Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Break/Memory Lane trip

Well, we did end up going to Montana last week for spring break. I'm always hesitant to go this time of year because it's still cold but it can also be muddy and all that goo can freeze, making driving conditions really treacherous. There are two pretty high passes to go over in Idaho - Fourth of July (3173ft.) and Lookout (4725ft.). We were fortunate (and we had checked the weather) on the way over and the passes were clear and dry. So the drive over was uneventful - just the way I like it.
This is the sign at the bottom of the hill where my parents live: For the first several years after we moved here (I was in second grade), there were only two families beyond this point. There was us and there was a neighboring family who lived about 1/4 mile away over a hill. We both lived to the right, the road to the left was a largely unused, rutted, logging road. The area right behind the sign is where we had a pasture for my first horse, Twister, an 18-year-old palomino gelding. There was also one spot in particular that was the best place on the property to dig up worms for fishing. Now there's a sign to keep track of everyone and it's almost like a neighborhood in town. Most people can see at least one other house from their driveway. It got too crowded for my parents down below, so they moved farther up the mountain. They're still the last ones on the road.

It was a fabulous way to grow up. I wouldn't want to move back now but I really regret that my kids can't grow up "free-range" the way I did. In the summertime we had to be back by dark (around 10:30pm) and take the dog (to chase away bears). There were no worries about human predators because for miles behind our house it was all forest service and logging land - we only rarely even saw other people. We knew how to find our way down the mountain if we ever got truly lost, but we never did. We knew all the logging roads, abandoned cabins and landmarks for miles around.
Because there were so few people, there was lots of wildlife. We saw bears quite a few times. My parents even have a bear skin rug on the wall that killed three of our pigs before my dad shot him. After that the Fish and Game believed my parents when they said we had bears (before that they had told my parents that there were no bears that close to town) and F&G would come out to trap and relocate them. There were the occasional mountain lion, skunk, moose, and elk - more often we would see signs of them or hear them (or smell them in the case of the skunk) than actually see them. There were also coyotes, birds and lots of deer. One of my clearest memories is going to sleep on a warm summer evening listening to the coyotes yipping.
Anyway, the boys love it up here. They get to run wild for at least a few days, although I do insist they stay within sight of the house so they don't get lost. This week, they spent 1-3 hours a day just playing in the snow. They also got to see a decent assortment of critters. This flock? gaggle? idiot? (Okay, I looked it up. It's a rafter of turkeys... and that would've been my next guess, lol.) of turkeys was crossing the road as we drove up the hill one afternoon and the tom was clearly daring me to MAKE HIS DAY! I was really excited but my dad hates the turkeys. He says they're dumber than rocks and crap all over everything to boot. I still think they must be smarter than he thinks because they know enough to make themselves scarce around mid-November.
We always see lots of deer but this one was a treat. This picture is taken through one of the windows at the front of my parents' house. The windows are reflective enough that the animals can't see us inside the house and this deer was close enough to pet at one point (assuming we could somehow reach through said glass).
Anyway, we had a great time. The boys were very well-behaved - believe me, that is never a sure thing and I do NOT take it for granted, I got to visit with my oldest friend (in years of friendship - 30+) and my parents got to spend some time with the boys before we move this summer. It almost makes me wish there were another spring break between now and when school ends so I could do it all over again.

1 comment:

Barb said...

That picture of the deer is phenomenal! Sounds like you had a great time. I'm jealous.