Showing up late and muttering something about “traffic being bad” anywhere else in the world doesn’t elicit the same knowing nod from people when you tell them you got stuck behind a swather for 5 miles before it turned off into a wheat field.
You’ve only ever heard good things about the Sun Valley Shakespeare Festival but could never find the time to make the drive. Now that you’re far from home all you can think about is what you might be missing this year. And who knows when you might have another chance to drink all day and watch hundreds of sheep being driven by Basque cowboys through Main St. in Ketchum?
The Perrine Bridge, which spans the Snake River canyon to link Twin Falls and Jerome counties, is a world-class destination for BASE jumpers. It’s the only man-made structure in the world off which BASE jumpers can jump any day of the year without a permit. Locals driving across the bridge don’t think twice when someone scales the railing onto the jumping platform in the middle, because when the conditions are right it’s typical to see dozens of jumps in a single day.
The main events are the carnival rides, PRCA rodeo, a country music concert, and a monster truck show… but the locals know to go see the hypnotist on the free stage and to stuff their faces with an elephant ear, elk burger, Wheeler Family corn dog, or a dozen fresh mini donuts. Going to the fair was always like a class reunion and family reunion rolled into one; you’re always sure to run into your 5th grade best friend’s mom as she’s on her way to see if her apple pie entry won any ribbons.
August always marked the beginning of the hard-core Bronco football fandom, with vehicles being adorned with blue and orange flags, and the Bronco logo plastered on everything from coffee mugs to hats. The Smurf Turf is a common sight on many a television screen during football season. Even if you’re not a football fan, you can’t help but feel a burst of pride when you think back to Ian Johnson and that two point conversion.
It doesn’t take any true Idahoan long to start missing this pink unofficial state condiment. Fry sauce (a mayo-ketchup mix) is so ubiquitous with Idahoan diners and fast food-joints (McDonald’s even had their own fry sauce line in the ‘90s), that it’s easy to forget that you now have to request both mayonnaise and ketchup with your fries so you can make your own.
The Sun Valley-based radio station airs a wide range of artists from The Shins and Florence and the Machine to Nirvana and The Cure. Minimal advertising and unobtrusive DJs make KSKI the perfect radio station when you’re driving those long backcountry roads and just can’t take another Taylor Swift song.
You might not have ever personally rock climbed at City of Rocks, whitewater rafted down the Middle Fork, or snowshoed in the Sawtooths, but at least you know that if you were still back home, all those places were right out your backdoor. And THAT makes you proud to be Idahoan!
It was never unheard of for your Idaho friends call you at 6 pm on a Tuesday night to invite you to a last-minute overnight camping trip. An hour later you’re in the pine- and aspen-forested South Hills setting up the tent while someone else is starting a campfire with some leftover gasoline they found in a container in the back of their dad’s pick-up truck. Camping in Idaho doesn’t have to be a big production with RVs and generators — it’s often best with just a campfire, some beer, and spontaneity.
No one knows for certain when those small, white Snoasis Shaved Ice shacks open for the season, so the sight of customers waiting outside for their orders causes many passersby to veer into the nearest parking lot driveway for an Ocean Sunrise or Strawberries and Cream. The previous cash-only prices had been so low that it was possible to scrounge up the loose change in your car for a cup of sugary shaved icy goodness served with a spoon straw (ah, those were the days!).
Even if you’ve never so much as touched a horse before, it doesn’t matter. Visions of your hair blowing in the wind as you expertly lope your steed through the countryside now fill your mind.
The burnt lemonade from The Burnt Lemon Grill is where it’s at. Add in the fact that you get one free refill and 2-5 pm is lemonade happy hour, and there’s really no reason to drink lemonade anywhere else.
Southern Idaho does Halloween right with attractions like The Haunted Swamp, complete with its very own headless horseman and the Haunted Mansions of Albion, an abandoned college that’s been resurrected as a haunted house with killer special effects. You, proud Idahoan, don’t even flinch when being chased through a corn maze by someone with a real chainsaw.
Idaho is geologically downwind from Yellowstone, one of the most famous volcanic hot spots in the country. As a result we get some of the best natural hot springs in the world. While it’s easier to relax in mineral rich swimming pools like the ones found at Miracle Hot Springs and Thousand Springs Resort, the real adventure lies in finding the natural ones that sometimes require a quarter-mile hike through the snow in nothing but a swimsuit and towel to make your own rock bathing pool that’s the perfect balance of boiling hot spring water and fresh mountain river water.
Where are the unmarked lava tubes for afternoon spelunking, day hikes to virtually unknown waterfalls and lakes, or ice cave tours? You’d even accept a side-of-the-road attraction like Malad Gorge at this point.
Then again, not every place was settled by cowboys, ranchers, and miners looking to make a better life for themselves only to be moving on to the next big rush or back to the big cities.
You may have been a little sore when Cloverleaf Creamery moved into the old pink Smith’s Dairy building in Buhl and did away with the potato ice cream, but Cloverleaf quickly won you back with their 24 flavors of ice cream made with milk from their own herd of cows. Taste the love.
On paper, KMVT might seem like the perfect way to keep in touch with your hometown, because the majority of air time is dedicated to community happenings and local sports stats with a handful of national headlines. Okay, let’s be honest, here. With its atrociously poor production value and even worse local commercials, KMVT is the one thing you’re actually glad you left behind.