Saturday, June 14, 2014

Camping Big Lost River Valley - Part 7

After setting up camp at the campground a few miles outside of the small town of Challis LC, Kory and I went for a drive to explore the area.
This part of the valley is heavily irrigated, surrounded by hills and mountains, and while not as naturally green as Salmon, is beautiful in its own right.
As we were eating burgers at the bowling alley on the way up the valley LC had struck up a conversation with a local resident who was sitting close by.
As the local discussed the area in and around Challis, he proudly referred to it as Gods' Country.
I don't know about that, but the town is very sweet and so is the region that these unpretentious farming people call home.........
After stopping briefly beside the Salmon River (that snakes its way in and out of the countryside on both sides of the highway) we eventually stopped at the Land of Yankee Fork visitors center, drawn to the large old mining artifacts that lay scattered on the property in front of the building...............
The mining history of the region is only mildly interesting to me, is hugely interesting to LC, and whenever I look at these kinds of things all I see
In that context I find these things interesting.
Wood in beautiful shades that only age and the weather can produce.
Rusted metal molded into shapes that were originally meant to be hard working and functional, but which age and weather have long turned into nothing short of beautiful sculptures.
More beautiful to me than those which were deliberately intended to be beautiful sculptures, and which were works produced specifically for the sheer reason of being appreciated as art.
THESE I appreciate............
A memorial to Custer Countys' war dead.
How many states have I seen such things?
How many states have I been touched by such places?
So many young men and women.  
Too many young men and women...........
After wandering the grounds LC pulled the truck further under the shade of a large tree, we loaded Kory back into the truck and then headed towards visitors center, to see what was inside.
On the way we found a large covered area that contained informational signs telling visitors more about the region - its history, recreational opportunities, animal life............
Within minutes of walking into the visitor center my camera finally shut itself down.
By this time I had taken over 500 pictures.
My memory card and my camera battery had finally said........enough already.
After speaking with one of the employees inside the center, I found a wall outlet and left my camera on charge while LC and I wandered around.
No problem - got another camera and got another memory card, and I was still good-to-go.
Let the picture taking continue..........

As LC began to wander around the artifact room I snapped this picture of a group of miners from the late 19th century, and then lowered my camera so that I could take a closer look at the faces of those in the picture.
Whenever I look at pictures such as these I wonder about men like these.
What were their lives like, who did they leave behind when they set off into the largely wild and unsettled Idaho wilderness in search of fortunes or even just a job, what were their names, were they happy, were they scared, did they like the person sitting beside them and the person sitting behind them?
Endless unknown and unnamed faces.  
Endless unknown stories.
Are there people today who remember them?  Were related to them?  Visit this center and look at this picture and know one of these faces as being someone who was part of their family history?..........
You can't tell in this picture, but that is a bald eagle flying overhead.............
By the time we returned to the campground late in the afternoon, LC and I both knew that we had crammed a whole lot of experiences into one four day camping trip.
We spent the rest of the evening beating each other in rummy before heading for bed.
Tired.  A good trip.  Green and rivers and trees and fishing and kayaking and wandering and picture taking and sight seeing and card playing and camp cooking and dog paddling and so much more.
It had been a very good trip.............

The next morning we visited briefly with the man and his dog who had scoped out the best campsite in the campground.  The one by the river.
As Kory and his dog played together, the man told us that he had lost his boots from the top of the camper as he was driving into town to do a landscaping job.
He went back in search of them but apparently only found one sock.
The rest was long gone, hidden in the grass or picked up by a passer-by or.....something.  Gone anyway.
LC had a pair of boots with him and a pair of shoes, and asked the man if he needed more boots.
He didn't, and proudly told us that he had bought another great pair of boots for $2 at a thrift store in Challis.
We talked some more, shared quiet and good-natured stories, shook hands and said goodbye.
I hope that he does OK.  A survivor I think of tough times, but I watched him as he interacted with his dog.
He was good to his dog, and that tells you a lot about a person.............

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