Welcome to my Idaho adventure blog!

Hi, my name is Chelle. I am a recent B.S.U. graduate and a lifelong Idaho resident. I have three loves in my life - my family, my writing, and my Idaho. The purpose of this blog is to share my extensive and intimate knowledge of Idaho with you, through my writing. As a woman with a family and a tight budget, I am often forced to make memories for pennies, and I want to take you along for the ride. The adventures I post will, almost always, focus on places or activities that are inexpensive and appropriate for children, without being a snore for adults. Some of the activities I write about are camping, fishing, rock hunting, history, environmental news, hot springs, hunting...Basically, anything Idaho.






There was an error in this gadget

Monday, September 27, 2010

Idaho Spawners - revised

 As the sun crested the mountains, the number of fish strikes intensified, along with my back labor.  My daughter made her presence known, pushing against my spine and pelvic bone.  The additional weight of my eight months pregnant belly made the legs of my camp chair sink into the muddy bank of Anderson Ranch Reservoir, near Fall Creek.  I shifted in the low-slung seat to see James, my husband, farther upstream at the sparkling clear mouth of the creek.  His large frame hunched low over the stream, while he slid a fire engine red Kokanee back into its birth waters. Once the Kokanee flipped its tail and returned to the school, James looked my direction.  I waved and smiled, despite the growing pressure I’d felt in my belly, all morning.  He waved back.

Our best friends, Dick and Matt, slogged through the thick mud headed in my direction with their fishing poles. 

“How you doing down here?” called Matt.

“Better than you,” I said, pointing to my stringer. I leaned forward, my basketball belly rubbing on the nylon seat, to check the stringer that lay in the coffee colored water of the little bay.  Three blue-green backs struggled against the stringer and flailed, flipping brown water into the fresh air.

“What are you using?” asked Matt.

“Just a worm and a mallow,” I replied.  “They’re holding in the deepwater, and they’re hungry.”

“ I couldn’t get a single bite up there,” hollered Dick.  “What’s the deal?”

“Spawning fish don’t eat,” I replied.  “You have to invade their space to make them bite, but these immature Kokanee are storing up for winter.  They’ll take anything.”  They nodded in response.

I reclined back in my seat, closed my eyes, and rested one hand against my pole that leaned against my chair and the other on my round belly, waiting for a strike.  The crisp fall air felt refreshing on my face, but I just couldn’t wake up.  The pressure in my back and belly had made sleeping the night before impossible.

Cheereek – cheereek, echoed through the narrow canyon. My eyes blinked open.  A large bird glided overhead in the cloudless autumn sky.  A flit of its wings sent it high above the one hundred foot Ponderosa pines. A tilt of its body sent it into a large lazy loop over the mixing water in the bay, casting a tiny shadow on its surface.  It dipped and climbed, then dipped again, playing tag with an invisible opponent. I envied its ease of motion.

The osprey flew so high it resembled a kite more than a bird, given away only by its loud and piercing voice yelling, Cheereek- cheereek.  Searching for prey, it rode the air currents, circling like a jet waiting for permission to land.  Suddenly, his wings folded in against his body, and he rocketed toward the water.  The osprey’s steep dive, announced its identity just as its cry had earlier, its white-feathered legs extended below him, talons flexed in anticipation. With barely a splash his white talons pierced the surface, and retrieved his prey, a tiny silver blueback.  Clutching his meal, he gave two enormous flaps with his four-foot wings, and made for a half dead ponderosa pine that leaned out over the reservoir.  As it approached a branch near the top, its wings moved into a vertical position, and fluttered against the sky slowing its forward movement, until it landed lightly on one foot.

Momentarily distracted by the osprey I’d forgotten about Matt and Dick.  I wondered why they hadn’t yet arrived and looked their direction; still several yards off, they scraped at the thick mud on their boots with sticks. 

Dick called out, “You ever going to haul your butt out of that chair?” 

 “There are advantages to being hugely pregnant,” I replied, rubbing my taut stomach, “My husband assures me that I’m allowed to be as lazy as I want.”  Looking past Dick, I hoped James had heard Dick’s comment and would come to my rescue, but his eyes and attention were glued on the rolling and boiling, crimson Kokanee. 

During my short discourse with Dick the little blueback disappeared, becoming bird food.  The bird sat atop the branch as still and lazy as me. I imagined his stomach as full and round as my own.  Locking my eyes on the majestic bird I waited for movement, and studied the raptor.  Osprey are just as majestic as eagles, and similar physically in many ways, though the osprey is distinguished from a juvenile eagle by the dark mask across his eyes, and his black beak.  I judged this bird a mature male. It was a little on the small side, weighing perhaps two pounds, and standing only about eighteen to twenty inches tall. A female would have been much larger. Its chest was white, there was no buff color present, which indicated maturity, and sex; females sport a dark band across their chest, and immature animals are streaked with buff feathers.   My daughter squirmed in my belly, and I squirmed in my seat.  The bird watched me wriggle in my chair, like a spawning Kokanee, with its great yellow eyes. 

My rod quivered in my hand.  Matt and Dick had moved down the bank, and positioned themselves about twenty feet upstream from me. I was concerned that our lines might tangle, as my fish flopped and ran trying to escape the hook.

 “Fish on,” I yelled into the chilled autumn air, as I jerked the tip of the pole skyward. 

My line vibrated and hummed as the fish on the other end of the line worked to free itself.  It pulled hard, racing into the swift current, and stressed my lightweight pole.  My lazy pregnancy had taken its toll on my body, and I knew that my arms wouldn’t withstand the struggle for long.  I slid the butt end of the rod into the groove between my large belly and bony hip. With the rod stabilized I began to horse the fish to shore.  When the fish struggled I stopped reeling and let him run, and when he stopped to catch his breath I reeled, and we battled.

Seconds, felt like minutes. I held my breath, as if the slightest breeze from my mouth would be too much for my pole or line to handle.  Once the head cleared the water, I released the air from my aching lungs and inhaled.  I kept reeling until I got him to the muddy shoreline. To avoid stepping in the thick black goo of the bank, I kept the line tight and began walking backwards, dragging the fish along behind me.  Dick slogged his way down the bank, my stringer in tow, ready to receive my latest catch.

I slowly knelt down on one knee in the mud, laid my pole down on the ground, and placed my hand over the silvery squirming salmon to remove the hook.  My lower back screamed in agony.  The fish thrashed under my administrations, its blue head arched and fell.  His metallic gills worked desperately gasping for breath.  I gasped from the force of my daughter in my back.  I swiftly removed the little red hook from its lower jaw, grabbed the fish in one hand and used the other to push myself back to my feet.  The pressure seemed to ease.  Dick handed me the stringer, and I slid another blueback down the red nylon line.  With the four fish on I figured I had about five pounds of good salmon meat for the freezer.  I handed the heavy line back to Dick.

“Think you can get them back in the water for me?” I asked.  Dick nodded, and made for the bank.  “If you guys are tired of getting your ass kicked by a very pregnant woman,” I called out as he walked away, “we could go for a drive up to Trinity Mountain, or over to Rocky Bar, just for fun.”

Matt flipped me the bird in reply. The growing pressure in my groin and low back told me that this was the last rest I would get in a long time.  I suspected I had another day of back labor ahead of me, due to the lack of definable contractions, and I wanted to spend every minute of it outdoors. With winter and a birth fast approaching I anticipated a long, painful absence from Mother Nature. I rubbed my fabulous day of fishing in their faces for a few more minutes and they gave in.  We all took a bumpy, uncomfortable, twelve-hour ride up Fall Creek Road to the peaks, and down another twisted, rutted road to the old mining community.  I thoroughly enjoyed my day; spending time with my friends, snuggling with my bear like husband in the backseat of Matt’s SUV, with my face pressed to the window soaking in the magical scenery of my home.


 Despite the ER nurse’s assurance that I wasn’t in labor, three days prior, my beautiful baby girl emerged from her birth waters, red and wiggling, ten hours after arriving home at midnight. Thrilled with her arrival, and equally thrilled with the return of my body, I slept and dreamt of soaring high over Idaho, with my daughter cradled in my arms.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Idaho Spawners

The additional weight of my eight months pregnant belly made the legs of my camp chair sink into the muddy bank of Anderson Ranch Reservoir, near Fall Creek.  I shifted uncomfortably in the low-slung seat to see James, my husband, farther upstream at the sparkling clear mouth of the creek.  His large frame hunched low over the stream, while he slid a fire engine red Kokanee back into its birth waters. Once the Kokanee flipped its tail and returned to the crowd, James looked my direction.  I waved and smiled despite the growing pressure I felt in my belly.  He waved back.

Spawning - Mature Kokanee



His best friends, Dick and Matt, slogged through the thick mud headed my direction, with their fishing poles.  They’d apparently given up on trying to catch the hook-jawed spawners holding at the mouth of the creek, and were going to join me in search of the deepwater immature bluebacks.  I leaned forward to look down the bank to check my stringer that lay in the coffee colored water of the little bay.  Three blue-green backs struggled against the stringer and flailed in the water.



I reclined back in my seat, closed my eyes, and rested one hand against my pole that leaned against my chair and the other on my basketball belly, while I waited for a strike.  The cool fall air felt refreshing on my face, but I just couldn’t wake up.  The pressure in my back and belly had made sleeping the night before impossible.  An osprey screamed overhead and roused me from my sleepy state.  I watched him wheel about in the cloudless sky as brothers, Matt and Dick, approached.

High in the sky, the osprey resembled one of those poorly painted yard ornaments in silhouette, more like a kite than an actual animal.  I couldn’t make out any details but I knew him to be an osprey by his loud and piercing voice, which echoed about the reservoir, repeating cheereek, cheereek.  He soared high over the water searching for prey, riding the air currents, circling like a jet waiting for permission to land.  Suddenly, his wings folded in against his body, and he rocketed toward the water.  As he got lower, I could see his white-feathered legs extended under him, and talons flexed. With barely a splash his white talons pierced the surface, and retrieved his prey, a tiny silver blueback.  Clutching his catch, he gave two enormous flaps with his four-foot wings, and made for a half dead ponderosa pine that leaned out over the reservoir.  He lighted on a dead branch near the top, silently.

Meanwhile, Dick and Matt’s approach had stopped.  The mud had accumulated so thick on their boots that they’d stopped to clean it off.  As Dick scraped at his shoes, with a stick, he called out to me.

“Are you ever going to haul your butt out of that chair?”  he asked.

 “There are advantages to being hugely pregnant,” I replied, rubbing my taut stomach, “I’m allowed to be as lazy as I want.”  I smiled and returned my focus to the osprey.

During my short discourse with Dick the little blueback disappeared becoming bird food.  The bird sat atop the branch as still and lazy as I was trying to be. I imagined his stomach as full and round as my own.  I locked my eyes on the majestic bird, and waited for movement. I took the opportunity to study the raptor.  Osprey are every bit as majestic as eagles, and are similar physically in many ways, though the osprey is easily distinguished from a juvenile eagle by the dark mask across his eyes, and his black beak.  I judged this bird to be a mature male, as it was a little on the small side, weighing perhaps two pounds, and standing only about eighteen to twenty inches tall. Also, its chest was completely white, there was no buff color present, which indicated maturity, and sex. Females often sport a dark band across their chest.   My daughter squirmed in my belly, and I squirmed in my seat.  The bird watched me wriggle in my chair, like a spawning Kokanee, with its great yellow eyes. 

Osprey at rest.




My rod quivered in my hand.  Matt and Dick had moved down the bank, and positioned themselves about twenty feet upstream from me, and I was concerned that our lines might tangle, as my fish ran around trying to escape the hook.

 I yelled into the chilly autumn air. “Fish on,” as I jerked the tip of the pole skyward. 

My line vibrated and hummed as the animal on the other end of the line worked to free itself.  It pulled hard and raced into the swift current, which added stress on lightweight pole.  My lazy pregnancy had taken its toll on my body, and I knew that my arms wouldn’t withstand the struggle for long.  I slid the butt end of the rod, into the groove between my large belly and bony hip; with it there I felt more secure and began to horse the fish to shore.  When the fish struggled I stopped reeling and let him run, and when he stopped to catch his breath I reeled for all I was worth.  We battled.

I’m sure it didn’t take more than a few seconds, but it felt like minutes because I held my breath, as if the slightest breeze from my mouth would be too much for my pole or line to handle.  Once I saw the head clear the water, I released the air from my aching lungs and inhaled.  I kept reeling until I got him to the muddy shoreline, but to avoid the thick black goo of the bank, I kept the line tight and began walking backwards, dragging the fish along behind me.  Dick slogged his way down the bank, my stringer in tow, ready to receive my latest catch.


I slowly knelt down on one knee, in the mud, laid my pole down on the ground, and placed my hand over the silvery squirming blueback, to remove the hook.  My lower back screamed in agony.  The fish thrashed under my administrations.  His gills worked furiously gasping for breath.  I gasped from the force in my back.  I swiftly removed the hook from its lower jaw, grasped the fish in one hand and used the other to push myself to my feet.  The pressure seemed to ease.  Dick handed me the stringer, and I slid another blueback down the red nylon line.  With the four fish on I figured I had about five pounds of good salmon meat for the freezer.  I handed the heavy line back to Dick.


Blueback - Immature Kokanee

“Think you can get them back in the water for me?” I asked.  Dick nodded, and made for the bank.  “If you guys are tired of getting your ass kicked by a very pregnant woman,” I called out as he walked away, “we could go for a drive up to Trinity Mountain, or over to Rocky Bar, just for fun.”

Matt flipped me the bird in reply.  It only took a few more minutes of rubbing my fabulous day of fishing in their faces, before they gave and in a took me on bumpy, uncomfortable, twelve hour ride up Fall Creek Road, to the peaks and down another twisted, rutted road to the old mining community.  The growing pressure in my groin and low back told me, that this was to be the last rest I would get in a long time, though I suspected that I had at least another day of back labor ahead of me, due to the lack of definable contractions.  I thoroughly enjoyed my last day of freedom, spending time with my friends; my face pressed to the window I soaked in the magical scenery that is my home.  Despite the ER nurse’s assurance three days prior that I wasn’t in labor, I brought my beautiful baby girl into the world just ten hours after arriving home that night at midnight.






 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge Accepting Public Comment Regarding 15 Year Conservation Plan - Last Day for Public Comment is Sept. 10th , 2010

In college I was introduced to Aldo Leopold and his work, Sand County Almanac. In those pages I found a kindred spirit, a man who valued his environment as much I valued mine. Since that time, I have attempted to live by and guide others to live by his famous quote; “When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to see it with love and respect.” I’ve found that living by this guideline is often difficult and can make me unpopular, but I continue to persevere because all to often the land has no voice.




The Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge and I have a history. In high school I did a term paper on my grandfather who worked on the dam, as part of the Works Project Administration. I learned that my grandfather, who suffered from polio as a child and walked with a terrible limp for the rest of his life, pulled weeds and laid rocks on the dam’s face, during the Great Depression.



When my children were tiny and suffered from colic, I used to bundle them in warm clothes, deposit them securely in the back seat, roll down the window a hair, and drive them around the backside of the lake. The winding road, fresh country air, and the sights and sounds of the wildlife soothed us all.



DFNWR is closest place in Canyon County to swim, fish and boat. It is also an awesome place to bird watch. I also love the educational and recreational opportunities it offers, but those recreational opportunities may be changing soon.



Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge (DFNWR) is one on the oldest refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System. President Theodore Roosevelt created DFNWR in 1909. The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge system is, “To administer a national network of land and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats with in the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.” President Roosevelt recognized that the lake would provide an oasis for migrating birds.



Today, the refuge is evaluating the “management” of the refuge and developing a “Comprehensive Conservation Plan” that “will guide Refuge management and public use for the next 15 years.” What is at stake for the public is the possible loss of motorized boating at the refuge, as well as other recreational opportunities.



The National Wildlife Refuge System places a high value on six recreational opportunities; wildlife watching and photography, hunting, fishing, and environmental education. Any use outside of those six are deemed non-priority, and could face elimination by refuge managers.



Knowing the intended purpose of the lake, the refuge system’s mission, and the historical use of the area make this a complicated issue. All the sides seem diametrical opposed, but I believe that all sides could compromise and come up with a winning plan, just as we did with The Owyhee County Initiative.



My solution to this problem is as follows;



1. Respect the intended purpose of the lake – to provide habitat for migrating birds. Lake Lowell consists of more than 28 miles of shoreline, and covers more than 9,000 acres when full. From my almost forty years of observations, the birds rest near the shoreline, so protect those critical areas and create more “no wake zones.” Or, perhaps close one end of the lake to boats entirely to service the needs of the wildlife.

2. Respect the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System – to conserve and manage the area. The area has suffered in the last few years from development and is in need of future protection. The refuge system was created to protect these areas and residents need to acknowledge that this is their sole goal. They are not villains.

3. The refuge system must respect the community to which they belong. Many people have generational ties to the lake, just like mine. While these generational ties do not give me (or anyone else) ownership, they should be respected. The community voice should not be ignored.



The example of Warm Lake in Cascade leaps to my mind. At Warm Lake, power-boating is restricted to the hours of 11:00 am until 6:00 pm. The rest of the day is a “no wake zone.” This protects the needs of the local wildlife, who come to the shore at dawn and dusk, while still allowing boaters access the rest of the time. It seems to have worked splendidly, moose and elk are regular visitors to the shore, and osprey are abundant over the water.



A similar agreement could be established for our lake. A good compromise requires that all sides give a little. No one should walk away completely satisfied. For the refuge, that would mean allowing boating to continue on a more restricted basis, which would recognize the important financial and social connections to the community. For the community, that would mean recognizing the lake as a wildlife refuge, and abiding by reasonable guidelines that protect it as such.



I respect both sides of the fence, and I expect that others do too. I don’t know of a single individual who uses the lake for recreation, who would wish it bare and devoid of animal life. The wildlife is part of its charm. Conversely, the lake is enormous and without boats, much of the wildlife living on or around the lake would be inaccessible to the average person, thus diminishing the capability of the refuge to complete its own goals of wildlife photography, watching, and environmental education. Lake Lowell and the refuge undoubtedly need protection and management but it also needs its community behind it to prosper. Lake Lowell is huge. There is room for compromise. 

Save Lake Lowell is a local group dedicated to preserving the recreational opportunities at the lake, as is.
http://www.savelakelowell.com/#comment-64
 
I encourage everyone who has an opinion to record it on the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge website, deerflat@fws.gov

Friday, September 3, 2010

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish...Gold Fish?

On a recent trip to Lucky Peak, I noticed that the Kokanee salmon were running. I expected this. The Kokanee begin running every year in this area sometime in August, but what I didn’t expect were the large schools of Golden Rainbow Trout. It was a pretty picture, the red fish and the gold, gliding through the deep dark waters of Luck Peak.


I’ve seen Golden Rainbows in the Hagerman fish farms but never in an Idaho waterway. I didn’t know anything about the animals, and I was immediately concerned about cross breeding. I was also curious about why Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game would plant them there, in the first place. Did they serve a biological function of some kind?

A quick Internet search told me all I needed to know about the fish. Golden Rainbow Trout are simply an odd color variant of a normal rainbow trout. The story goes that about sixty years ago an oddly colored rainbow was bred for its unique colors - they are as golden as a goldfish. Today, they are bred all over the country. Consequently, if they were to breed with the trout in Lucky Peak they would mostly likely produce a normal rainbow, so much for that concern.

As far as why IDFG decided to plant them, I was stumped. I placed a couple of calls and sent and few emails, and received an answer in a few days. According to Jeff Dillon, Regional Fishery Manager - IDFG Southwest Region, “The commercial hatcheries often have surplus fish, and we sometimes use them in our stocking programs where they are compatible with fish management and/or conservation objectives. In this case Lucky Peak is an area with very few native trout, and a trout and kokanee fishery supported almost entirely with hatchery fish. The "golden" trout provide a little diversity and excitement for anglers, but we would not use these fish in other waters where they might compete or potentially breed with native trout.”

Jeff Dillion is absolutely correct. While I expected to see the brilliant red of the Kokanees, I was completely shocked by the golds. I spent an entire afternoon trying to land one of those beautiful fish. It was exciting.

The “goldens” I saw were clustered around the base of the dam, but they had only been released a few days prior. I am sure they’ve overcome their shock and moved on, but I am just as sure that they are still in the reservoir and would make a great fish story.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Flash of Red - Kokanee Salmon

video




Salmon Story to Follow August 25th.

Downtown Nampa Nights

When we arrived at the corner of 1st St. So. and 12th Ave So.,I was stunned. The normally sleepy, four-way stop was cordoned of by a-frame partitions, and it was crawling with people. A man’s voice boomed through a microphone, then slowly bounced of the quaint and historic building fronts, before it wafted across the thick, hot air in our direction. I wiped the sweat from my forehead, and swung the Jeep into the US Bank parking lot.


I deposited the face of my stereo system, and my wallet in the locking console, while Severn helped his lovely, auburn-haired girlfriend out of the back seat. I felt incredibly strange and awkward meeting this girl again, knowing that my son thought they might have a future together. It is incredibly strange to think of my son having a future with anyone, but me. The sappy, doe-eyed way he looked at her made me happy, and I decided to follow the gracious example that mother-in-law set for me – all love, warmth, and friendship.


The three of us headed toward the crowd. I led, and they followed, holding hands. The sun was harsh and I scanned the area for some shade. I spotted an unoccupied bench across the street, and in front of the stage. It was also right next to the beer garden. I seriously considered buying one, but decided that I should set a firm example of no drinking and driving. Thankfully, a small tree provided some speckled cover and eased my thirst a little.

We slid into the bench just as the DJ introduced the evening’s act, Ms. Rebecca Scott. The music was good. I tapped my toes, and tried not feel like a third wheel on a date with the kids, while I crowd watched.

I don’t really know what I expected, but I saw a small slice of Nampa. There were late-teen boys, with their baggy skater pants and Vans, gathered in small bunches of three or four. There was a 30s something family, wearing khakis and baseball caps, pulling two toddlers along in a little red wagon. One very enthusiastic mother danced with her toddler on the lawn, below the wild mustang sculpture. The tiny girl bounced about, grinning from ear to ear, on her mother’s hip. Several distinguished older men, in slacks and polo shirts moseyed about, often with a drink in hand. I had not brought Jesse, my three year old, along because of the drinking, but this bunch posed no threat to anyone. I decided to bring her next time.

After a half an hour, Severn leaned over and hollered in my ear.
“ Hey Mom, this is great, but its damn hot,” he said, as he wiped the sweat from his neck. “Let’s go back to your place and BBQ. I’m buying.”

Though I was having fun, an evening of BBQ and a cold beer, with my growing up son and his significant other, sounded much more intimate. I left, reluctantly.



Downtown Nampa Nights Info.

There are two Downtown Nampa Nights events lefts. They are held every Thursday through the summer, and begin about 5:30 pm. The event is totally free. It’s wonderful adult fun, and family friendly.


o Thu., Aug. 26, 5:30 p.m. · The Legacy Band


o Thu., Sept. 2, 5:30 p.m.· The Flavors

Scuba Diving in Lucky Peak

On a recent family outing I witnessed a very strange sight – scuba divers in Lucky Peak. I stood back a respectful distance, and watched what appeared to be a scuba lesson is session. My interested was peaked. The high desert climate of the Treasure Valley is not exactly what comes to mind, when you think of scuba diving.


Turns out, Idaho is uniquely suited to scuba diving with its multitudes of different kinds of water. According to Mike Branchflower, co-owner of one of Boise’s two scuba diving shops, Dive Magic, there are a variety of diving experiences in or near the Treasure Valley. For a dive with great visibility Branchflower recommends Payette, Redfish and Stanley Lakes. For its close proximity – Lucky Peak, and for a “wild ride” you can’t beat the Boise River. Branchflower describes the Boise as “full of loot,” and "always changing". When I asked Branchflower about which Idaho waters he’s dived he said, “ If its got water we’ve tried to dive it.”

The diving lesson I witnessed on Sunday was part of the regular classes offered by Dive Magic. It was an open water class, where divers are brought to practice their skills in large, open bodies of water. Dive Magic teaches scuba diving using the PADI method. They offer a variety of class levels, beginning with the Seal Team for children, and progressing all the way up to Instructor. Becoming a certified diver at Dive Magic is reasonable. Lessons cost only $375.00 and include everything except mask, fins and snorkel, and can be completed in two short weekends.

Dive Magic is also committed to its diving community after the sale. All summer long, on every Wednesday night, the company supplies certified area divers with one free tank of air to use to explore Lucky Peak.

The company is also concerned about the environment and host’s annual “Clean up the Lake” outings. Dive Magic organizes teams of divers to clean up underwater, as well as diver support teams who work on dry land, to remove litter from area lakes. As incentive Dive Magic offers free food, air, and prizes for all who enter. Past year’s prizes included regulators, wetsuits and other diving gear. Regarding the company’s commitment to the environment Branchflower said: “We try to leave it better than we found it…it’s an easy thing to do.”

After watching the diving lesson at Lucky Peak and talking with Branchflower, I’ve come to realize that scuba diving lessons impart much more than just knowledge of the sport. If you discover diving at Dive Magic, you become a member of a close community, who enjoy spending time exploring a side of Idaho many of us never get to see, that which lies beneath the watery surface.


While scuba lessons do not fall into my normally low cost requirements, the idea is so intriguing to me that I’ve been considering options as to financing the venture. Regardless of whether or not I get to take diving lessons, I enjoyed watching them and I plan to join Dive Magic for a lake clean up. It’s an easy thing to do.


Out of sheer curiosity and fascination, I asked Dive Magic for some photos. They were kind enough to forward these.





video


Monday, August 23, 2010

Eagle Island Expansion Project Stalled

Eagle Island State Park established in 1983, and located eight miles northwest of Boise off of State Street, has temporarily suspended its expansion plans. Approved in 2006, by Governor Dirk Kempthorne and Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, the Eagle Island Master Plan called for an additional 130 acres of lakes and ponds, a campground, and an education center. The plan was to be implemented in four stages, beginning with the revenue generated by the millions of tons of gravel that must be excavated for the new ponds and waterways. According to Dave Ricks, Deputy Director of Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, bidding closed last week on the gravel, and unofficially they all fell short of the mark. Rick said of the bids, “They are not real promising... It’s a poor market.” Without the funds generated by the sale of the gravel the expansion plan has been temporarily stalled in Phase One.



Eagle Island - island

 Eagle Island Master Plan Document _ Includes a map and Eagle Island history

Eagle Island - A Valley Oasis

Temperatures in the valley were in the nineties and I was tired of sitting in the house sweating, when my girlfriend called and invited us to come along with her family, to Eagle Island. The idea of cooling down in the water, and enjoying the large, cool, shaded lawns sounded lovely. I agreed on the spot.


It took no time at all to throw the water toys, a few towels, a couple of coolers, and the kids in my van. It was a hot and noisy thirty-minute ride. The kids talked, loudly, about what they wanted to do. Cyrus, the oldest, bugged his mother about buying tickets for the water slide. Jesse, the youngest, announced her intentions to build a sand castle. Xylina and Trinity just wanted to swim. My husband, James, harassed me about getting in the water. The open windows of the van buffeted the hot air, sending vibrations and long hair flying. I responded to it all by turning up the radio.


I felt the air cool as we pulled up to the pay station, like someone had laid a cool washrag on my forehead. I sighed with relief. Gayle directed us to spot at the far end of the parking lot.

“But aren’t we too far from the beach for Jesse? I asked.

“Well, there isn’t a beach, but we won’t have to fight the crowds. And, there is a patch of sand, a place to swim, and we’ll have the huge shade trees to keep us cool,” she said.

“Sounds good,” I said. “Let's go.”

We divvied up the gear between the children and adults. It seemed an enormous amount of things for one afternoon; two large coolers, a bag of fun noodles and water wings for Gayle’s kids, three folding chairs, and a backpack full of sand toys, towels, and a life jacket for Jesse. Gayle lead the way and in couple of minutes we were settled on a picnic table, in the far corner of the park under an English walnut tree. A squirrel scolded us, from the cool of the upper branches, for invading his peace.

In a shot Gayle’s kids were running for the water. I had to snatch Jesse up and stuff her into her life jacket; she hated the thing. She struggled and squirmed, and cried for her friends, and the second I released her, my normally scared of the water toddler, plowed in.

I watched from the bank, as the three older kids worked their magic on my little one. Being taller,  they ventured further out into the water then she could easily follow, but she couldn’t stand being left behind, and tried to go anyway. In a matter of minutes, my daughter, who had been “testing” her life jacket all summer, began to rely on it entirely to keep her a float. In a few more minutes, she had learned to propel herself dogie-style through the water.

“Look Mom!” she said. “I can swim!” She paddled about, her long platinum braids dragging in the water, her bronze little face and blue eyes beamed up at me, blissfully unaware of how nervous she made me. Although I could swim, I had always been terrified of swimming in large waters, like lakes.

“That’s great baby,” I said, through gritted teeth. “Don’t go out to far.”

“She can’t drown,” said my husband, James. “She knows she’s safe, relax and get in with us.”

“Maybe later,” I said, with my eyes glued to my daughter.

James jumped in with the kids and I found myself sitting alone on the bank. With the kids safe with Gayle and James, I could focus on reacquainting myself with the park I hadn’t visited in ten years. Enormous Black Cottonwoods lined the property, the ponds were cool and inviting, and the giant water slide was still the center of it all. Hundreds of local families milled about enjoying the water, or looking for a cool spot to throw down a towel. I watched a few folks here and there disappear into the waist high grasses, on the edge of the property headed toward the trails. Not much had changed except for the grand new entrance off of State street, and that didn’t seem complete, as there was no way to access it yet.

“Mom!” yelled Jesse, pulling me out of my thoughts. “Look fish. Help me catch one.”

I stood up and grabbed her sand pail. I showed her how to submerge the bucket, and then use her hand to shoo to minnows into the bucket. In a couple of seconds she’d caught herself a mini smallmouth bass. She called it her “fishywishy.”

Gayle hauled herself out of the water and made us lunch, turkey sandwiches, chips, and cantaloupe. We all sat at the picnic table under the gracious branches of an old Black Cottonwood. The kids wolfed their food and then, the herd was back in the water splashing, swimming, and yelling.

Then my troubles began. James stood in the water up to his chest. Cyrus the oldest climbed onto his back, monkey style, until his feet were squarely planted onto my husband’s large, extremely white, and hairy shoulders. James slowly sunk into the water until Cyrus and he were both submerged, then he exploded from the water. The child on his shoulders was catapulted through the air like a cannon ball. Even the baby tried it once, but when she came up sputtering with water in her eyes, she called for her mommy.

“Mommy, I want you,” she sobbed.

“Your baby wants you,” said James, grinning from ear to ear. “You can’t disappoint your daughter, and the only way to show her there is nothing to be afraid of is to get in.”

The other children joined in, goading me into the water. The stricken look on my daughters face eventually drew me in. I swam across the thirty-foot channel, head above the water, while I shivered in fear. I popped up on the other side with a big smile on my face.

“See,” I said, wiping the water from my face. “Its OK, Mommy’s here.” My beautiful toddler leaped into my arms; I was a hero to my three year old.

I played with her on the shore for a few minutes before it was time to leave. As I loaded the kids up with all the gear, I tried to remember why I had stopped taking the children there in the first place. Nothing came to mind. I considered my day, for $2.50 (half the entrance fee) I had avoided the heat of the day, my daughter had learned to swim with the help of a life jacket, and I came out a hero because I managed to stifle my irrational phobia and swim to my daughter. As we drove down the Poplar lined exit, I was already planning another visit for the following weekend.
Jesse at Eagle Island - 2010
M. Gluch
An Eagle Island View - 2010
M. Gluch