After our week in McCall, Idaho, everything was perfect. It was moving day, and we had less than 80 miles to drive BAM! We were looking forward to the premier spot we had reserved at Swiftwater RV Park near White Bird, Idaho. BAM would be sitting just feet from the Salmon River with a magnificent view. But before we were knew it, we were lost in Idaho—and not because we didn’t know where we were.
After paying for four nights, we parked BAM in a super-shady spot and powered up our DirecTV dish. Miraculously, it found all three satellites through a very small opening between shade trees. Next, we turned on our Verizon 8800L MiFi and it read…no signal. I had called twice and been assured by the RV park, they got Verizon. “That’s what we are talking on,” I was told each time.
What I failed to confirm was signal strength (lesson learned). One bar of 1X extended may get you a phone call or a text message, but it will not handle a call with data, download even the simplest internet site, or power our WiFi. Our perfect day and our perfect site were suddenly not so perfect.
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
It was Sunday. On Tuesday, Deborah had scheduled video conference meetings all day. At this point, Deborah’s AT&T phone had absolutely no signal. On top of that, we didn’t know what time it was. It was like we were lost in Idaho without a clock. Mountain and pacific time zones sort of follow the Salmon River east from where it joins the Snake River in Hells Canyon. It not only divides towns in Idaho, it also divides the state. Many residents don’t like it and don’t comply. They simply post a sign like, “We use mountain time here.”
Creating a Plan B
We quickly decided to drive Willy back the 30 miles to Riggins, where we knew we could get strong cell reception. There, we would create a plan. I wanted to book a jet-boat trip on Monday to go up the Salmon River into the wilderness area known as the River of No Return. It is only accessible by boat or watching Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum in the namesake 1954 movie.
Deborah, on the other hand, wanted to have a plan for Tuesday’s work schedule. And she wanted to know what time it was. Her Apple watch had changed five times in the 30-mile drive from White Bird as we crisscrossed the Salmon River. The town of Riggins is mostly on the west side of the Salmon but uses mountain time.
There are only two tour operators that boat up the Salmon. One was full on Monday, and the other didn’t answer the phone. We successfully booked with them online. Deborah found the beautiful, quiet, and secluded Riggins City Park with full 4G signal, and her plan was to set up her office on a shaded picnic table on Tuesday. Everything was in order.
What Time Is Idaho Time?
That evening, we sat in front of BAM and watched the Salmon River flow by. I read the text confirmation for the next day’s river trip. We would need to allow time to drive back to Riggins, and from there, the text estimated the drive to the remote launch site would take an hour. Then the kicker: they stated that they operate on Mountain Standard Time.
We didn’t know what that meant, as most of the US was now on daylight savings time. It was a long and unresolved debate. Deborah took the stance that Mountain Standard Time was the same as Pacific Daylight Time. I took the position that the term Mountain Standard stood for a time zone which was now on Mountain Daylight. The tour operator still wasn’t answering the phone, so we couldn’t get clarification. We definitely felt a little lost in Idaho.
Always Heed the Omens
After setting the alarm (ugh) and waking to the earliest option, I checked my phone and found a text message. The river was still running too high and their jet-boat tours would not be starting for another couple of days. Our Jet boat trip up the River of No Return was cancelled. It was a sign, and we reacted.
We decided to pack up and head north for Spokane. Generally, when you check-in and pay at an RV park, there are no refunds. The owner of Swiftwater RV Park was quite generous to us, and I would highly recommend this park if you are seeking peaceful days on the river while being almost off the grid.
White Bird, Idaho
Swiftwater and White Bird are off US-95 on a three-mile section of old highway 95. The new alignment starts about five miles before White Bird for the steady climb up eight miles and nearly 3,000 feet to Grangeville. When we start a trip with such a steep grade, I often drive BAM while Deborah drives Willy. We wait to hook-up until the top of the hill. Deborah followed me as I drove the two miles into White Bird, but I missed the turn up to the new highway.
White Bird is a small town with a population of 91. As I drove up Main Street, the only two people I saw were one lady, standing in the middle of the road, talking to another, parked in a truck, in front of the general store. I was going very slowly, but the lady in the road still didn’t act like she was going to move. To avoid her, I moved to the right, brushed some overhanging tree limbs, and proceeded.
Quickly, I determined that Main Street was a road to nowhere, and I needed to turn around before it started the narrow zig-zag up the hill on old 95. There wasn’t another car in sight, so I turned all 40 feet of BAM into a large drive, reversed back out into the street, and headed in the other direction. There the lady was still standing in the middle of the road. This time, she wouldn’t budge, so I stopped with her standing immediately in front of all 45,000 pounds of BAM.
Deborah: Lost in Idaho?
I slid open my driver’s window, and she came around and went ballistic. The 13 mph I had observed on my speedometer was entirely too fast for her. I listened for a while, but she was now out of my way, so I simply drove away. Distracted, I missed the small “to US 95” arrow again. It wasn’t long before I noticed Deborah was not following me, so I pulled off and waited. I couldn’t call her; her phone had no service.
After waiting five minutes, I decided to turn BAM around for fear she was stuck in town. Perhaps she had been stopped by the “Wild Woman of White Bird.” Have I mentioned how difficult it is to turn BAM around in a small road with no spotter?
Heading back, I rounded the bend into White Bird again. Thank goodness, the good news was there was not a person in sight. However, the bad news was Deborah wasn’t there either. At least I knew the spot to again turn around.
I was now headed back down this one-street town for the fourth time when I spotted the bridge over White Bird Creek that leads up to US 95. At the top, sitting and waiting at the entrance to the highway was Deborah. She couldn’t wait to tell me how a lady had stopped her in the middle of the street in White Bird. The lady had yelled at Deborah about me. Her complaint was based on the fact that there are women and children on this street. Apparently, that’s where she hangs.
Back to Civilization
The eight-mile climb out of White Bird Canyon offers majestic views of the vast, emerald green White Bird Valley. It is designated as the Nez Pearce National Historic Park, White Bird Battlefield. Here, in 1877, a band of Nez Pearce Indians, determined not to be pushed off their land by the US government, gave the US Army one of its worst defeats. They overwhelmed the 109 solders the Army thought could easily remove them.
Finally, at the top of White Bird Hill, the terrain flattened as we reached the outskirts of Grangeville. I parked on a pull-out so we could hook Willy to the back of BAM and Deborah could join me. Deborah settled into the passenger captain’s chair and relaxed for a moment before picking up her phone. For the first time in more that 24 hours, it had service! To say she was elated is an understatement.
Life. One thing is for sure: even the best of plans can be discounted or put asunder.
I will admit that I am wound a little tighter when it comes to fulfilling my professional obligations. So the lack of connectivity threatening my ability to meet my clients’ expectations did get me “tense.” But throughout this Keystone Cop life episode, Tim and I were laughing and finding enormous humor in each of our predicaments.
“The first step in becoming a more peaceful person is to have the humility to admit that, in most cases, you’re creating your own emergencies.
Life will usually go on if things don’t go according to plan.”
When I reflect on these events, I realize that it is not as much about what happened but the manner in which we reacted to these events. The way a person decides to respond to life’s events can shape his or her feelings, actions, and ultimate results.
Risk Blossoming is founded on living the life you dream. We can all choose to live the life we want, no matter how tough it can get. It is all a matter of attitude and mentality. Because, bottomline, it is “ourselves” who can prevent us from achieving our goals and our potential.
The rest of the stuff is just small detours before we reach our destination!