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The Wandering Widow

Observations, Tips and Reckless Truth Telling on the Road Through Grief

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A Wandering Widow Post

As I get ready to head out in search of global adventure, I needed to get a few last-minute checks off my Idaho bucket list. If you’ve never been to my adopted home state, you’re missing out.  I’ve been blessed to see a lot of it and this weekend, thanks to some amazing friends, I focused on the Valley of Magic. (Okay, so it’s called the Magic Valley, but I like my version better).

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I started at the Minidoka Internment Camp Monument. This has been on my list for a long time. This memorial to a blight on American history has huge significance for the Japanese American community. When I first moved to Idaho, I was surprised to learn that the Japanese Americans I met either didn’t celebrate their heritage (like we did in Hawaii) or didn’t know about it. The more I learned about Minidoka, the more that made sense to me. Why would you celebrate the very thing that caused you to lose everything and get rounded up and imprisoned like cattle? For those of you that don’t make time to read but want to learn more, I recommend the Dennis Quaid movie, Come See The ParadiseNot only an amazing love story, but a pretty good depiction of the time.

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I also found it shocking that most Idahoans don’t know about the role their state played in one of the most regrettable acts in American history.  Groups like Friends of Minidoka are helping to change that (if you want to support their efforts you can donate at minidoka.org). Heavy stuff, and a story that more people need to hear.  My friend and fellow adventurer, an Idaho native, was there for the first time too and she was sad to learn about all of it.  But it felt surprisingly peaceful to me as if the simple act of being there and bearing witness was enough to calm the energy of the place.  The Japanese have a word called gaman, which is loosely translated as enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.  In hindsight, I guess that attitude also helped get me through my dark days of grief, although the patience and dignity parts are questionable, so we’ll just go with enduring.

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After the dusty camp, it felt great to spend two days on the water.

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The first day we rented kayaks and had a leisurely float down the Snake River under the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls.  Normally you’d see base jumpers off the bridge, but it was quiet there that day.  The water was relatively smooth, and the wind wasn’t horrible. Overall a perfect set up for a beginner.

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Gotta love kids. They are fearless. When I was growing up we’d jump off of Hercules Rock, very similar to this, on the Makaha Coast.
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The second day a group of us kayaked down the Snake River in Hagerman to get to Blue Heart Springs. This little crystal blue oasis off the river is fed by underground springs. On a clear day, you can see straight down to the white sand bottom and see the bubbles percolating up to the surface.  It was windy the day we went (not ideal conditions for a beginner), but the crystal blue water was still amazing.  I never cease to be amazed at the beauty we can find if we make time to look for it.  Blue Heart Springs is a Caribbean blue jewel in the middle of the high desert.

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Our group consisted of a few pros, newbies, kids and a chihuahua.
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First looks at Blue Heart Springs are breathtaking.
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So for those of you that have been wanting to find an adventure of your own, it may be closer than you think. What’s waiting for you to find in your backyard? Live Now. ❤️

XOXO,

The Wandering Widow

THE DETAILS

Minidoka Internment Camp:

Bring your walking shoes and park near the entrance under the guard tower. Follow the paths and read the placards. Many have audio options of interview excerpts from people who lived in the camps.  It’s free to enter and self-guided, but you’ll want to monitor the website to see if there are any activities going on while you’re there.

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My favorite quote:

I will always remember my father’s statement on the eve of our departure to Camp Harmony. “I don’t know what will happen to us. I don’t know where they’re going to take us. I don’t know whether we will ever be able to come back here. But always remember, this is your country, and you must act accordingly.”

Bob Saito

Kayaking under the Perrine Bridge:

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Ask this guy about his adventures and how many countries he has adventured in.

Put in at Centennial Waterfront Park. We rented kayaks and all our gear from AWOL. They made it super easy. Make your reservation online, check in and sign your waiver, and then walk to the dock where some very nice young people will help you get all set up. You don’t even have to drag your gear, just hop in your kayak (or raft or paddle board or whatever) and have fun.  We took a leisurely two-hour trip which got us past the bridge and allowed a leisurely return.

And if you need a quick snack while in Twin Falls, head downtown to Twin Bean, home of the best crepes I’ve ever had. The fact that they were named after Harry Potter has nothing to do with that, although my Gryffindor crepe was magical.

Kayaking to Blue Heart Springs:

I borrowed gear for this one, but you can rent in Hagerman and have them delivered to the “dock” at Banbury Springs. If you don’t plan on making a return trip, you’ll want to leave a second vehicle behind at Thousand Springs RV park so you can get back.

This was a four-hour trip for us. We fought wind and current in both directions (which is why I can’t lift my coffee cup today) so it took some of us a lot longer to get through.  When you get to Blue Heart Springs, you’ll find a spot on the rocks to have lunch (don’t forget to pack yours) and enjoy the sunshine. FYI the water is COLD. Shock your system cold.  While some of us did jump in, we didn’t linger.

Check another one off the bucket list.
Worth the freezing cold water to check another one off the bucket list. My friends were wise enough to wait to tell me about the snake that swam by until I was out of the water. Photo credit to Scott Ryan.

The Only Place Left to Go is Up!

A Wandering Widow Post

 

Sometimes when you can’t see the answer, you need to change your perspective. That thought thundered through my brain this morning as I woke up at the butt crack of dawn to meet a friend to go on a hot air balloon ride.  (For some reason I’m determined to get over my fear of heights and can’t seem to keep my feet on the ground).

 

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Morning fog and the sun just starting to peek over the mountains. Sometimes it’s worth it to get up early and go outside.

 

I’d originally purchased this trip for Mom since a balloon ride was something she’d talked about wanting to do pretty much my whole life. As Dan and I rushed to check as many things off our bucket list while we could, it became important to me to help her Live Now with one of hers. As it turned out, she wasn’t able to make it, but I’m grateful that I got to.  I’d have never known what I was missing.

 

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This couple got married just before lift off. OMG the feels!

 

As I get ready to set sail on world adventures, having some in my own backyard seems like a good idea. And Boise pulled out all the stops this morning. After nine months of trying to get off the ground, this morning dawned still and beautiful for our early morning trip.  Our balloon was named the Phoenix, which couldn’t have been more perfect since the rising Phoenix has become the symbol of my survival and transformation. And it’s the heat of the fire that lifts the balloon to new heights, new views, and a new perspective.

 

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Phoenix Rising.

 

If you ever get the chance, do it.  Sometimes the only place left to go is up.

XOXO,

The Wandering Widow

The Info:

We booked with Boise Hot Air Balloon Company. They’ve been easy to work with despite the multiple rescheduling. Safety is a priority, so don’t give them a hard time if you get grounded at the last minute. I thought my nine months of rescheduling was long, but there was another passenger who’d waited two years. Boise weather this last year hasn’t been kind to balloon pilots.

We met early at the Albertson’s parking lot in Eagle and were shuttled to Eagle Island Park for launch.  TIP: if you are in a hurry to get back, you’ll want to schedule your own driver. We ended up having to wait for everything to be packed up before we got shuttled back, turning a 45 minute flight into a three hour excursion.

The weather in the air is about 10 degrees warmer than on the ground. Add to that the temperature inside the balloon itself can get close to 200 degrees, and you may not need a jacket. Long pants and closed toe shoes are required, and you will want to remember your sunglasses, since you’ll be staring into the sun for the better part of the ride. But what an amazing sunrise!

 

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You know which of your friends are fellow adventurers when they show up at 6 am after you give them less than 12 hours notice to get childcare arranged.
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Idaho has some of the most incredible sunrises I’ve ever seen. And I grew up in Hawaii so that is saying something
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One of the things I will miss about Idaho is being part of this close-knit ag community.
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Good morning, Beautiful.
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Evolution of wagon decomposition. You’d never see this from the road.
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Proof Scotland doesn’t have the monopoly on beautiful lake islands.

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In a few weeks you’ll able to smell the onion fields everywhere.
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Amber waves of grain.

 

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