COEUR d'ALENE - It was 15 years ago that Nola Lagg's son brought her from Florida to Coeur d'Alene, she recalled, because of an illness she was facing.
She grew rather attached to the place.
"I never went back," the 85-year-old said with a chuckle on Thursday, while eating with friends at the Lake City Center.
Although the winters took getting used to, she said she has still preferred her retirement years in Coeur d'Alene, where shopping, beautiful scenery and delicious eateries are abundant.
"I've been to them all," Lagg said of restaurants she toured with her son.
She even prefers the clouds.
"In Florida, they're flat and boring," Lagg said. "Here, they're big and puffy. I'm absolutely fascinated with the clouds."
Take a back seat, Miami.
Arizona? Forget it.
CNN Money has just given Coeur d'Alene some publicity it doesn't seem to need.
The news website has listed Coeur d'Alene as ninth in the nation's top 25 retirement locations.
"Not at all," said City Councilman Steve Adams of whether he was surprised. "I went to Hawaii a few years back, and I was bored. I just wanted to get back."
CNN Money attributes the city's allure to year-round outdoor recreation, with Lake Coeur d'Alene as the heart of the community.
Coeur d'Alene is highlighted on the list alongside Traverse City, Mich. (No. 8), St. George, Utah (7) and Austin, Texas (5).
There are pros and cons to Coeur d'Alene being a popular retirement destination, Adams said.
"They're not employed, so they're not producing in that respect, but they're spending their money here, too," he said. "They're buying locally, participating in the communities."
With this extra attention, he agreed more retirees could be headed our way, now.
"Any exposure is going to make more people look at us," Adams said.
This can't be much of a surprise, Lake City residents.
Retirees flock to the area. They're presumably the highest demographic reading this newspaper.
Why? Ask anyone, and they'll give the same spiel.
"It's a great place, if you like all the seasons," said Rick Currie, manager of the Lake City Center and a lifelong Kootenai County resident.
He lauded the lakes and miles of biking and hiking trails to roam in milder weather, the nearby ski resorts to conquer come snowfall.
The proximity of Kootenai Medical Center is an obvious draw for retirees, he added.
"The older you get, the more medical problems you do have," he said.
Currie denied that there was a set time Coeur d'Alene transitioned into a retirement community.
"We were discovered in the '60s, we were discovered again in the '70s, and again in the '80s and the '90s," Currie said. "The only difference in the '90s and the 2000s is maybe the people had a little more money."
The top 25 list by CNN Money can be viewed at: http://money.cnn.com/gallery/retirement/2012/10/16/best-places-retire.moneymag/index.html.
Pat Larmoyeux hasn't looked back since she moved from Montana to Coeur d'Alene in 2010 to retire, she said. Both of her daughters live in the area, she explained, and she's enamored with the outdoor recreation.
"I love the bike paths, I do a lot of walking on them," Larmoyeux said. "I'm very, very happy."
After living in Coeur d'Alene all his 91 years, Mike Jacobson said he wouldn't live anywhere else.
"Where else can you get a mountain like that?" he said, pointing to a tree-studded mountain across town. "Did you know on the other side, there are three lakes? I used to go there as a boy."
Besides the nine decades worth of memories here, Jacobson loves the vistas, the small-town camaraderie, he said.
He isn't bothered a bit by the winters, as 35 years as a lumberjack made him immune to weather.
Above all, he's near his five children.
"They can't think of anywhere they'd rather be, either," Jacobson said. "I've been lots of places. This is the best place I know."