Friday, February 21, 2014

Twin Springs Resort

Just about the time I began to pray I wasn’t lost in the wilds of Idaho, we found our destination.

Twin Springs Resort (population: 2) seemed to come out of nowhere, and I was beginning to lose hope of ever finding it. The dubious sign informing us that we were now ‘leaving the Boise National Forest’, seen seconds before arrival, hadn’t been reassuring.

“Are we SUPPOSED to be leaving the Boise National Forest?” I nervously asked my daughter and niece. They didn’t know, and neither did I.

We’d passed many an ideal fishing hole and campground; and I couldn’t help but exclaim as we bumped along, “We’ll have to check that out sometime!”

The gravel road had been a little harrowing, but I was betting on the journey being worth the trip; great experiences, after all, often required sacrifice. Jaw-dropping scenery of the Central Idaho Mountains upped the enjoyment factor.

Taking Highway 21 from Boise up the hill, we turned right after the More’s Creek bridge. Passing a very populated Spring Shores Marina, we kept going. And going. And going, until eventually spotting a sign for the Cottonwood Ranger station where the road split. We kept right, but I began to have doubts. Should we have gone left? Twelve more miles, and I still didn’t see anything that looked like the cabins my sister and brother in law had told us about.

As hope dimmed, we rounded the curve and were instantly there. Rustic, authentic Idaho. Eclectic furniture on the front porch of the office/common area/ bar/ store. A welcome sign, assuring cold drinks and friendly conversation within. “We’ll be waiting for you at the end of the road with a cold one,” the signs said. The establishment also touted snacks, the game on TV, a pool table and a meal table surrounded by chairs, and a common area that seemed more like a Man Cave.

It became clear that no one would be a stranger by the end of the weekend, unless they craved solitude, and then there was plenty of that to be had, too.

“We are here to help you have a good time,” the website had claimed.

I was ready.

Three roomy cabins and the two-storied Gatehouse awaited visitors; each with its own peaceful view of the Middle Fork and built-in hot tubs on the back decks, fed by some of Idaho’s blessed geothermal activity.

Something was missing, though.

“Where are the power poles?” I asked the other guests. They shook their heads. I hadn’t seen any, either, yet our cabin had electricity. I later discovered that Twin Springs was a hydro-powered community. The power lines must have been underground.

Easing into the magical, restorative mineral waters and breathing the fresh air, accompanied by rushing river sounds and sunset colors bursting from just behind the mountains, our resident weekend barbeque king (my brother in law, Lloyd) handed us our dinner plates. We had all the makings of a beautiful stay.

After a long soak and catch up chat with family, hearty meal, and much-needed rest on a good mattress, I awakened the next morning to a body that felt ten years younger. As others slept on, the crisp air and gravel road leading up the mountain called to me. Taking pepper spray, sunglasses and camera, I set out, at that time happily ignorant of the area’s high bear population.

The sunset inspired thoughts of poetry. Not mine, but that of favorite Robert Frost.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I---
I took the road less traveled by.
And that has made all the difference.”

I wondered what it would be like to spend a week or two here, writing.

Upon returning to the cabin, I learned that the morning’s fishing excursion had yielded abundant results, with one fisherman, glowing with excitement, sporting her very first catch. The crew went to work,  creating fillets for the kitchen’s little freezer that were to be enjoyed at an upcoming meal.

The next day, our group piled into one vehicle and rode up the gravel road to a spot called Neinmeyer, a campground reported to have good fishing and even better shade. We played in the water, snacked, and lazily talked and napped while the sportsmen cast out and reeled in.

Back at Twin Springs, I continued my search for the fabled sauna, which I hadn’t been able to locate all weekend. I’d become a sauna convert during a trip to Europe, with my European friends testifying to the benefits sweating out toxins had on overall health and complexion. I was determined to find the place.

It wasn’t as if I hadn’t asked.

“It’s that stone house right over there,” another guest told me, but we’d talked when it was dark out, and I hadn’t been able to see where that person had pointed.

“Oh yeah, it’s that stone place thataway,” yet another guest told me, pointing too quickly for me to catch the general direction. Had I not been too proud to ask again, I'd have avoided an extended search.

So I wandered from stone dwelling to stone dwelling. I approached one, ignoring the DANGER: KEEP OUT sign, assuming it was only there to keep the public out. That’s how I wound up in the pump house. 

Thirty minutes before it was time to leave, I found the sauna, the same little hut we’d passed on our way down to the river all weekend long. Missing it had taken some talent. 

I’d have to save the sauna for next time.

 *For more adventures in Idaho, (with recipes between the stories!) get the "Appetite for Idaho" book here.

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