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From our chilly campground near the hot spring, Adam -already somewhat familiar with central Idaho- guided us to Redfish Lake where we intended to spend the early afternoon. Having had just a snack for breakfast, we were famished when we arrived in the late morning and decided to unpack our cooking things and prepare a hot Mexican-themed brunch.
First, it is important to describe the people who frequent a place like Redfish, because they will become part of the story of our afternoon. In a place like central Idaho, wholesomeness seems to exude from every visitor and resident. Even the scenery is clean and healthy looking. Not mundane, by any means (it is actually fantastically beautiful and the people are incredible friendly), but definitely not too crazy either. For what it is worth, racial and ethnic diversity does not abound, and what you end up with are a lot of very healthy, active, friendly, do-gooding white people. Being fair of both hair and skin ourselves, one would expect Adam and I to blend right in. At the very least superficially. However, by the time we arrived at Redfish we were showing rather clear signs of… well, something that was setting us apart from the masses.
I initially noticed this while we were unpacking our cookware and carrying our things to some nearby picnic tables. An older couple clad in sporty hiking outfits were unpacking their own vehicle, or at least pretending to, while they stared intently and unabashedly in our direction. I could tell they were trying to figure out what we were doing. I wondered if they were eyeing my unattended leg hair or maybe Adam’s facial hair, and realized suddenly that we were going about setting up a full working kitchen, on a restaurant’s private picnic tables, with the utmost confidence and efficiency. We had also unpacked our dew soaked tent and clothing and strung them about the area to dry and, though there is no way they could have known this, were feeding pieces of tomato to our plastic container of composting red worms that have been traveling with us since Wyoming (Thanks Andy!). In other words, it was probably air apparent that we are not only living out of our vehicle but are downright relishing in it. I hoped the staring woman (a more intent observer than her partner) was only fascinated and impressed with our intricate system of parking lot homemaking. I smiled my most wholesome smile in her direction, but received little more than a look of pure disapproval in return. Oh well.
As the day progressed, and we went about our “normal” afternoon routine, we became increasingly aware that our antics were providing ongoing entertainment for those around us. After setting up our slack line on the beach, I left Adam for a few hours and hiked alone into the foothills. He busied himself practicing on the line, swimming laps in the lake, and performing a series of movements and stretches (aka calisthenics) with such vigor (because even car-dwellers need their exercise) that a nearby family was inclined to inquire if he was training for the Cirque de Soleil. For better or for worse he told them the truth (“Nope, just a crazy guy”) and we were left without an exotic excuse for our strange, lakeside behavior for the rest of the afternoon.
The crowning moment of all this unexpected attention came when I returned from my hike (My goodness is Idaho a beautiful place to go hiking!), changed into my swimsuit and joined in the slack line, swimming, and stretching routine. A new family had replaced the Cirque de Soleil fans, and they too watched us intently from a nearby picnic table. You would think we were dressed in gold lamé circus costumes for the looks on their faces. From out in the water I noticed the man playing with his camera, alternating between pretending to take pictures of the ground, and then looking up and taking series of photos of us instead! Imagine what it must be like to be a real carnie, eh? For this first time on our trip we went from being the voyeurs to simply Another Roadside Attraction.
I suppose what I am trying to demonstrate with all this is that we really have settled in to this trip. Adam’s beard, untamed since Boston, has reached record-breaking lengths, and we have grown utterly comfortable with our temporary vagabond lifestyle. Our car is filthy, our clothing rumpled and mismatched and our demeanor, apparently, carnival-esk. We really couldn’t be happier with how things are going.
Unfortunately, just as we are establishing a routine (you should see how fast we can set up camp these days), our time on the road is coming to an end. From Redfish Lake, we drove farther north into Idaho to camp before we realized that, in order to meet up with my parents in Washington on schedule, we were going to have to reign in our plans and make some serious headway. Slashing hiking time, stretching time, and even mealtime, we further shorted our course and decided to cut through Northeastern Oregon instead of continuing along the winding Idaho roads that were carrying us north towards Spokane. Such is the nature of any trip. In case you weren’t convinced yet, this is really and truly a gigantic country.
Coming up next, A Lot of Driving!!!!