Rough Night in Paradise

My husband and I have made five major moves in the eleven years we have been married, and literally lived on the road for five months in the RV, looking for the proverbial Paradise, the greener pastures, or whatever you want to call it.

We lived in our first house only three years when he decided he would rather live in Arizona. We left Oregon for Sierra Vista. We stayed one year in that city.

Wanting to travel, we bought an RV, put all of our household goods into storage, and hit the road as full time RVers. We passed through Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho in one month, We loved Idaho, and stayed in that state for four months. I wanted to move there, but we instead went back to Arizona. My husband felt it was financially prohibitive at that time to relocate such a distance.

We moved our things seventy miles from Sierra Vista to Green Valley, just south of Tucson, and spent a miserable year and a half in that location, not because the area wasn't beautiful, or the city offered enough amenities, or the house not nice enough. We wanted to be outdoors, and with 105 average temperatures for nine months of the year, it was difficult, not to mention the population. Every park was filled to capacity, reservations were needed just to get a picnic table, let alone a camping spot - and I am not exaggerating by much. After being raised in eastern Oregon where some areas were devoid of any other human for miles and miles, I found Arizona claustrophobic, unless you wanted to camp out in the cactus without shade. No thank you.

Deciding we traded nine months of too cold in Oregon for nine month of too hot in Arizona, we pulled every financial resource available and moved to Idaho, and loved it, until again  that old adage "the grass is always greener" hit  my husband once again.

We spent this last weekend traveling through north eastern Idaho looking for property, convinced the small city of Salmon was the paradise we were looking for. It is indeed a beautiful place. As the picture below reveals. This is only one of thousands of vistas we saw over the course of the five hours we drove from our home in western Idaho to Salmon River country.

We booked a room in a lodge a few miles north of the town and stepped out onto the deck and right into Paradise. The view was spectacular and we envisioned sitting on the deck with cold drinks in the evening and coffee in the morning with on the sound of the river to serenade us.

Eagerly we unloaded the truck and opened the door to our room. Yes indeed, it was paradise - notice the river through the window.

We stepped out onto the back deck, gorgeous, simply gorgeous is the only way to describe it. This picture on the left was actually taken from the deck of our room.

With the temperature around eighty degrees, and a cool breeze coming off the water we believed we had found what we were looking for. In the morning we'd look at nearby properties.

Our kind proprietor told us of a pizza place up the road a short distance that was an excellent place for dinner, and she was right. Gourmet is the only word to describe their large menu, and for the amount of food we received, the price was reasonable. Yep, Paradise.

We drove back to our room and stepped out onto the deck to enjoy the serenity. It wasn't to be. The peace and quiet was gone, shattered by the fact it was a shared deck, and the other guests were having card party. They were even using our deck chairs.Yes, we could have insisted they give us our furniture back, but we really didn't want to listen to them whooping and hollering, regardless how gorgeous the view.

Exhausted, and verging on the edge of grumpy after the long drive, we decided to turn in. We go out early in the morning and have coffee on the deck while everyone else was asleep. Wrong again. The room didn't have a coffee pot. Well, okay. The little convenience store next door opened  at seven and we'd walk over, get coffee and enjoy the serenity of the river. We did not realize our rough night in Paradise was just  beginning.

Despite appearances, the walls were paper thin and the floors hand no insulation are padding. We heard everything, and I mean everything, the other guests did, every footstep, every trip to the bathroom, not to mention the TV. Added to that, our neighbors stayed up late, and every thump and bang roused Scout, who thinking we were being burglarized, sang out in full chorus with every sound. We'd just get him settled down when another thump and bang would set him off again.

Notice the big fan? We dismissed it at first, only to realize its importance later. That's right, no air conditioning and the night was warm. My first thought, no big deal, just open the window and let the cool air blow through with the soothing sound of the river. Right, remember the card party on the deck? Well it heated up until even the closed window couldn't keep out the noise.

At two in the morning everyone finally settled down into their rooms and peace reigned until six, then all the bathrooms sprung to life, and Scout became wound up once again, right along with our nerves.

My husband rose from the bed, where we slept without covers, sweating in the heat, and announced, "That's it. We're going home. I'll not spend another night under these conditions."

From his tone, I knew better than to protest a short stay after such a long drive.

Yes, the country was beautiful, but we hadn't anticipated all of the pitfalls, such as all the other tourists, not mention the other lodge guests. Every inch of the river was littered with rafts, except the short section in front of the lodge,and although the tourist season isn't that long, the winters in these mountains are, and we'd be right back to one of the big reasons we left eastern Oregon, nine months of cold and snow with no amenities to help break the boredom. The town of Salmon didn't even have a movie theater, one of our favorite winter diversions as neither of us are into winter sports.

As we neared home, we pulled off the road into a small campground to give Scout a much needed break. We were shocked and amazed. Yes, that is white sand, fine white sand like you find on the most coveted beaches, and crystal clear water - and we had it all to ourselves.

 There was even an abundance of wildflowers.

We learned an important lesson. Paradise in the literal, all conclusive state, doesn't exist, except in our imaginations, and we need to take stock of what we have and access what matters most - to us.

As if to confirm this, the following passage was in my daily readings our first morning home.

If you will be quiet and remain in this land, I will build you up, and not pull you down: I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for now I am appeased for the evil I have done to you. Fear not because of the king of Babylon [insert any list of fears] of whom you are greatly afraid: fear him not, saith the Lord, for I am with you, to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. And I will show mercies to you, and will take pity of you, and will cause you to dwell in your own land. Jeremiah: 42:12-12.

I turned to my husband and announced we should stay where we are, in this place and take the RV out when have the urge for exploration. As so often happens between us, he'd been thinking the exact same thing and we agreed to remain here in this land, in this place, which God has promised us, believing He will build us up, not pull us down, that He will plant us and not pluck us up and that we need not fear the Kings of Babylon that might come against us, for He will protect us and save us. After all, Paradise is not a place, but a state of mind, a state of being found through faith.

 Home, sweet home, and our personal Paradise.


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