Driving through the Nevada emptiness, we turn off the highway and follow some sketchy directions found on the internet, following miles and miles of gravel roads in search of a cool spot to camp. We arrive at this quaint little used spot along a creek, complete with shade and a very quiet and level camping site. It’s 100 degrees out, but here by the water, we are cozy and comfortable. Lucky Day.
The drive through southern Idaho along the Little Salmon River is beautiful and scenic. We spend a night at a campground outside of McCall. We quickly visit the town of McCall before heading out, but I couldn’t recognize it at all, remembering it just a bit from visiting friends there long, long ago.
We drive past lush green meadows, alive and vibrant, home to what seem to be REALLY happy looking cows. Velvet green forests blanket the hills, there’s water everywhere. Rivers, streams, creeks, and waterfalls. The land is beautiful, as I remember.
We pass steep rocky mountains populated with miles of pine trees, and little old log cabins dotting the hillsides. It’s July. The bottomlands are green, the treeless hills are brown. There’s an odd mixture of remnants of old homesteads, scattered among rusty metal industrial trash, peppered with modern new lodges catering to the tourists with dollars dangling from deep pockets.
Nearing the Northern panhandle, (that skinny little arm of Idaho) the landscape changes from rolling wheat fields back to forested mountains. I’m lost. The towns I remember no longer exist. The little smoke shops and general stores are nowhere to be seen. In their place are many, many new shiny metal thrown up buildings, and huge made to look old cabin style resort structures. The little winding two lane highway I drove daily, has been replaced by a mega four lane freeway.
I can’t even find the road that I once lived on. The tribal buildings are monolithic. The casino stands stately in the field.
Finally arriving south of Coeur d’ Alene, there is a yacht club where once a simple restaurant lived. I have memories of my co-worker and friend, who lived south along the highway, boating to work, because she could never drive the little snow covered road. Now, another friend tells me, it takes her about ten minutes in the winter, and the drive is a breeze.
The downtown area has been completely rebuilt. Mazes of new buildings, high rises, and hip little shops line the once simple main street.
I feel like I’ve been left in “Happy Days”, while the town fast forwarded into some futuristic movie. It’s been 33 years since I’ve lived here, and even the brief visits since, seem foggy.
It is still as gorgeous as ever. And I feel like I am finding a bit of my heart, left here, many, many years ago. So much love, so much sadness, much growth and introspection took place in these mountains and along the lake edges when I was young.
Memories have faded, but it is wonderful being back!