Friday, September 20, 2013

Salmon Idaho - Part 1

We were on the road by 5:30 yesterday morning, two half awake people and one half awake dog, driving north in the dark, and headed for Salmon Idaho, about 160 or so miles from where we live.
We were headed for the Salmon VA after LC elected to sign up for a small town center, as opposed to a big city center.
If he was treated like a person and not one of a herd of cattle, the drive would be worth it.
In point of fact, heading towards green and pine trees and water and mountains already made the drive worth it.
We like where we are living very much.
It reminds both LC and I of Wyoming.  
We have a house in a community where folks are not lining up to move to, and we got a great deal on the place because of that.  We chose the house because of the price, and because of the isolation and the privacy.
And we chose the house because we are now central to so many other places that we wanted to be close to.
Places like Salmon.
It took us a little less than four hours to get to Salmon and we had an AMAZING (albeit too short) day trip.
The drive from Atomic City to Challis is pretty, but the drive from Challis to Salmon is nothing short of stunningly beautiful.
In the span of one long day I snapped over 370 pictures.
I promise that I won't post all 370 of them, but this WILL be a multi-blog post.
If we had driven straight through without stopping for gas and coffee and picture taking and puppy-breaks, it would have taken us a little over three hours on fast, relatively quiet and winding two lane highway.
The highway blows hard and fast through the desert, but beyond Arco begins to wind its way through the Big Lost River Valley.
Eventually the highway climbs up and over a couple of passes, and beautifully picks up and follows the Salmon River all the way to our destination.
Unsure of exactly how long it would take us (and because we spent part of our morning drive in the dark) we stopped only a few times on the way up, but made up for it on the way home.
We had left Atomic City in the dark and with a light frost on our windshield, but by the time the sun finally broke over the mountains both LC and I knew that it was going to be a beautiful day.
Stopping above Challis at a pull off alongside the Salmon River...............
The change in scenery as we climbed further north was stunning.
From Atomic City to Arco is relatively flat high plains desert land.
From Arco to Challis the terrain gradually changes to wide open valleys surrounded by distant mountains.
And from Challis to Salmon you find yourself embedded in a magical world filled with rugged canyons, endless towering, so-very-close mountains, wide open fields filled with huge herds of grazing cattle, hardwoods and evergreens, and the river.................
A picture of the small outpatient VA clinic.
LC had two appointments, each separated by a couple of hours.
While James and I wandered on foot LC quickly got his first appointment out of the way, and after he walked out we climbed back into the truck, intent on exploring the area for a while.
We had no specific plans other than to wander, see the town, see the area, and learn as much first hand as we could in our very brief stay................
Driving away from the clinic (and knowing next to nothing about Salmon) we drove to the nearest intersection, turned right, passed without stopping through a couple more intersections and soon found ourselves heading out of town.
The mountains - the wonderful, rugged, partially snow-dusted mountains followed us on our left as we drove, and all I wanted to do was have LC stop the truck so that I could photograph them.
Pulling into a church parking lot I quickly reached for my camera while LC reached for the sandwiches we had brought with us..............
When we left Atomic City the temperature gauge outside our mudroom window told me that it was 38 degrees.
As we drove to the outskirts of Salmon five hours or so later I saw a temperature gauge outside a local bank that read 49 degrees.
The sky was outrageously blue.  The kind of blue that you can only find on an early fall day.
My kind of weather.
Blue sky.  Cool and crisp air.  A perfect day.
As I stood looking out over the green and blue and snow covered mountains of the world I was standing in, I was very glad that we had made the trip.
As LC and Jamie shared a turkey and cheese sandwich, I stood enjoying the food for the soul that was before me.
The sandwiches could wait for later.
Leaving my guy and my pup I walked across the two lane highway, walked up to the fence and stood looking out over the world.................
Driving further, we quickly pulled over to the side of the road again.
Again I climbed out, walked across the road, stood beside a fence and raised my camera.
By this time we were well out of town and had already decided that we would not travel further.
Instead, we would turn around and head back towards town to see what else we could find in the couple of hours we had to kill before returning to the clinic.
We were in a beautiful place.....................
When I look at this picture I am reminded of so many similar pictures that I took while living and working in Juneau, Alaska.
The sky, the snow, the mountains, the trees, the endless shades of green derived from endless varieties of bushes and plants......................
The driveway of a private home that was immediately to the right of where I was standing.
I can't even imagine living in such a place and having such a view behind your home..............
Standing in the middle of the road snapping a picture, as I have done a thousand times over the past three years in too many different states............
After crossing back over the highway, I looked over at LC, realized that he was talking on the phone and wandered down the same side of the road to take a few more pictures.
It wasn't hard to take beautiful pictures.
Not with this kind of subject matter to work with..............
I had caught a quick view of the Lemhi River as we crossed over a bridge, and as my Mountain Boy continued to talk on the phone I wandered just a little further, intent on finding the water again.
I had expected to take a few quick pictures of the river, and was surprised when I found this small cinder block building, and a sign telling me that I had found a Salmon ladder.
I hadn't seen a fish ladder since living in Alaska.
I smiled inwardly, suddenly transported in my mind back to the beauty of Alaska.
If it hadn't been for the job and the people I had to work with, Alaska could have been a place I could have lived in for a long time.
Beautiful places don't mean a lot when the people are ugly and they are intent on imposing their ugliness on you.........
We had come to Salmon to evaluate the quality of care LC might be able to find in a small clinic in a small, mountain town.
Both of us had agreed that Salmon would still be here if LC decided that a bigger clinic in a bigger city might be a better fit.
But in the meantime - and until he made his decision - at least on THIS day I was glad that we were here.
If you click on individual pictures they will enlarge...................
On the way back to town we pulled into what we thought initially was a Visitor Center.
It wasn't.
In fact, it was something much more exciting than a simple Visitor Center................

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