Fresh off the emotional highs from our serendipitous chance encounters at Canyonlands National Park, we headed toward our next destinations, with great anticipation. First, Utah’s Capital Reef National Park and then eight days in Idaho.
At Capital Reef, reservations were made at Wonderland RV Park in Torrey, Utah. There, we were greeted with heavy rain turning to snow, a living room slide-out (on BAM) that would not work, absolutely no cellular coverage (AT&T or Verizon), and zero internet. This did not seem like a great start.
Tim’s Story: Fixing the Slide-out
Taking a breath, we decided to address the seeming pile-up of issues one at a time. First, the reduced living space due to a slide that wouldn’t, well, slide. The slide problem turned out to be a blown fuse. We inquired and were told that the nearest auto parts store was in Bicknell, about 10 miles to the west. It was 5:10 pm, and they would be closing at 5:30 pm. The only thing that could possibly keep us from making it would be a herd of buffalo.
Turns out, that isn’t a stretch of the imagination. It’s exactly what we encountered, blocking the middle of the road, as we crested the first hill out of town. As we slowly approached, they scattered, some running toward us. For a moment, it felt like one of larger bulls was going to put his head down and take on Willy. While Willy has a horn, I don’t think it was any match for the buffaloes.
Friendly Idaho Neighbors
Earlier, while sticking my own head in and out of the basement of BAM to analyze the slide problem, test the current, and put the motor in and out of gear, I listened to the constant chatter of my new neighbor. He kept bragging about his new, smaller, class-C motorhome and how it was simpler and never breaks. After I got the new fuse in place and went inside to activate the slide, I took great pleasure as it slowly extended out while my new friend watched and then retreated into his tiny living space.
The phone/internet problem was equally as easily solved. We simply decided to skip the next two days scheduled at Wonderland (where it was freezing) and head north to Provo, Utah. Deborah had a day of teleconference meetings scheduled that required connectivity. And we could use the city and its amenities after three weeks of very rural towns.
Mountain Home, Idaho
After Provo, Mountain Home, Idaho was our next stop. We have taken I-84 from Salt Lake City several times, so we knew the great vistas as well as the precise spot where we ran out of gas in 2015 (another story for another time).
Deborah’s high-school classmate, Douglas Mayne, and his wife Judy make Mountain Home their home. They always show us the good life when we pass through.
It was Friday night and Doug had reserved some prime rib at The Cowboy Pastime down in Bruneau, Idaho, pop.552. This place is not “authentic cowboy” to attract tourists. It is “authentic cowboy” because it attracts real cowboys, especially on a Friday night. The local legends are memorialized with their pictures on the wall. Young boys watch and dream of growing up to be a cowboy, just like the ones grouped along the bar and around the pool tables.
Saturday-Morning Breakfast at the Radiator Shop
During dinner, Doug suggested I join him for breakfast in the morning in what he called an old radiator shop. John, the owner of “John’s Supply,” fixes breakfast every Saturday morning in the back of his business for a regular group of Mountain Home locals who stop by. The discussion seemed to revolve around fixing things and, refreshingly, never veered into politics. From the looks of the shop, John appears to be able to fix almost anything—although I never saw a radiator.
We never discussed the huge, but well-used, Viking stove with its massive flatiron grill he uses to cook the best ever over-easy eggs. My guess is that he probably took it in as a non-working item, fixed it, and a tradition was started. The rest of the menu included waffles, maple syrup by the gallon, and link sausage—probably coming from last fall’s elk hunt.
Idaho Backroad Trip
After breakfast, Doug and I picked up Deborah, and Doug guided us on a back-road drive along about 30 miles of the south fork of the Boise River. We started at the Anderson Reservoir and followed it all the way to the backwaters of back waters of Arrowrock Dam near Boise.
Bruneau Canyon Scenic Overlook
Deborah and I couldn’t get enough of this majestic, rural country and took our own drive later that afternoon. We drove 18 miles of gravel, including 12 miles “at our own risk” across part of the Mountain Home Air Force bombing range to the Bruneau Canyon Scenic Overlook.
After a very busy 36 hours in Mountain Home, we said good-bye to Doug and. Judy and headed north to McCall, Idaho for a week of rest, relaxation, and daily life duties. At an elevation of more than 5,000 feet, the town sits on the southern end of Payette Lake. Payette Lake is a crystal-clear natural body of water that the Payette river flows into and out of.
This is our third summer traveling in BAM and our seven days in McCall was a new record stay in terms of length in one spot. The “G7 McCall RV Resort” is as good as it gets. The Payette river, probably 50 feet across, freely and beautifully flows around the southern side of the property with snow-capped peaks in the near distance.
Rested and Ready to Go
We caught up on business, laundry, and groceries. We took day trips until the snow stopped us, used Willy to rescue some kids who were stuck in the snow, and watched James Holzhauer finally lose on Jeopardy! The weather was beautiful one day and cold and rainy with snow the next. During the week, we nearly had the town to ourselves. The opening of the summer season was not scheduled for another week until June 15th!
It was perfect recharge for our next adventures.
I was actually thankful for the slower pace as we ventured from Capital Reef, Utah to Mountain Home, Idaho and finally McCall, Idaho. While our time in BAM is referred to as an adventure—and it is—we are also maintaining and living our lives. That includes time for personal care, work, cleaning, laundry, shopping, and staying connected with friends and family. Consequently, those 12 days gave us that opportunity.
Above all, spending this more leisurely time in “rural America” gave me time for some introspection. Subsequently, this created a new awareness of my own current and urban-centric “perceptions” of our country, politics, values, and the world that we live in.
“Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.”
– Douglas Adams
Travel and Personal Growth
It’s an amazing gift to be able to travel and visit new locations, and meet and talk with the locals. . For me, it has provided the opportunity to witness and experience the many contrasts to my life in the city. Observing our beautiful and vast rural countryside has pushed me to recognize some new insights, alter or shift some of my perceptions, and ultimately recognize, empathize, and understand the realities of the people who choose to live in these rural areas. It’s a life that is so very different than one in a metropolitan city.
My hope is that you will have the opportunity to go beyond your current perspectives through travel. And while you travel, you will take the time to view the world and its citizens with a fresh eye, understanding, and empathy. The only requirement for participation is an open mind!