After 91 busy days spent in the South Korean metropolis of Busan, we were ready for something completely different. So I grabbed a thesaurus and flipped to the “K” section. It’s a strange and little-known fact, but it turns out that the antonym of “Korea” is “Idaho”. Exact opposites. And just like that, our next destination was set!
A month before arriving, everything I knew about Idaho could have fit onto a potato. I mean, it would have just been the word “potato” scratched into the side of the thing. But friends had been raving to us about the state, extolling its natural beauty and surprising diversity. If we were looking for something different to a Korean mega-city, they said, we could hardly do better than wild, sparsely-populated Idaho.
And so, after a couple weeks visiting family in Ohio, we embarked on a road trip across America. We needed three full days to arrive at Cascade, Idaho: the tiny, lakeside town in the middle of the state which would be our home for a month. Here, we would fully disconnect from city life, and begin taking advantage of some of the outdoor adventures available in Idaho, such as whitewater rafting, zip-lining, hiking, kayaking, and even hot air ballooning.
After four weeks in Cascade, we got on the road. Idaho is massive, and the only way to adequately explore it is by car. We spent six weeks driving into every reachable corner of the state, resting for no more than a few days in any one spot. Our reward was an appreciation for how diverse Idaho truly is. We saw gold mines, canyons, forest fires, hidden lakes, and hot springs, and had some exhilarating encounters with wildlife — of both the human and animal varieties.
We wound up our 91 days in Idaho with a few weeks in Boise, the state’s capital and by far its biggest city. For such an unheralded spot, Boise has a lot to offer. It’s large, but not overly so, and green; with a river running through the town center, it’s not uncommon to see deer. Our time here was blissful; with great restaurants, strange and fascinating history, beautiful buildings and a young, hip population, it’s no wonder that Boise is often touted as one of the USA’s most livable cities.
Idaho proved to be an incredible home. For 91 days, the state did its best to wear us out, bombarding us with one unforgettable experience after the other. At times, it was almost overwhelming, but we persisted. (“A 15-mile bike ride, the day after zip-lining and visiting a gold mine? Bring it on!”) By the time we left, we were exhausted, but had succeeded in seeing most of the highlights, as well as some hidden gems unknown even to most locals. Please enjoy reading about our adventures in this amazing state, starting with the three-day trans-American journey that brought us there.
This Post Has 17 Comments
There’s a tiny little bakery in Orofino called Ronatta’s Cakery. She makes the best maple bars on the planet. I would not joke you about a thing this serious.
While in Cascade take a hike up to Blue Lake. (N44.40934, W116.13661)Just take hwy55’south to Clear Creek Station and make a right onto Cabarton Rd. Take a left at the railroad tracks and follow until you come to a sign that says Snowbank Mtn Rd or NF-446. Follow this road on up the mountain to the Blue Lake parking lot on the left. The trailhead is just a mile from the lake. Elevation drops a bit at the start of the trail and then levels off. Backpack’d in with my youngest last month and saw a badger and a nice elegant two point buck. You can YouTube blue lake, Idaho and some people have posted vids.Happy trails.
Ray, thank you so much for the comments. We actually just visited the Blue Lake yesterday … IT WAS BEAUTIFUL! If you got more tips, please feel free to be in touch!
Welcome back to the ‘net, fellas! Missed your posts, and I look forward to your explorations of Idaho. Mike, how is the eye surgery holding up? Great timing to enjoy the Idahoan vista!
I’ll reiterate vising Riggins and Hell’s Canyon – you’re only 75 miles away in Cascade. The oddest sight was seeing a cow perched very high up a mountain, resting in a switchback with her babies.
Here’s a link I forgot to add.http://www.visitidaho.org/attraction/outdoor-recreation/hells-canyon-national-recreation-area-riggins/
Thank you for the info .. we working on visiting Hells Canyon … we will be doing it soon!
A native Idahoan proud of the state is caught between wanting to promote it and keep it a secret. You two are invited to stay in my cabin for free (see webpage). Think your Sioux City motel was scary, try staying in a hostel in the old part of Amman, Jordan. I actually loved traveling there, too. Scott
Glen! Thank you for welcoming us … when did you visit Jordan? It’s on our list!!! And your cabin looks great … we would love to stay there maybe one or two nights if that’s ok with you. We will be in touch!
It has started!!! I am excited for your journey in Idaho!!!
Yeah!!! Sean!! How are you? Glad you are still checking out our blog … Idaho is a just a tiny bit different compared to Busan … both offer great hiking 🙂
Make sure you have some huckleberry pancakes while you are here. There are the best of Idaho. Also make sure you go to redfish lake. The lake is so clear that you can see the bottom in many spots, while looking at the great sawtooth mountains as well. Have fun!! Idaho is a great place to live.
Hmmmm…..Boise, eh? List is too long! Looking forward to reading what you have to say
As a native Idahoan, there a handful of musts in Idaho.1. With more hot springs than any other state, spend a day and enjoy. If you’re up for a drive and a hike check out Goldbug. http://www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=HGW056-120 or an easier to access, closer hot spring is Pine Flats: http://www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=HGW056-071. Pack a lunch and a nice cider and you’re ready for a day of it. Or do both or more. Hands down one of my favorite things to do in the state. 2. For a more local experience of McCall, check out the Salmon River Brewery. 3. Go snow shoeing. A must. You can find affordable yurts to snowshoe into through the Forest Service – a great option for the winter, if it snows in time.4. I would agree with Hell’s Canyon. 5. And if you get a chance, spend a little time in Boise. Lots of great shows, food, and you’ll love the people. 🙂
Thanks for those tips! We’ve actually just done Goldbug, and will be writing about it soon — it was awesome! I think we’re not going to be here during snowshoeing season — we leave just before Thanksgiving. Boise, though, is definitely still on the list! And don’t worry… the Basques will be getting their due, soon 🙂
One more thing – looking through your posts I don’t see anything related to the Basques. As a proud Basque, from a long line of Basques, you absolutely must stop and each at a restaurant in Idaho (and think about swinging by the Basque Center and Museum in Boise while you’re at it – it’s a pretty integral part of the State’s history -largest population outside the Basque country itself). If you come through Boise – make a reservation at Epi’s (which is a bit of a drive but well worth it) – and tell the girls (the owners are sisters) I sent you. It’ll change your life. And that’s a promise.
In McCall go to Crusty’s Pizza on a Wed or Sun night for a Smokejumpers Pizza and some good music. Tell Chris Speedy sez Hi.