It’s been almost 5 months since my family’s big move to the Gem State, and I’d say it’s just now starting to feel like home. It’s a developing relationship. We’ve had our honeymoon period, let-downs, and, dare I say it, moments of missing my ex (state). But as time marches on, I’ve come to appreciate Idaho for who she really is, and not just who I want her to be.
Admittedly, I wasn’t fully committed at the onset. I knew I didn’t want to move again anytime soon (because it’s totally exhausting and all-consuming!) but I did secretly wonder if Idaho was just a fling. Here are some of the stages I’ve experienced so far with my new hometown.
It wasn’t exactly love-at-first-sight (right after the “Welcome to Idaho” sign was a cow ranch that smelled something nasty), but our first road trip to Idaho certainly had us all charmed. The waterfalls and rivers sparkled, the weather boasted of autumn, and the family-owned mask-free shops delighted us. Even the ice cream tasted heavenly (the perk of having those cows nearby). We returned in winter only to be even more spellbound by the beautiful snow.
But the real kicker was the house. Having spent 13 years in an 1150 square-foot home on a busy street with a homeless camp around the corner, we never in our wildest dreams thought we’d upgrade so much on a dime. Our new house is brand new, 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 3200 square-foot in a picture-perfect, quiet, safe neighborhood. For several days after moving in, my husband and I would walk around in a trance taking turns muttering, “Um, this is our house. This is really our house.”
It’s easy to set up unrealistic expectations when making a big change. I remember telling myself over and over again that moving out of California is not going to fix all my problems. (Read an excellent post by Erika about that here.) I also tried to tell myself that Idaho isn’t going to be perfect – there’s no such place this side of heaven!
Is Idaho better than California when it comes to freedoms and safety? Absolutely! But in the first couple of months here, I couldn’t help but be disappointed when I did actually see a homeless camp near the capital and fresh graffiti on the farm gate right outside our subdivision. Neither incidents were extreme, but when hopes are high, small let-downs hit hard.
Driving in Nampa, Idaho can also be a real pain. At first, I thought it was tricky to get around because it was new. Once I know my way around it will be fine, I would tell myself. That might be the case in Meridian or Eagle, but out here in Nampa/Caldwell the roads really don’t make any sense. They dead-end and then start again, twist and turn, go sideways and diagonally. The one-way streets downtown are so atrocious, I even got into a small accident making a simple turn. And yet another disappointment in the so-called friendliness of Idahoans: the lady I collided with was extremely rude and wouldn’t talk to me except to snap, “The police are on their way!”
Thankfully, the kind officer told me, “Hey, it’s okay. I’m still getting used to these one-way streets.” And when I finally arrived at my destination an hour late, to buy a bike from a stranger on Craigslist, he offered it to me for free. Alright, so Idahoans can get their friendliness badge back, but I still don’t like the roads. To top it off, they are now closing multiple intersections around our house for endless road construction!
But possibly the biggest let-down has been the primary elections. You may recall in my post about the Oregon Trail, I mentioned the Idaho primary coming up. Voting day was marvelous, and such an opposite experience from the last time I had voted. I loved that they checked my ID, quizzed me on my address, and let me feed my ballot into the machine myself so I could see that it was counted. A secure voting booth is absolutely essential in our fight for freedom.
Sadly, the results came back and I was hit hard with the reality that many Idaho voters are clueless to what’s going on. I recall thinking so positively that we would get a new governor in office once we moved there, like magically our two little votes would tip the scale. Or perhaps I just thought that the citizens of Idaho weren’t going to fall for the media’s bias and knew it was time to get a true conservative running the show. Afterall, don’t they all seem to yell in their vlogs and bumper stickers, “Keep Idaho red!”?
Brad Little, the current governor and now selected Republican candidate is a saint compared to Gavin Newsom of California, to be sure. But he did impose a stay-at-home order and other unconstitutional mandates at the onset of COVID. We are in the midst of a culture war and need strong leadership to keep our freedoms and values intact. Wish I could say Idaho was ready for the fight, but after those primary results, I can see there is much work and prayer to be done still.
Renewed Commitment Stage
Now that the rose-colored glasses are off and I’ve endured some setbacks, I’m starting to fall in love with Idaho all over again. But this time, it’s not based on my imagination, but on real memories that we are making as we live our lives here. It helps tremendously that spring has sprung. Colorful flowers and green fields fill our vision and the cold, harsh wind is now a gentle breeze. We’ve had many of our new friends over for parties and play dates, and getting to know them has been a joy.
I absolutely love that we can have a spontaneous picnic dinner by the lake or take a river-walk and see baby ducklings. The summer days are super long here (sunrise at 6am and sunset around 9:30pm!) giving us plenty of time to relax. And now that we are settled, we finally did something that we’ve talked about doing for years but always put off… we got a puppy! Taking her for an evening stroll around the block is my new favorite time of the day.
When I stop to count my blessings (as Michelle did here in her Texas post) I realize that the good far outweighs the bad. I love that you can buy a “Pro-Life” custom license plate at the DMV, all proceeds going to non-profit pregnancy centers. I love all the American flags that wave throughout town, but especially the GIANT ones in RV sales parking lots. I loved when my girls got to march in the “Parade America“, which was a fun display of the patriotism that characterizes this town. I loved the homeschool conference I attended just down the road that was packed with like-minded parents looking to follow scripture for raising their children, and speakers that shared the gospel! I also love the lower prices for utilities, gas, and movie theater tickets!
I know our lives here in Idaho have only just begun. We will have many more memories to make (and I’m really looking forward to seeing how Idahoans celebrate the 4th of July!). Maybe it’s the landmark that we’re finally getting our kitchen table delivered tomorrow, our last big furniture piece that was on backorder when we bought it over four months ago, that I finally feel “at home.” Ha! But I also think it has to do with simply spending time here and enjoying as much as we can. Idaho, I’m done with my wandering. Let’s grow old together!