Ponderosa State Park, McCall, Idaho

After a days drive we finally arrived in McCall, ID. Upon entering the round valley, memories of our trip here last year filled my head...the Cottage in the Meadow! This year we camped at Ponderosa State Park. The campground sits on the shore of Payette Lake in a tall pine forest. It is beautiful!

Last night a quick dinner consisted of hot dogs, chips and beans. We ate outside under the pines and dusky sky. We have finally found perfect weather. The last two trips with the "Little Guy" were cold and wet; snow fell, wind blew and orange sand raged in the wind in Moab and wet grey fog enveloped us at Pismo Beach. Both trips kept us inside the trailer a good part of the time. As I write, we're sitting in sunlight filtered by pine needles and a gentle breeze is blowing the leaves of the Aspen trees.

The jeep pulled us here, so today, we're taking the top off and we'll find our way around the lake. There are beautiful homes nestled along the shoreline and under old trees. An adventure awaits!

Tuesday, June 21, 2009

Yesterday was spent in simple quiet pleasures. We drove around the lake, a 19-mile loop and part of it a dirt road. Families and friends who must have vacationed here before, occupied small hidden beaches where they ate lunch and lounged in the shade of majestic pines.

In the late afternoon we took a walk along the shoreline of Payette Lake. We noticed many people with baggies standing in the undergrowth of the forest. We approached a couple and asked what they were doing. "Huckleberries" they said. "We've worked here for 7 years and we always pick Huckleberries." As we stood with them we picked and tasted the blueish berry. The berries were tasty and delightful which gave us an idea for Tuesday morning's breakfast. We spent the evening eating our "Cafe Rio" salad and sitting around a camp fire. We retired late and the chill of the air enveloped us as we left the smoldering embers.

The sound of crows awoke us this morning. As soon as we were dressed we took a walk in search of Huckleberries. Our idea was to include Huckleberries in our cereal. We found a trail overlooking the lake and spotted the dark blue berries hiding in bright green foliage. We picked just enough for our breakfast cereal. The tart taste of the berries, sweet cereal and milk was wonderful.

Today, we drove through Finnish country looking at ancient old barns. Barns of all shapes and sizes sit on acres and acres of grass covered land where cattle graze in happy pastures. Pine trees jut up from the valley floor near rivers and lakes. You find unbelievable serenity here!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another quiet morning! We arose and took another walk in search of huckleberries. Having found many mosquito bites where skin was unprotected the day before, we used repellant around ankles and neck and wore long pants, long sleeved shirts and jackets. After a short walk into the forest, bushes loaded with dark blue berries provided us with two cups of this fragile fruit. Breakfast of cereal and berries was every bit as delicious this morning as the morning before.

After cleaning up dishes and taking care of a few routine trailer chores we headed out in the jeep, "topless," towards a "town" on the map--Burgdorff, Idaho, some 30 miles away. We drove along the Salmon river through acres of burned forest where signs were posted "Travel At Your Own Risk." I guess there was some possibility of falling blackened trees and flash flood. We proceeded along the highway towards our destination unafraid.

We made a left turn down a gravel road--3 miles to Burgdorff. If you've been to Bodie, California, you've been to Burgdorff, but there may only be 15 to 20 structures standing and like Bodie, all of them weathered by snow and wind. "Burgdorff Hot Springs" was advertised on a hand painted piece of barn wood. We imagined that somewhere in the tilted and slanted wooden buildings which sat under pines, old white tubs filled with steaming water waited for wayward travelers who accidentally found themselves on this dirt byway. The scene reminded me of old time western movies I had watched on black and white television as a child. We did not stop or venture in to find the hot springs. We turned the dusty jeep around and returned to the pavement.

As we headed down canyon toward McCall, we noticed the sign directing vacationers to Josephine Lake. I had wanted to stop to take pictures of a tall white wildflower I had seen and this seemed the perfect place to get off the road to take the snapshot. After many attempts at trying to catch just the right light and dark against soft white, I climbed out of the thicket to the dirt road and we continued uphill toward the lake.

As it always does when you're headed to somewhere you've never been before, the rocky dirt road to Josephine Lake seemed endless. As we climbed higher and higher we drove by a lush meadow hidden by trees and wildflowers and finally into a huge expanse of blackened forest. Granite peaks loomed above us and were fully visible as the new forest growth was only waist high. At the end of the road, Lake Josephine still somewhere above us, a small creek spilled downward, its crystal clear water bounced against boulders which created a symphony in the woods.

We didn't hike the unknown distance to Josephine Lake as we were not prepared and had no water with us. With the jeep turned and headed down hill, the sound of sheep (bah bah) filled the canyon. Through the thick underbrush and pines at the lower elevation, we could barely see the sheep being herded up canyon. As we followed the road, we saw the sheepherders tent and horses on the right side of the jeep. Three horses grazed on forest grasses just a few feet off the trail and an old tent, made of white canvas, was dirty brown; large ropes staked the it to the ground. With the canvas straight and taunt, this house in the woods probably served the sheepherder well--keeping him or her, dry and warm.

And just when you think the adventure is over, you might find it's not. On the road ahead of us, walking, a young man dressed in work clothes and wearing a jacketa, waved us to a stop. By the way he was dressed we assumed he was one of the sheepherders who must have either been fired or decided working with lambs and sheep was not his calling. He could speak very little, if any, English; however, we understood he needed a ride to town. Had McCall not been approximately 40 miles away, we would never have considered giving him a ride. We moved everything on the seat into the back, motioned him to get in and continued toward McCall. He was very quiet and slept most of the way. After dropping him off at Paul's Market we decided he was not from Mexico. Our best guess was...he was an unnamed Guatemalan. (Do Not Attempt This At Home!)

Our last day in Idaho ended with the sun setting over Payette Lake, our jeans wet from sitting at the end of a dock, and the water reflecting the colors of a changing sky.

Six-thirty came early on Thursday morning. We quietly packed the "Little Guy" and pulled away from Ponderosa State Park...

But it was great to get to Boise!


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