Ahh, we are drinking deeply in Americana this week as we meander along the Oregon Trail on our way to the Northwest.
We are camped at Mountain View RV in Baker City, OR. This town is ready for Halloween! The city streets are decorated with hay bundles and scarecrows. The gold and orange leaves are falling in the neatly manicured old neighborhoods where, in just 24 hours, children will giggle with the thrill of knocking on doors and asking for treats. What fun!
As I sit here writing, I can hear the distant train whistle. The other day, we had lunch at a prototypical diner, Inland Cafe. Wow! Step back in time! We had the sweetest waitress, a magnificent turkey dinner and a take-home cinnamon roll that melted all the way down. All for $22. Don’t you love a diner where the town folks come in to talk about whatever comes to mind?
We just returned from attending the local LDS church, which you can see from our motorhome window. One couple knew us because they had just been through the Martin’s Cove trek leader training program we helped lead in Wyoming. We love to attend church each Sunday everywhere we go. The Baker City 1st ward congregation is chuck full of children. These parents are doing an excellent job of raising their young ones. It gives us hope for the future. We enjoyed the Sunday School interactions. Where else can you get this kind of wisdom and good feelings even though we have never met these people before? The church, it’s teachings and programs are the same all over the world.
Before we were full-time travelers, it was hard to tell the difference in our lives from one week to the next. But now —- stuff is happening!
We started the week Monday morning by reeling in the electrical cord and leaving our 6-month home at Missionary Village near Devil’s Gate, Wyoming. Our mission responsibilities there had ended. But we couldn’t get out of the campground because some rogue missionaries (Elder Crist — repent!) had blocked the gate with detour signs.
It was bittersweet to leave that place that stores so many memories for us now.
The weather was favorable, so we chose to head west via Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We followed the Wind River Mountains northwest. There was some snow at Togwotee Pass, but the roads were dry. Pine trees! Tetons! Snake River! After 6 months in the dry, sage-covered sand, we were ready to drink in the cool mountain scenery.
After window shopping and dinner in Jackson, we found a wide spot in the road and slept soundly that night.
Although we considered a jaunt up to Yellowstone, all the animals Wendy wanted to see (moose and bear) are in winter disappearance mode and it was a rainy,cloudy day so we decided to continue on west instead.
Next stop: Uncle Earl and Aunt Sandy White’s place.
Wendy has some amazing relatives. They live on the Snake River in a little Idaho town called Heyburn. Here they have a small farm (White Cloud Ranch) where they raise a bobcat, cheetohs (exotic house cats), dogs, fancy chickens (Silkies, Frizzles), quail and peacocks.
We gathered multiple kinds of delicious fresh apples off the trees and took home a carton of multi-colored exotic chicken eggs.
White Cloud Ranch is a treasure trove of fascinating hobbies and we’re always welcomed with great food (including purple fried breakfast potatoes, Sandy’s eggs, home canned pears and grape juice) and loving kindness. We so loved the peaceful, fall scene looking out over the Snake River as the roosters crowed, chickens clucked and the peacocks strutted.
If you ever need any down-home therapy, head for the White Cloud Ranch! Having family is a wonderful thing.
The next morning we rolled on to Boise, Idaho. This was my first time visiting the city and I must say, I was surprised and impressed. The economy is healthy and it’s a beautiful place with nice weather. They call it the Banana Belt as it remains relatively temperate in the winter. So for those of you who would like to live out west, Boise should be on your possible’s list.
We arrived Wednesday afternoon and tracked down our friends, Chuck and Tonya King from our college days at Brigham Young University 33 years ago.
We raised our first babies together at the Provo laundromat and thrift stores. They’ve been hard to catch up with over the years as they were living Hong Kong and Mexico City. We had a delightful dinner with them and reminisced and caught up on children’s lives and future plans.
Next day we visited Great-Uncle Cecil and Aunt Elsie Grow (Wendy’s relatives on her mother’s side). It just happened to be Uncle Cecil’s 89th birthday.
These people are endless! They’re fit! And they were so kind to us. We also spent time with Orri Grow (Grant’s son) and his daughter Natalie, who were visiting their grandparents. Wendy had fun quizzing Cecil and Elsie about their genealogy.
Wendy has fond memories of spending time in their home as a child and hanging out with their sons Craig and Grant.
Cecil and Elsie have served five missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We hope to have that much energy to continue serving over the coming decades.
Friday was another 130 mile drive to Baker City, Oregon. (You will notice we don’t go far each day. What’s the rush? The joy is in the journey.) Saturday we were able to grab the last jet boat of the season with 15 delightful German high schoolers to go down the Snake River through Hell’s Canyon.
The canyon is formed by the meeting of two techtonic plates and not from the river carving its way into the earth.
We boated through level 4 rapids down the Snake and had lunch on the grounds of a remote, off the grid cabin at Sheep Creek. A bald eagle soared past us as we returned upriver. It was a wild ride intermixed with peaceful scenery.
And here we sit comfortably in our home on a Sunday afternoon. One of the best things about this lifestyle is we can travel without pushing hard to get somewhere. Plus, we’re never exhausted and rarely uncomfortable — because we bring our home with us including our couch, recliner and the most comfortable bed we’ve ever owned. (We also like the dishwasher, washer and dryer.)
Anyway, that’s what we did at our house this week. It was a great time full of new insights, scenery and ideas. How much fun!