How was the rest of that Idaho trip? Why, it was fantastic, thanks for asking. This will no doubt disappoint some of you, but the weather warmed up after my last post so I didn’t wear waders again. Sorry, folks.
I did, however, learn how to drive a jet ski. I only got up to 32 mph my first time out, but after a few runs I was feeling braver and got up to 48 mph. I learned that it’s much less terrifying in the driver’s seat than it is to be in the back and feeling like I’m aboard a bucking bronco – so, from now on, I’ll be steering. (A good parallel for everything currently going on in my life, right?)
I also learned to paddleboard and I really enjoy it. As a matter of fact, I think I could get hooked on it – I think I’m going to become a regular paddleboarder.
We paddled down the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. It’s mostly shallow and slow-moving, which means you can stand on the board and see straight down to the bottom of the river, watch the fish and tadpoles swim by. And the paddling itself is a kind of zen exercise, a continuous rhythm of long stroke, long stroke, switch sides, long stroke, long stroke, switch sides… It’s like meditation, except instead of focusing on your breath, you’re focusing on the pull of the paddle through the water.
Not that it was all smooth, er, paddling. I got off to a rough start our first time out. I somehow ended up with my board facing backwards at the launching point, which was conveniently about fifteen feet in front of a bridge. And I had no idea what I was supposed to do other than try not to fall off the board.
Needless to say, I hit the bridge. I may have said a curse word or two. Not so zen.
But after I made it underneath the bridge without any major injuries and managed to find my balance (thanks to all those ballet classes), it was fun. And peaceful. And an excellent workout.
I wish I had a photo to show you, but the first rule of the paddleboard is don’t bring along anything that you don’t want falling in the water when you lose your balance. So no phone or camera went along for the ride.
But (self-gratifying digression here) I have a new, fancy phone now. A water-resistant phone. So there will be pictures next time, oh yes.
If you aren’t familiar with it, Yellowstone Bear World is a wild animal park near Idaho Falls with about sixty grizzly and brown bears, plus bison, elk, deer, mountain goats, wolves, a moose and a petting zoo full of baby animals. Despite better judgment, they let you drive through the park and just warn you not to roll down the windows or get out of the car. So there are all these huge wild animals right on the other side of a half-inch of metal. Did I mention that we visited during feeding time?
Did I mention that the, ahem, brave people in the Ford Fusion in front of us were rolling down their windows and waving bags of potato chips to get the bears to come closer to their car? Public service announcement: I may not know much about the wilderness, but I know that it’s never a good idea to wave a bag of Lay’s Classic Potato Chips at a 300-pound black bear. Ever. Don’t do it, folks. Preserve your limbs and faces and stuff.
Anyway, back to the animals (none of which I waved potato chips at)…
A necessary side note: I usually feel conflicted about zoos; although it’s a treat to be able to see such magnificent animals up close, I’m always sad that they’re in captivity. The great thing about Bear World is that the animals haven’t been removed from the wild just so the zoo could make a buck or we humans could eyeball them – they were either orphaned and unable to care for themselves, or were gotten rid of by mainstream zoos and had been in captivity too long to know how to survive on their own in the wild. While residing in captivity may not be the optimal life for wild animals, these ones needed some human intervention to stay healthy and alive. So I feel much better about visiting Bear World.
I can’t forget to mention the skies in Idaho. It’s mountain weather there, which means storms roll in quickly, even in the summer. It makes for a surreal effect, an ominous gray mass sweeping away the blue sky and puffy white clouds in a matter of minutes.
The trip to Idaho couldn’t have come at a better time. After my first few weeks in Salt Lake City, I was feeling the stress of the move: I was acutely aware of my unemployed, friendless, furniture-lacking, lost-all-the-time status. I needed a reminder of why I made the decision to upheave my life and put myself in this position. A week in the woods, on the river, seeing nature up close and personal, far away from cell phones and computers and traffic and the constant din of everyone else’s opinions – well, it was the highlighter across the line items of my biggest reasons for moving:
- To Spend More Time Outside Than Behind a Desk
- To Be Brave and Learn New Things
- To See Much More of the World
- To Put Myself in Situations That Stir My Soul, Inspire Me and Challenge Me in New Ways
So far, so good…
Wish You Were Here,
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