This most recent trip was very special--one we'll always remember. In some ways, it was far more than we expected. In other ways, it was far less than we expected. We're back home long before we expected to return. Go figure.
The "How" of How It Unfolded will be told in two parts. Here is Part One. Tuesday's departure went off without a hitch. It was blissfully simple. We drove out through an exquisite Arco Desert. The light and clouds and surreal green vegetation made the place glow. The drive up the Big Lost River Valley was punctuated with many "ooh's and aaah's" as the heavily snow-capped peaks put on a spectacular light show. We arrived at Challis about 11:30 and enjoyed a snack at the old-fashioned Village Square market. Sure enough, we were sitting in front of The HUB when the siren went off, right on schedule just as we had hoped. Sure enough, The HUB was filled with great stuff we never knew we needed but we bought anyway--a whopping $11 worth. Not only was the shopping experience great but all of our favorite "HUB Ladies" were there. Jean J. was running the cash register. We exchanged hugs and high fives. Jean is just totally wonderful. I found a fifty cent cribbage board and had her autograph and date the backside. She laughed gloriously at that one. We'll talk about our "HUB scores" later.
Susun badly needed a nap so I parked in the Lamb's Market lot and said I'd roam around Lamb's. She asked me what I planned to buy. I said, "Nothing, but I'll find something special inside." Sure enough, I was walking around looking at food items as I am wont to do and there stood Shannon S. What a delight. We hugged happily and started chattering with each other like long lost cousins. She is so cool. Then, lo and behold, Bill S. stumbled into the scene. It was like Central Casting had cued up two of our Best Buds right on time. They came out to the car and woke up Susun and the socializing continued.
We eventually left and headed up the Salmon River. Boy, it was running high and strong. One short glance at those roiling waters eliminated ANY thought of putting the Lynx into that rocket ride river. There were absolutely NO eddies of any kind, not even micro eddies. We passed the Deadman Hole takeout and the water simply shot past the concrete ramp. It would have been impossible to beach a paddle-powered inflatable kayak there. I suspect even an expert in a hard hull kayak would have been challenged to take out there. Well, that settled that. All thoughts of baptizing the kayak were dismissed. Ain't no way we even gave it a second reconsideration.
We were delighted to see see Clark M's motor home and "toad" at the East Fork Campground. We honked as we pulled in and Clark emerged from the motor home with a wide smile. We exchanged heartfelt hugs and spent over an hour visiting at the picnic table. The loss of his Beloved Wife Joan still weighs heavily on Clark. As we prepared to drive away, Clark stood beside the truck and told us "Joan's inside the motor home." Neither of us had the heart to bring up the idea of a memorial tree. We'll get to that idea next time we see Clark in late July. There's been really wild weather since Clark's arrival May 16. He even woke up to 5 inches of snow one morning. Clark admitted he was really lonely. He sure was happy to see us and we him.
We drove slowly out the East Fork, savoring the views. During our four summers there, we never had the opportunity to drive slowly up The East Fork. We were always in a hurry to get home. That's a long story best told some other time. The bottom line is that we were then driving at the highest possible speed and had our eyes glued to the curvy, winding road. Sometimes we felt like a Formula One race car driver on that road. Tuesday, however, we drove slowly and took it all in. What a delight. The East Fork was running higher than we'd ever seen it--the water was practically flying downstream. The vistas were delicious. Castle Peak even peeked through the clouds. Too separate moose looked up from munching willows and stared at us.
As our eyes feasted on the visual smorgasbord of the East Fork, we both remarked that the East Fork was our "Idaho Birthplace." You can click here to see a Google Map of "East Fork Country."
As we rounded the corner at The Little Wikiup Ranch, we could see several vehicles almost blocking the road ahead. Much to our surprise and delight, there stood Junior, Marvin and some guy we didn't know. We bailed out of the vehicle and exchanged happy smiles and handshakes all around. It was so good to see the local boyz. Junior, of course, is an icon on The East Fork. That's another story too long for this blog post. Both he and Marvin were born long ago in humble homes out on the East Fork. Marvin takes care of The Little Wikiup for its absentee Texas owners. Junior is basically the front man for The Baker Clan. The other guy, Allen, turned out to be a Major East Fork Bubba we hadn't met in those four summers. The three of them had just finished loading up an old rusted baler to cut up and sell for scrap.
Of course, we totally blocked the road in classic East Fork style while we visited. Nobody pulls off to the side of the road when they visit. They simply block the road and get to visiting. That's the way it's done on the East Fork. If somebody comes along (which rarely happens) well, they have to wait for you to move a vehicle or two for them to get past.
Junior had some really kind things to say about us Tuesday. He even said, "All up and down the East Fork, people think really highly of you two." He even invited us to the famous July 4th Baker Family Reunion and also said, "You're welcome to stay at our place anytime." Gee, we almost felt the earth shake with those words. We were humbled.
I poked a joke at Marvin and taunted him to sell us his 1984 Nissan 4x4 pickup. Much to our surprise he said, after all these years, that he'd consider it. The ground shook yet again.
Meanwhile, a touron sedan happened upon our happy group. Sure enough, they rolled down the window and asked with big round eyes the classic East Fork Question: "Is there a hot springs here?" Well, yeah, but it's MILES from here and, well, your vehicle's clearance simply won't get you from here to there. They sadly turned around and went back to whatever touron planet they came from.
Oh, my, how we laughed and joked until the clouds opened up and rain pelted down. That broke up our party there at the Little Wikiup gate. It was so great to enjoy the camaraderie of those guys. As we drove away, we both nodded in agreement, "Yeah, the East Fork is our Idaho Birthplace."
Pretty soon, we pulled up to the gate of The Dream. As we pulled into the ranch yard, we knew right away it was going to be yet another truly special Magical Moment there. Cars were parked every which way. Dogs romped, horses cavorted and people scampered hither and yon. I could almost hear echoes of the famous Fantasy Island opening line, "Ze plane, Ze plane."
Time simply seems to stand still at The Dream. We'll write Part Two of our road trip story later today.
Suffice to say that our visit there was yet another sequence of Magical Moments and it's fitting that the next blog post will be #300 since January 1st, 2010.
Yeah, the East Fork is definitely our Idaho Birthplace.