Archive for December, 2006

A day of photo-play

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

I had the pleasure of spending the day with Danial Jordan and his son Josh. Dan is an author of several books and accomplished photographer. We threw our gear into Gritz (my car) and headed for the hills. 7 hours later we emerged with low batteries and some great memories. I’ve put several shots into my photo album but this one is one of my favorites.

Sunset on 12.29.96

Observations of Small Town Living (OOSTL)

At one point of our drive we were heading up a very rough and dangerous mountain road deep into a Nation Forest. After about the first 3 miles the road was no longer even plowed. It was very difficult to control the car as it bucked against the walls of the icy-ruts in the snow made by other brave adventurers (probably loggers in huge trucks with chains on their tires) who had gone before us. There was only one car lane to dive on. Turning around wasn’t an option because we probably would have gotten stuck even with 4-wheel drive. We kept climbing in hopes of someplace where we could turn the car around and head back to safety. The snow dragged and pushed up against the bottom of the car. Finally, we found a turn off that had enough tracks packing down the snow for us to make a 3 point turn. Now that we were heading away from danger I could look around for some photo-ops. When we found one we just stopped the car and got out. There was no place to park and certainly nobody but loggers would have the equipment or stupidity to traverse this road.

Sure enough, after about 15 minutes Dan calls me over to move the car because another car had come “down” from the mountain and wanted to pass. I was amazed to find that it was a nicely dressed woman standing here in the middle of nowhere chatting with Dan. She was heading to work in Sandpoint. She lives further “up” the hill in a log cabin and this was just a commute for her and her Jeep.

This was going to be a story about manly-men risking our lives by charging up a mountain pass for the love danger. She put an end to that really quick. She did give us a handy pointer though. When driving up the hill, you have to floor it and hope for the best in order to avoid getting stuck. Gee… Thanks.

Christmas in Sandpoint

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

What is Christmas without family? Jenny and I both agreed that given the choice we’d have loved to spend Christmas with our families. We did the next best thing by volunteering to help the Bonner Gospel Mission serve a delicious Christmas dinner at the local community center. Jenny made some industrial size green bean casseroles and off we went.

I was torn between seeing so many guests who were willing to share Christmas with strangers and the fact that many were having a difficult time with life’s circumstances and welcomed a warm meal. Like us, some couples didn’t have family in the area while others were simply alone and appreciated the company. We met a lot of volunteers from a local church who had a great deal of kindness to share including warm gloves, books, music and the message of God’s love.

Jenny and I were assigned the task of (I love this!) “Volunteer Eaters” because they had enough kitchen help. Our responsibility was to welcome folks in, show them to a seat, get them some food, then sit down and visit with them to give them some company to talk to. Yes, it was a real arm-twister to get me to eat and talk but always the truest servant of my fellow man I laid down my shyness and went right to work. Such sacrifice, such a servants heart, such an appetite.

It was a very merry Christmas for us. Our guests had as much to share with us as we did with them. Selfishly, we came away getting far more than we gave.

Here’s a shot of some of our guests being entertained by Samantha on the guitar.

Christmas in Sandpoint

I met a gentleman named Jean who came for a meal but when he saw the others playing music asked of he could bring in his accordion. The next thing you know we had a jam session going lifting the spirits of the entire room.

Musicians at the community center

Idaho – The third fastest growing state!

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Wow, our land is going to be worth millions if the latest trend continues. Idaho has experienced massive growth according to “CNN Money“. We’re going to be so wealthy we won’t know what to do with all the cash.

These are percentages from the report, the numbers never lie.
Arizone 3.58%
Nevada 3.54%
Idaho 2.6%
Texas 2.5%

So Idaho looks like a very popular destination and our land value is going to skyrocket. I’m so glad we go in early. When are you going to get here so that you can take advantage of the real estate boom and make millions of dollars? OK back to reality…

Now look at the actual numbers of new residents:
Idaho 37,098
Texas 579,275

According to real numbers that puts us at the 20th fastest growing state just behind …Minnesota. I hate statisticians.


Thursday, December 21st, 2006

The other day, we received confirmation that our line of credit has been approved to build. We can now mortgage our lives away. No we start focusing on finalizing the house design so that we can make sure it will come within budget.

Today we drove to the factory where our home will be built. We were able to see a house very similar to ours being built. It’s built in 4 parts. Cut the house down center the long ways and then the roof is done seperately in two parts. After the site work is done, well, septic, and foundation, it takes about 6 weeks to drop the house, and make it ready to move in.

Very exciting… Quote me on this in about 6 months.

Observations of Small Town Living (OOSTL)

Monday, December 18th, 2006

While on the road yesterday I came across a sign that you’d never find in Illinois. People post signs like this all the time, letting people know that their family pet dog or cat has gone missing. However, not many people outside of small town America are going to come across the following sign for a lost horse.

Lost horse

Reward or not, I do hope that this horse if found and returned to it’s home.

We’re not in Illinois, that’s for sure

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Yesterday while driving up a mountian road I observed a sign that you’d never find where we’re from. It warned us of bears in the area. It’s quite unnerving when they post signs that infer the you’re going to be eaten.

Warning: bears are afoot

It was enough to make me want to turn back shortly after passing the sign. Like an idiot I didn’t think about the fact that any bear in the area is very likely hibernating.

How about the weather up there?

Friday, December 15th, 2006

Weather questions and comments abound from family and friends. Idaho is still South of Canada so we’re doing fine. We’re about 1200 feet higher in elevation than Chicago, but the winters here (according to the locals) aren’t too bad. They say this, but we’ve seen their kids walking home from school in short-sleeve shirts and men in shorts on more than one occasion when the temp is hovering around 40 degrees. It’s all relative, I guess. They’re a hardy bunch.
Amazingly the weather is more unpredictable here than back in Chicago because of the geology of the mountains. They can make it partly sunny in one place and snowing a mile away. Sometimes snow or rain comes in the form of one cloud that apparently got a little separated from the others.

For the current weather on our property click here

We currently live just 15 miles north and it’s amazing how different the weather can be. Locals call this “micro climates”.

Photo Album

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

Rather than bore you with pictures that really don’t have any stories in them other than the fact that they are nice to look at, I’ve added a photo album to our site. We’ll see how that progresses. Here’s the link which will also be listed in our link list at the right: Wanderings

Observations of Small Town Living (OOSTL)

Friday, December 8th, 2006


Yes, we have bars here too. With scary names like “THE OUTLAW BAR”. Don’t let ’em fool you. Take a closer look at the sign outside and you’ll find “A REALLY FRIENDLY” just above the word “OUTLAW”.

outlaw bar sign

“How Friendly?” You ask. Well, here’s a shot of the bar (click the image below). Note that the “Outlaw Bar Courtesy Van” is right there ready to take any outlaws who can’t handle their liquor home safely. I love this place.

outlaw bar

Observations of Small Town Living (OOSTL)

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Todays OOSTL entry comes as Jenny and I enjoyed lunch at a restaurant/bar in town today (Sandpoint, 6000+ people). The waitress/bartender put her purse on the back counter in plain site where anyone could see it. Apparently theft isn’t a major issue here. Or maybe it’s the fact that anyone can carry a gun. Or both. Either way, I like it that way. It’s comforting to know my purse isn’t going to get stolen. 🙂

A short drive; An eagle, a moose and a horsy.

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

I was a bit bored yesterday and decided to go on a driving excursion. About 20 minutes from here I caught a glimpse of an eagle and then a moose. Mind you these images were taken from the highway. Please excuse the lower quality. Now that I know what to expect (yeah right) I’ll be a little more prepared to drive off the road into the snowbank to get better shots.

Eagle off I-95 12-7-06

Moose off I-95 12-7-06

And for my final shot of the day, I caught this horse in a meadow. At these higher elevations, clouds and fog are kind of a new phenomenon to me compared to back home. This cloud of fog was simply rising off the field in the back ground. A very pretty sight.

horse on farm off I-95 12-7-06

(Click the image for full size)

Just like Home!

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

The weather reports from Chicago sound all too familiar. We got the same amount of snow here a few days earlier when Chicago was experiencing temps in the 40s. Jenny and I drove up to our hill to see what it’s like in winter. We really have a better understanding of why mountain people have 4 wheel drive vehicles. Here’s a shot to Gritz (our car) at end of Dogwood lane (our future street).

gritz on dogwood lane first snow 2006
It’s worth noting. This is the first real snowfall.
It is supposed to get rather deep as the winter progresses.
While up there I also got an amazing bunch of pictures. I won’t bore you them all. Here’s one of some amazing clouds at sunset. Jenny said it best, “We live in a postcard”.
postcard sunset