Have you come across any of these names in your research?” I was asked in an email one gray day in November 2008. It was the end of the centennial year of our Ustick Baptist Church in Boise, and the secretary had forwarded an email from a man in Denmark named Niels Otto Holm, who was seeking information on his long lost great-aunt’s family. Continue reading →
As a male, my first inclination was to bust right through that quarter mile of brittle little twigs and emerge triumphant on the other end, beating my chest at the might of my hundred-and-seventy horses.
But I thought of all those broken bits of tumbleweed sticking in every bearing of the drive train and every joint of the suspension, and decided to go around.
Going around was not as easy as you’d think. Continue reading →
Whenever I drive south from Kuna on Swan Falls Road toward the Snake River, I pass a little sign indicating a turnoff to a place called Initial Point. It’s a butte just one mile to the east on a good dirt road, but for me there always seemed to be some excuse not to run over and check it out. At last, I decided to do what I had often told myself I should do, and took that turn.
A road leads up the butte, but the steep grade is studded with sharp lava rocks, and rather than chewing up my vehicle’s tires, I opted for an easy climb to the summit. I followed the road on foot about halfway across the east side of the butte, impressed with the expanse of open country between myself and the distant mountains of the Boise Front. A rugged shortcut uphill beckoned. After a brief climb, the butte rounded onto a large flat area used for parking and, I’m sure, partying. At the southwest corner of this area, a lava outcropping rose to a point topped by a concrete platform with guardrails of pipe.
This butte may be only a hundred and twenty-five feet above the desert floor, but the flatness of the surrounding countryside makes for stunning vistas. Whether the Boise Front to the north, the Owyhee Mountains to the south, Oregon’s Mahogany Mountains to the west or the endless desert to the east, the land defines the concept of big sky. My whole life, I have explored its canyons and other features, and the grandeur of its open space. Continue reading →