Here’s something interesting I heard: if you ironed Idaho flat, it would be the largest of all the lower forty-eight states. I spent far too long on the internet trying to verify that “fact,” and though I can’t be completely sure, it seems true. From personal experience I can tell you that Idaho is very mountainous, and also, if you cut Alaska in half, then Texas would be our third largest state. That’s what my mom—a proud Alaskan—likes to repeatedly tell my dad’s high school friend Randy, who moved to Texas and became a proud Texan. But enough on state sizes; this post is about Idaho, a state that is not just very mountainous, but also very beautiful.
So on the way to New Mexico it goes Oregon, Washington, and then Idaho, or at least on the route Leah and I took. We left Lewiston-Clarkston, after Leah met my best high school friend, and then we drove down the White Bird Grade going into the Salmon River Valley. And here’s something that I am understanding more and more as I get older: scenery can be breathtaking. I’ve been pretty blessed when it comes to travel—I had parents who valued summer road trips, I studied abroad, and I worked abroad. But until recently, I never really “got” how remarkable nature could really look. Perhaps the great company influenced me!
So the grade is a serpentine road that descends almost 3,000 feet over seven miles. The top, coming out of Washington, is treeless, but at the bottom you are in a forest with a quick river to one side and a steep cliff to the other, and everything is the deepest colors of green and gray. Since this is a part of Idaho less traveled, there’s hardly any buildings or traffic and also, since northwest Idaho is simply so breathtaking Leah and I didn’t take any pictures. We drove, and we talked a bit, but mostly we just enjoyed the moment. It doesn’t sound great on paper, but that long drive is one of my very favorite memories with my now wife, then girlfriend.
The experience reminds me of a scene in one of my very favorite movies, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. People love to complain about Rotten Tomatoes scores, but in most cases I think the percentages are right. Now, to be “that person” and tell you where I don’t agree, it is with this move. Walter Movie got a 51% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is insane, because it is absolutely perfect. There’s a scene towards the end of it where a character could take a picture of a rare snow leopard but doesn’t, since that will ruin the moment. It’s a bit like not stopping the car on a picturesque drive—sometimes you just have to be present.
Thus, the very few pictures you see here are taken from internet sources marked for reuse. The next post about Leah and I’s trip will focus on Utah, and there are plenty of pictures of us in places like Bryce Canyon and Zion. Speaking as a now ex-northwesterner, I do feel like Idaho is often forgotten on the national stage. However, I doubt the perfect, ragged gorges, the jutting cliffs, the granite washes, or any other landscape features or the flora and fauna in them, are forgotten by Idaho’s residents. Maybe check out White Bird or Salmon River some time instead of the big national or state parks in the region. You won’t be disappointed.
–Jeff and Leah