We’re taking a tour of something I didn’t really know existed, and on our second stop, I hear the same enthusiastic sentence I heard just fifteen minutes ago: “It’s like summer camp… for grown-ups!”
I’m definitely seeing the appeal. Alan Neff stands in his gorgeous, covered outdoor kitchen, complete with rustic log furniture and detailing. He’s shooting the breeze mid-morning with his good friend Tony. French-press coffee sits on the table between them. However, this kitchen and bar/dining/living area is not connected to a house. It’s right next to his RV, which he and his wife Diane park here as their summer home for six months out of the year (the rest is spent in Palm Springs). We’re in a 5-star luxury motor coach village, just one part of Stoneridge, a resort community in Blanchard, Idaho. I’m learning that Stoneridge is far more than the golf course I’d heard about.
Standing in a grassy area residents often share with moose and elk, Neff says, “In twelve years of travels to 48 states, and having researched the 150 or so high-end motor coach villages around the country, this is the very best setting I’ve seen. That’s why we decide to call this place home April to October.” Looking around, I believe him. The Neff
After taking a look at the motor coach village’s separate clubhouse, pool, and dog park, it’s past the pickleball courts (the site of both leisure and quite competitive tournaments throughout the summer), beyond the brand-new INB-financed homes for year-round living, and on to the lush 18-hole golf course. Today I’m playing with the course’s head pro, Tim Morton, and Steve Speer. Steve is Branch Manager at INB Hayden and also a year-round Stoneridge resident.
Golf is valuable as both a sport and as a pure vehicle for relationship. In our fast-paced world, it’s rare to carve out several hours of conversation with friends, not looking at screens, not distracted, walking a few miles surrounded by beauty. Stoneridge affords this opportunity in a serene setting that captures the best of the Inland Northwest golf experience.
From the first tee box, Tim plays the game in a tidy, smooth-swinging manner, hitting greens and fairways like the PGA golf pro that he is. Steve and I muddle through, trying to learn a few things, but it’s the shared time and conversation that is the real experience here: two local leaders just spending time together. In a way, this is a simple living example of a partnership, the two representatives of their organizations, talking and making assessments about the best course of action, being generous with one another. In addition to banking and home lending for new building projects, this year INB has stepped up as the major sponsor of Stoneridge’s junior golf program, investing in a great season for local kids — helping a new generation learn to love the quiet ritual of these fairways.
Several times during the round, as I get new and different glimpses of the Stoneridge development — and of wildlife from the surrounding woods — I catch myself thinking, I didn’t actually know what this place was, offering so much, and so close to both Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.
When I speak with Brad Hansen, the General Manager of Stoneridge, he tells the story of many who have discovered the place and rave about the experience. “We think Stoneridge offers a fantastic value: a second home or even a year-round first home on a great golf course, with a tight-knit community for all ages, any outdoor activity you want to do within minutes. And it’s really not that far to Spokane or Coeur d’Alene — we have folks who gladly commute because they love the everyday lifestyle here.”
After the golf round, we sit for a burger at the course’s pub & grill, reliving the high points of the round and laughing off the low points. We’re surrounded by diners here from the time-share resort, year-round residents, and vacationers just coming in from a host of outdoor activities the area offers within minutes of any Stoneridge doorstep. The place has a friendly feel — it seems clear that a day spent in natural beauty is also a natural mood booster.
Driving out of the community and back toward the busyness of my everyday, I make a note to not let too much time pass before I visit here again. I also resolve to sit down again with an advisor to plan a bit more for retirement. Down the road, perhaps my wife and I can enjoy a bit of that “grown-up summer camp” vibe as well.