|Backcountry Roads Idaho by Lynna Howard & Leland Howard|
Boise, is gorgeous. The landscape from Boise to McCall was not at all as I had expected. I expected potatoes. And flat, patchworked green farmland similar to Indiana. Most of Idaho's landscape was not as I had expected. Leaving Idaho, the large hills were dirt and some sort of short brush. Much more dry than I had imagined.
As I drove along Highway 55 to McCall, the landscape turned more green and dramatic as the s-curved road ran along the gorgeous Payette River.
When I emerged from the river valley, I could see smoke from the wildfires in the distance. I remembered overhearing the conversation at the car rental desk - wildfires had closed a nearby highway. I began to feel anxious as I watched the plumes of smoke rising from the ridges. I had no idea how close the wildfires were to my accommodations. I know how to hunker down during a midwestern tornado warning and have learned how to prepare for the east coast tropical storm. But I have no idea how to be prepared for a wildfire.
While it ended up that the wildfires were not close enough to disrupt the wedding or cause evacuations where we were, the skies were often smoke-filled. During one evening, little bits of ash fell from the sky as we sat on a balcony watching shooting stars.
Following the wedding, as I drove back to Boise to catch my flight home, the fire activity had moved closer. Emergency helicopters were parked in a field along the road and the mountains were hidden by smoke.
Since the time I lifted off the ground and flew over those smoky mountains of Idaho, I have kept an ear to the news reports of the wildfires. California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho continue to burn. I have thought about the folks I met at the wedding who were returning to their homes in those states - hopeful that the fires didn't move any closer to their homes. I cried for the firefighters who lost their lives and I worry about the firefighters and military who continue to go toward the flames to fight them.
I have a new understanding and respect for wildfires, the people who have to prepare to flee them, and the heroes who fight them. I pray the fires end soon. And I can't wait to travel back to beautiful Idaho.