For awhile it seemed like paradise, this 5 acre plot of land on the banks of the Snake River, just southwest of Boise, Idaho. And when my Pa was younger, the upkeep was somewhat invigorating. But health problems mounted, and the work was never done. Morally defeating was the fact that tasks completed had to be re-completed every so often. Well pumps re-installed, soil Ph balance restored, railings repaired, deck boards replaced, dead trees and bushes re-planted with live ones. One huge blow was when an impressive three-tired retaining wall built of railroad ties (my father did everything himself), was partially destroyed when the above-ground pool (guaranteed not to fail) burst and flooded the hillside, washing out the retaining wall on its way to the river. Insurance refused to pay saying that this was flood damage and my father didn’t have flood insurance. Search as he might, Pa couldn’t find the original purchase receipt of the lifetime guaranteed pool, so that wasn’t replaced either.
I’ve blogged about this place before. Pa called it something like the “Trulove River Rat Rest & Relaxation Ranch,” or TRRR&RR for short. Right across the river is the Shoshone Indian Map Rock, and my post on that remarkable set of petroglyphs is one of my most popular.
Pa had already been wistfully talking about selling and moving someplace with trees, that was smaller and easier for him to take care of. Then, as I mentioned a few posts back, he married a Romanian woman and began trying to bring her to the US. After nearly a year it just wasn’t happening, so he gave up and decided to move to Romania. The beautiful house on the Snake River sold in a few months, and Pa began preparations to leave the country. The new owners graciously allowed him to stay on the property after it was sold, and he lived in a camp trailer while he continued to sort through what was left of years and years of possession-collecting.
In April I made the first trip over to help him pack. This second trip was in late May to continue helping him, by taking loads of donated items into the city’s equivalent of Goodwill, and packing the Jeep full of things he was donating to me. Also, importantly, to collect some cats. The Crazy Old Cat Man asked only that I take two. Still, it’s a traumatic thing for our dear Racecar kitty at home, who hates all other cats except herself. D and I brought home Thomas (14 years old) and Yeowler (4 years old), named for…yes, you guessed it. We will see how the summer goes, and then decide if new arrangements need to be made. So far, all three of them fight constantly, and it’s not peaceful when they are too close to each other.
Anyhow, I wanted to show some images from our trip over there, which was like a vacation and tons more fun than an 8-hour drive to Boise would imply. We stretched it to about 11 hours, with multiple stops along the way, and that’s what made it so fun.
First we took a side road that promised a viewpoint. I had been there years ago and vaguely remembered it as worth the look. This time we showed up in a profusion of desert wildflowers and we climbed around the mountain like a couple kids. D found something he thought might be wild onion, and we couldn’t decide. So I took a bite. It was pretty oniony. He thought I was crazy. 😉
Next we stopped for lunch in the little eastern Oregon town of Baker City. The day was an early season reprieve from the winter greys, and tourists were out in force, to the chagrin of unprepared staff in the few restaurants downtown. We stopped for only a pint at the Grand Geiser hotel, but the harried barmaid was pressed beyond her capacity. We left after 15 minutes with no hopes of getting a beer anytime soon, in hopes of easing her burden, and walked down the street to a little Mexican cafe and drank imported Mexican beer instead. Our waitress was the younger sister of another waitress, and had been called in to help.
We walked the streets and delighted in small town shop windows. I photographed the old painted advertising on the walls of several buildings.
The valleys around Boise, Idaho are filled with crops. It’s an agricultural area that doesn’t just produce potatoes, though our state is famous for its potatoes. I remember when there was a big debate over changing our state license plates to say something other than “famous potatoes,” because it wasn’t the snappy image some residents wanted to present. Tradition prevailed, and Idaho remains famous for the root crop instead of diamond mines, suggested instead. You can find onions, sugar beets, corn, wheat, and much more out there. There is lots of sun and water in southern Idaho, which is what a breadbasket valley needs.
Once we arrived at Pa’s place, I called a friend of mine in the area. We grew up together in a tiny town farther north in Idaho, so he knows my dad and our memories go back 30 years. He came out to visit, so we all sat in the shade and watched the river and caught up on each others’ lives.
There wasn’t much left to pack and sort this time, since my Pa had dealt with nearly everything. Of the things left to sort through, I found an English sword I purchased for him a few years ago after hiring a company that researched the Trulove family name. They came up with what my brother had already discovered: our name is English, spelled Trewlove and a variety of other versions before settling down to the one we’ve got. We took turns playing with the sword.
D and I set up our tent on the front lawn of the house that now belonged to someone else. Pa was pleased with the Montana rancher who had purchased his place. I am pleased that passing the baton to a decent new owner will give my Pa some peace. It must be a little like handing your child off to a new caretaker, when you personally build a dry piece of desert into a home oasis and then sell it.
Finally we were all out of steam and went our separate ways. D and I walked through the fields looking for the coyotes we heard that sounded very close. All we found were cows grazing quietly, unconcerned about the coy dogs. Have you ever heard that term? Coy dogs? We used to say that when I was a kid. Then we walked down to the river and I took some parting sunset shots.
17 thoughts on “Last Trip to the Snake”
Sad, in a way. Time passes and things change. Still, its a beautiful place to say goodbye to. –Curt
Agreed. It’s a beautiful place to have many memories of.
poignant…and some lovely photos
You know Maureen, I hadn’t intended to make the story poignant, but now that I read it again, I see that my words expressed my feelings despite myself. It isn’t just my Pa’s sadness at letting it go, but my sadness too. Thanks for noticing.
Good story. I like the little details. I never heard John Wayne call them coy dogs!
Ha ha! No that does not seem manly enough for John Wayne. Maybe my little friends made it up and it’s a unique expression to my tiny Idaho town.
Lovely record of what must have been a poignant trip. I wish your Dad and his wife a happy future.
Thanks for your best wishes! I hope they have a happy future too, particularly after the challenges of getting their life together started.
It was a lovely trip, and I realized I was not allowing myself to see it for what it was until the last 10 minutes. The next morning the Jeep was loaded with boxes and cats, and I went over to my Pa for the obligatory hug-and-see ya later, and I burst into tears. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized it was the last time I’d see my father for a very long time. Hopefully I’ll get to post about my someday visit to Romania one of these days.
I do hope so
Beautiful views but it feels quite heart wrenching. I’m glad you had someone to share the trip with and lighten the burden.
Yes, me too. It was pretty sad to leave this time.
Send a note if you get a minute to let me know how you are doing and if you got to watch the videos.
Beautiful, and poignant. The last shot is especially lovely.
So are you planning a trip to Romania to check up on your dad? I’ve only been once, and only to Bucharest, but it was great. I posted some photos on my blog at the time. Which part of Romania did your dad and his cat move to? The countryside is really beautiful and wild in places – I mean unspoilt, and full of critters instead of people. Hubby and I are interested in Romania so we’ve seen quite a few programmes about it. We’d love to see it in person. I think you would have an amazing time hiking over there.
Hi Sarah! I was reading this old blog post and discovered that I had never replied to you. So many years have passed and I hope you are well. Did you and your husband make it to Romania in the meantime? I never did, and now my father has died. I imagine I’ll see it someday. It’s probably terrifying to be in Romania right now, bless them. Well anyhow, it’s lovely to be reminded of you, and I hope you are well, and that your amazing artwork has continued to progress, and that you are still blogging. ❤
Hi Crystal, I haven’t blogged for ages now so it took your message a while to get through to me. It’s lovely to hear from you again. I’ve been taking a break from the whole social media/internet scene in general, not just blogging. Your message popped up when I dusted off my computer to do a back-up of the photos on my phone. 🙂
I’ve been doing more crochet than artwork lately but I will get back to it at some point. Sorry to hear that your dad passed away before you managed to visit Romania. We didn’t make it back either. I hope that you’re doing okay. Last time we were in touch you had a lot to cope with so I hope things improved before you had to deal with the loss of your father on top of it all. Life can be very tough, can’t it?
My life is great! Things turned around in 2019 and by 2020 – despite the pandemic – in was in a good frame of mind. I did fine during the worst of the pandemic, compared to others. Continued going to school online, and teaching online. I met a good man Christmas 2020, and we are so happy together. My kid graduated from college, and got a job. My retirement is fun and my finances are stable…I feel blessed and lucky and I am grateful daily. Thank you for your kind thoughts. I love crochet and haven’t done it for years. It makes me happy that you are. ❤
That’s wonderful, Crystal. 😀 We also got through the pandemic better than most. Finances are tight now but we’re still coping. Congratulations on all your and Tara’s successes. May you both continue to be happy, blessed and grateful. I will try to do the same!! (It’s easy to forget to be grateful sometimes; thanks for the reminder.) 🙂