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back roads: southwest idaho.

September 6, 2015

I’ve spent too much time in Boise. It is a great city in so many ways, but sometimes I really need to get out of town and drive through rural or remote areas. Yesterday, I drove some back roads, and saw much I had never seen before.

Sometimes when I head off on a drive, anticipating a lovely trip, I do not take a camera, because I want to experience what I see and feel without concerning myself with lining up great shots. What I see and feel I keep in my heart.

Such was the case this past afternoon and evening.

There is a tiny town called Horseshoe Bend (population 707), which is about 40 minutes north of Boise. I felt a strong need to get out of town, and decided to head up that way. Never driven there before.

The road was a little more challenging than I expected.. I rarely leave Boise except to drive west through farmland and into Nampa. I’d done that enough times, and that was why I decided to go north instead.

More curves on Highway 55 to Horseshoe Bend then I’d thought, and a lot of it was downhill, so I had to ride the brake some.

Once in the town I drove around to see where the three main restaurants were. I decided on one called Kit’s Riverside Restaurant. It’s a small, rustic-looking place with a nice back patio and yard with horseshoe pits. The river is just a little ways below. Those of you from California might have been to a restaurant in Knight’s Ferry along the river. The two places are not that similar, but you kind of get the idea. Good food, rural setting in the hills, the river going by..

I walked inside the restaurant and sat at a booth. Noisy in there. I don’t handle noise well at all, regardless of the size of the place. I waited for a waitress, who eventually showed up. As I am indecisive, especially when in a new restaurant, it took me a little while to order. I selected a Riverside Burger that came with not only a choice of fries or tater-tots, but mashed potatoes as well. I went for the mashed potatoes, never having had those to with a burger.

I asked the waitress if I could sit outside. She said, “Oh, it was raining so so the benches are wet.”

True, it had rained a bit, but there wasn’t much rain, and it had stopped at least 6 hours before I arrived at the restaurant. Also, I had walked through the backyard and patio there before going into the restaurant, so I knew it was dry back there. Didn’t feel like arguing though.

I waited an interminably long time for my food. With difficulty, I endured the sounds of many conversations around me, plus the radio, and usual restaurant noises. The conversations going on around me seemed interesting, and I had thought I would have liked to have pulled up my chair next to some of those people and listen in, and maybe have some ideas to contribute. However, that would have been considered bad manners, and definitely strange behavior, so I sat and tried to read my book. Couldn’t concentrate on it though.

I got restless, went outside for a bit, then came back in.. and waited. After what seemed like a very long time, the waitress showed up with my food. I said, “I just checked and the benches are plenty dry out there, so I am going to eat outside.” She paused, and finally said, “Oh alright.” Didn’t help me carry my plates and water glass or water pitcher though.

Once outside, quiet and lovely.

A large white crane or egret or something like that landed across the bank from me and commenced hunting. A few minutes later a Great Blue Heron flew past the egret, under the Highway 55 bridge, and headed down river a little ways.

I sat, ate, and watched the egret, looked at the greenery along the riverbank, and watched the water.

The waitress came outside and gave me the check, then went back in. I stayed outside a little while longer, then gathered up my plates and dishes and glass and water pitcher and book and headed inside. Dropped off the plates and etc., paid the bill, and left a tip even though I wasn’t especially pleased with the waitress.

Walked out to the dirt parking lot, then headed across the road and along the short bridge. I spotted the Great Blue Heron down stream a little and watched it for awhile. Walked the length of the bridge, then back, returning to the parking lot, and then heading out.

I wanted to see a bit more of the town, so I headed north on 55 to the edge of town a block and a half away. I then thought of turning around, wandering some side streets, maybe try to find an old cemetery back there, but instead, at the intersection at the edge of town, I turned left.

I saw a sign saying “Emmett 23 Miles.” Emmett is a town to the northwest of Boise. I’ve never driven all the way through Emmett before. I calculated drive time and figured it would take me over an hour going the long way to and through Emmett, so I turned back.

And then I turned around again, facing west, in the direction of Emmett. The sun shining in between the hills.. a view too beautiful to resist. So I headed west.

The road was narrow. Two lanes along the Payette River. A canyon wall on one side and the river on the other. It was very pretty, peaceful and pleasant. Mostly peaceful. Some traffic coming the other way, and a few people going in my direction passed me. I felt bad for them.. hurrying along and missing all that beauty. I continued to drive the speed limit and take in the beauty.

The air was quite pleasant. This was quite an unseasonably cool day, with a bit of a breeze.

I followed the river and eventually left the river, the short canyon walls and close-in hills behind as the land opened up and became domesticated. High desert hills faded a little into the distance, as I drove through farmland.

I turned from west to south, and was fortunate enough to find myself on the north end of Emmett. I drove through the town. I like Emmett. Clean and pleasant small town.. feels like a positive place.

On the way out of town, I drove up a steep hill. The view of Emmett Valley is gorgeous. I didn’t stop at the scenic overlook this time, because last time I was on that road, I had stopped.

I was past the south end of Emmett by this time, and the territory was familiar. But the drive up ’til then had been new to me. On the way to McCall on a family trip, I had passed through Horseshoe Bend, but I hadn’t been driving. And I’d never been on the road that headed west from that tiny town. The road turned out to be Highway 52. The road out of Emmett, heading south, was Highway 16.

I took Hghway 16 until I was able to turn left, east, on Highway 44, which, if one stays on it long enough, becomes State St. It is possible to take that road east, then south, all the way into downtown Boise, but I didn’t go that far.

Highway 44, in between the town of Eagle and the city of Boise, is nice. I rode 44 until it became State Street, took that into town. The rest of the route was a usual drive home.

Pretty much this entire drive had been unintentional. I was feeling slightly tired, and had planned on only driving as far as Eagle, and finding a cafe there, where I would sit and read. Eagle is just 15 minutes or so outside of Boise.

I got to Eagle and felt like driving further, so I drove to Horseshoe Bend and stopped there for awhile.

Besides not having planned to drive to Horseshoe Bend, I had not intended to drive along Highway 52. Didn’t even know that road was there, or how great it was to drive.

Sometimes it is good to take the long way home.

Something else unintentional.. I had unexpectedly timed my drive very well so I could get to and leave Horseshoe Bend in the early evening, and see lovely light all the way on Highway 52, through Emmett, and back home.

Yes, it certainly was a wonderful trip.. great being on the road in Southwest Idaho. Just what I needed.

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