Thursday, October 02, 2014

Lost River Valley Road Trip, Day One

September 27, 2014

Sun Valley
Jessie McCaleb Was Killed Here by Indians
Cedar Creek
Lost River Cowboy Church

Mackay Reservoir
Jessie McCaleb Was Killed Here by Indians

Awoke a few times during the night to light rain pelting the car. I knew the forecast was not great but remained naively optimistic. Put in ear plugs and dozed off. Morning came with heavy fog down to about 7,000 feet. Climbing the 12,000 plus foot Mount Idaho would have to wait another day.

During the evening, I had noticed several cars traveling west on a beeline road cutting through the valley below. Got out the map to see where all the traffic was heading. Learned that Trail Creek Road connected the Lost River Valley to Sun Valley. I had taken this road out of Sun Valley a few years ago, but had turned off through Copper Basin and over Antelope Pass. The stretch of the road to the Copper Basin junction would be new territory to explore. I was up for some window-shopping in Ketchum anyway.

Clouds hung low over the small foothills on each side of the road. Infrequent window wipers kept the light drizzle off the windshield. Soon the paved road turned to hard-packed, well-maintained dirt. The smooth drive through the mist and landscape was relaxing. About half way to the summit, I came upon a heavy-duty construction crew working on the road. A flagman waved me over and told me I would have to wait for the pilot car to take me through the construction. As he was standing by my open window, the sudden blast of the snare drum intro to Johnny Horton’s Bismarck blared from my speakers. The guy jumped a bit and gave me a “what in the heck was that look.” I told him it was Johnny Horton. He smiled and said, “North to Alaska.” We had an instant surreal connection in the middle of nowhere on a rainy day. We chatted a bit till the truck came to lead me through the torn up stretch of the road. Should have got a photo of him.

Coming over the pass, the rain intensified. The driving rain and narrow slick road made every vehicle more cautious and connected. Cars and trucks courteously pulled over if they had extra space on their side to let cars hugging the edge pass by. Waves were exchanged. One woman, perhaps overjoyed at the courtesy, smiled and waved ecstatically as she passed. I descended into Sun Valley.

Trail Creek Pass

In Ketchum, I walked the streets, checked out some sales, bought Jessica and Ben a shirt, and ate a taco at Mama Inez. Bought a $3.00 cap and a $3.00 book from a thrift store, and looked for daguerreotypes or tintypes at a couple of antique stores, struck out. I did find a small early 20th Century Mexican painting of Christ floating above a circle of sheep that I liked. The shop owner assured me it was a steal at $375. The previous purchase of the two 50% off shirts, the $6.00 purchase at the thrift store, and the $4.00 taco already put me over my spending comfort level for about three weeks. I passed on the painting. Finally, bought some gas and headed back over the pass.

Driving south on 93, I pulled over to check out Battle Ground Cemetery on a bluff over looking the north end of Mackay Reservoir. A sign read, Jessie McCaleb was killed here by Indians in 1878. McCaleb and several pioneers were buried here in a small fenced plot on the hilltop. From here, I photographed the landscape to the west from the place McCaleb was killed and buried.

Jessie McCaleb Was Killed Here by Indians, Mackay Reservoir North 

Mackay Reservoir North
Mackay Reservoir North
Back on the highway, heading south, I found another intriguing side road heading towards the Lost River Range. The road was so good that I just kept driving to see what I could find. Soon I came to a small creek lined with saturated green foliage...a verdant corridor through the desert. I think the stream was Cedar Creek or a branch of it. I stopped and made images till dusk. Three Dog Night’s Never Been to Spain played on iTunes.

Cedar Creek, Lost River Valley, Idaho

Cedar Creek, Lost River Valley, Idaho
Cedar Creek, Lost River Valley, Idaho
I planned on driving back into Mackay, getting cell service, and calling home to check in that night. I wondered how I would pass the time till bed. Mackay is never a bustling place, even at the peak of summer, now it’s almost a ghost town. Driving into town, I passed the Lost River Cowboy Church. The brightly lite interior made the Saturday service a fish bowl. I saw a preacher and 7 or 8 members in the congregation.

I had never been to a “Cowboy Church” and decided to check it out. I am always interested in how people see the world and how they think. I walked in and was greeted by the members. Several invited me to get some coffee and treats in the back of the room. Next, I choose one of the most comfortable looking chairs in all the assortment. Five minutes later, I remembered I still had my $3.00 cap on. This being church and all, albeit a cowboy church, I sheepishly took it off. The lanky guy behind the pulpit made of welded horseshoes looked the part. He wore a burgundy patterned western shirt and cowboy boots. At the foot of the podium stood a pair of boots, one on each side. Each boot was bursting with brightly colored silk flowers. Behind the man, a six or seven-foot-cross made of barn wood hung on the wall.

I gathered the guy was in charge of leading the praising and praying. His name was Adam. Members praised Jesus for the good things in their lives and asked for prayers to help them through the challenges of life. Later Adam, and his wife, Karen led the singing. Karen strummed chords on a guitar and the congregation sang good ole Baptist flavored hymns. Afterwards the preacher delivered a sermon on the mercy of Jesus, not judging, and keeping thoughts single and pure.

Lost River Cowboy Church, Mackay, Idaho

At one point, he said something about not judging those who live an alternative lifestyle. The Lord would be the judge. I think there might be a judgment alluded to between those two points of view. He added the story of David and Bathsheba. In this version, poor Bathsheba got half or more of the blame. He said she knew who her neighbor was and she invited trouble by being naked on her rooftop. Try telling that to a feminist. From my little knowledge of ancient Jewish life, I thought rooftops were common places to bathe and sleep as they provided a degree of privacy. According to this sermon, Bathsheba knew David would be troubled that night and walking the terraces above her roof. She planned the whole seduction thing by bathing naked during the king’s insomnia.

I also was interested to hear the extremely wet fall was a sign of the second coming.

The meeting ended with a closing prayer by Adam. It was a fairly vanilla Christian prayer. The only note of interest was the concern voiced for “the LDS” during the benediction. He asked the Lord to bless the LDS that they might depart from their misguided notions of Jesus, accept him as their Savior, and be saved. I’ve been around “the LDS” long enough to know that they profess a sincere belief in Jesus Christ and consider Him their Savior. But, hey, who am I to judge?

After the prayer it was time to socialize around the food table in the back. I talked a bit with Karen and learned that she and Adam have a B and B north of Mackay. Ben and I may end up there someday. I was encouraged to have a salad, so I did. Then I got to know a Border Collie who had come to church with its owner. The dog reminded me so much of Lacey with a sweet temperament and beautiful collie features. I thanked the group for letting me spend some time with them and left.

Found a place to pull off the road and sleep.

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