When I planted roots in Idaho in September 2003, I didn’t know it, but I was pregnant, and Idaho was soon to become the beautiful and adventurous place where I would raise my son. In July 2009, when William was five years old, our small family took a camping trip to the same place we had camped the previous July. It was now our favorite spot, off Highway 21 near Lowman, along the Payette River, where I fell in love with Idaho and country music. Alan Jackson’s “Country Boy” could be heard on every country station and I grinned ear to ear every time I heard it, because I could look back at William in his car seat singing, “Up city streets, down country roads, I can get you where you need to go, ‘cause I’m a country boy.” We still sing that song.
We spent our time during the camping trip making sand castles along the river, writing our names with pine cones, hiking the easy path near camp, and reading books. We tied up the raft to float on the shallow, calm nook of water nearby, and if we stayed still enough while we lay in the raft, butterflies would land on our hot, sticky skin. William loved that.
We took car trips from our campsite to let him see the majestic Sawtooth Mountains and to swim in the ice-cold water of Redfish Lake. We stopped in Grandjean for huckleberry ice cream cones, showed William the hot spring in the river, and told him the story from a previous visit to the area of how we saw a bear run down the mountain to drink, and how scared I got seeing a bear in the wild for the first time. That night as we ate hot dogs, we watched an eagle fish in the river and bring food to its nest in the tree above. It was a hot, windy camping trip that encouraged a lot of exploring, sprouted many ideas, and almost took my son’s life. Continue reading →