SO WHY DO YOU LIVE IN IDAHO?
My last tour-of-duty in the Air Force was on the island of Okinawa (that's south of the Japanese mainland for those of you who went to Fairfax County Public Schools). It was there that I met my wife-to-be. No, she wasn't Japanese. She was my supervisor's daughter (but that's a story for another day). We decided that when we returned home and got married, we'd spend a couple of years living in her native Utah before heading East. I fell in love with the area, and - honestly - it was very difficult when we left for Washington.
We were living in Winchester when our second daughter, Kendi, was born. From the moment she took her first breath, it was obvious that her broken little body would never let her live a normal life.
Each doctor along the way couldn't make sense of her disorder, but he/she always had a "colleague" who could somewhere down the line. On and on it went. When the doctors finally decided that it was genetic, we headed back to Salt Lake City, where a preeminent geneticist was located. From there, a good job offer took us 100 miles north to Pocatello, Idaho. They never figured out what it was that plagued Kendi. Once in Idaho, her strength improved, and she lived a healthy life for ten more years before a nurse's mistake took her from us in 2003.
So why not move back now?
Now, don't get me wrong; we wouldn't stay here if we didn't love it. With the exception of Boise (four hours to the west), Idaho is still a rural state. Pocatello is a city of about 50,000 people nestled gently into a mountainside. Idaho Falls, north of here, also has roughly 50,000 residents.
The distance between Pocatello and Idaho Falls is about the distance between D.C. and Baltimore yet I can get from one city to the other in a half hour. Rush hour is four cars at a stop light. Virtually all the population in Idaho follows the Snake River Valley that runs from Boise over to Pocatello and north to Rexburg. Pretty much everything north of here is either mountains or areas that you just can't get to by car.
The cost of living here is next-to-nothing. My (very simple) five bedroom house, purchased in 1991 for $48,000, is now worth nearly $90,000. The rich folks on the hill have houses that cost in the $200,000 - $300,000 range. Those are reserved for doctors, lawyers and business owners. The state tax is 5% and it's against the law for municipalities to add to it. My drivers license cost me $22 bucks last year. license plate sticker was $40. There is no city, county or inspection stickers to deal with.
The advent of the internet and the myriad of new digital technologies has brought Washington D.C. to me. I read the local papers and listen to the radio stations. But I can then hop in my car and be in Yellowstone National Park in a couple of hours. That's a sweet deal.
And they are. I ran a camera store here for ten years, and in that time, I think I had three bad checks. Each one was made good. I never once asked for any type of I.D. I didn't have to. Wal-Mart opened a store here a few years ago and had the audacity to ask to see a drivers license when customers paid by a check. People were so enraged that they walked out without their purchases. They quickly changed their policy to "no I.D. necessary" and stayed that way for several years.
One interesting thing about Pocatello: Idaho State University built the first domed football stadium to be used by a college team, and it was only the third built in the United States when it opened in 1980 (the Astrodome and the Kingdome were the first two). It's starting to so its age, and it seats only 13,000, but it is a tremendous all-weather facility nonetheless. All of the local high school games are played at Holt, and some of the rivalry games - Highland vs. Pocatello for instance - fills the stadium to capacity. I wonder how many high school football games inside the beltway draw those many fans?
I of course miss D.C. very much, and I'm hopeful that I'll be back this summer, at least for a few days. That said, living here in Idaho - and starting next fall - teaching here in Idaho, is all that I could ask for. My children have a safe environment to grow up in, and - surprisingly - none seem to have the "wonderlust" that attracts youngster to the big city.
And for us, that would be Boise.
Another thing. Living in Idaho has actually made me think that Nats' baseball fans actually care about any of this.
Hmmm. A Spud beer is sounding really good right about now.....
It was directed at a specific reader of mine that is always saying harsh things about the Fairfax County schools. Just a friendly swipe at him, nothing more.
On the other hand, I can get to RFK in 15 minutes by car. NYAH! NYAH!
But remember, JE, my first year salary as a teacher is going to be $27,500 per year. Make less, cost less.
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