End of Summer Road Trip, Part 2: Perfect Idaho

After enjoying a delicious breakfast of microwaved sausage patties, egg-like saucers and Dannon yogurt cups surrounded by very disappointed and forlorn looking Indian and German tourists at the Holiday Inn Express, we tore ourselves away from the sexy town of Elko, Nevada and drove 300 miles to my hometown of Pingree, Idaho.  We arrived just in time to watch Stella play/fight with her cousin Kenzo in my parents’ backyard, do some jumping on the “tramp” and have a barbecue with the family.

COUSINS! From L to R, Lizzy, Evan, Andrew, Jack, Kenzo and Stella- Missing Jenny’s kids.

 After a hearty and scrumptious dinner of steaks, corn on the cob, potatoes (duh) and my mom’s famous   Chinese chicken salad, not surprisingly and to our excitement, my dad decided to entertain us all with a backyard fireworks show in which he used all the leftover fireworks from the 4th of July.  And when I say backyard fireworks show, I don’t mean we all stand around and watch my dad light bottle rockets while the kids light those little paper tanks that shoot sparkles out of their cannons, or the tablets that expand into what looks like poop when you light them.  No, I’m talking, a well-prepped show involving my brothers digging carefully lined holes in which to house mortar tubes with placement of more mortar racks in my mom’s wooden planters behind them.  My dad and brothers usually take turns lighting fuses, and my dad always moves away from the lit firework way too casually and cool.  Sometimes my dad even blares patriotic music.  The fireworks show is the kind of production that is both exhilarating and terrifying.  Where our sincere “Oohs” and “AAAHhhs” sometimes turn into “OMG! WATCH OUT!!!” or “TAKE COVER!”  Peter couldn’t help but watch from a slight distance where he shielded himself from rogue sparks and late explosions with the back door of my mom’s SUV.   He just kept saying, “I’m sorry, but the risk outweighs any enjoyment for me.” The rest of us would laugh and laugh when he said this, and then hit the ground and cover our heads.

Show prep.  My dad using interesting cardboard.
Peter joined in on the fun!

Ahh, it was so nice to be back in Idaho, surrounded by family and fields, hearing the chirp of the sprinklers and smelling my mom’s gorgeous cooking on a warm, country night.  I always find it so easy to relax there, and my kids are in grandchild heaven being constantly entertained, snuggled, fed and spoiled.  
The next day, we enjoyed my dad’s amazing fish ponds which he created about 10 years ago shortly after grandchildren entered the picture.  There are 3 of them, fully stocked– one with huge, healthy rainbow trout, one with bluegill and bass, and one with catfish.  
You can catch a fish in less than a minute.

 And, if you call them in with a handful of fish food, you can even catch one with a net.

 It’s perfect for the kids.

 And Peter.

Peter looks like a friendly bear holding the fish in his paws ready to eat.

Peter also really enjoyed the short ride in the back of the pickup to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  This doesn’t happen in Surrey does it, baby?

That evening, we drove 2 1/2 hours north to the family cabin in Island Park, which is located just 30 miles from Yellowstone National Park.  It’s a popular Idahoan getaway, where we’ve been making memories since we were little kids, and a place that holds my heart so much that Peter and I got married there.
For me, this place is paradise.  Many of my most precious memories have been made here– catching crawdads with my brothers and sister late at night with flashlights, nets and fish guts, learning to waterski, fishing off the dock with my grandparents, roasting marshmallows around the fire with cousins, walks around the island, staying up late talking with my mom, enjoying my dad’s famous Dutch Oven peach cobbler. And of course, getting married.  It’s beautiful, fun, peaceful and best of all, innocent.  

It’s also the perfect setting for a dance off.

Stella won.

No visit to the cabin is complete without one or two trips to the town of West Yellowstone where we eat at Beartooth Barbecue, get a huckleberry ice cream cone, regret the decision to eat that huckleberry ice cream cone because of our lactose intolerance, work it out, try on a few coonskin hats, and then watch whatever’s playing at the IMAX.

And we always take at least one day to be wowed by Yellowstone.  Though we’ve been going there every year for as long as I can remember, it never ceases to enchant me.

That week in Idaho recharged us all.  We took two days driving south on the I-15 get home with an overnight stay in St. George, Utah and a quick lunch in Vegas.  We were even able to visit my sweet Grandma Jessie, her daughter Gloria and son-in-law Larry who live outside of Salt Lake City.  And seeing my grandma was the cherry on top of what ended up being the perfect road trip.  

Spending that time in Idaho with my family is something I look forward to every year.  We are a very close family, and being with all of them, in this beautiful place where I grew up lights up my soul.  Every time I come home, I think to myself “why don’t I just move back?” Maybe someday, but for now it serves as a warm, safe home base that brings me comfort to just even know it’s there.  

About Andrea Wada Davies

Ninja by day, flying squirrel by night.