Blog Archives

Even a Tent, if Necessary

Posted on by Josh Packer / Leave a comment

I’ve lived in Idaho almost all of my life, yet feel like I’ve never really explored it. Don’t get me wrong, I love whitewater rafting down the Snake River and boating at the Ririe Reservoir or Palisades Reservoir, but I have never enjoyed sleeping in a tent.

Only recently did I realize that I could discover some of the hidden gems in my state without having to camp out.

It began when I was searching on the Internet for fun places to go near my home in Ammon, and came across a place called Fall Creek Falls. Looking at amazing pictures of the waterfall, I scolded myself, “You’ve lived in Idaho for almost thirty years and haven’t been to Fall Creek Falls?” I mentioned the place to my brother Brent, who said he had never been there either. We decided to go together.

As it turned out, Brent took an opportunity to visit Fall Creek Falls before me, which meant that he could later show me the way. When he told me that the falls were within about a forty-five-minute drive from my house, we picked Memorial Day for our trip, since I had the day off. We got up early that morning and hit U.S. 26, or the “Old Highway,” as I called it growing up. It’s a scenic drive past wheat fields and along the Snake River to Swan Valley. The morning was dark as we approached the turnoff for Fall Creek Falls, which made it difficult, since there are no signs for the waterfall. Luckily, we found the turnoff and drove a few more miles. Brent had told me the waterfall was literally off the side of the road, but I didn’t believe him until we came down the hill and heard the rushing water right next to us.

We enjoyed the view from up above the falls, but then Brent decided to venture down to get a front-on view of the falls on a little island. Getting to the island is hard to do, and usually is only accessed via boat, but I was unaware of that at the time, so I joined Brent. The river made it difficult for us to get across to the island, but branches from a tree formed a little bridge. I took a big step onto the branches but my leg plunged about three feet into the Snake River, and got stuck between the branches. I had my camera on my shoulder and feared I would ruin it by toppling into river, but the branches immobilized me until I could figure out how to get to the island. Continue reading

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Huckleberry Hounds

Posted on by Lana Creer-Harris / Leave a comment

Thirty-six hours after I left that peaceful berry patch on Henrys Fork, I could still smell huckleberries.

By then, I was back in Utah with a few cups of berries in the fridge and their robust, fruity fragrance in my head. This was in August, after my first huckleberry picking expedition with my brother, Brandon Creer. He warned me that my fridge would smell like huckleberries, which sounded great. I don’t see Brandon very often and was looking forward to our day together. I expected it to be fun, but from the minute I entered the berry patch, I loved it.

Brandon took my husband Rich and me to berry patches at Upper Coffee Pot campground on Henrys Fork, an eastern Idaho tributary of the Snake River. His family picked there and he knew the bushes were accessible for his arthritis-laden sister. I’m thirteen years older than my fifty-three-year-old brother, and many pounds heavier. Neither of us have knees worth a darn, so the ease of picking was the main factor in selecting a spot.

I berry-picked when I lived in Alaska, and love the meditative quality of the exercise. The first time I picked tundra blueberries in Nome twenty years ago, I picked alone and envied the women who had family with them. I wanted that family feeling to accompany the berry picking. Brandon likes it, I like it, and we like each other. Off we went. Continue reading

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What’s in a Name?

Posted on by Steve Carr / Leave a comment

Guess what, a recently discovered species has been named after my brother. Now that’s pretty cool.

This is what I know—which is more than I understand. The genus to which this newly discovered species belongs is unevenly distributed throughout all bio-geographical regions. Despite this global distribution, these animals are seldom collected, likely due to their crypto-biotic lifestyle.

For those of you who are non-zoologists, like me, a crypto-biotic state is one in which an animal’s metabolic activities come to a reversible standstill. Continue reading

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Coming Home

Posted on by Greta Rybus / Leave a comment

I ask my mom for the keys to her car, the way I did when I was seventeen.

I wake up early, drive out of the foothills and down Boise’s State Street, past my dad’s favorite lumber store, to re-enter the hills from a new angle. Every so often, I need a day like this. It’s just me, a water bottle, my wallet, and my camera. No true plan, just a direction. On this day, it’s north toward Horseshoe Bend. I want to go somewhere new in a place that feels familiar.

I live in Maine now, and on this September day, it has been almost a year since the last time I was in Idaho. I moved away the summer after high school, nearly ten years ago. I like coming back in September, the prettiest time of year almost everywhere in the United States, but especially in Idaho. In that month, Idaho is a romance of golds and browns, hard workers and harsh sunlight, open space and wildness.

Continue reading

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Tarzan Loves Idaho

Posted on by Albert Frank Asker / 1 Comment

Years ago I wrote an article for myself, because it was one of those things that you just have to get out of your system. It felt important, like it had to be communicated to others, but I didn’t have anywhere to publish it. The article I wrote for myself was about the history of comic books in Idaho. In it, I wrote about the cowboy comic book called Idaho that was published by Dell Comics of New York City in the 1960s. I wrote about one-time Boisean Dave Stevens and his famous comic book character The Rocketeer. I wrote about native Idahoan Dennis Eichhorn and his Eisner Award-nominated autobiographical comic book series Real Stuff. I wrote about Boisean Andy Garcia’s Oblivion City comic book series. I wrote about Boise’s first comic book publisher, Bishop Press. At the end, I expressed a deep hope that all these people could get together and produce an anthology featuring the comic book creators of Idaho. It was a dream of mine to publish that article and organize that anthology. But no one ever read it.

Why was I so interested? I just loved comic books. One of my earliest memories is of sitting around the dining room table in Boise with my parents, cutting out a bunch of order forms from a stack of my old Captain America comic books. My parents ordered a subscription for me to Captain America, posters, and toys related to the star-spangled Avenger. My younger brothers and sister dabbled in comic books for a time, but I was hooked for life.

I’ll never forget the first time my parents took me to a comic book store at its old location on Fairview Avenue in Boise. The same store is still on Fairview, but it used to be farther down the street, next to where a pizza joint is located that eventually absorbed the comic book shop’s old storefront. I had never seen so many comic books in my life. The rich bouquet of newsprint filled the shop with the smell of yesteryear­—the Golden Age when comics were king.

There were so many old comics. There was Superman #123, in which Supergirl made her first appearance. There was Detective Comics #38, which had the first appearance of Robin. There was The Incredible Hulk #181, the first appearance of Wolverine. A framed original drawing of The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens hung on a wall. I had no idea such a place existed. This was my new mecca, Disneyland, and heaven all rolled into one. Continue reading

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A Hole in the Boat

Posted on by Cheryl Cox / Leave a comment

Despite the cold wind at the edge of his redwood deck, Shannon Hansen carefully places rib-eye steaks on a grill.

Inside, his wife Jill has set a large table, her kitchen counter already covered with potluck contributions. Eagerly accepting the steaming mug Jill offers, I take an appetizer before blending into the group of family and friends who have gathered at the Hansens’ house for a lively battle against the monotony of gray days. By the time Shannon comes inside and closes the sliding door behind him, we are discussing winter water levels and warm summer days at Palisades Reservoir, which lies about fifty-five miles southeast of Idaho Falls.

“I nearly sank the boat last year,” he announces, catching me mid-bite. He launches into a narrative that will quickly become a local classic. With my addition of a few historical notes for clarity, this is his tale:

Shannon pulls his pickup off U.S. Highway 26, careful to clear his boat and trailer as he enters the scenic overlook at Calamity Point. Here, in 1957, the Bureau of Reclamation completed a project envisioned in the late 1940s to construct a massive earthen dam across a narrow reach of the Snake River Canyon. The dam, the largest of its kind in Idaho, impounded the river, flooded the canyon, and backfilled drainages until more than a million acre-feet of water storage capacity reached as far as the Wyoming state line near Alpine, eleven miles upriver.

All this was good news for irrigators and hydroelectric power producers, but even better news for recreationists. Arguably the project’s most enthusiastic stakeholders, the Palisades Reservoir could offer a gamut of close-to-home water sports never before available on such a scale.

Shutting down his pickup, Shannon drops the ignition key onto the center console. The familiar clatter triggers seatbelts and locks. When doors fly open, his family, eager to stretch cramped legs after the drive up from Rigby, spills out onto the asphalt. Bringing up the rear, a gangly retriever coming to terms with his long legs joins the group at the overlook’s edge. Continue reading

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Plumb Loco

Posted on by Karen Ketchie Davidson / Leave a comment

In the late 1940s, on an early summer morning in a narrow, isolated mountain valley of central Idaho, the morning is dark and cold as usual, until the moment when the light appears over the ridge and a million diamonds sparkle on the trees as the dew catches the rays of the sun.

The deep shadows are instantly erased and the long grassy meadows are exposed. Yellowjacket—the lake, the creek, the ranger station and the mine in what is now the Salmon-Challis National Forest—hold fascination for prospectors, hermits, fishermen, and children like me at the time. William Studebaker, the late Idaho poet and writer, spent his first summers at the ranger station, just as I did. There is a cold creek to be waded, fish to be caught, snakes to be poked, deer to be watched, and sagebrush-lined animal trails to be climbed. There is a high wooden swing in the yard, and there are horses and mules. The sounds of whinnying and braying, the ring of the bell on the lead mare, the buzz of horseflies—it’s a place just waiting for stories to be written about it.

On this particular morning, the ranger station is preparing the pack string for a trip along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The narrow dirt road ends a few miles down, at the Yellowjacket Mine, and from there, the trip will be by trail. The men on the summer crew bring the mules from the corral to the front of the compound. One by one, they line them up in specific order, each loosely roped to the next in line. The mules twitch their ears irritably and look around with suspicion. They know that their lazy days in the pasture have been interrupted. Continue reading

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She Can Saw

Posted on by Desiré Aguirre / Leave a comment

I grew up in the suburbs and dreamed of living in the country, where I would own a couple of horses, have a glorious garden, and a little house with a woodstove to keep me warm during snowy winters.

No surprise, I eventually ended up in Sagle, in a small house on five acres with two horses, a green garden, a snowy winter, and a woodstove.

Taking care of the place keeps me plenty busy. Horses require hay and, in my opinion, riding. The garden requires plenty of planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting, the snow requires plowing and shoveling, and the woodstove requires dry wood. Fortunately, I mastered the nuances of owning horses, tending a garden, and moving snow before I actually got to the woodstove. When I first arrived in Sandpoint, I couldn’t start a wood fire, much less cut, split, and stack the wood needed to feed it.

When I moved into my humble abode in Sagle, I had to learn all about burning wood because the only source of heat in the new place was the woodstove. Fortunately, the previous owners left me a pile of tamarack and red fir, ready to cut and split. My mom, already a master of wood heat, advised me to get an electric chainsaw, and made me promise to don gloves, safety glasses, long sleeves, jeans, and boots when I cut my firewood. Continue reading

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Posted on by Shirley Metts / Leave a comment

In the fall of 1967, when I was fourteen, my parents moved our family from the Northside Tract at Rupert to Hazelton, within fifteen miles of Hansen. Even so, I grew up knowing very little about the town. This situation continued until I married in 1974, when we moved from Twin Falls to Kimberly, just four miles west of Hansen, and became very good friends with several Hansen residents. In spring of 1976, I went to work at the Hansen School District for about six months and learned more about the place. Forty years later, we still have friends who live there. Two of them were Hans and Martha Ross, both now deceased, who were wonderful people and pioneers in the area.

City clerk Linda Morrill describes sleepy little Hansen as a bedroom community of Twin Falls, which is about seven miles west on Highway 30, an easy commute yet far enough away for Hansen to be laid-back from the hustle and bustle of the larger city. Hansen’s current population of 1,160 has an elementary and junior/senior high school, a great public library, city offices, a café, post office, bar, grain elevators, a fiberglass machine shop, a fire station, and a store that is undergoing refurbishment. A community hall can be rented for weddings, parties, and other events.

The first thing that catches your attention after you pass the gaudy “Garden of Eden” truck stop at the I-84 exit to Hansen is the beauty of the crossing over the Snake River Canyon. In the town’s early days, the first bridge at this spot was the only connection between Hansen on the south side of the river and the farming areas of Eden and Hazelton on the north side. Before it was completed in 1919, the only way to cross the sixteen-mile-long river gorge was in a rowboat. The suspension bridge was held up by fourteen cables that were more than nine hundred feet long. It had two rows of wooden planks, which drivers were supposed to keep their tires on. It was wide enough for only one vehicle to travel at a time. If two vehicles met on the bridge, one would have to back up. My friend Harold Waggoner remembers driving a combine across that bridge and having to back up for another vehicle coming toward him. My dad liked to say it was a two-way bridge, one way going north and the other south—just not at the same time. Continue reading

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Foodies, Unite

Posted on by Amy Story / Leave a comment

I ignored the rolling hills, sagebrush, farmland, and streams along Highway 20, too busy thinking of what my psychology professor, Dr. Fellows, once said about solo vacations—that they were the best thing ever. You could keep your own schedule, talk to whomever, go wherever, whenever, however. I hoped her assessment was correct, because I would be solo in Sun Valley for the Harvest Festival.

Years ago, we’d had an electrical contracting business in the Wood River Valley, wiring many high-end homes, condominiums, hotels, and mixed-use buildings. Our business served the area for four years, and then branched out to elsewhere, but the time had been filled with plenty of family play, pedaling tandem bikes, sledding, hiking, following trails on ATVs, and spending weekends in rented condos or cabins. I silently prayed I wouldn’t be lonely on this trip, that I’d discover new friends. The worst image I conjured was dining alone in a corner while others talked, laughed, and ate. But I had seen one thing firsthand: food brings people together.

It’s good to be back, I thought as I passed the landmark white barn with its circular stained glass window. Wintertime, and my favorite salmon Caesar salad awaited at the grille on the corner. I passed the luxury resort on the corner of Dollar and Saddle Roads where the electricians spent many a hardworking hour. The ski museum with its haunting photos of Hemingway. The lodge with its jazz festival and nearby chocolate shop. Fond memories tugged at me.

Festival participants were supposed to meet at Towne Square, but I’d never heard of it, and felt silly asking for directions. I walked past one of the many artists in residence, who was building a faux Grecian pillar and had fur fashions displayed on the shop’s platform.

“Towne Square?” I queried, lifting my hands in surrender.

“They call it that to be fancy. It’s really the little park next to Giacobbi Square.”

“Ohhh.” I knew the one. With the giraffe sculpture and chess tables. Built in 2010––we’d left Ketchum by 2006. I didn’t feel so bad. Continue reading

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