Trip of a Lifetime: Road Tripper Visits 3 Idaho National Sites

By Tetona Dunlap (view original article)

Mikah Meyer’s road trip started out as way to remember his late father.

Along the way he’s discovered his journey connects with many others.

In 2016 — on the 11th anniversary of his father death from cancer — Meyers started his three-year journey to visit the more than 415 units of the U.S. National Park System in 2016. Upon his completion, he will become the youngest person to experience every unit and the only person to do it in one continuous trip.

“It’s not a vacation,” Meyer said. “I use the term ‘project’ because that’s what I’m doing.”

Cost of the road
The National Park Service experts estimated his trip would cost $500,000. Meyer figures he’ll spend just $150,000. When the experts made their estimate, he said, they thought he’d eat all his meals at restaurants and stay in hotels.

Instead he cooks and lives out of a van he bought for $41,000. He also installed solar panels on his van to make it more energy efficient. If you see a white windowless van going only 63 mph in an 80 mph zone, that’s just Meyer creeping along so the panels don’t fly off. Meyer, 31, started saving for his trip when he was in his 20s. While friends were drinking beers at the bar, he was opting for water. It took him four years to plan and raise funds for his trip.

Life on the road is fun but tough. Often there is little to no cellphone service or internet connection. That makes it difficult when you are trying to file taxes or make sure your insurance is paid. The van has no air conditioning and no heating.

“It’s the stuff you don’t see on Instagram,” Meyer said.

Meyer travels with his boyfriend, who goes home every few weeks. They started dating shortly before Meyer planned to leave for his journey.

“I said, ‘You can come along, if you can figure out a way to pay for yourself,” Meyer said.

A voice for others
On Monday morning, the two pulled up in their white van in the parking lot of Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. It was No. 163 on Meyer’s stop and Minidoka National Historic Site was No. 164. They arrived in Hagerman by way of Golden Spike National Historic Site in Ogden, Utah. After visiting Hagerman they planned to drive to Minidoka National Historic Site and Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

Idaho was their first stop in the Pacific Northwest region.

Meyer didn’t start out as an LGBT Christian advocate but it’s become an important part of his journey. At first, he didn’t tell anyone he was gay. But after meeting LGBT national park rangers and LGBT teenagers who follow his journey online — he felt he was in a position to be a voice for the LGBT community and help break stereotypes.

“It reminded me of when I was a gay kid growing up in Nebraska,” he said. “When I thought all gays people had AIDS, were drag queens or wore Speedos on floats because that’s what Fox News told me.”

To help fund his trip, he sings and speaks at churches. Many people donate to his cause once they hear his story. Only one church has declined to let him talk about LGBT issues.

He and his his boyfriend planned to head to Logan, Utah, to sing at a church after visiting Craters of the Moon. The rest of the month would include visiting Utah parks before heading south to the Grand Canyon National Park.

“My timing is determined by what’s efficient and when churches want me to sing,” he said. “The church was always a huge part of my life.”

His father was a Lutheran campus minister. He passed away from cancer at age 56 when Meyer was 19.

“I naively thought I’ll live until I’m 80,” he said. “That was the moment I learned it doesn’t work that way.”

Days after his father’s funeral in 2005, Meyer took his first road trip to honor his father’s love of traveling. Since then, he has taken one road trip a year. His 2011 through 2012 trip consisted of a 260 day, 16,400 mile “Dream Road Trip” around 46 North American states and provinces.

An honest opinion
Meyer stamped his National Parks Passport book inside the Hagerman Fossil Beds Visitor Center before watching videos about the Hagerman Valley and the internment camp at the Minidoka National Historic Site.

He ranks his visits 1 through 10 and plans to publish his final rankings at the end of his trip.

“I hope I can use this trip to give the public an honest review,” he said.

So far his favorite has been the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. It was because of the beautiful landscape in the middle of the prairie.
“It blew my mind,” he said. “It was unexpected.”

And while places like the Grand Canyon receive millions of visitors each year, Meyer likes that his journey can highlight lesser known sites that travelers may not plan a summer to visit — even though they should.

“It’s cool that I can go to them and give them this attention they don’t usually get,” Meyer said.

Samantha McCrorey of Hagerman inks with Northwest College

By: Alex Valentine (view original article)

The long, winding webs of connections that athletics build for players and coaches alike often weave across state boundaries and roll down from one generation to the next. In small, tight-knit communities like Hagerman, that often proves even truer.

Those sturdy basketball connections came to fruition on Monday, as Hagerman standout Samantha McCrorey signed to play at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming.
McCrorey follows in the footsteps of Hagerman’s varsity volleyball coach, Katie Knight, who played basketball at Northwest College from 2003—2005.

But the branches of the basketball tree don’t stop there.

Knight’s sister-in-law, Larissa Knight, graduated from Hagerman in 2014. After one year at Western Wyoming Community College, she played a year at Northwest before moving on to Southern Virginia.

Northwest’s head women’s basketball coach, Janis Beal, just finished her eighth season at the Trappers’ helm. She finished her two years playing at Northwest the year before Knight arrived in 2003, but her record-breaking performances at the college stayed around until long after Knight finished her tenure.

McCrorey, who also excelled in volleyball and track, and recently broke the school record for discus throw at 118’ 2.5”, visited the campus and scrimmaged with the team over Hagerman’s spring break. She took some time to think it over, but Knight says that may just been a case of letting the reality sink in.

“She met with the team and the coach and loved the atmosphere. I think it’s just something that she never realized she could do. She never realized that she could play and have school paid for because of it,” said Knight.

Knight and McCrorey’s relationship goes far beyond a simple coach-player bond too.

During her freshman year of high school, McCrorey’s home life presented some difficulties, so she would spend her Thursday nights eating dinner with Knight’s family. Her sophomore year, she moved in with Knight’s parents-in-law, right next door to Knight.

Thousand Springs Festival delights hundreds

By Mychel Matthews (view original article)

HAGERMAN — Ritter Island State Park was filled Saturday with art, song and food. And people. Lots of people.

Despite that pesky Idaho wind, folks from as far away as Seattle flocked to the 24th annual Thousand Springs Festival of Arts, which continues Sunday until 5 p.m.

The festival features dozens of artists and craftsmen selling pottery, jewelry, soap and oils, herbs, paintings and photographs. Visitors can hold a reptile from the Herrett Center, take a gander at raptors from the Birds of Prey Center, ride canoes in the Snake River or ride around the island in a horse-drawn wagon.

Thousands Springs has become a tradition for many, including artists and visitors.

Kathy Sorensen came from Seattle to attend the festival. Her friend Glenda Gibson hosts a “Thousand Springs” party every year. They wouldn’t miss it, they said.

Twin Falls framer Ron Hicks and his son Jason Hicks joined forces to sell their artwork at the festival. The father offers his pastel landscapes for sale, while the son sells his whimsical “3D frescoes” resembling colorful imaginary creatures.

Much of their work is inspired by nature, streams and fly fishing, Jason Hicks said. “The local scenes are very personal to us.”

Charles Trainor of Boise manned the Mud Pie Arts Pottery booth, while his wife, artist Patricia Sadler, was away.

“I do the lugging and carrying,” Trainor said. “I’m the muscle and she’s the brains.”

Melodee Sather also brought pottery from Boise. Sather’s a registered nurse at Borah High School.

“I used to do oil paintings,” she said. But her husband gave her a pottery wheel for Mother’s Day one year. She hasn’t touched a brush since, except to paint glazes and details on her pottery.

Rhonda and John Hanzel of Boise come every year. She likes “the craft stuff, but my husband likes the beer and music.”

Boise photographer David Day prints his work on various surfaces, including metal and wood.

“I do a lot of festivals and this is my favorite,” Day said, while showing off some of his images.

Sunday’s entertainment includes Sons of Thunder Mountain, Gayle Chapman and Jason Buckalew Dueling, Steve Eaton, and the Wilson-Fairchild duo.

In addition, J.C. Kilgore demonstrates blacksmithing, and Roy Mason demonstrates watercolor painting. Children have their own corner where they can paint a pumpkin, courtesy of Mike and Marie Heath of M&M Heath Farms.

The festival “is a really fun family activity,” Carolyn White, executive director of the Magic Valley Arts Council, said. The arts council is overseeing the festival this year for the first time.

The arts council “will bring a lot of new energy to the event while continuing the things that have made it a perennial favorite and a success,” land trust President Jack C. Kulm said.

“We’re partnering with the Southern Idaho Land Trust to manage the festival,” White said. “We feel it fits our mission, so we’ve jumped in with both feet.”

Hagerman Sheep Monument

Curious Mind: Hagerman Sheep Monument pays tribute to once-thriving wool growing industry

By Kimberly Williams Brackett (view original article)

Q: Hagerman has a point of interest — a bronze sculpture of a pioneer sheepherder. Why?

A: “The Hagerman sheepherder statue was bought and erected by Bill Jones, a local sheepherder. He wanted to do something to honor the sheep industry in Hagerman, Idaho,” said Kaitlyn Werlinger with the Idaho Wool Growers Association.

The monument was put up by Bill Jones. “He is the one that paid for sculpturing the monument,” said Leroy Jazwick, Hagerman Valley Historical Society Museum treasurer. It was commissioned by John W. “Bill” Jones Jr. and his wife Deloris. He contributed the funds for the memorial in memory of his parents, Johnny and Ethel Jones and other pioneer sheep families. Jones also provided the land for its construction.

Jones’s parents arrived in the Hagerman area about 1904-05. Eventually he acquired his own sheep ranch south of Hagerman. Johnny ran sheep on winter desert pasture and trailed them to summer grazing allotments above Ketchum. His son Bill carried on the sheep ranching tradition until 1980.

As a life-long resident of Hagerman, Jones will be celebrating his 90th birthday in August.

Jazwick said, “It was done by Danny Edwards in Twin Falls.” Twin Falls’ renowned sculptor Danny Edwards created the larger than life-size bronze sculpture depicting a sheepherder, his horse, dog, and several sheep which honors early area sheepherder families, called “Trailin’ Home.”

According to an article published in the Hagerman Valley Press, Jones and his wife visited a sheep operation in Argentina decades ago and were impressed by a monument to a gaucho and his flock, and the idea for Hagerman’s monument was born.

In the late 1800’s, sheepherders in the Idaho Territory worked in the Hagerman Valley. The majority of sheepherders were Basque. A herder and his Australian Shepherd or Border Collie sheepdog could handle a band of 1,500 to 2,000 sheep.

The Hagerman Valley was an attractive wintering location for sheep ranching because of plentiful year-round spring water that didn’t freeze due to milder winters and protection from harsh early spring storms during lambing. In addition there were many acres of irrigated land that produced alfalfa and grain for winter feed.

An inscription on the monument reports “In 1882 the Oregon Short Line arrived in Shoshone and Bliss. This provided a means of getting wool and sheep to market which led to enormous growth in sheep numbers. Bliss became a major shipping center for the Jarbidge and Three Creek areas, and had a large shearing plant. A branch line was quickly extended to Ketchum and Hill City by 1884. By 1914 over 300,000 sheep were being trailed through Ketchum. Hill City and Ketchum were two of the largest sheep shipping centers in the U.S.”

Hill City is in Camas County.

By 1900 sheep had become the principal livestock industry in southern Idaho, and by the late 1920s was considered the golden age of sheep ranching. “During World War II, sheep ranching began to decline, due to the difficulty of finding capable herders, diminished interest in lamb as meat, the introduction of synthetic materials to compete with wool and reduced rangeland for grazing,” states an inscription.

This monument is owned and maintained by the Hagerman Valley Historical Society. “It’s just outside of town going towards Bliss right on the edge of town,” said Jazwick. The monument is located at the north end of Hagerman on the west side of US-30 at 2622 Martin Dr., Hagerman.
The monument was dedicated on June 29, 2013, said Jazwick.