Blog Archives

Splendid Misery

Posted on by Judy Grigg Hansen / Comments Off on Splendid Misery

Camping is a great American tradition invented by masochists—or by children. What full-grown woman in her right mind would trade in her modern kitchen for a camp stove, and her comfy bed for a noisy air mattress in a tent where you can hear someone else’s husband snoring twenty-five feet away?

But to children, camping is magic: dirt is in and rules are out. The announcement to the family, “We’re going camping,” is greeted by cheers from the kids, who will have nothing to do but tease their siblings and test out their slingshots while their parents confront the real-life jigsaw puzzle of fitting seven sleeping bags, one extra-large tent, tarps, pillows, portable crib, bag of diapers, camp stove, grill, propane tank, lanterns, swimming suits, towels, snacks, water jugs, games, dining fly, stakes, tools, clothing, ice chests, and floating toys into the three-by-five foot space behind the seats in the SUV. Continue reading

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Corral–Spotlight

Posted on by Charlene Aycock / Comments Off on Corral–Spotlight

The first time I stopped in the very small town of Corral, on the Camas Prairie off Highway 20 near Fairfield, was in September of 2003, to take a picture of what I thought was a historic church. This white building, which has a lot of character and looks great against a deep blue sky, is a favorite among photographers. I have since revisited Corral many times to photograph the very western red store, the old schoolhouse (which I had thought was a church), the grain elevators, the former train depot (now a home), and various barns, outhouses, and residences. Seeking more information on the town, I searched online, but found no details at all—no history, no population, nothing. All I knew of the place was its name.

In August of 2012, when the Trinity Ridge Wildfire in the mountains near Corral caused a lot of smoke in the valley, I decided to drive up the highway to see what I could capture under the smoky skies, which I knew can become a natural filter of harsh light, creating special opportunities. Noticing the sky had turned pink, I headed east toward Corral to take pictures of the school. Light changes rapidly with conditions and the sun’s movement, and I was fortunate to get the shot I wanted, with the pink sky in the background. The image became popular, prompting Debbie Wilson, the granddaughter-in-law of the building’s current owner, to contact me about buying prints. She also told me about the origins of the school and asked if I would be interested in meeting the current owners. I said I would love to meet them, as I very much wanted to learn more about the schoolhouse and the town. Continue reading

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Minidoka Memories

Posted on by Amy Story Larson / Comments Off on Minidoka Memories

Teresa Tamura grew up in Nampa, but before she began work on MINIDOKA: An American Concentration Camp (Caxton Press, 2013), she hadn’t seen the site, just hours from her home.

“In Memory of Minidoka,” an article in the Seattle Times, sparked a journey of discovery for her regarding the impact of Executive Order 9066 issued on February 19, 1942, following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The order authorized the removal of 120,000 West Coast Japanese-Americans, justified as a “military necessity.” A random, unexplainable “jagged line” drawn through Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and engulfing Alaska took some and left others, the largest forced relocation in United States history.

Teresa learned that more than nine thousand people of Japanese ancestry had lived at the Minidoka camp between 1942 and 1945. Although a third generation Japanese-American, her parents and grandparents were not relocated, and had never mentioned Minidoka. Wondering what was left of the site, what documentation remained, and what had become of those once incarcerated, she sought answers. The result is her book, which illustrates what transpired during those years, what became of the people interred there, and the ripple effects upon their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
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Locked Out!

Posted on by Ray Brooks / Comments Off on Locked Out!

As my car door shut, I suddenly thought: is this a mistake? It was.

The door was locked, my keys were sitting on the dash, and the spare key was in my wallet, which was safely in a pocket on my fishing vest, also locked in my SUV.

The mid-summer sun had set a while ago in Idaho’s high desert, and I was clad in shorts and a T-shirt. Continue reading

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The Tallest Dam

Posted on by Grove Koger / Comments Off on The Tallest Dam

When I was growing up on a little farm outside Meridian, water appeared in the Treasure Valley’s canals every spring as if by magic. Irrigation season meant hard work, of course—seemingly endless rounds of setting canvas dams and shepherding rivulets of water between rows of corn and tomatoes and squash—but in the process my world turned from sere brown to green, and there were snakes and frogs to stalk in the fields and ditches.

Now, decades later, I know that our farm’s lifeblood flowed thanks to the Boise Project, the ambitious irrigation system that made southwestern Idaho’s desert bloom. And tracing that lifeblood back through Lake Lowell and up the New York Canal and the Boise River, I’ve learned how Arrowrock Dam—that vast and forbidding structure my parents took me to see as a child—came to be the project’s grandest achievement.
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The Ice Pond

Posted on by Dean Clark / Comments Off on The Ice Pond

I was forbidden to climb on our first house in Idaho, a tarpaper shack across the meadow from where Dad worked at Clearwater Timber Protective Association (CTPA) near Headquarters. The house consisted of a framework much like a large, garden shed with a low, flat, board roof sloping nearly to the ground in back and covered with tarpaper for waterproofing. The board siding was also covered with tarpaper secured by thin wooden strips. There was one layer of unsealed boards on the floor, and even with throw rugs it could be drafty at times.

We had two small bedrooms, one for my sister Ardath Jean and one for my parents. I slept on a studio couch in the combination living room/kitchen. There was no inside plumbing and no electricity. Water was carried in a bucket from a spring about three hundred feet away for drinking or poured into the reservoir of the wood burning kitchen range used for cooking and other household needs. The outhouse was a two-holer about fifty feet from the kitchen door, our only door. Lighting was by kerosene lanterns. Of course, there was no refrigeration. Any perishable food was put in a submerged, covered box out at the spring, appropriately called a spring box.

A dirt road led to the tarpaper shack during the summer, but in the winter we waded through an average six feet of snow across the meadow on foot, climbed over Reeds Creek on a perilous, abandoned railroad bridgework, and then waded in snow for another two hundred yards to our car parked near the public road. I never had to wonder why my mother was less than thrilled with our new house. We lived in the tarpaper shack for two winters and three summers. Continue reading

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Going AWOL Post-Christmas

Posted on by Steve Carr / Comments Off on Going AWOL Post-Christmas

It’s a month post-Christmas, and if I were in charge the decorations would still be up. Yes, I enjoy the holidays, but not so much that I want them never to end.

I think I’m a decent Santa. There are certainly better. But the fact is, I’m always ready for it to end. I need to get my emotions back to a place I can navigate, a place where my actions aren’t dictated by sugar plum fairies, angels, wise men and carriage rides over the hill to Grandmother’s house—because Grandmother isn’t there anymore.

In a world where I am the lone stagehand, the Christmas stage would stay up. I’d simply move to another venue come January. It’s the taking down, the boxing of memories, the children’s kindergarten popsicle ornaments, and Grandma’s faded star that throw me off. And “off” is not the best place to start the New Year. Continue reading

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Catastrophe, High and Wide

Posted on by Robert Jenkins / Comments Off on Catastrophe, High and Wide

This was in the spring of 2011, when a very large and extremely heavy electrical transformer was being moved by road and rail to an Idaho Power sub-station near Shoshone. Weighing in at 450 tons, the transformer was forty feet long, fourteen feet wide and about eighteen feet tall. Built by a South Korean company, it had been shipped through the Panama Canal to a seaport in Texas. From there it was loaded onto one of the largest railroad cars in North America for a long and slow journey to its rail destination near Gooding. Known by railroaders as a “high-and-wide” load, the transformer and the railcar had their own crew of attendants, who made sure the load remained steady and stable throughout its journey.
From the beginnings of railroads in America, they were the “go to” form of transportation if you had a large piece of machinery or something very heavy to move. The railroads reached their zenith during World War II, when they had the greatest amount of track, which meant very large loads were moved just about anytime, anywhere. Even today, when a company needs to transport an especially large or heavy load, railroads still will get the nod if their tracks are anywhere close to the pick-up point or destination.

I became aware of this high-and-wide load as it was nearing Idaho by rail. On a nice Saturday morning in April 2011, I first caught sight of it near Dietrich, and followed it through Shoshone to its rail destination at a grain facility near Gooding. The transformer would be removed from its railcar and loaded onto a highway heavy-lift transport rig. It then would proceed from Gooding through Shoshone and down Highway 93 to the Idaho Power sub-station. Continue reading

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Alone

Posted on by Doug Tims / Comments Off on Alone

I’m a licensed pilot. I flew my own plane for sixteen years, but I was glad not to be at the controls as we made the approach for this landing. It is stunningly beautiful. And scary: mountain peaks, canyons, strong tricky winds, towering ponderosa pines and grand firs with a tight, short runway cut among them.

Ray Arnold, a veteran mountain pilot, was in the left seat, I was in the right, Phyllis in the rear seat of the single engine Cessna 206. We were coming from Cascade, had flown over 8,346-foot Chicken Peak and were looking down on two-and-a-half-million acres of the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness stretching for miles in all directions. It’s a mountainscape that has always attracted tough men and women. A lonely Eden, and, for some, a garden of agony.

At about three thousand feet, Ray banked the plane steeply and finally put us down on the eight-hundred-foot runway that sits on a sloping meadow above the river crossing called Campbell’s Ferry.

We thanked him, unloaded our twenty-odd boxes of gear and watched as the little plane clawed into the air headed straight for the canyon wall across the river. The plane banked left to find the deep canyon opening downriver, banked again to follow the narrow cut, rounded the bend at Lemhi Point and was gone, leaving only the sound of the Salmon River as it made its way past the historic homestead that would be our home. Continue reading

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Messing Around

Posted on by Les Tanner / Comments Off on Messing Around

“Why do you have the bucket in the house?”

For fifteen minutes or so, my wife had been home from work here in Caldwell and was checking the TV to make sure her favorite soap had been taped.

Since I was in the family room and out of her sight, she hadn’t paid any attention to what I was doing until I kicked that darned metal bucket.

“Just messing around,” I replied, impressed that she’d recognized the sound.

She hit the mute button on the remote. “Why are you always ‘messing around’?” she asked. “Don’t you ever have anything constructive to do?”

“I did all the things you had on the list,” I responded.

“My goodness,” she said. “Do you mean to tell me that you finally put both of those boxes up in the attic and carried out the trash? And it only took you six hours? That may be something of a record.”

“I do my best,” I replied modestly.

“Did you empty the dishwasher?”

“It wasn’t on the list.”

“Why do I have to put things like that on a list?” she asked.

“I’ve got other things on my mind,” I replied. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do unless it’s on a list.”

“What ‘other things’ did you have on your mind today that were so important?”

“Squirrels,” I said. Continue reading

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