14 August 2006

Blue Herons and Bike Rides

bikes on bridge
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
Eighteen years ago, my parents were fortunate enough to acquire a patch of land along the Buffalo River with one of my aunts and her husband. Since then, our summers have been full of blue skies alternating with thunderstorms, lazy afternoon floats down the river, and the exploration of dusty paths in this southeastern corner of Idaho.

Promoted as “the longest Main Street” in America, this 33-mile stretch along Highway 20 provides access to numerous lakes and rivers for water sports and fishing, groomed trails for snowmobiling, and access for exploring the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

As the area grew in popularity for outdoor sports, a number of lodges and inns sprung to life in response to the tourist traffic. Pond's Lodge, Phillips Lodge, Island Park Lodge, Mack’s Inn, and Big Springs Inn were just a few of the businesses established during the early 20th century. With the passage of time, those lodges that remain struggle to adapt and draw modern travelers.

Island Park holds a lot of memories for my mother, who spent her summers in the area as a young girl. In the 1940s, she began working at Pond’s Lodge, a stopping point for motorists as well as a supply point for the families who spent their summers in the area. Punctuated with hard work and good, clean fun, it was a way of life that she longed to share with her family.

And so, over the years, Island Park has come to mean those things to us as well: canoe rides, bicycle trips to the railroad bridge, feeding the fish at Big Springs, and spying blue herons and moose around the reservoir at twilight time. Though my schedule only allowed for a few short days here this August, the shared memories of summers past will continue to linger.

No comments: