For our first month in Idaho, we had been based in the tiny town of Cascade, which turned out to be nicely situated; close enough to Boise for things like the Hot Air Balloon Festival, and bordering the wilderness we had been so eager to experience. After just 30 days, we’d only seen a small porting of Idaho; but it was enough to form some solid initial impressions.
Mike: That’s an easy one: spotting two moose in the river just north of McCall, and being able to observe them for at least ten minutes while they ate and drank.
Jürgen: It was the middle of the night when we first arrived in Idaho and drove up to our cabin in Cascade. When I awoke the next morning and saw the view we had of the mountains and valley, I knew we made the right decision in coming here.
Mike: It has to be potatoes, doesn’t it? But I’m going to go for huckleberries — a fruit I don’t think I’d ever tried before, and now can’t get enough of. Huckleberry pancakes, huckleberry juice, jam… they even sell huckleberry popcorn.
Jürgen: When we picked Mike’s parents up from the airport, we took them directly to the Basque Block and ate at Bar Gernika, which serves Basque and Spanish food. I love that I can have a great paella in Idaho!
Mike: I find myself surprised every day by Idaho’s diversity. Nature, cities, history, deserts, ice caves, mountains, rivers, potato fields, waterfalls; the list just goes on and on. The most surprising thing about Idaho is how surprising it is!
Jürgen: Most people weren’t too thrilled about our selection of Idaho for this 91 days, but they were all curious. It’s amazing how a state which is so gorgeous and full of highlights, can remain under the radar for so long. So the surprise is: how unknown Idaho is, outside of Idaho.
Mike: Idaho’s a huge state and, due to time constraints, we’re having to skip on things we’d love to do. Hikes and multi-day outdoor adventures, certain towns and experiences that are just a little too far away. We’re doing a lot, but it’s frustrating to miss out on so much.
Jürgen: I’m having a love-hate relationship with the smoke, caused by this year’s terrible wildfires. I love the eerie look of it, but I’m really looking forward to our first 100% smoke-free day.
Funniest / Weirdest
Mike: There’s a gift store near Horseshoe Bend, with these awful signs posted in the front yard. “No Public Toilet! No means NO!”, “We don’t call 911, We Shoot to Kill!” Stuff like that. It’s an outrageous way to welcome guests, and totally riled me up. So I marched inside and announced loudly, “We’re just here for the free toilets!” The bitter-looking woman behind the counter almost had a heart attack.
Jürgen: I’ve noticed “crosswalk flags” in a couple of towns here. What’s the point? As a driver, am I allowed to run over any pedestrian without a flag? Or if I’m holding a flag, can I just cross the road without looking? It’s what crosswalks are for! These flags are ridiculous and so unnecessary; not to mention how stupid people carrying them look!
How Expensive? From 1 (cheap) to 10 (expensive)
Mike: I’m going to say 6. Restaurants aren’t bad, but not super-cheap. Activities and hotels can be pricey, but I think overall we’ve been saving more money than expected. There are a lot of awesome things you can do here for free.
Jürgen: The gas prices are really hurting us, since we use the car almost every single day. But on the other hand, eating out isn’t too expensive. Some of the outdoor activities can be pretty pricey. I would give Idaho a 7.
People from Idaho are…
Mike: Unusually friendly and very proud of their state, but protective at the same time. Most Idahoans that we’ve talked to are thrilled we’re here, and that we’re enjoying ourselves… but nervous about our promoting it. Idaho, it seems, is best as a secret.
Jürgen: Super friendly, especially when they hear my German accent. Once they find out where I’m from, they’ll go into a detailed account of their family tree. Which I love, since it breaks the ice!
Idaho in Three Words
Mike: Underpopulated, Unbelievable Landscapes
Jürgen: Moose, Bald Eagle, Bear