of climbing Steamboat Rock with her husband “and being amazed at the hundreds of acres of ground on top - of finding smooth, round rock of the kind Indians used to kill small game - of seeing odd formations and crevasses so deep that when we dropped a rock into it, the sound of the rock vanished before it hit the ground.”
Underwood recounted pulling into a quiet cove on Banks Lake during one fishing trip, and “seeing a tiny fawn drinking water, unafraid of our boat, while its mother ran back and forth until her little one joined her.”
She concluded, “I was born in Adrian, Wash., 73 years ago and have never wished to live anywhere else.”
Illustrating readers’ visions was always a labor of love, says Christopher Anderson, a 21-year veteran of The Spokesman-Review photo staff.
“It was fun to take a nonnewspaper person’s ideas and try to see something through their eyes,” he says. “And since these assignments weren’t on deadline, we had the opportunity to go back two or three times until the light was just right. So most of the pictures were made on the photographers’ terms, instead of on newspaper deadline terms.”
From the project’s beginning, Sale says, the hope was that the newspaper series would generate enough reader response to justify a book. As it turned out, there was more than enough.
After reducing the number of visions to a manageable 54 - half of them never before published - Sale began the task of reviewing more than 10,000 electronically archived images taken by Spokesman-Review photographers during the past five years.
Produced in Spokane by Lawton Printing, the 124-page clothbound book begins with a broad overview of the region’s physical attributes - Lake Coeur d’Alene, the Spokane River, snow-clad Mount Spokane, the undulating Palouse.
Then comes the area’s greatest asset, its people - triathletes plunging into Medical Lake, veterans celebrating Memorial Day, a Harrington farmer harvesting wheat to donate to hungry families in Bolivia.
Some of the visions are haunting, like the wary coyote that Steve Thompson captured on film as it peered over a stony embankment. Others, like Dan Pelle’s shot of an elegant couple ballroom-dancing at the Davenport Hotel, can’t help but trigger a smile.
Collectively, says Sale, the photographs and readers’ visions “offer a good overview of all the aspects of our area that make living here a pleasure.”
When we have visitors we want to impress with beautiful Spokane, we always drive to an area a little east of downtown and walk back to Riverfront Park along the Centennial Trail. The vistas at each turn in the trail are spectacular in any season - the reflections in the water, the grace of the bridges, the sweep of the birch trees and the view of the city. Then we walk on the to see the falls. It thrills us every time we do this and fills us with pride in our city.
Lucille and Tom Thosath of Spokane
One night in a dream I had a vision. In the dream I was standing on a green, grassy hill. There were several people looking for gold. They weren’t digging for gold, they were just looking for gold. They were getting frustrated because they weren’t finding any. I laughed at them and said, “There’s gold all around you. You’re just looking in the wrong places.’ As I looked around I saw children - small children, large children, black children, blond children. Children are like gold. They are the true treasures of this earth. This is my vision, that people would see children as gold.
Ardis Yake of Deer Park
WILD HORSE MOMUMENT
I commute to a graveyard shift in Ellensburg from Moses Lake. It is a beautiful and reassuring sight to see the wild horse monument on a clear morning after I cross the Columbia River bridge. It’s also a relief to know that I’m halfway home to my bed!
Jo Hieb of Moses Lake
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 5 color photos
MEMO: “Visions of the Inland Northwest” is available at The Spokesman-Review’s downtown Spokane office, 999 W. Riverside, and at the newspaper’s satellite offices in Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint and Pullman. The price is $35.95, plus tax. The book also is available by mail (for an additional $2.95 to cover shipping and handling). To order, call 459-3926 or (800) 789-0029, ext. 3926.