"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Why move? Why Idaho?

By on April 23, 2018 in Articles with 0 Comments

Lance Stegemann from a story in the April 2016 issue of The Good Life about operating a mule train for the U.S. Forest Service.

One day while my wife Barb and I were outside catching up on some yard work at our Wenatchee home, she just blurted out, “Let’s sell our house!”

You can imagine the surprise look on my face when I heard that. I had to ask her again if I was actually hearing her right.

Barb is a Wenatchee native born and raised. She had lived in the same house for nearly 30 years. I was comparatively a newbie and had only lived in the Wenatchee Valley for nine of those years.

It has been a great place to live with so much to do and see. It has the perfect blend of seasonal changes that allow for plenty of activities and the community itself is very welcoming, even for those new to the area.

One of our first concerns was where exactly would we go? Could we afford to stay here in Wenatchee or did we need to look at some other options?

I had talked about moving out of town to a rural setting for some time, but the opportunity just never seemed to present itself. The current boom in local real estate prices added another hurdle in which we weren’t quite prepared to negotiate.

A large herd of elk graze in the foothills above Kamiah, Idaho.

Wanting to purchase a place with a little more acreage had pretty much come to be impossible.

That’s when we began to start thinking outside of the box. What if we just move somewhere completely different? That was a concept we had never seriously considered and it soon became the spark that fueled our curiosity of what other options might be possible.

When I first started researching various locations on the internet, there was one particular town that stood out from all the others. It had weather similar to Wenatchee, plenty of Forest Service and state land in which I could find work (since I had previous work experience with the U.S. Forest Service out of Leavenworth), and it was situated next to a major river, much like where we already lived.

Best of all, there appeared to be lots of acreage available and most properties looked to be within our budget.

The town of Kamiah — a town of 1,239 people in central Idaho situated among rolling foothills that lead out toward the Camas Prairie to the west and the steep forested mountains of the Selway-Bitterroot to the East — seemed to have it all.

Since much of what has been a big part of my life — spending the bulk of my time outdoors and enjoying everything that lifestyle has to offer — it was not a hard choice for me to make.

Barb, on the other hand, had a slightly different point of view.

I knew weather was a definite deal breaker for her and she was not going to live somewhere that more resembled the arctic than the mild temperatures of the Wenatchee Valley.

There had to be a grocery store, paved roads, and some means of health care that didn’t require a two-hour drive in order to get there.

With that said, Barb shares some of her own thoughts at the time.

Barb plays with the dogs near the Clearwater River. She said: “We wanted rural and rural we got.”

Barb

So now I get to relate my own journey from life-long Wenatchee resident to Kamiah newcomer as I sit here in my ever present slippers, fleece and flannel blanket (since the cost of power in Kamiah is three times that of Wenatchee) it’s what is needed just to stay warm in this place.

When we decided last year to take on this new adventure, I had already been taking some time off from my permanent job as a registered nurse and took temporary employment working for my family in their annual cherry harvest.

Spending that time with my family was priceless. It was like a big reunion of sorts, with lots of good stories, inside jokes, and the chance to have some fun-loving laughter with relatives I don’t get to share near enough time with or visit as often as I’d like.

Also, the paycheck from the cherry harvest was handy as one of the riskiest decisions we decided to make, on this new move, was leaving Wenatchee without having any jobs lined up in Kamiah. We got more than a few odd expressions from friends and family over that one.

Typical of Lance though, he immediately began networking once we got settled in, and managed to secure employment within a couple months of our arrival.

For anyone who knows Lance, they know he’s always been a rural kind of guy. I always knew that someday we’d be moving somewhere beyond the city limits — it was only a matter of time.

We wanted rural and rural we got. My sister and one of her long-time male coworkers were looking at a map to see exactly where we were moving to. He simply stated, with a slight air of bewilderment, “Wow, there’s nothing out there… she must really love him.”

I definitely agree. There are some things missing out here you might tend to take for granted when living in a larger town. There are no shopping malls, department stores, sushi bars, franchise espresso stands, traffic lights, or even traffic for that matter.

It’s a lifestyle of modifications to say the least, but keeping that in mind, Lewiston is “only” a mere hour and a half away.

Me

After the big move in October of 2017, we are just now getting settled into this place we now call home.

Spring has arrived at last and we find ourselves taking frequent hikes with our two Australian Shepherd dogs as we begin to familiarize ourselves with these new surroundings.

The landscape thrives with abundant wildlife, and we frequently encounter deer, elk, wild turkeys, eagles, hawks and other small game. It is not hard to see why the Nez Perce hold this region in such high regard.

As the days quickly pass into months, we continue to learn more about where we live all the time. That’s something we both really enjoy, no matter where we happen to find ourselves. It’s the people, the culture and the history that make each place so uniquely different.

Wenatchee will always be part of what we consider home, that is especially true for Barb, but at present, we are thoroughly enjoying this new adventure in our life and where it continues to take us.

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