Idaho, you are making it so very hard for me to like you.
STOP RAINING ON ME!
Well, at least I can now calculate the odds of me living in a place like the Pacific Northwest. And those odds are zero.
Ever since we left Riggins, it’s been cloudy, super-cold at night, with daily rain showers. I gotta tell ya, it’s getting old. But I can’t give up on Idaho now: we called our friend Cory, keeper of the storage unit key. And we asked him for the sleeping bags, sent General Delivery to the post office in Driggs, Idaho. (I’ve always wanted to go there – a friend gave me this T-shirt from Spuds Drive In in Driggs, and so I’ve always wondered what Driggs looked like.)
Cory gave us a big ol’ ration of shit about our lack of sleeping bags (and, I suppose, rightfully so). But he also went that day to the storage unit, and had the sleeping bags in the mail to us on the very next day. They were scheduled to arrive in Driggs on Saturday the 17th.
We have such awesome friends.
Anyway. We left Riggins on September 12, taking a short tour up that canyon to check it out. None of the campsites compelled us to stay (unfortunately), although we found a place to run the dogs. Bailey really loves the water.
I also took this photo on the drive back.
I don’t know how recent the fire was in this canyon, but I’m absolutely certain that the red line in the photo is the flame retardant known as slurry. Cool in its own way, you know? I don’t ever want to act like fires are great or anything, but I love those firefighting airplanes. I would have loved to have seen this drop.
We did make it down to Boise, after a couple of nondescript campsites. We were cold and we got rained on, let’s just say that. So after stocking up on the necessities in Boise (gas/water/groceries), we made the fateful decision: to go to Nordstrom Rack.
We wanted Uggs.
Michael told me that Uggs were invented by an Australian surfer, and that their original purpose was to keep surfer’s feet warm after a session. That’s why they’re lined with real sheepskin. (And that real sheepskin is why they’re so expensive).
I refused to pay full price. But I wanted warm feet. And we each found a pair, and declared it Christmas in September instead of admitting that the purchase of these two items absolutely destroyed our budget for the entire week. And it was only Tuesday.
We camped up above Boise, in a wide open spot underneath power lines. It was cold and windy. It rained on us at some point overnight. But right before the sun set, we were lucky enough to witness this:
I mean, damn. Boise sure knows how to stage a sunset.
I wore my new Uggs and my feet did not complain.
We moved on north and east the next day. I wanted to drive up through Lowman and Stanley, around the Sawtooth Range, then come south through Ketchum and Hailey. I heard Hailey was a cool town. And it promised to be a beautiful drive.
The skies got darker as we pressed north. We stopped outside of Idaho City at a hot springs called The Springs.
If you’re ever in the Boise area – this place is only 45 minutes away. And it’s amazing. $16 per person, and that includes a locker (with key), a towel, and shampoo, conditioner, and soap. There was even a bottle of detangler and a hairdryer in the locker room.
Poolside they offer free water and coffee, and they have a nice menu, complete with booze. (Not that I had any – I’m torturing myself with another round of Whole30.)
Because it was cold and misty, it was the perfect day for a soak. Of course, I thoroughly enjoyed the shower – it was my first in over a week. (Wait, was that TMI? Really? Well, never ask me about our campsite toilet, then.)
So we soaked for a long time. I got prune hands and everything. But around 4pm, we finally had to call it. Time to dry off and go find a campsite.
The thing I haven’t been able to figure out in Idaho is that some of the established NFS campsites are free (like French Gulch Campground, up in the Red River Valley), and some aren’t. All the ones we passed outside of Idaho City were not free. But I did spy something that looked like a campsite as we zipped past. I made Michael turn around. And there, in the rain, we set up camp.
I wore my Uggs. And my feet were warm and toasty. That night Michael slept in his. And he said it was the first night his feet were warm since we left Riggins.
So – money well spent on the Uggs.
When we got up the next morning, we had to pack up everything still wet. But there were blue skies overhead, and the forecast was for sunny and warmer, so we went for it and headed north.
I don’t know how recent the fire in this area was. But we drove through some scorched-earth-motherfucker landscapes on the way north, to paraphrase Les Grossman.* I mean, the earth was just black. Desolate. Michael took all of this in and said, “Wait. So there’s a time here when it doesn’t rain?”
But eventually we got out from the fire. We stopped briefly at Kirkham Hot Springs, which is a campsite and public hot spring just outside of Lowman. If we ever come back this way, this is where I want to camp. It looked perfect.
Eventually we turned south at Stanley and headed towards Ketchum. It was beautiful there, and I’m kind of glad we gambled on this drive.
Eventually we headed though Ketchum, staying long enough to find a coffee shop so I could work on the blog. It was okay, I guess. Kind of your typical mountain town. You see a lot of the same stores in mountain towns, so Ketchum looked a lot like Crested Butte or Steamboat Springs or Jackson Hole. We moved to Hailey.
Hailey had an Albertson’s (big grocery store chain), and that’s about all I can say about Hailey. And the 20-mile drive from Ketchum to Bellevue was like one long suburb.
We decided to camp at a BLM site, a place called Magic Reservoir. For a BLM site, this one was pretty nice. And quiet. I saw only three or four other vehicles in the entire area. We picked a site that looked all designated (there was a picnic table and a fire ring nearby), but the general rule with BLM land is… that there are no rules. Camp wherever you want. This spot worked for us.
It wasn’t quite a full moon that night (Friday), but the picture still turned out okay.
One small update for you, on the dogs. Bailey is doing just fine, chasing sticks (although I wish he would stop eating them) and keeping close by whenever I pee. Elvis is mostly fine too. I picked up a trick from our friend Julie, back in Missoula. She added hot water to her dogs’ dry food, then added a little bit of canned food and mixed it all up. I tried it and Elvis has actually been putting weight back on. So that part’s good.
But I think he’s getting pretty senile. I’m not sure how that even works in dogs, but I’m telling you, he’s just not the same dog he was, even a year ago. We tend to leave him leashed a lot of the time now. Because he likes to wander. And sometimes when I call to him, it’s like he doesn’t recognize me. Or maybe he doesn’t realize I’m talking to him? But he looks at me and then looks away and keeps right on walking. It happened at Magic Reservoir, and he got pretty far away before I could catch up to him. It’s scary. Worse, he’s not like that all the time. Some mornings he gets up and plays with Bailey after they eat breakfast. Most of the time he comes when called.
But sometimes he just looks kinda lost. I feel bad, knowing that we’re the cause of his stress. But I am also even more certain that we can’t just leave him with friends. We made a promise when we adopted this dog – to take care of him for the rest of his life. I’m doing everything I can to make his life as easy as possible.
*Les Grossman, of Tropic Thunder fame