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IDAHO Rocks! Twin Falls; Boise; Basques; Nellie and Rudy; McCall; Rockslide! Coeur d’Alene; Bear!!!

WE LOVE IDAHO!!! Our first stop in the Gem State was Twin Falls. MLB and I got out for one of the best bike rides ever, along the Snake River. The rim-level trail is relatively easy, until you get to the hills… back in 1974, Evel Knievel attempted to jump the 1,600 ft wide canyon in his steam-powered X-2 skycycle from this ramp. Unfortunately, the skycycle’s parachute opened much too early, and the attempt failed. Suzanne recalls that event and imagines/wishes she could make the jump on her mountain bike…..

The twin falls are Shoshone (shown here, our photo from the bike trail) and Perrine Coulee. Shoshone is taller than Niagara, 212 ft high and 900 ft wide. The Snake River tumbles through the beautiful basalt canyon on its way to meet the Columbia River far downstream.

Downstream of the falls is a beautiful, serene area where kayakers can enjoy a mellow paddle. MLB is dwarfed by the basalt rocks towering overhead. Falcons soared above, hunting prey like pigeons nesting in crevices and on ledges.

From Twin Falls, we motored on to Boise, another favorite stop in Idaho. We had dinner at a Basque restaurant with Teresa Stella, who had migrated here from California with her dog Sparky. 

“Basque”, you might ask? In Idaho? In fact, there is a community of between 10,000-15,000 Basques here. Many are descendants of sheepherds who came to Idaho in the 1800s. One of the neat places we discovered was a Basque cultural area with an old sheepherd’s wagon. Imagine living in one of these for months at a time in remote mountain and sagebrush areas, tending your sheep and protecting them against wolves and grizzly bears. (English teachers, please note: they do call themselves sheepherds, not “shepherds”… nor “Sherpas”…)

Our puppies are still enjoying the trip out west, and our 8 month old puppy Nellie is growing like a weed; she is almost as big as Rudy, who at 15 1/2 years is starting to slow down, just like his dog-dad… Look at that innocent face… We call her “Nellie the Wonderful”, because most of the time she is really sweet… especially to us. I heard Rudy say one day, after Nellie was nipping at his ears and hip thrusting him, “Dog-dad, she is really Nellie the Naughty!“, but we won’t let that moniker take hold… sorry, Rudy…. suck it up!

After Boise, we moved on to another favorite, McCall, Idaho. The allure in McCall is the hiking in Payette National Forest and paddling on Payette Lake and the river of the same name. We splashed our kayaks twice on the lovely upper Payette River, paddling both sections from the lake upstream to the head of navigation. For our kayaks, that meant water about 2 inches deep. Only fish and stream walkers might get higher up the river. 

This photo shows how crystal clear the river was – you can see the shadow of Suzanne’s kayak on the river bottom, probably 3 or 4 feet below!

I mentioned hiking… here is MLB at Louie Lake (7,040 ft) ; it was a moderately strenuous 5 mile round trip, and worth every bit of sweat and exertion! By the way, the trail is on the flanks of Twin Peaks. (I did not make this up!)

So, after the kayaking and hiking, I had to take Suzanne out to dinner. She found a great restaurant (Rupert’s) at the Hotel McCall, and the food, wine and service were terrific. What a view I had, and the scenery was nice, too.

While Suzanne was doing a Zoom session, I went for a hike around the town of McCall. This young buck, his antlers still in velvet, was quietly munching away on grass in a residential yard… he was one of five deer I walked to within 6 feet of that evening.

From McCall it was on to Coeur d’Alene, but there was a problem. My pre-departure planning showed the drive to be about 275 miles, so imagine my chagrin when but a few days before leaving McCall, MLB said, “Ty, the iPhone is saying it’s over 375 miles, and requires a detour into Oregon…” Nothing stirs me up worse than being wrong about trip planning, but “WAIT! WAIT!” There was a huge rockslide on US 95 near Riggins, Idaho, which resulted in large house-sized boulders covering the roadway. 

The detour would take us into Oregon, but finally, after 17 days, on the day before we were to depart McCall, the Idaho Transportation Department contractors had dynamited enough of the largest boulders to open one lane of the road during daylight hours. Be happy that you weren’t on that section of road when the mountainside came crashing down…

Next stop: Coeur d’Alene. The name comes from a phrase (meaning “the heart of an awl”, or hard steel, that the French voyageurs used to describe the trading practices of the local Indians of the same name, although they call themselves the Skitswish, which means “The Discovered People”). We were visiting some good friends, Dick and Alis Arrowood, who had sold their Sonoma vineyard and winery, Amapola Creek, last year and bought a lovely lake view home in CDA.

We had been to Coeur d’Alene before, but really fell in love with it this trip. We even looked at some small cabins with Elda Asinelli, a delightful real estate agent and friend of Alis. But the prices are outrageous… seems like thousands of Californians are bailing out of the People’s Republic and flocking to Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado in search of personal liberty, freedom from riots and crime, and reasonable taxes…. Gee, which would you prefer, the streets of San Fran or this lovely lake sunset? I am not making a political statement, mind you… “just sayin’ what they’re sayin'”…….

Suzanne’s birthday came during our stay, and I had made reservations at Domino’s Pizza, not realizing that because of the Chinese flu, their two picnic tables were out of commission. Sigh… So I asked Dick to recommend an alternative, and we wound up at Anthony’s. No pizza, but Suzanne’s halibut and my walleye were spectacular, and the service and ambiance were perfect. 

We also met some of Dick and Alis’ friends and neighbors, Gary and Lynda Summers, and had dinner with the four of them at The Cedars, a famous landmark and floating restaurant in CDA. (From L-R, Lynda, Gary, Alis, Dick, MLB and your humble correspondent). Dick and Gary are both world class sporting clay shooters, and have amazing collections of shotguns, mostly over and under and side-by-side models. They shoot up to 25,000 shells a year to stay at highly competitive levels. ( I feel sorry for those clay pigeons, though…)

Wrapping up our visit to Coeur d’Alene, I had a run-in with some wildlife… a big grizzly bear. I spotted him on our walk around a lake after dinner one night. I wasn’t about to let some brassy bruin intimidate us, though…


  • Donna
    Posted November 22, 2020 at 12:59 am

    I love your blog Ty! So much fun to see you and Suzanne's adventures and all the yummy food finds! CDA is a favorite Ironman Race location too. It's beautiful!

  • Brad
    Posted November 22, 2020 at 1:00 am

    You traveled and saw some great country! One of my wife’s and my friends is the Forest Supervisor (head cheese) for the Payette National Forest. He and his family love living there!
    I depart tomorrow for Oregon to manage a Helibase near Salem, OR. There is a fire in the Opal Creek Wilderness area that is remote and spectacular. Going to be within a few miles of my dad so look forward to seeing him too. Safe travels! Brad

  • Beverly G
    Posted November 22, 2020 at 1:00 am

    Great blog Ty! Amazing photos and love seeing your travels.

  • Unknown
    Posted November 22, 2020 at 1:00 am

    How fun to see the adventures!! We'll be out there next summer.


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