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Listening in Silence

Placerville cabinI’ve just been pondering what defines a ghost town. On paper, you’d probably consider Placerville Idaho in that category—it’s down to thirty or so households from its 1860s gold-rush heyday of more than three thousand… Visitors can enjoy the sight of an old general store, saloon, and other mining-era buildings that now operate as summer-hour museums.

But I find myself unable to consider it a ghost town when you can still buy Alka-seltzer and Tostitos at the local store, and when the one remaining church still holds services every Sunday. (Well, truthfully there was only one truck at the church when we passed by, five minutes before services… But I guess there’s a service even if only the pastor shows.)

imageWhether or not it’s a ghost town, Placerville is small and isolated in the Idaho mountains—and right now, absolutely buried in snow. We thought we’d need to chain up in order to get in, but only ended up needing four-wheel drive. Jon’s family has a cabin up there, where his folks lived for a number of years before moving into Boise, and we just put it to use for a get-away weekend.

imageWe lost cell service an hour before we got to the cabin (that’s part of the get-away!) and started the weekend by lighting the fire his brothers had laid in the wood stove on their last visit. We pulled our food and overnight bag in from the road on our sleds, and melted snow on the stovetop to make coffee and wash dishes. We grilled steaks, read aloud together, hiked around the little town and through the snow to the old cemetery, sat on the covered porch swing and watched the incessant snow falling in the absolute silence around us,  we bedded down in front of the fire…

Jon “sledding” our cooler down to the truck

We don’t live a terribly fast-paced or stressful life, but every life can use some get-away to silence. When it just registers as “white noise,” you don’t notice the constancy of traffic… until you’re away from it. When the sky above you in town still seems Idaho-blue, you don’t realize how polluted it is… until you’re breathing in the mountains. And when church commitments and AA meetings and family dinners and work schedules fill in your calendar, you don’t even realize you’re busy… until you’re away from it all, listening to your Marriage.


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! :)

4 thoughts on “Listening in Silence

  1. Hi Kana,
    We live in West Virginia but have family in Boise so we visit there often. I never visit without taking my favorite drive–Boise to Idaho City. So beautiful and such diverse changes of scenery along the way. Have always seen the Placerville roadsign in IC, but never tried it. Will have to get my sis-in-law’s Jeep a bit dusty and try it next time. And the snow-covered wintertime trek sounds even more fun if we’re ever there in that season.
    My relatives are sick of Boise snow this year–we always win the snow total contest with them here in the WV mountains, but Boise’s snowfall made us look look like Floridians this year!!
    Always enjoy your updates and stories. Found you way back with your Silver City story. Two years ago we made it within a mile or so of the town in a torrential downpour and fog (quite odd for southern Idaho weather!) before we used descretion and safely turned around. Will try it again on some future drive.
    Best wishes to you and your husband. You both are blessed to have found each other and am happy for you. You are a strong and inspiring person.


    1. Bruce, it’s a pleasure to “meet” you! And yes, you should definitely detour to Placerville (and complete that aborted expedition to Silver City too)… We love ranging those mountain highways on the motorcycle–but Placerville & Silver City are definitely “truck trips,” even in summer. ;)

      You’re right–this year’s snow has been insane. We were ready to “tap out” well before it was done! We’re awfully happy to have the motorcycle back out at last. :) Thanks for making me smile this evening–and if you think it would be fun, ping me next time you’re out Boise way… I’ve made some good friends in the blogosphere, but seldom get to meet any in person.


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