Category Archives: Travel

wafflestompers.

[wofuh l-stom-perz]

Plural noun

  1. ankle boots with ridged soles, used especially for hiking.

I feel very lucky to now have many people in my life who will strap on their wafflestompers and go on an adventure with me and my polar bear. About halfway through the hike, they start brainstorming about what they want for brunch. Waffles hopefully. Some place where breakfast is served all day. With endless coffee. We’ll fit in while we eat our waffles in our wafflestompers and hiking apparel because we live in the mountains of Central Idaho.

For a couple years, I only wore big leather wafflestompers whilst in elementary school in Florida. I loved to dress like a hiker and daydream of mountains and trees. I tied a flannel jacket around my waist, knowing I’d never have to use it in the 99 degree weather. I loved growing up in Florida and playing ball and being near the beach. But I feel like I can breathe deeply out here in Idaho. The fact that I can jump in Sangria Kia and turn left to hike in the Pioneer Mountains, turn right to explore my favorite Boulder Mountains, or run up the mountain in my backyard (part of the Smoky Mountains), is overwhelming and refreshing. The wide open spaces are so good for the soul. And the calves. My waterproof wafflestompers have practical use. Sometimes I wear them even if I don’t have a hike planned, because you never know.

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bonhomie.

[bon-uhmeebonuh-mee; French baw-naw-mee]

noun

  1. frank and simple good-heartedness; a good-natured manner; friendliness; geniality.

Frank and simple good-heartedness. I type this out and just sit and stare at it with a smile. It warms the cockles (as Trish would say). Frank and simple. Not overanalyzed, not complicated, just old-fashioned good-heartedness. Assuming the best about people. Letting benefit defeat doubt. Holding doors, buying coffees, shoveling snowy driveways, picking up things dropped.

The amount of bonhomie I’ve experienced in this town is outrageous. I’ve been gifted snow boots, a down comforter, plants, warm jackets, a coffee grinder, firewood, and bags of coffee. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again right now, Ketchum isn’t even a fair case study as the setting of my How to Make Friends in Your Thirties book. The book will be short. “Move to Ketchum, Idaho.” Subtitle: “Where bonhomie reigns.”

cryophilic.

[krahy-oh-fil-ik]

adjective

  1. preferring or thriving at low temperatures.

When talking about plans for tomorrow, I said to a friend, “Oh tomorrow afternoon will be 24 degrees, so that’s not bad.”

He said, “Imagine if your Florida friends heard you say that.”

“Ha! Good point. And I really mean it, 24 isn’t bad.”

Am I cryophilic Idahoan? Nah. I wouldn’t say I necessarily prefer or thrive in the low temperatures. But skate skiing in the sunshine on a brisk day is invigorating. Sometimes I hope it will be too cold to go out, so I don’t feel guilty to sit by the fire and write and read. Today is one of those days, a break from pretending to be cryophilic. The low is -6. Which is 30 degrees below “not bad.”

So I’ve decided to take my rambly notes from the saloon and around town and put them in the computer, like an active participant in 2016. There have not been many nights in my five months here that I haven’t jotted and scribbled about quirky customers, new friends, or unusual circumstances.

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Most seem to be about the regulars. It makes me smile to think half of my closest friends here are the older gentlemen that come to the bar every single day. They have lived lives full of impressive work and crazy experiences that I can’t wait to hear about.

For one fella, I move the stools around so his is the softest one next to the backrest. Another brings appetizers like homemade elk sausage or bacon wrapped shrimp. I hate shrimp, but I put a huge one in my mouth and give an enthusiastic thumbs up. The guy on the end greets me with a “Good evening young lady/kiddo/little one.” Sometimes they bring in Trivial Pursuit cards and between the six of them and the bartenders, they successfully pursue the pursuit.

One has given me fly fishing and downhill skiing lessons. He refers to the saloon as his “office.” When I see him around town, he says, “See you at the office, Elizabeth Anne?” One gives excellent book recommendations and is an expert on Hemingway. Another was on the Olympic luge racing team in 1964. He has an extensive hat collection and I think he is getting used to sharing stories about each one with me. Last night, he had one on I’ve never seen before and other customers prevented me from hearing the back story. I have to get to the bottom of it tonight. He also brings in coins and old photos and I gawk and he beams.

I care about them deeply. I feel like I’ve found my way into a family of sorts, one glued together with Bombay Sapphire and Stella. Just another day at the office.

penetralia.

[pen-i-trey-lee-uh]

plural noun

  1. the innermost parts or recesses of a place or thing.
  2. the most private or secret things.

I know in the social media world, we tend to present the happy and stunning moments and leave out the frustrating penetralia. We can look at someone’s Facebook page and think nothing ever goes wrong for them. Snowy walks and smiling dogs and UF Gator orange sunsets.

We don’t want to be the ones complaining about every wrong thing, either. It’s a predicament and I think the solution is trying not to take it all too seriously, perhaps reminding ourselves that it’s not the whole story. If we want the whole story, we can invite these Facebook friends to sit across the table from us at Starbucks and spill it. Their stories and penetralia, not their coffee.

Here’s what I’d tell you if you were across from me right now. When I typed that, I looked up and made super awkward eye contact with the guy across from me. Eek.

Last night, this was the reality of my first night in my cozy new place.

I open the door to my new cabin. I see something close to the wall and I gasp because I think it’s a person. It’s just the coat I hung up the day before. I walk into the bedroom. Still empty. I sit on a couch the former tenant left that looks dirty. I open mail from my mom. The front of the card says, “Missing you at Thanksgiving.”

I slouch down and stare at the bare wooden walls. I turn on my music just to have something familiar. I check my phone. I sigh. My unpacked bags are scattered about. I don’t seem to have necessities like bowls, but I have about 25 hats. This place is adorable. In the loneliest way possible. I start to feel a lump form in my throat. Why am I sad? Why are my eyes filling rapidly with heavy tears? Seriously, how did this couch get so dirty? The snow falls quietly outside. It’s beautiful. In the loneliest way possible.

Twenty minutes later, I make myself get off the dirty couch. I cover it with a recently washed sheet covered in coffee mugs from the consignment shop. I open a can of blue paint. I lay magazines down and start coating the old bookcase.  I’m covering up knicks and might be making some of the imperfections look worse but I feel better. I hope it will look nice next to a green bed. My landlord jokes that I’m going for a “girly hunting lodge” look. Eh, he’s not wrong.

I am so convinced moving is the only way to get out of this funk for me. I drive to the next town to take the dog I’m watching on a walk, let’s face it, you all know her name because I’ve overdone it on the pictures. Dakota and I walk off the confusion and loneliness. I will even admit that I tell her all about it. I love how much wilderness there is out here, I am not even worried about someone hearing.

By the time I get back to the same empty cabin, I am a new girl. I make ramen in a huge pot and sit Indian-style by the fire and use an oversized spoon to eat it messily. I pour a coffee cup full of boxed wine. I watch the fire like it is a Downton Abbey premiere. Joy is filling the room as the fire warms it. Tears form again, but this time they’re light.

Of course, my social media page just shows this:

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landloper.

[land-loh-per]

noun

  1. a wanderer, vagrant, or adventurer.

Are you constantly intrigued by how we connect with some people so easily, so quickly, and with others, not a bit? Every time I sit down to write about new friendships and connections, I present this phenomenon. Some customers will come in to the saloon and we hit it off instantly, before I even bring them their Jameson on the rocks. I have to pull myself away to let them enjoy their time together.

Sometimes it makes sense, like when I meet a fellow landloper. I want to hear everything. How? Why? When? And best of all, where? I find them endlessly interesting.

Even though she can’t answer these questions for me, my newest connection with a landloper happens to be with a dog that I’m watching. Her name is Dakota and I feel like we get each other.

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She wakes up with the sun and walks over to my side of the bed. I open one eye and say, “Not yet, sweet girl. Go back to sleep.” She does. She walks back over to her bed and sleeps for another hour or so.

She seems to understand that if she waits for me to get coffee brewing, we’ll go outside shortly after and throw the ball over and over. She nose dives into the snow to find the ball and it makes me laugh every time, her face covered in flakes. I swear she smiles. Sometimes it seems she gets so overwhelmed with joy that she flips on her back and rolls around in the snow, digging her nose into it and smiling more.

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I sip some coffee and study the trail book with her by side. Her tail wags like she knows we’re going to go on an adventure.

There are countless trails in her neighborhood. Yesterday, I was walking straight on the road and she stopped at a pullout on the right. When I looked her way, she tilted her head and walked a bit more to the right. I decided to follow her through a few trees and we ended up at a small bridge over a creek that led to a trail around the lake. She seemed so proud as I said, “Good job, girl! This is beautiful. Thanks for showing me.”

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Today I let her lead me again. She looked back at me with a look like, “Wait until you see this!” We ended up going through a field that led to a trail that led to a beautiful view up a hill. Again, I praised my little landloper.

I watch this gal for three weeks and I already mourn the day I have to leave her.

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swimmingly.

[swim-ing-lee]

adverb

  1. without difficulty; with great success; effortlessly.

Falling in love with Idaho has gone swimmingly; it’s seamless and easy. It happens with each new turn in the road or a smile from a stranger. What has not gone swimmingly in this moving process is the actual moving process. I cannot find the right, affordable place to live. I have a place to sleep every night because the people here are exceptional…even customers offer their guest rooms to me.

A new paper comes out each Wednesday, so I mosey to a coffee shop and aggressively peruse the Classifieds. If there are two ads for roommates wanted, I call them both. They have both already found roommates. I had coffee with a gal who might need a roommate, but then she got into flight school and is heading out.

Today I decided to respond to an ad to live by myself in a small cabin because the ad said, “if you want your closest neighbor to be an elk!” I wrote the fella an email and said that that’s exactly what I want.

The price isn’t crazy and there is a loft bed as well, so I figured if money got tight, I could open it up for another Florida girl who might be coming through.

Here’s the response I just received:

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Hi Beth,

Yes, it’s pretty special, but paradise comes with a price…

The cabin is in an ideal setting (I can, and have, fished from my back door) and i’m sure you may have noted from the add that it is a “RUSTIC” cabin…i.e., due to that setting (too close to the water) we can’t put in a septic system and, as such, have no running water.  I fill 5-gal bottles in town for drinking, cooking and cleaning (sometimes use the creek water for the latter).  For bathing in the summer I swim in the creek (warmest water in Blaine Co.), go out to Frenchman’s Hot Springs (five mins. away), or use my 5-gal solar camp shower.  In the winter the hot springs is the best, but barring that I’ll heat water on the stove and do a sponge bath or fill up the camp shower.  Periodically I’ll hit the YMCA or friends in town for a “real” bath.

I Have a grey water sink i’ve set-up for doing dishes with hot water from the stove, which work great.

In the spring/summer/fall I use the outhouse, but in the winter there is an Incinolet Toilet that does a marvelous job of incinerating your business.

Also, the add mentioned that i was looking for a “HEARTY” tenant, for not only is there no running water (beside the stream flowing by), the driveway out to the cabin off of Sandy Lane is roughly 100 yards long, and of course needs to be snow-blown in the winter.  I provide an extremely powerful 12-horsepower snow blower, but it is a heavy machine and a good 1+ hour job after each snowfall.  Periodically you may need to help with snow removal on Sandy Lane as well, as all of the neighbors pitch-in.

In addition it would be recommended, but not a requirement, to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle.  Sandy Lane (the Upper Board Ranch) is a neighborhood of about a dozen turn-of-the-century cabins (not this century, the last one…) and is 3.5 miles past the end of the pavement going W. on Warm Spring Rd.  99% of the time the road is better in the winter than summer, and Sandy Lane is town-side of the avalanche chutes, but the road can become difficult depending on recent snows and temperature.

The main cabin was built in 1917 and has been completely remodeled.  The other 1/2 of the cabin (bedroom/loft) was built in the ’80’s and has been partially remodeled…between the two rooms is a storage area that will become the bathroom once we can get water to the property (currently in the process to buy additional land that will allow for a septic system)

There is no cell tower coverage, but I have had a land-line in the past and service could be reinstated with a phone call.  There is also satellite internet, so email/Facebook messaging/etc. works great.

The only other utility would be electrical (besides the propane for both the 4-burner cooking stove/oven (super cool antique/period piece) and the new stainless, 5-burner outdoor grill).  The primary heat is the wood stove (which keeps the elec bills down to $20/mo or so).  I have a stack of wood here, but would expect that to be replaced.  Depending on how warm you like your house, you will probably go through 3-5 cords of wood from fall-spring.  I have felled some 100ft+ trees on the hill above and you would be welcome to buck that up and roll it down to the cabin, or hire someone to get some wood delivered.

I’m looking for a 7+ month lease, probably starting about mid-Oct and ending around May 31.  That said, I may be inclined to renew the lease at that time for a full year after seeing how things go.

If you still have a serious interest in renting (I hope i’ve accurately described the situation) please respond and we will set-up an appointment!

Thanks!

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I wish I could respond to him and say, “I’m your girl!” but I am decidedly not his girl and the search continues!

genesis.

noun

[jen-uh-sis]

  1. an origin, creation, or beginning.

Removing yourself from all you know and love makes for an evocative adventure. There can be an overwhelming amount of emotions surrounding ordinary happenings. Things that were so comfortable and easy before are no longer such. Have you ever noticed how you can eat a meal mindlessly thousands and thousands of times, and then you are eating alone at a bar and you feel like everything you are doing is awkward? Why is it so hard to spread this cheese and smoked trout on the cracker? Why do I look like I haven’t eaten in years? The conversation with those around you is like work and not like it would be if you were eating with a good friend.

You become more aware of what you might have taken for granted before. You have to be proactive and effort has to be made if you want to meet people. Sometimes you might just sit and stare off into space, wondering why tears are so close to pouring out. In these times, it helps me to get outside and let the tears come as I walk. With every step, I try to imagine walking away from complacency, and walking towards the mountaintop full of hope and new experiences and a beautiful view. The tears mix with sweat as I push myself uphill. The struggle is worth the reward. The solitude and quietness make me appreciate being surrounded by people and the Pandora station full of 90’s George Straight and 70’s Eagles at the Saloon.

It’s like sleeping in a tent for a month and then being offered a warm bed; the appreciation level sky rockets. Or like going without hot coffee and then becoming gloriously caffeinated. Gratitude oozes from your very being. It’s a high that I crave. I crave constant genesis. I crave real, raw emotion. I crave loneliness so I enjoy the company when it comes. The lows can make me think, “What the hell have I done by moving to Idaho?” But the highs, oh goodness gracious, one high outweighs it all. One high at 12,731 feet, praising the Lord for His goodness, creativity, and for making me someone who loves to “Pay attention. Be amazed. Tell about it.” like Mary Oliver states. Genesis. New roommates (an incredible fella named Matt who I met at church), new experiences (a twenty-foot diving board in a spring  in the middle of nowhere), new revelations about myself that make me want to be so much better. Here’s to lonely and lovely new beginnings.