Sandpoint Idaho is a really cool town. Lots of people agree, so much so that it’s commonly ranked in the top ten national categories for small towns to live in. Beautiful, clean, quiet…it’s nestled in a northern Idaho valley with a large beautiful fresh water lake and mountain peaks on three sides, it offers all kinds of activities, skiing, shopping, great food, hunting, hiking etc… a genuine four season outdoor paradise. We didnt’ see much of that, but we did see a glimmer of the sun the next morning and it was a welcome sight…
Sandpoint ID, Jan 2012 - Lakeside Sunrise
Focused on exploring Idaho, we had been so distracted by the snowstorm the night before we hadn’t given much thought to today’s travel plans… after a moment of map reading it was clear that Idaho was not a state with an abundance of roads. The center of the state was mountain and wilderness with very little in the way of pavement, and what was there seemed closed in the winter. That left us with only a few options… since Brian was sticking with his decision to have me call the ball on this roadtrip, I decided to “feel my way” again and head east into Montana before circling south and west again when we could.
So we hopped in our snow, dirt and ice encrusted Ford Edge and headed east on US Hwy 200, en route to Missoula MT and Hwy 93… a road that would turn out to be worth all of the delays and bad weather and disappointing efforts to discover sunshine and beauty. But first… we had some driving to do. It took most of the day and a lot of gray but dry weather before we finally were able to navigate back west. Four hundred miles and nine hours later we were pulling into Salmon, ID and found a hidden valley at the end of our afternoon full of sunshine and endless snow-capped peaks.
Hwy 93 - outside of Salmon,
Sunlight was gloriously streaming across the valley floor and crystal blue sky was everywhere above… we had found it! For the first time on our trip we had found some unrestrained and colorful mountain beauty breaking across the grey barriers for us to enjoy! It was spectacular, and refreshing and so nice after so many days of driving in the grey… and as it turned out, sort of short-lived.
Within two hours of entering Salmon, ID… we lost the mountain vista’s as a familiar dark strangling line of low hanging snow clouds moved in front of us out of the west directly in our path. We were approaching Sun Valley (ironically) and had only a hundred miles to go when the snow storm hit. Within forty-five minutes we were once again driving in unplowed mountain roads, twisty across ice and snow and sleet and it was dark. Deja Vu from the night before.
I uttered the simple request out loud of how nice it would be to just find a hotel out here so we could crash and avoid the long drawn out drive to Sun Valley in another pitch black snowstorm. (sure to take 3 more hours) Almost immediately out of the snow wall we were driving into… a few slight lights glowed and winked off and on as the waves of snow waxed and waned. I was scared to get my hopes up, but what if it was a hotel? Five minutes later were checking into a newly refurbished isolated hotel with a small restaurant and grocery gas store out in the middle of NOWHERE, Idaho. (actual town name is Stanley, ID) Thank You God!
Brian and I were hopeful after the storm passed, that we would have a chance at some clear skies and starlight as only can be seen way out in the wilderness, the desert or at sea. After a meal of sandwiches and fries we drove five minutes out-of-town on a back road to see the sky as the storm was slowing in intensity. Alas, it was still overcast and occasionaly spitting out some heavy bouts of snow flurries…So we crashed in our miracle hotel room after noting our good fortune at finding the only motel for a hundred miles and at just the right time. Huge coincidence? Nah… it was favor from God. As if He knew that were tired and worn out from the drive and needed to just rest.
Our "miracle" hotel in Stanley, ID
Lesson learned in part from Day six… God always shows up for us, when we need it the most. It may feel like He’s absent or unaware of our urgent and ongoing crisis’ of faith, family and hope… but He is not. I promise that when you’re at the very end of your own strength and courage and determination to go any further on your current course… He will send sunshine and blue sky or arrange for a perfect night of rest and recuperation, at your most desperate hour.
Day six was physically exhausting, over twelve hours on the road, major changes in terrain and weather, but we were reminded… to get to your destination as a parent, sometimes You just have to push on and press forward until that break in the clouds is visible, regardless of what it “looks like” or “feels like” in-between.
Tomorrow morning would be a thursday and the beginning of our seventh and last day, and as it turned out… was by far and away our very best day on this roadtrip. As usual…God was speaking to us and we were getting some valuable insights for what lay ahead in 2012 and we were grateful for the time to reflect and project what God was up to in our lives and in the lives of those we loved.
Peace out, RTP readers.