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Homeward Bound! Riggins, ID; McCall, ID; Gowen Field; Boise; “Sweetheart, It’s NOT a Craft Fair!”

Homeward Bound! It hardly seems possible that we are 143 days and 7,887 miles into our summer tour, with 53 days and about 3,335 miles to go before returning to The Villages. Future major stops include Ogden/Salt Lake City, Utah; Pinedale, Wyoming; Denver and Estes Park, Colorado; St. Louis, Missouri, and Asheville, North Carolina. 

I received some well-appreciated support on my “Beer Blues” comment in the last blog post (mostly from men) and also took some unnecessary grief from My Formerly Supportive Friend Brenda, upon whom I will exact retribution at some date in the future. As an aside, we stopped for lunch today at an Argentine fast-food establishment (and those are pretty rare, even in Argentina) and ordered a Cerveza Quilmes beer that came out of the cooler ice-cold and refreshing. That pizza joint back in Whitefish could take some lessons from the Argentine immigrant proprietor/chef who knows what service means.

After departing Spokane, we dropped down into the Salmon River Valley in Idaho, where the river has cut over 7,000 ft deep into the earth’s crust, deeper than the Grand Canyon. And oh, by the way, the Snake River Canyon, 25 miles to the west, is even deeper, but we didn’t have time to visit the Snake. Our campsite for one night in Riggins, Idaho, was on the Salmon River, maybe the most beautiful campsite we’ve ever been assigned, and for only $31/night! Here is My Lovely Bride on an evening stroll before dinner, enjoying the river noise and solitude along the banks of the Salmon.

Ponderosa State Park in McCall, Idaho, was our next stop. On scenic Payette Lake, it was a busy (and full) campground, but we got away from the crowds for several hikes. Boulder Lake was our first destination, and the scenery was lovely, with lots of Ponderosa pines, some of which soared to over 200 feet (the tallest is 268 feet, but it’s in Oregon).

Boulder Lake itself was beautiful, and because it is located in a National Forest and not a National Park, hikers can bring their dogs. Rudy and Gretchen were disappointed that their legs were too short for a long 3 hour hike, but this black Lab was enjoying himself. 

This small spring had free, ice-cold water available. As you can see by MLB’s fleece jacket, the weather in central Idaho in mid-August is slightly cooler than back in central Florida. We never used air conditioning and kept the heaters ready for the 57-59F evenings and early mornings. Fortunately, Rudy and Gretchen make great little bed warmers!

On another hike, we found this this heart-shaped rock, reminiscent of those given away by Wolf in Suzanne’s book Wolf’s Message, seen atop a cairn – it was the subject of one of Suzanne’s Good Vibe Videos; you can find it at

This was a typical trail scene: lots of pine trees, steep hillsides and no other hikers in sight. Fortunately, we didn’t run across any bears, either.

For those harvesters in our readership, you might have been pleased by this specimen of mushroom on the forest floor that Suzanne measued with her hand. We left it there, of course, but I have heard that others collect various flora for dinner… I am not so adventurous.

We finished our last hike and returned to the coach to prepare for a 1300 (1:00 PM) checkout from Ponderosa State Park. Imagine our surprise to find a car parked right behind ours, blocking us in, and a tent set up in our campsite, just behind the coach. Evidently the two millenials were too anxious to wait for us to leave, and decided to set up their camp almost two hours before we left. This is akin to walking into someone’s hotel room and unpacking your bags before they’ve checked out.  We were shocked, amazed and almost a bit upset, as this type of behavior is unheard of among campers… finally we had to laugh at the “clueless” twenty-somethings who had obviously not been raised well.

After departing McCall, we drove down the Payette River valley to Boise. This is an exciting river drive, with 7-8% grades and tight turns. At one of the very few pull-outs that we could fit in, we walked down to the river for a few moments of contemplation. The river was roaring past us at only moderate volume; it’s hard to imagine what it would be like during Spring snowmelt. 

As we drove south, we knew that our good friend Brad Bernardy was on the fire lines of the Pioneer Fire only 30 miles or so to the east. Brad is a Forest Service senior firefighter, and is right now helping manage the efforts of over 1,000 firefighters to get this dangerous 67,000 acre fire under control. We wish Brad and his teams all the best luck in their 24/7 efforts near Lowman and Idaho City. (Photo from KIVITV)

Upon arriving in Boise, we arrived at Gowen Field National Guard Base. After passing through security, we noticed this M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank with the business end of its 120 mm gun pointed right at the gate entrance. Very Impressive! We then checked in at our campsite (1 of only 6) in the small military campground located alongside a running track. 

One morning found 30 or so Army soldiers doing their quarterly PT test. The soldier seen in cammies is seen providing spiritual guidance to his compatriot in gym gear trying to qualify in the 3 mile run. It always helps to have a senior leader giving you encouragement when you are struggling…  

While visiting Idaho’s capital, we learned that it’s pronounced “BOY-see”, not “boy-ZEE”. It helps to be linguistically correct when visiting new places. Boise is a neat, friendly city, and as soon as we could, we went for two delightful bike rides on one of the best urban bike trails we’ve yet ridden, the Boise River Greenbelt Trail. We passed a group of people and stands set up in a park, and Suzanne said, “Ty, I would like to stop at this craft fair…” We stopped and walked our bikes for a minute, and then MLB said, “Ty, There’s a distinct hippie feel here.” I looked at the scruffy-looking college kids and then noticed a small sign with a green leaf logo, and said, “Suzanne, this isn’t a craft fair; it’s called Hempfest!” Whoops… Exit stage right…


  • Anonymous
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Well I'm still on the Pioneer Fire which is now 73,000 acres in size. I'm overseeing 12 helicopters and 6 fixed wing aircraft including 2 water scoopers. I should be home in another week or so. Sorry our paths didn't cross this time! Brad

  • Ty and Suzanne Giesemann
    Posted August 18, 2016 at 1:36 am

    Brad, I've been reading that the Pioneer Fire is a tough one, all right. Hope you get some cooler weather and rain to help put this bugger out. All the best to you and your pilots and crews. Hope we can get together in October in Asheville.

  • Anonymous
    Posted August 18, 2016 at 4:39 am

    Will look forward to that! As you can imagine, fighting fire is similar to military operations in many ways. Communication, logistics, operations, planning, etc. I enjoy the challenge for sure although the long days do take a toll. Hope to see you both in Asheville! Brad

  • Rita
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Ty, I'm curious about the outcome of the campers who couldn't wait for you to check out. How long before they showed up, etc.? We had someone move their fire ring into our campsite and block our exit, but that was much easier to move.

  • Ty and Suzanne Giesemann
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    Rita, They finally showed up an hour or two later, and didn't even apologize or say, oh, we didn't know you were there. Hope they grow up at some point and learn some camping etiquette,


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