A Painter’s Paradise

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Idaho. I’ve been here about a month and a half, and I can already declare this summer as notable in my life.  If the scenery were the only draw, I’d consider this a wonderland.  Giant hills, storybook blue skies,  mineral-specaled whitewater, cottonwood seed rain, and big pines. Everything smells like lavender, sage, lilac, and pine needles. And sunshine.  I live right on a river, and the sound of the flow is one step up from going to sleep to the sound of steady rainfall.  Every time I walk out my door, I discover something else magical.

When I accepted an internship at small lodge located on the map right at the emergence of the Idaho panhandle, I had no expectations.  As a Midwestern girl, I indulged in traveling around the east, but had never been passed the Mississippi. I drove 2200 miles and 36 hours to anchor at a town of 410 locals that booms to thousands during the summer.  The tourism focus of the area is, without a doubt, rafting.  Many of the natives eat and breathe the rafting life.  And I found out why.  It’s crazy fun ya’ll.  I was given the opportunity to join guide training trips for the rafting company directly affiliated with the lodge.  By no means do I relate this experience of rafting to the potential fun it could be.  It was frigid, rainy and bleak.  Theoretically, it sucked hard.  Lucky for me, I was on the Fun Boat.  What is the Fun Boat you ask?  Why, the Fun Boat is where friendships bloom and laughs are shared.  A place of sing-songs, and movie quotes.  Stories and are exchanged and dreams are pondered over.

Pandora is so needy.  It needs your full attention to play.

Anyway, let’s talk about my first few rafting trips.  Notable, indeed.  The very first time I found myself in an inflatable tubular flotation device with a presumably fiberglass paddle in hand, I also found myself treading water in white water rapids a short time later.  Well, let’s back up a bit.  I arrived in Idaho about a month before my internship officially started to work and explore all of the beautiful.  The first couple of weeks I was there, some of the local raft guides invited me on a rafting trip.  And so this story begins.

I gained an entirely new understand for the phase “in the blink of an eye” that day.  I literally didn’t know what hit me.  Well what hit me was a wave. To the face.  And in I went.  I vividly remember the only words that fluttered through my mind were “Oh, shit.”  Being my first time rafting, and really just there for the fun of it, I hadn’t yet been given the run-down of what to actually do in such a case that I was up to my chin in alarm.  But, bitterly cold waves engulfing my body motivated my instincts to kick in.   Paddle still in hand, I jetted for the boat as fast as my numb extremities would allow.  That was the moment I learned of a “Flop and Giggle”.  1, 2, 3, dunk down, pull up by the life jacket straps, and in the boat ya go!  A humbling experience, indeed.  Such an event set the mood for a few week later, when yet again, I found myself in the water after being smacked in the face by a wave.  Even though I was trapped under the boat for a few seconds, I was quite confident in the crew I was with.  And not to my surprise, Dylan gave me concise and direct instructions on getting my fanny back in that boat.  Oh shoot, did I forget to introduce the crew?

Well, Dylan is my new friend born and raised in Vegas.  A paddle rafting guide for the previous three years, he enjoys turtles, and only drinks milk juice and water.  Next me have Miles, who is back for a second year at Epley’s to guide rafts.  Living in town for the summer, very rarely have I met anyone that rivals this one’s ability to mimic and quote movies, standup acts, and songs.  Moving forward in the fun boat lineup, we have Erik.  Wonderful taste in music, this one.  I’m honored to have been able to celebrate the 19th year of his existence his passed week.  So much so, I decided to make this fiasco.  Meh.

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And then my dear housemate, Cam.  A rookie to the west just like myself, it’s nice to have someone to indulge in all of this gloriousness with me.  He’s been around the map a bit, and I’m honestly rather jealous of how travelled he is.  Australia, Fiji, bunch o’ states, what, what?  He’s got that wanderlust and I can relate.  If you don’t speak Bridesmaids, it’s probably confusing to listen to our conversationing.  Welp, that’s the Fun Boat crew, but the fun doesn’t stop there.  Hunter, Sara, and Ivan continue on the legacy of awesome.  All three educate their brains in Moscow, all Recreation focused. Sara has  a refreshing view on life, and the more I get to know this lovely lady, the more I feel we were destined to be friends.  Such a wonderfully positive and open individual!  Who happens to enjoy hugs and scavenging I think as much as I do.  She’s also back this summer to raft it up.  Hunter is one that’s always down for adventure and a laugh. And I have another roomie with Ivan.  It’s nice to meet someone that enjoys analyzing one’s own mind and our existence with me.

All of these cool cats are going to make my summer an entirely new level of awesome, I know it.

 

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What a wonder group of people I have met.  Although I sometimes find myself missing summertime in Indiana, these guys sure do ease the pain.

Have you ever been dumpster diving?  W’ll you should, because you’ll discover the world of fo’ free.  More on that next time.  I have so many stories to tell you, so stay tuned for new terminology, fishing, irrigation, star gazing, and community. Oh, and how the heck I got here.  For now,  th-tha-that’s all, folks! -LB

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