Here We Have Idaho

I’m a native Idahoan and proud of it. I’ve lived in seven other states (California, Florida, North Carolina, Connecticut, Nevada, Texas, and Virginia) but my heart’s bungee cord always snaps me back to this one. In our current state of house arrest, I learned quickly how much I missed exploring my state. So the second Governor Little announced we were headed into the next stage of statewide re-entry, I did what any good Idahoan would do: I took my get-out-of-jail-free card and trekked to Garden Valley to get a true mountain fix. I hoped to see trees, the river, and maybe even a little wildlife. (The closest I came was elk scat. Better than nothing, I guess.)

Garden Valley is a small, charming mountain town an hour north of Boise. I love it for so many reasons, but especially because it is home to my long-time favorite watering hole, the Joint. Located in downtown Crouch, the Joint, was abuzz with people eating, mostly with six feet aisles. I was the sole masked person, and people looked at me as if I were Typhoid Mary, but no one tried to push me out of the way.

The moment I entered, I was taken back to one of my favorite times in Crouch, a Fourth of July celebration in 1968. I arrived at the Joint way past dark, hoping to drink a cold one and was surprised at the size of the crowd. The flatlanders from Boise had arrived in full force making me wonder if anyone had remained over the hill.

About thirty or forty wannabe cowboys on horses sashayed through the streets. Three of the windows to the Joint were wide open and the cowboys (maybe the horses, too,) were ordering sarsaparilla or some other adult beverage through them.

I went inside to greet Dick the owner, a long-time friend. The ambiance was strictly Idaho, with competing bands playing both C & W and R & R at the same time. Wall to wall people, most holding cigarettes or cigars, (no social distancing in 1968), were dressed in Idaho garb, large cowboy hats and new boots, all dancing like there was no tomorrow. I hadn’t been there long before two horses with riders entered the bar. Dick tried to scoot them out, but they told him that the outside windows had a line and they couldn’t wait. They left as soon as the barmaid handed each of the riders a beer.

I never saw any law enforcement, and no one tried crowd control. Indeed, it was a drunken brawl, but as my friend Dick said, “It’s Idaho on the Fourth of July.” Ah. So many things to love about Idaho.