North Idaho is the best. I frame the day my father accepted a pastor position in Priest River and we moved from Spokane. Born in Twin Falls, this Idaho girl got to return to my home state. Married life carried me away for 40-some years, but Terry and I are back to stay. We hope.
We were able to do a little exploring last week in Bonners Ferry. One friend asked, “What’s up there?” All kinds of stuff we found out.
I walked into the bookstore on Main Street and thought I’d found the door to heaven. Polished creaky hardwood floor. Rocking chair in a reading nook beneath the stairs. New and used books attractively displayed. A charming local bookstore that’s outwitted big business.
We found antique and other treasures with several places to look. The grands played in the dirt for hours over the weekend with a toy John Deere farm machinery set that caught my eye. My husband picked up a couple bamboo fishing rods he plans to restore.
No passports, but we drove to the Canada border 30 miles north of Bonners Ferry just to see it. We’d been on Highway 95 almost to Mexico last month so why not check out this end. Discovered a gem of a lake with a few camp sites along that scenic stretch. Not mentioning the name — for everyone who thinks it’s their secret. We’re like that in North Idaho — about huckleberry spots and fishing holes and hunting camps.
Stopped by the Kootenai Casino with a few bucks. Found the perfect title for that story the next morning at the Boundary County Museum. Didn’t know slot machines were called “One Arm Bandit” in the old days. Maybe they ought to bring that name back.
This museum on Main Street has an impressive historical collection. If you’re ever there read up on the “1915 Rules for Teachers.” Should you belong to this noble profession you’ll find, “You may not loiter downtown in ice cream stores.” Maybe it’s the root beer they served at the soda fountain.
Just a couple days after the trip to Bonners Ferry I traveled a section of the Hoodoos on an ATV. From where we live we look across the Pend Oreille River to these mountains. So it was a switch to be up high over there seeing our place on the mountain opposite. I found out that when I look out over the river valley from our house and feel big, I’m really not. I’m pretty puny against the backdrop of all that grandeur.
North Idaho is a place where you can breathe deep — no better air anywhere — and live the dream. Like owning a small town bookstore. Or fishing a hidden lake. Or living on a mountain. It has a presence that feeds the soul. But it’s a humbling landscape, too. As if to say you’ll do all right here as long as you remember who came first.