Monday, August 4, 2014


We have now been in Idaho for one year and two weeks.
Over that 54 weeks LC and I have traveled to a number of areas within the state for various reasons.
To see my son.  To buy something or other that we needed for the house.  To camp.  To go to the VA.  To simply explore this state that offers so much and which we are gradually and over time coming to know.
This blog post is dedicated to some of the artwork that we have seen over the past year.
Some is legitimate "art".  
Some are merely pieces whose form speaks to me in some kind of creative and artistic way.
That includes this Pelton Wheel that provided power to generate electricity to Bonners Ferry in the early part of the last century.
I took these pictures last October when LC, Jamie and I drove up to Bonners Ferry to see my son Chris.
I had not seen him in over a year and a half, and even though we had just expended a lot of energy and money to move from Cody and get settled in Atomic City only a couple of months before, we eagerly drove to the top of the state to see my youngest child.
Late on the first full day that we were in Bonners Ferry I kissed both of my men on the cheek and sent them on their way.
They would find a place to fish along the river for a few hours and I would wander the streets of this town that was already slowly beginning to shut itself down for the upcoming long winter.
They wanted to fish and I wanted to take pictures.
Not long after we all went our separate ways I came across this wheel.............

The first time I realized that I loved old, rusted, metal objects was not long after I moved to Juneau, Alaska.
Between long and stressful hours working, and while LC and Jamie were working hard to close up the house and move to Alaska, I spent my lonely spare time exploring the area and playing around with my very first digital camera.
I had never really been a person to take a lot of pictures, but Juneau was beautiful and I had started this blog so that I could keep friends and family up-to-date on what was happening in my life.
One day I came across the remnants of an old gold mine.
There were rusted artifacts laying half buried in the sand, partially hidden among the ferns, on trail, off trail, everywhere I looked.
Mesmerized by the shapes of these artifacts and by the beautiful, rusted form of each piece, I suddenly realized how compelling these things were for me.
In Juneau it was gold mining artifacts.  In Tennessee it was farming and civil war artifacts.  In Wyoming and Idaho it was (and is) mining and power generating artifacts.
Inevitably there are signs describing what each piece was used for, but I give those signs only a passing glance.
What I see when I look at such things are pieces of art.
Pieces that were once hard working but which are now silent.  
Pieces where originally form followed function, but which are now stationary and simply beautiful..................

This old tractor was found resting outside the Visitors Center in downtown Bonners Ferry.
There are professional sculptures that are not as beautiful as this piece of metal artwork..................

We were only in Bonners Ferry for a few days, and the weather was cool but not cold.
I know from research that I did on the area before we visited, that winters are long, cold and damp in northern Idaho.
Much of the time the days are similar to so many days that I experienced in Juneau - damp, foggy, grey and cold.
Because residents spend so much of the year surrounded by greyness, northern Idaho towns find creative ways to add color to their lives.
As I walked around this very quiet town I realized that there were multiple commercial buildings that had exteriors decorated with colorful paintings.
They were everywhere I looked.
Colorful works of art painted on cinder block and brick and wood exteriors.  A colorful testament to the history of the region..............

One of many sweet and graphic signs that also decorated the outside of many businesses in town..................

We had been in town for a couple of days by the time we drove down to Sandpoint.
I wanted to kayak and LC and Chris wanted to fish.
This park - located in the center of town - was stunningly beautiful, and I took a huge number of pictures of the park, the canal that ran along one side of the park, and the lake that overlooked the mountains.
I had seen her as we drove through Sandpoint on the way to Bonners Ferry, but after such a long trip we had elected to not stop on the way up.
We just wanted to get there and get settled into the motel before Chris arrived.
But on the day we spent in Sandpoint I walked up to her and enjoyed the sight of her.
This exact replica of the Statue of Liberty is probably...........20 feet?  25 feet to her torch?
I am not sure, but I greatly enjoyed her unexpected presence.................

Seen in downtown Sandpoint...................

We were on the way home from Bonners Ferry when we pulled into a gas station somewhere in Montana.
I climbed out of the truck, reached into the back to get Jamie, and as we began to wander while LC filled up the tank I saw this painting on the side of a ramshackle structure that turned out to be a car wash.
I was upset about leaving Chris, as I always am when the time inevitably comes to reach up, throw my arms around his neck, and pull this tall man down so that I can kiss him on the cheek and say goodbye.
I hold him and don't want to let him go.  
And then I kiss him and let him go.
I was worried about Jamie who seemed to be getting weaker and older and maybe sicker (definitely sicker as it turned out, but I didn't know that at the time) with each passing day.
We were still a long way from home, and I just wanted to get the trip over with.
All of those things were running through my mind as I silently wandered with my slow moving dog and while I waited for LC to finish pumping gas.
My brain felt overburdened, and I was sad and worried, and then I looked up and happened to see this beautiful painting on the side of a piece-of-shit car wash.
There was reprieve for the briefest of moments as I looked in surprised at this colorful picture...............

Last September we were driving back from a whirlwind, day long trip to the VA clinic in Salmon.
As we drove through Mackay on the way home we happened to see a sign promoting an upcoming free community bar-b-q.
Eager to experience more of this little mountain town, that is nestled tightly in the Big Lost River Valley, we drove back up to Mackay a couple of weeks later and had an outstanding time at the event.
Filled with friendly locals, vendors, music and lots of great food, LC and I were very glad that we attended.
The sign had told us that the bar-b-q was slated to be held at the Mackay Park.  Not knowing where the park was located, we stopped briefly to ask for directions after arriving in town.
We had stopped at a small restaurant a couple of blocks off the main highway and when I walked outside armed with the information we were seeking, I noticed for the first time that the grounds were home to five or six different tall and carved wood sculptures.
They were all weathered and worn and beautiful................

We spent a long time at the bar-b-q, enjoying the warm early fall day.
As LC and I slowly began to wander out of the park and back towards our truck we happened to stop at a table that was being run by the local historical society.
I spent a long time looking at boards filled with old pictures of Mackay.  These kinds of old black and white pictures (with their stern looking people and dated clothing and hairstyles and old vehicles) are always interesting
Whenever I see them I find myself drawn to the faces that are staring back at me.  Who were these people?  What were their lives like?  What were they thinking at the very moment when some unknown person snapped their image?
Their faces - the look in their eyes - are always compelling to me.
As I looked at the faces of strangers LC talked with a woman who was working the table.  By the time he walked back to me, LC had directions to the mining museum and artifacts that were high up in the hills in back of town.
We had planned on heading home after the bar-b-q, but curious about the museum we did indeed drive up into the hills.
This unplanned trip turned into a hugely interesting afternoon, as we wandered from building to building learning hands-on about the mining history of Mackay.
Predictably, signs were only partially read, and as I wandered around each building I viewed these strange and interesting and rusted pieces of equipment as intriguing and wonderful pieces of art.............

Arco (located 30 miles to our north) is a small, farming town that is slowly dying away.
They have serious water issues.  Serious issues with joblessness, the lack of jobs, the lack of good and decent paying jobs.  And (as with so many other small towns spread throughout the country) they have the energy and brain drain of losing their young to the cities.
There are sections of Arco that are well-to-do and sections that are poor, and it is a mostly forgotten town that would greatly benefit from both a face lift and a conscious effort to reinvent itself.
There are sweet and small touches in this town though, that provide it with character and color.
Painted tires on a fence that are used as planters for colorful summer flowers.  
Painted exterior pictures of antelopes and mountains.
Number Hill with its graduating years and history and stories
The 20 foot Mountain Man that stands tall outside the Mountain Man Trading Post on the outskirts of town...............

Taken inside the Visitor Center in Challis during our camping trip in June................

Early in June LC, Kory and I spent a few days up the valley trying out our new Nomad camper.
We spent a couple of days in Salmon before heading back down to Challis.
We camped at a beautiful, free campground just a few miles north of Challis.  Located next to the river and with endless views of endless mountains, we shared the large campground with only two other campers and greatly enjoyed our short stay.
After setting up our campsite, we drove into the small town in search of whatever we would find.
Stopping briefly at a trading post, we left Kory in the truck while we wandered around the huge building picking our way through endless rows of endless stuff.
LC (as he so often does) began a long and friendly conversation with the owners of the store, and while he was talking I walked outside to retrieve my sweet dog.
Kory had been in the truck for a while and as she excitedly bounced out of the vehicle I looked over and saw this thing.
An old truck with a home-made camper top.
It was a ridiculous looking thing but I had to smile when I saw it................

One more picture taken outside on the grounds of the Challis visitor center..................

Only a few weeks after we moved to Atomic City we took a long drive to Soda Springs to purchase something that we needed for the house.
Soda Springs is located over a hundred miles from the house, but as new residents to the state we used our purchase as an excuse to wander.  We were eager to see.  Anything.  Everything.  All we could. 
On the way to Soda Springs we unexpectedly bypassed Lava Hot Springs.
I had heard of LHS, and knew that it was a go-to tourist destination but had no idea where it was located, and I was completely caught off guard when we passed it by.
After picking up our purchase we headed back the way we had come, and stopped for a couple of hours in Lava.
The weather was incredibly beautiful and very warm this early into September, but the kids had already returned to school and it was obvious that even though it still felt like summer the town of Lava Hot Springs was beginning to wrap it up for the season.
LC and I walked the entire, colorful town.  We ate at a restaurant.  I snapped many pictures and blogged about our brief and very fun trip.
Following the signs on the highway for Lave Hot Springs, we turned left off the two lane paved road and followed a winding road a short way before crossing over a bridge and parking the truck in the shade of a large tree.
Right before the bridge I quickly snapped this picture of a large metal bull.................

A couple of days after we picked Kory up at the airport last November, we had to go to Idaho Falls.
We had passed the green way each and every time we went to Idaho Falls, and on this particular day we finally decided to stop and walk, and enjoy the late fall day.
The green way is a really lovely place to wander.
It parallels the river on both sides, and paved walkways allow visitors to wander and to enjoy a beautiful green space in the very middle of the city.
People walk, they talk, they sit, they feed the geese, and they enjoy the opportunity to be close to water and waterfalls without traveling far from their homes.
We spent a long time walking and wandering and talking on this day, and also getting to know our new pup.
It was a very good day, and we sat briefly on a couple of benches that were creatively fashioned and wonderfully, beautifully artistic..................

Of all the places we have visited to date, Sandpoint and Salmon are by far my favorites.
Salmon is a beautiful, quiet town that is surrounded by mountains and bordered by the fast moving and very cold Salmon River.
There are artistic touches found throughout the town, and it is obvious that residents have cared about the impression their town gives to its many visitors.
The first time we visited Salmon was last September when LC had to go to the VA clinic there.
In between appointments we had time to kill and assumed that we would just drive around the area trying to get the lay of the land.
Instead, we unexpectedly came across a place called the Sacajawea Center.
We spent hours walking the grounds of the center - a beautiful mix of green and water and historical structures and informational boards and pieces of artwork that reflected the natural history of the region.
After we had parked the truck in the parking lot of the center I excitedly climbed out and looked around me, in awe of such unexpected beauty.  I was excited to be where we were and I looked forward to walking with my guy and my dog.
Looking beyond a couple of beautiful sculptures close to the parking lot, I saw this eagle on top of a hill.
From a distance it looked to be in flight and even then I knew that I wanted to go see it before we did anything else.
Sculpted in metal, it moved in the wind. 
Actually, it seemed to glide in the wind.
A wonderful piece.
A wonderful piece that was only one of many wonderful pieces that we found that day.................
The first time we visited Salmon, we drove down the main street of town, and then (as cops have a way of doing) we veered off the main road and wandered up and down many of the side roads of town.
Away from the typical tourist places.  To get a better idea of what this small town is all about.
Some of the things we saw along the way...............

A stained glass window on the side of a beautiful church..............
A whimsical and colorful childs' playhouse................
A painting found in a rest area right on the main road...............
And finally...........the bear.
He is large, and metal, and wonderful, and located in a park accessed from the main road..................

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see............Miles David

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