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Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 USA

Post Falls to Missoula

This morning Iona took us for brunch with Catrin and Brad at their house. We found out that Ben and Tyler are in university in Boise and Moscow, so we could well have passed them on the street and not even known! JJ stayed in bed almost the entire time we were at the house, but we said hi as we left.

It was a really lovely day. Having not really seen them in my adult life, I never really knew that much about them.

We went back to Iona’s and spent a bit more time there, eventually leaving around 3pm. We had a quick stop at an internet cafe to check weather forecasts in Yellowstone, and drove to Missoula.

We arrived around 8pm, checked into a motel and went for dinner at the Cracker Barrel. There was also a store already bedecked with Christmas gifts and decorations. I bought Mum the most awesome decoration: a singing snowman who grows and then shrinks, saying “I’m melting!”.

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It has been a good break at Iona’s: took the strain off it being just me and Dad. Cabin fever! Don’t know how long it’ll last but definitely needed it. 

Decided I should do a family tree because there’s so many people on this side and I have no idea who they are!

Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 USA

Family Day

After breakfast, Iona took us on a quick drive around Post Falls and Twin Falls, where she teaches tennis. We visited the falls the town is named after, but there wasn’t much water because of the time of year.

We had a coffee and then drove over to Coeur d’Alene and had a drive around the lake.

Back to Post Falls, where we stopped at Walmart and then spent the afternoon in Iona’s, reading and watching TV.

Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 USA

Moscow to Post Falls

After having breakfast and checking out, I checked emails and then we found a nice coffee shop. We drove over to the Appaloosa Museum before leaving town. It was really interesting, with stuff about the horse breed and also the Native Americans.

We drove on to Coeur d’Alene, getting lunch in Tito Macaroni’s and having a quick walk around town and along the floating boardwalk.

Dad spoke to Iona last night and arranged for us to stay with her for a couple of days. So after a coffee, we drove to her house in Post Falls.

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I’m trying so hard to stay calm and not get angry. But he can’t read maps. He mumbles so that even I can’t understand him. He snores and keeps me awake. He leaves the door open when he goes to the loo. He farts lots. And he won’t make any decisions. I have to decide where we eat and when, where we stay, when we stop. Everything! It really is like travelling with a child, while he slopes along behind me. If I wanted to travel with a child, I would’ve stolen Marcus!
Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 USA

Cottonwood – Grangeville – Lapwai – Nez Perce – Moscow

We had breakfast at the motel restaurant – far too many pancakes.

We drove back to Grangeville and looked around Ray Holes Saddlery. On our way back we stopped at Dog Bark Park, and ended up chatting to Dennis and Frances for about 3 hours!

We drove to Lapwai, stopping at Moccasin Flats Trading Post. Then the Nez Perce Historical Centre in Spalding a little further along. There was some amazingly intricate beadwork on display.

We carried on going to Moscow, and we stayed at Hillcrest motel, and found a Mexican restaurant for dinner.

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Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 USA

“Life is Hell. Death is Heaven.” “Life is what you make it. Live it up!”

(Toilet wall graffiti in Riggins)

Today was beautiful but a little overcast. We wandered around McCall, stopping for coffee and checking emails. The bank have now closed my internet banking, so the stress is back on!

We went to Ponderosa State Park before leaving, seeing 5 deer and great views of McCall and the lake.

We drove on to Riggins, playing the alphabet game by myself. We drove 20 miles up a dirt track (Seven Devils Road) to look into Hell’s Canyon. It’s 2000 ft deeper than the Grand Canyon, but doesn’t have steep sides, so you can’t really see the bottom. There was snow on the surrounding peaks and clouds coming in. It was cold, and time to leave!

We got some food in Summerville’s Cafe in Riggins, then drove on to Cottonwood. We found Dog Bark Park but reception closed at 4pm and it was now 6pm. We went to a different motel which also had a restaurant, where we had supper. Went to bed early because we’re now on Pacific Time and one hour behind.

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Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 USA

Stanley to McCall

We saw the mechanic. He told us to call Avis roadside assistance. We had the options of driving back to Boise and picking up a new car (no thank you), or waiting around for them to deliver a car from their nearest garage. We had breakfast and killed time in the two local shops, until Troy arrived with our new, better car, at no extra cost. Much happier.

We drove to Redfish Lake, which had very clear water, forested slopes and craggy, snowy peaks surrounding it. We were pretty much the only people there.

We carried on, stopping in Haven for a late lunch, and making a couple of photo stops along Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway.

We didn’t stop again until McCall, but the scenery was fantastic. McCall is the biggest town we’ve stopped at or passed through since leaving Boise. It has a population of 2500. We also got a 10% discount at the motel for no real reason!

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I’ve always kinda felt like I believe in karma. If bad things happen to you, you deserved it. Which is why I’ve found these past couple of months so difficult. I thought I was a good person and couldn’t understand why so much shit was happening. Maybe I’m paying for bad things I’ve done a while ago. Maybe it’s because I’m treating Dad so badly. Maybe it’s all a test of my ability to manage stress.

My new theory is more along the lines of “shit happens”. I hate that. I would rather feel like I had a bit more control. But I don’t think I’ll be able to stay/return to stable by thinking that bad things are happening for a reason. There are plenty of examples of good things happening to bad people and vice versa.

I think I just need to concentrate on being a good person for the sake of it, and if bad things happen then I need to learn to deal with them better.

Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 Music USA

Boise – Idaho City – Stanley

We had a fun morning of doing laundry and important stuff like checking email and looking around The Record Exchange. Bought a couple of albums to play on the long drives.

We drove to Idaho City, where we had lunch in a friendly little diner on the roadside. Idaho City is absolutely tiny. We had a bit of a wander around but there wasn’t much to see, except for signs in shop windows: “Gone hunting. Back November.”

We drove on to Stanley, but I managed to hit a big rock sometime before Lowman, knackering the wheel. Not that we needed the help, but a couple of drunken yokels pulled up anyway, and changed the wheel for us. A bit worrying when he kept dropping the wheel nuts…

So we had to drive to Stanley at 40mph. 60 miles. We arrived at 7pm and booked into Mountain Lodge. A guy at the motel is a mechanic so hopefully he’ll be able to fix the wheel, or its a 40 mile drive in the wrong direction to the nearest garage.

We had dinner in the Mountain Restaurant, owned by the same people as the lodge. A monopoly in a village of 100 people.


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Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 Horses USA

Leaving Silver Spur

We had our last breakfast together this morning and said our goodbyes. I felt myself welling up a bit – amazing how close you can get to people in a week!

M was leaving the airport a little before us, so me and Dad had some food with her.

We got a flight to Boise, where we picked up our rental car. Unfortunately what I wasn’t told when I booked was that I needed a driving licence and credit card in the same person’s name. And as Dad doesn’t have a credit card, I had to use my licence, bumping up the rental price quite significantly. Not happy.

So I did a couple of circuits of the the car park, trying to get to grips with a left-hand-drive automatic. Then out into a city I don’t know with road rules I don’t understand!

We checked into a motel called Catana, and found an nice pizzeria in town for supper.


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Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 Horses USA

Horse Drive: Day 4

Last day of the horse drive, from Warm Springs to the final grazing, then we would head back to the ranch in the trailer.

M rode with us today and made Wayne’s week by spending most of the day teaching him how to ride Western. By the afternoon, he was stopping or turning back just so he could canter to catch up with us.

It was a really fun day today. We started off on open range, then went into a canyon for ages. It ws slow going when there was only one track, but everytime the canyon floor opened up, we were pushing the horses on.

So in 3 days of driving horses we covered about 50 miles. But by rode, we were only about 20 miles from the ranch. In five days of riding, we’ve gone about 75 miles. Fit horses!

Back at the ranch there was a big queue for the shower. Tim took ages too! LT and Lana’s daughter Whitney is studying massage therapy, and she came up to the ranch to give us a massage. After dinner Lana and Lacey sang us a song they’d written, with a verse for each of us, and Lacey put that onto the photo DVD she made.

Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 Horses USA

Horse Drive: Day 3

Not actually par of the horse drive though, because this was the day off when we just went on a trail ride. It was a much slower day, just taking it easy, but we did have a couple of good canters.

We headed up Grouse Creek and covered about 10 miles. There was a moose and calf, but they were quite far off. Probably a good thing since they can get quite aggressive when scared!

We rode into Grouse Creek canyon, had lunch and headed back the way we came. On the way back, I joined Sheree, Di and Tracy for a canter, to catch up with LT, Lana and a few others. We cantered for ages with no sign of them. When we stopped at a creek for the horses to drink, Di said that she couldn’t see any hoofprints on the track except ours. Turns out LT, Lana and the others cantered only a short way, then hid from us! And watched us go sailing by!

Still fun tho…

We were camping at Warm Springs again that night. Lots of singing around the campfire – not from me though!

Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 Horses USA

Horse Drive: Day 2

This morning LT cooked our pancakes and eggs over the campfire, while Lana did the hash browns in the chuck wagon. Apparently LT is annoyed at how little we’re doing because “this is not a dude ranch”. I don’t remember being told what was expected of us beforehand, but I think a few of us tried being a bit more helpful!

We helped take down the camp, then LT went to round up the saddle horses and we made a ‘human corale’ to pen them in. To start the day we had to walk alongside the creek to make sure none of the horses were hiding in the willows.

Then 9 of us had to get 25 horses to a bridge and hold them there while LT, Lana and the other 4 rounded up another 10 horses. There were a few attempts at a breakaway but we managed to keep them together. Until the other 10 arrived that is. Buzz ended up running back to camp, and it took Dad, Bob, Steve and Tim to get him back. Dad resorted to taking the halter off his own horse and leading Buzz back. Also managed to give himself a nasty rope burn on his arm too.

I did the same as yesterday: spent the morning at the back driving, and the afternoon at the front leading. Once Buzz was back, he didn’t want to leave us! He was in amongst the saddle horses the whole day.

We reached Warm Springs around 5:30pm and turned the horses loose. There is a pool near to the camp with warm water so we went for a dip, then settled down for the evening with a few beers. We had supper round the campfire again, and later LT sat with Bob and tried to understand what he was saying!

Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 Horses USA

Horse Drive: Day 1

Tuesday morning we set off, driving 26 horses from the ranch. Lana and M were driving the chuck wagon to the camp, with everyone’s luggage, the tents, food, etc. and going by road. We started our day going through a canyon. It was fine, except that I ended up so far back that I didn’t really feel like I was helping.

Didn’t take too long til we were out on the open range though: I felt much more involved then. We left one horse behind because he jst didn’t seem to want to keep up. Another horse, Buzz, made a run for it. LT ended up roping him, then swapping all his tack onto Buzz and driving the original horse with the others.

We rode til about 2pm, then stopped for lunch. My legs didn’t want to work when I got back on an hour later! I went to the front but it was kinda boring: you just ride and stay ahead of the loose horses. Much more fun to have to chase them back into the pack.

We reached camp at Webber Creek around 5.15pm. Lana and M had set up all the tents and put our (little) luggage outside. We turned all the horses loose, and they had quite a bit area to graze in for the night. We pottered about a bit: had a quick wash in the very cold creek and sat around chatting, before supper around the campfire. LT and Lana were driving back to the ranch for a bale of hay for the horses, and Lana had a call from Fedex that day saying the luggage was on its way.

So Tuesday night, 3 days after they were lost, we were reunited with our luggage. Huzzah! I changed into my PJs under my clothes and sat around the campfire til about 11pm.

Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 Horses USA

Getting Away From It All

Wonderful breakfast on Monday morning, followed by several people trying their hand at lassoing. LT and Lana’s son Dax won a team-roping championship with his friend (I think at state-level, but can’t be sure). He wasn’t there at this time, but we got a taste of just how good he is on Friday!

A little later we were all assigned horses, and given a quick lesson in how to ride Western. I got Indy, a black and white paint horse (piebald to those of us in the UK!). We all got on our horses and had a quick go in the arena, before we headed out on a trail ride.

We covered about 15 miles, up into the hills and through canyons. The scenery was stunning and there were no settlements as far as you could see.

After we got back to the ranch, I went down to the winter house with Lacey to find out where our luggage was. Very confusing because Fedex had picked it up in the last half hour, so United weren’t really taking responsibility for it anymore, but Fedex hadn’t put it into their system yet. We were going to go back later, but didn’t bother in the end: just trusted that it would arrive sometime.

I had my first experience of the outdoor shower: perfectly nice until a gust of wind gets you from underneath the walls! Amazingly my clothes still weren’t smelling that bad.

We had supper and spent the rest of the evening listening to Di telling jokes.

Horse Drive and Rockies 2008 Horses USA

Rockies Holiday

So this is the big holiday of the year … 3 weeks in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, or as far as me and Dad could get in the Rockies. One week on a ranch doing a horse drive, followed by two weeks hiring a car.

Didn’t get off to a great start. We had a 3-part flight over to the US, and when we reached Salt Lake City, our luggage didn’t. We had one night there, then back to the airport in the morning for two more flights over to Idaho Falls. We looked in the airport shops for socks, underwear, cheap clothes. In Boise we each got a t-shirt for $7, and a pair of socks (but the fluffy kind you wear to bed in winter, not practical ones).

While we were putting these items into our carry on luggage, Dad realised that the security who searched his luggage on the way out of Salt Lake had neglected to put his walking boots and phone charger back in. At this point my stress levels were not coping well. The poor security guy in Boise who we collared looked quite uncomfortable with the crying girl he was faced with!

While we were waiting in Boise, I called the United Airlines bag track to see if our suitcases had been found. Someone had the great idea to use voice-recognition. Unfortunately the machine couldn’t understand my accent. Several times he said “I’m sorry, I couldn’t tell if you said ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Please repeat your answer”. Until the point when I was yelling down the phone in the middle of the airport.

But anyway, our bags had been found. He told me what flight they were on and what time. But he neglected to say what time they would arrive in Salt Lake, or possibly when they might catch up with us.

We got to Idaho Falls and waited around in the airport for a couple of hours until LT picked us up to go to the ranch. He lent me his phone to call Salt Lake Lost & Found, so we knew the boots and charger were there and claimed.

The ranch is about 1 1/2 hours drive from Idaho Falls. Dubois is the nearest town and thats about 40 mins away. We just kept driving, further and further into the middle of nowhere. It’s a very rustic ranch. There are several bunk rooms and a cabin with a lounge area and the dining table. There’s no electric: all the lights are gas lamps. The shower is outdoors, and the water is propane-heated. The toilets are long-drops. There is no mobile phone reception, and the landline and internet are at the winter home, 20 mins back down the road.

We met the guests who had already arrived, and waited for the others who where coming from Jackson. We had dinner once everyone was there, and I went to bed quite early.