I have lived in Idaho for over 10 years now, and have been visiting it since 2003.
But it is only this past weekend that I finally had an experience that made me feel like a true resident of this rustic western state.
Many years ago, I had a brief job working at Warm Lake Lodge, a facility established on the shore of Warm Lake in 1911. I cleaned cabins for all of a week and a half before I had to return to Boise in an ambulance after a nasty case of either a 24 hour flu or food poisoning. When I worked there, I had a supervisor, naturally.
I thought, when I thought about her, that she would still be working there.
Last week, my husband and I were driving back from the parking lot at the trailhead of Big Creek, on the edge of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. We stopped at the city of Yellow Pine, a thriving area boasting a population of 32 and at least 5 eateries. We ate breakfast at the Silver Dollar Grill and then went to the espresso shop for milkshakes (it was almost noon and we had a long drive coming up).
Inside the espresso place, there were three young women and one woman behind the counter. I asked about taking cards and we learned to our dismay that they did not. Luckily, I had a bit of cash, just enough for one milkshake. So I left Ambrose in the car and went inside.
Now, I thought that I heard one of the young women call the woman “Sundee” but I wasn’t entirely sure. So I stood there in silence as she made me a strawberry milkshake. But then I noticed a collage photo near the cash register; it had some cute pictures and was labeled “Martin 2016.”
So I had to ask if she was Sundee Martin who used to work at Warm Lake Lodge, and who, for a brief time, supervised me.
She remembered me, too, and came around the counter to give me a hug.
And I left with a delightful milkshake and a big grin. Because I found someone that I knew, in the smallest of towns, who I met in a place not even big enough to be a town.
Not only did I get to see that someone I knew was doing well, but somehow the meeting struck me as such a quintessential Idaho experience and made the state feel more like my home.