Sunday, February 7, 2016

Out And Back To Challis - Part 1

Last summer was a lost summer for us.
We spent most of last summer helping a resident here in town.
Her name is Pat and her husband died of cancer this time last year, while they were both wintering down in Arizona.
When Pat finally came home to Atomic City last spring I talked to her, and realized that not only did she want to sell her home but she also wanted to significantly downsize.
With the largest home in town and a husband who had been a general contractor with three garage bays filled with tools, I assumed that Pat had good friends (both in and out of town) who would help her with such an enormous task.
We quickly found out that she did not have friends who were prepared to help.
Eventually coming to the realization that this old lady was on her own, LC and I committed to her.
There was no way that this tiny, 75 year old newly-widowed woman could do it alone.
And so we spent many months cleaning, sorting, researching, selling - doing everything that needed to be done to get this woman out of town and on her way to her new life.
As a thank you for everything we had done, this lady gave us a picture that I had deeply admired.
The print was beautiful.  A black and white print done by a local artist of an elderly Native American woman weaving while watching over her grandchild.
The frame was extraordinary.  It had been constructed by Pat's husband.  The wood for the frame had been salvaged from a construction project in Hawaii and the frame was beautiful and unfinished.
The entire piece was almost 4 feet x 5 feet, and was very heavy.
As we finished loading the last of the belongings she wanted to keep (in preparation for one more trip to a storage building in Blackfoot) and cleaning our way out of the house for the last time, Pat gave me the picture.
For a couple of months it sat forgotten on the floor of the spare bedroom.
It was beautiful and I loved it, but it was SO big and SO heavy, and where the heck were we going to put it??
With no answer to that question LC and I took the picture apart, secured the print and laid the frame on a work table in the garage.
A week late the frame was stained and urethaned and looked beautiful.
For a couple more months the frame sat on the table in the garage.
The whole thing was beautiful, but was also SO big and SO heavy, and where the heck were we going to put it??
With still no answer (and with some big home projects anticipated for spring) we wondered how we were going to keep this picture safe until we decided on what to do with it.
After months of hand wringing LC hit on an idea.
We would put it on loan..........somewhere.............somewhere that would keep it safe and where others could also enjoy it, until projects were done and we truly decided what to do with this beautiful thing that we now had.
It took a couple of weeks of contacting different organizations until the Challis Public Library eagerly contacted me to say "Yes!  We would love to have it!!"
And so late last week we took a drive up to Challis to deliver our picture to the library...................

We haven't been up the valley all winter, and I was excited about driving into the mountains.
Excited about all the snow we would see, the Salmon River that we would encounter, the tiny mountain town of Challis that I loved so much.
It would be a quick out and back trip.  Drive to Challis, deliver the picture, visit a lady we knew, visit a thrift store and grab a quick bite, before turning around and heading back towards home.
But it was a freezing cold, beautiful winter day.
A good day to be on the road.
Pictures taken while on the road and on the move, of the mountains above Mackay.............
I always think of the journey to Challis as being epic.   
Hours long, on increasingly winding roads that cut their way through the mountains.
Much of that is true but not all of it.
The two lane highway once you get beyond Mackay does wander and meander and wind its way through the mountains, including one major pass.
But in truth, the journey to Challis is nothing except beautiful, increasingly isolated, and less than three hours from us.
More pictures of mountains as we continued to journey north...............
Dropping down into the huge, mountain encircled valley where the small town of Challis is located................
A quick pit stop on the outskirts of Challis...................
We had taken the Suburban on this trip.
The huge picture would not fit into the back of the Tahoe, and since our new truck (yes..........we got one) was only a single cab we chose to take the Suburban.
The picture would of course have fit in the bed of the truck but (although there was room for Kory between us in the cab) my dog would have insisted on sitting on my lap with her head sticking out the window the entire trip.
It was a beautiful day, but also a cold day.
And I had no desire to have a 65 pound dog sitting on my lap for three hours.
Immediately after pulling into the parking area of the library I called the lady I had been working with on this deal.
We were early, she apologized for making us wait while she rushed down to meet us, I swept her apology aside and apologized to HER in return for arriving a full hour earlier than planned.
While LC stayed with the Suburban I climbed out of the vehicle, and then reached into the back to grab for Korys' leash.
We would wander briefly while we waited..................
When the smiling library volunteer arrived we tied Kory off to a post, gingerly pulled the heavy picture out of the Suburban and carried it into the building.
As we stood it on the floor and leaned it upright against the front counter we both breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
It made it.
It made it in one piece.
Kory hadn't broken the glass when she stepped on it in the Suburban.
We hadn't broken the glass while transporting it to the garage to stain it, while transporting it back into the house to put the picture back into the frame, while carrying it out to the Suburban or while transporting it all the way up to Challis.
For the next nine months to a year, the residents of the valley could enjoy it, while we took the time to get our act together and figure out exactly what to do with it.
The lady we met at the library (and the chairwoman of the library board of directors who messaged me the next day) were thrilled to have it.
We were thrilled to LET them have it....................
After leaving the library we headed over to the home of a lady we knew in Challis.
We were early, she was not home, and her husband knew neither where she was or when she would be back.
Unperturbed we headed back through the tiny town where a small (and surprisingly eclectic and interesting) thrift store was located.
An hour later we walked out of the store with eclectic and interesting finds.
Loading back into the Suburban we headed back to the womans' home again.
Still not home.  Still didn't know where and when she was going to be home.
With that (and knowing that by this time it was early afternoon), LC and I decided to head down to the Salmon River, take a few quick pictures and begin making the journey south back towards home.
It was still winter.  We would be traveling in extremely isolated sections of the state.   We wanted to get home while we still had daylight....................
Turning off the highway across from the Yankee Fork Visitors Center on the outskirts south of town, we slowly drove through the snow to what we knew was a large parking area.
We had been here the summer before last, but with the region now covered with heavy snow this place looked completely different from what I remembered..
As we all three travelers climbed out of the Suburban I looked around me, trying to get the lay of the land.
With a football length field of heavy snow separating us from the Salmon River, I knew immediately that we would not be getting close up pictures of the water.
Snapping these quick pictures, I searched for a trail that may be walkable, and soon found one off to our left...................
We walked only briefly on the snow covered trail.
The snow was deep, the river was still too far away from us, and we still had three hours of driving to do.
Instead, I snapped a few pictures of this beautiful place and then we gave Kory some time to sniff and explore and do her Kory things.
We had to go home.
But for a few minutes at least, we could just take a breath and enjoy where we were..................
Loading back into the Suburban we back tracked about 1/2 mile, knowing that I would be able to take pictures of the river from the bridge....................

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