Russ agreed to spend our annual summer vacation on a week-long road trip. We planned to drive through small towns and open fields in search of fascinating geological sites (well, I was fascinated at least), wilderness, and solitude. I needed to cleanse my city palate and I would be lying if I said I wasn't hoping to find our new hometown along the way.
I'll admit that small town living is over romanticized in my mind. I daydream about raising kids somewhere rural. Somewhere that allows them to spend all day outdoors. Somewhere that lets them get dirty and explore and stay safe all at the same time. Basically, I want to raise my kids in a 1950's movie.
But, city life gets to me even without kids. I can hear the freeway no matter where I am in our house. There is a leaf blower outside my front door every single day. And I can't see the stars. I needed some open space, some room to breath, some small town vacation action.
And so, we drove. Over 3,000 miles actually.
We drove through towns too small to have a place to stop for lunch and through cities with painted bike lanes on their freeways. We drove through fields and farms and business loops and suburbs. We saw handmade "Impeach Obama" sigs and we saw trees full of bras. It was a weird trip.
But when we got to Idaho, I let my extremely high expectations take over. Everything was beautiful. Everything was amazing. Everything was exactly what I wanted in a hometown. And the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch was the cherry on top of my potato-state sundae.
Our first morning there, we awoke with the Sawtooth Mountains beckoning us to come play. And when a mountain beckons, you just have to oblige.
So, we hiked, we picnicked, and we hiked some more. We frolicked through the forest and alongside lakes and up and up and up. And even when I was gasping for air (I'll blame the altitude), I was in love with our life.
But we only had one full day in Idaho and there were still things to do. Once we reached the summit, we took a brief respite for our aching knees and then booked it back down. And I do mean booked it. At some points, I was literally running down a mountainside.
Our fast-footed efforts paid off and we made it back to the ranch just in time to put on our swim suits. There was a pool here. But not just any pool - a pool made of dark, natural stone and filled with fresh water pumped directly from the river. And then, it was heated.
Oh, sweet mercy, was it heated.
We dashed through the 30 degree air, covering the distance between the changing rooms and the pool as quickly as possible. And just as my circulation slowed to a stop, I was immersed in 100 degree mineral water from throat to toe.
It was silent, save for the fluid movements we made through the water. We were somehow alone in this magical place with the sun disappearing over the Sawtooth Mountains. It was almost more peace than I could bare
Suddenly, we saw dark shadows rushing through the field below. A heard full of four legs we couldn't quite make out. Cows? Bison maybe?
The horses that work trail rides and pull the wagon all day had been released into the fields for the night. They were finally off duty and pouring toward freedom. I watched through the grayscale sense of dusk as they galloped in waves toward their evening fields - no saddles or pony rides in sight.
And as I watched their joy, I realized it was exactly how I felt too. The thunderous sound of hooves vibrated through my ribcage - the pounding of my heart met their stride. As they crossed through the gate and entered open pasture, so had I.