Driving to Alaska Day 1: Idaho and its unmistakable nostalgia

Welcome to post 1 of 18 in our Driving to Alaska series!
We hope you enjoy the stories from this unforgettable 4,000 mile road trip.

I never would have guessed we’d cover the 800 miles from Colorado to Idaho in one day. But the opportunity to spend an entire day camping with Josh, Darci & Hannah was too good to pass up. The 12 hour drive was entirely worth it. 

If you don’t know Josh, Darci, and Hannah from our Baja Stories, they are fellow nomads turned dear friends. Earlier this year we traveled together for many weeks around Baja, spent one of our most memorable Christmases together, and bonded over our shared love of life on the road. Pulling up beside them at a campsite in Idaho last night felt like coming home.  The fact that the five of us were crossing paths on our journey north was the cherry on top of our Alaska road trip. 

We had plans to rendezvous with our Alaskan companions in Boise the next day meaning we had the entire day to bask in the peace and serenity of a beautiful campsite alongside the north fork of the Boise River.  Canyon walls rose on both sides of the river valley. They were bright green and speckled with yellow flowers. Cottonwood trees lined the river and the water itself flowed at a fast clip. There was no doubting that it was spring in Idaho. 

The smell of spring in Idaho is a distinct one for us and evokes an onslaught of memories. It was spring, 7 years ago, when Mark and I drove out to Boise for Mark to receive some specialized flight training lessons. Out of left field came a job offer to work at the flight school he was taking lessons from creating a fork in the road we never could have predicted. The following spring was when we finally committed to the idea, Mark accepted the job, and after a year of living on the road we bought a home in Idaho. Two years later, in the spring of 2020, life once again was turned upside down, but this time it was the global pandemic that came out of nowhere and caused us to rethink everything. We weren’t happy in Idaho, we missed life on the road and more importantly we missed each other.  Two months of lockdown was a forced reevaluation of our values and priorities revealing the fact that it was time to move on from the Idaho chapter of our lives. In 30 days we sold our house, our airplane, and most of our possessions, bought a travel trailer and moved back on to the road. Life in Idaho was a roller coaster with unforgettable highs and despairing lows.  The scent of spring in Idaho whirled up those memories like dirt caught in a tornado. 

Mid-day we put on our bathing suits and the five of us went for a mile long stroll to find a calm pool of water to take a dip. The walk felt like some distorted type of time travel. The winter memories that Josh & Darci represent co-mingling with the memories that spring evoke, then sprinkle in the fact that we woke to snow a week ago in Colorado and would wake somewhere in Canada a week from now and I was disoriented. Only when the occasional vehicle would drive by with an Idaho license plate would I remember where I was. A discombobulated sense of place is a hazard of living on the road. 

The water was frigid but all five of us embraced the rush of it and went for a dip. The sun on our skin feeling that much sweeter when we got out. We circled our chairs in the sun while we ate lunch and dried out. Then circled our chairs in the shade of the cottonwood trees as the intensity of the afternoon sun continued to escalate, all while never missing a beat in our enjoyment of each other’s company. 

Come evening as our time together was winding down four-year old Hannah put words to exactly what I was feeling. “I’m super duper sad you and Mark are leaving tomorrow” she said. Me too Hannah, me too.  There was no way to really know when and where our paths would cross again but we went to bed with a hope for our little nomad crew (including our pals Heather & Adam) to reunite somewhere in Mexico for a second Christmas in a row. That hope making it a little bit easier to say goodbye in the morning when we would pack up and continue the journey north. 

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We’re Mark & Michele, modern-day nomads perfecting the art of slow, full-time travel.  Our tiny home on wheels and slow-paced travel style allows us to minimize our expenses while maximizing our freedom.  May our unconventional way of life inspire you to design a life that you love.


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