Posted in Travel

“Western Byways” on the Road… Carey, Idaho

Friday the 13th on the Road: da Kook (er, Cook), the Writer, & the Photographer/Driver

The Western Byways editorial staff is on the road for a few days!  The Editor has rented a motor-home, our teeny-tiny Photographer has designated herself Driver (which is kind of like watching a minnow steer a whale shark), my husband is reprising his road-role as The Traveling Chef, and I’ve had my iPad fired up all day with maps and note-taking and recording and photographing…

Before we headed out, The Editor stood up front in his best flight-attendant imitation and told us how to pull the air brake if the vehicle were to start rolling, and how to make sure the propane doesn’t blow up.  “There’s a shitload of other buttons,” he concluded, “but that’s the death-stuff, so I think we’re covered.

Carey, Idaho, pop. 604

The Editor is a fantastic ideas guy–although his strengths don’t always run to communicating his plans…  Case in point–when he asked me to do the writing for this trip, he said we’d be gone be through Sunday–but as we barreled out of town on the freeway this morning and he listed the scheduled stops of our “tour bus,” he kept right on going past Sunday night and into Monday.  “Um, hang on,” I told him–“I guess I need to call our kid.”  (Should the parent of a teenager be worried when the response to the message that we’ll be gone an extra day is a text saying, “Sounds Good“?  Hmmm…)  Happily for us, we lead a life where an unexpected extra day on the road really isn’t a problem. Our son is fine with his best friend, Keoni isn’t yet back to work after his knee replacement a month ago today (lucky 13!), and my my freelancing work can go with me anywhere.

Nevertheless, Keoni teased that I’d better “call the office” right away–a joke actually signifying a celebration of the fact that we don’t live that life anymore–then picked up his own phone and dialed…  my number, as it turned out.  “Hello, you’ve reached the office of Kana Iguana,” he said to my voicemail, in his most serious business-tone. “Kana will be out of the office until Monday, January sixteenth.  Mahalo for calling!

Carey Idaho in the 1950s–when it still had cafés and stores… Photo from the town’s growing collection

Another scheduling-surprise for me was the fact that the Mayor and Town Council of Carey would be meeting with us when arrived in town.  This one alarmed me a little, as I’m dressed for rural Idaho winter travel–hooded sweatshirt, quilted plaid flannel, old jeans, hiking shoes, pigtails–not so much for a “VIP” introduction to the town kahunas.  As it turned out, I’m not sure they saw me at all–I think maybe they saw my expensive camera and the “record” light flashing on my iPad while I scribbled in my note-taking app as they talked…  And (through those tools) I think they saw the statewide audience they hope to entice into town.

As a general rule, I do my travel-writing “incognito”–I chat people up and ask more questions than most visitors probably do, but I don’t announce any publication-affiliation, and I’m unaccustomed to being greeted by a town as The Writer…  We met with the committee working to revitalize the town, which had pretty well died out after World War II (except for the Japanese internment camp, the barracks of which are now apartments) when the 40-employee cheese plant and its supplying dairies moved out of the area.  The committee’s go-to woman, Vonnie, offered us the RV electrical hook-up at her house because Carey doesn’t have a motel or KOA or even a café anymore.  Our driving instructions, coming into town, were to “look for the house with the milk truck out front.”  (Vonnie’s husband delivered milk in cans for forty years.)  It’s a one-road town, platted in 1919 along the highway, with no other road running parallel to the highway, so we found her easily enough.

GE pink kitchen–just like Vonnie’s

Before driving us to City Hall Vonnie invited us inside (an original1953 custom kitchen of pink GE appliances!) and pulled out stacks of old photos of the town, which she and the committee have assembled from the townsfolk as a reminder of the vital little town this once was, and could be again…

After City Hall, and a thorough tour of the schools conducted by the principal, we shivered our way back to the motor-home to warm up and eat the stir-fry dinner Keoni had waiting for us. After dinner, a local musical gathering Vonnie had pulled together for our enjoyment in her living room, guests including the woman who both delivers the mail and drives the town ambulance.  It’s that kind of small town–an eight-man football team town.

But then, given its proximity to Sun Valley, it’s also a town where you might run into Bruce Willis or Tom Hanks at the summer rodeo…  I’m looking forward to some exploring tomorrow–but I’d better finish organizing my notes and recordings…  Because the pull-out bed in the motor-home’s main room is looking awfully inviting right now!  Especially since my best cuddle-buddy is waiting for me there.  Till tomorrow, then!


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

15 thoughts on ““Western Byways” on the Road… Carey, Idaho

  1. The GE pink kitchen and the scraped-off Coca-Cola signage on that old store–wonderful pics! Seems as though you had a great time and a lot of good results with photos and extensive notes. Great little wintertime getaway that was productive and full of fellowship, right?


  2. The Road Trip – great fun. Brought back memories when I did editorial scouting for Sunset Magazine – often traveling with one of the editors. Only time we announced our arrival was in Mexico – those were fascinating days – no iPads then. Enjoy your trips.


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