Here are statements which Idahoans have presented to me as facts that I have yet to substantiate:
1. In the lower 48, Idaho is the sate that has the most land that is the least inhabited. Much of Idaho is totally inaccessible by road.
2. Idaho has the 2nd highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. Recently a teacher was fired for using the words 'penis' and 'vagina' in public school, in a sex ed class, which is optional by the way.
3. Jerome county (our current home) is the most irrigated county in the US.
This seems plausible, there are canals everywhere and children are not allowed to play in them and what’s more is that it seems like children really actually don’t play in them. A true irrigation miracle and mystery!
4. There are 4,000 dairy farms in Jerome.
It's small, but it's very expansive. Also there's a Chobani factory here, so this could be possible, even if the average town population hovers at an optimistic 500.
5. Idaho is on the highest point of the Colorado plateau which steps down through Utah and finally to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The Grand Canyon is a natural wonder, with many exposed layers of rock. The crystalline basement layer is believed by most geologists to have been formed on the 3rd day of creation week.
Actually I read this one on the internet while googling western geography. I thought I was on wikipedia, but it was some sort of biblepedia instead. The page seemed very informative and readable up until this creation week gem in the 3rd paragraph. I can’t specifically blame this on an Idahoan, but it does seem representative of our experience so far. Idaho is very sunny and religious.
6. The governor of Idaho is C.L. Butch Otter.
That’s true. He’s on twitter and facebook. C.L. Butch Otter. Look him up.
7. Idaho is what Colorado was before everybody found out about Colorado.
Someone who had left Colorado to move to Idaho offered up this one. I have always wanted to go to Colorado, so perhaps by coming to Idaho I am just skipping ahead of the flocks.
8. Idaho has some of the best hiking in the country.
I have also heard this from New Hampshirites about New Hampshire, from Wisconinites about Wisconsin, and Coloradans about Colorado. Let’s assume there is some degree of home state bias involved.
Unlike other states I’ve visited, Idaho is very secretive about her hiking trails. No one can tell me where to find the trailheads or about local hiking rules and regulations. There’s not a lot of information listed online either. Does much of Idaho have good internet access? (No, of course not, see statement #1—much of Idaho is wilderness).
One outdoor enthusiast told us that he likes to take his mule (his mule!) out north for a month or so and just live off the land and under the elements. Based on the Idahoans I’ve met, I do not think this is bravado or exaggeration. Neither do I think the outdoorsmen or the mule cared much about trails or tracking themselves for a trip report to be posted on the internet.
9. Southern Idaho doesn’t have any culture.
This statement is false. I went to the Western Days parade. I browsed through the annual antique craft fair. I’ve visited two different independent bookstores, and it’s true they both turned out to be Mormon bookstores—but Mormon and western are still cultures, yes?
And that, my friends, is Idaho as presented by Idahoans. I know how this looks, but even the Idahoans who have told me disparaging things about Idaho will append their statements with “but I love it here” and they do. I’ve met several people who have lived in other flashy and desirable places—New York, Denver, LA—and they have moved here and insist that now they will never leave.
At first I found this perplexing. I am surrounded by hay fields, cow pastures, horse pastures, a llama pasture, and churches. Everything looks flat and deserted. It takes 25 minutes to get anywhere by car and it’s inadvisable to try it by bike. The grocery store does not carry fresh lemons or eggplants. I miss all my hiking, biking, writing, and working friends.
If you thought that the travel life sounded idyllic, let me remind you that every gig is a gamble. Idaho is one of those dice rolls where the win hasn't been immediately obvious. However, in our 2 weeks here we’ve gone on a beautiful rail trail ride, found a great brewery, explored the Snake River gorge, gotten semi-lost in the Sawtooth mountains, and made a few friends.
I don’t think Idaho will be a place where we’ll want to live forever, but for 10 weeks, I think we’re going to be all right.