Boise National Forest
Home Is Where You Park It
How lucky are we, to live in a country that allows us to travel through national forest land, turn off any number of dirt roads, and find our own slice of paradise for the night. Or the weekend. Or the week. Up to 16 days in a spot. Free of charge. This land waits for you. It’s your land! Just by being a citizen of the United States. Last night, we pulled off the main road onto forest road 594 somewhere in the Boise National Forest. The sun was setting behind the mountains as we traveled higher and higher up a winding one-lane dirt road. Soon enough, our road led us to a perfect camp spot on a high ridge. Turning off the engine, the silence of the woods was almost startling. We exited the truck and pulled an ice cold beer from the cooler. A local brown ale from Payette Brewing Company. We sat in the dark, sipped our beer, and listened to the song of crickets. That night the sleep was long, deep, and full of dreams. The morning awakened us to the sound of birdsong and blue skies. Sun rays beamed through a lush old growth forest. There were no sounds of cars. No sounds of planes. Nothing but the sound of the morning.
How incredible to wake up each day in a new place. Each day fresh. Full of wonder and possibility. I make coffee for Valerie, tea for me, and we take our morning walk. Our little winding dirt road is like something out of a painting. Narrow and smooth, lined with pine needles. All around us are summer wildflowers. Purple. Yellow. Red. Orange. Pink. Oh, how I’d like to know their names. Gotta get that plant and flower guide. And the air this morning! The only way I can describe the air this morning is soft. Not cool. Not hot. Just soft. Like a cotton sheet on a cool summer night. Strolling down our little forest road, we are led to views. Sprawling views across the hillsides and ridges of the Boise National Forest. A forest that hints of nostalgia for the forests of North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just yesterday, we were driving through wastelands of lodgepole beetle kill and fire scarred lands. Now the forest is lush and deep. As healthy as can be. Buzzing with energy, the leaves sparkle as they catch the morning sun. A fragrance of pure summer in the air.
Late morning, I sit in my camp chair and observe this small community we’ve stumbled upon. The butterflies fly in circles, chasing one another like small children in a park. The flies buzz around in busy desperation. Small birds dart around calling to each other from various perches in the trees. Not a care in the world do they seem to have. A hummingbird flies close, checking out my red coffee mug. He hovers for a moment, gives me a curious look, then buzzes off. A large female elk with a dark head dashes through the woods. The chipmunks scurry through the grasses. It’s the chipmunks, birds, and butterflies that seem to have the most fun. Always playing, chasing, and calling to one another. Celebrating the day. The chipmunks don’t seem to be searching for food. But rather they stumble upon it. Trip on it. Fumble over it. Then stopping, and with a fast twitch, they grab the nut and eat it like we do an apple. Holding it in their paws, taking small bites all around, and then dropping it on the ground, only partially eaten, to resume their game of chase. Oh summer. What a time of joy and abundance. Not a care in the world.