My own private Idaho

Idaho isn’t exactly on most people’s bucket list for beauty.

Sure, there are pretty areas. Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene in Northern Idaho stun. I went to Rick College (now BYU Idaho) and though Rexburg was nothing to write home about (read: not scenic), it is surrounded by beautiful forests and sand dunes. Sun Valley’s Sawtooths are world famous and my gosh, if I’m not dying to get back to resort town McCall after a quick drive-through several years ago.

But I’ve had an abiding opinion that southern Idaho is downright ugly and when you’re driving I-84, it really is. Until you venture off the freeway.


Following a loooong drive from British Columbia (complete with flying, suicidal cows), we spent the night in Boise with my former mission companion, Katie, and her darling girls. Katie and I have history–we strolled the streets of a charming Suisse village together and that bonds you for life.
She hasn’t changed a bit, unless you count her new sassy “I’m 40 and don’t care what people of think of me/love it or leave it” attitude. I loved it.

The kids had a blast at Ice Cream Allie (the coolest ice cream/candy shop ever) and playing in the Boise River,

and then Bode thought he’d died and gone to heaven when she took us to an ’80s arcade, Grinkers Grand Palace.

I was pretty stoked, too until I played one of my old favorites Q*bert and realized my gaming days are far, far behind me.

Twin Falls

Facebook can be a beautiful thing and one of the swell things about it is reconnecting with old friends. Jenny and I were roommates at Ricks my sophomore year and her freshman year. She was fiercely independent, a clean freak and there was no way she was marrying young like so many of those silly Ricks College girls.

Which is why I was delighted when she met her awesome husband Travis and was married within the year.

Now she has 9 wild and crazy kids so those days of OCD cleanliness are over. But one thing she is now is FUN and we had a blast exploring Twin Falls.

I was blown away by the beauty of Snake River Canyon, which resembled a tropical rain forest more than the barren wasteland you see on the freeway.

My kids have only kayaked once by themselves. Each had separate freakouts, worked through them and eventually beat us all back to the docks.

And then we hiked…lo, did we hike. I used to think we were outdoorsy but then her family reduced us to mere city folk as we scrambled over boulders, needed a machete to cut the trail and skirted around poison oak.

But who would have thought such gorgeousness was found here?! And yep, that’s blood streaming down Hadley’s leg but her little tumble didn’t slow her down one bit.

That night after dinner and swimming in the Snake River, I unleashed our Canadian candy on them.

I think the treats were a hit judging from the way her 10-year-old twin boys stuffed them in their pockets.

Early the next morning, Jenny and I sneaked out at dawn for another kayaking adventure. The Snake River was a ribbon of turquoise that cut through deep tropical green cliffs as waterfalls gushed around every bend–a dizzying array of diversity.

Beckoning waterfalls in the distance

Southern Idaho, I misjudged you. Let’s definitely be friends because I certainly have two wonderful ones who made me fall in love with you.

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