Friday, August 21, 2015

Idaho, a Wedding, and Wildfires

Backcountry Roads Idaho by Lynna Howard & Leland Howard
This month I traveled to Idaho for the first time in order to attend my oldest son's wedding.  I had a lovely time and will probably tell the tales later.  Today, I will focus on my thoughts on the wildfires.

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. 


  1. McCall is beautiful and I love that drive along the Payette River! Honestly, I don't know where we grow potatoes in this state! :-) I think wildland fires are hard to comprehend unless you experience them. Kind of like tornados for me. Come back anytime, preferably when the state is not on fire!

    1. About the potatoes...that is EXACTLY what everyone I met said. I swear... I buy potatoes in bags that say they are from Idaho. I swear. And I believe it says "potatoes" on the license plates! It should say... "Potatoes, Idaho's best kept secret". haha. I truly hope to return someday for hiking, camping and sight-seeing. It's such a gorgeous state.

  2. I'm glad the fires did not shut down your son's wedding. I always worry when I smell and see wildfire smoke. Living in the arid, high desert, there is always a pretty high risk of things getting out of hand pretty quickly. I hope to experience Idaho when conditions are back to normal. Looking forward to more stories and photos.

  3. I have never experienced evacuations and concerns due to wildfires either. Like you, I know a good bit about tornadoes and storms, but absolutely nothing about wildfires, except what we see in the news. So much beauty so quickly destroyed. How very sad! My heart breaks for the families of the firefighters who have died.

  4. Wildfires are such a shame, destroying so much natural beauty. I am glad they were not close enough to ruin the wedding! Congratulations to your son and his wife!

  5. We have been getting some of that smoke from the Idaho and Washington wildfires here in BC. I'm glad you had a nice visit and that the fires didn't interrupt your wedding celebrations.