Sometimes we make a plan, and sometimes the plan makes you. In this case there was a short list of criteria that took an idea and sent it to the next level of consciousness.
Simple: Look for a place that has a great water source and can offer the luxury of a view to look out to a river, lake, stream, or creek . Find a place that has like minded people that care more about their family and friends than they care about the things they have.
Finaly, this place has to be semi-remote. Close enough to a fire station and hospital so that any emergency can be taken care of relatively quickly. One last caveat; Far enough away that your neighbors can barely be seen.
I eliminated Oregon and Washington because of expense and politics. I gravitated towards Idaho because of the affordability, the wonderful people, and the political climate which is more aligned with my own beliefs.
Idaho is what Marin County California (where I grew up) used to be. Nobody cared what you had, only who you were (your word was your contract), and how hard you worked. So, having never been to Idaho before I researched the best path to lead to a successful viewing of the state I targeted to be part of my retirement haven.
First there was the flight, “Where do I fly to?” I’d never been to Spokane Washington before but I realized this would be the most affordable flight. I’d have to rent a truck (needed four wheel drive just in case) and then plot a path to a centralized location in the panhandle. I picked the panhandle because I wasn’t interested in the over-run Boise area and other areas were simply either too cold or too expensive.
I picked a B&B (The Laird House) in a small town just north of Moscow Idaho and south of Coeur d’Alene. This seemed a centralized place that could act as my base for exploration. Loved this little B&B.
Prior to coming to the B&B I set up appointments with three realtors that covered three different parts of the panhandle. There was the Sandpoint/Coeur’d Alene area, the Potlatch area, and finally the Lewiston area. Of course none of these places I’d been to and never (in my wildest dreams) did I expect to view the beauty I eventualy encountered on my sojurn into the unknown.
Potlatch is a very small town on the edge of the Palouse region of Idaho, originally built to house the employees of the worlds largest white pine sawmill. In its almost eighty-year lifespan the mill produced millions of board feet of lumber. Not knowing any of that I left the guidance to a local realtor as we explored such small towns as Princeton, Cora, Hampton, and Chambers.
I remember vividly the pouring rain as we traveled to properties for sale that fell well short of my expectations. We went to places that were difficult to find and even more difficult to get out of. We almost became stuck in the mud on several occassions but soldiered on through the monsoon like conditions. It became clear that this part of Idaho was a little to rustic in its constitution and too far from medical, fire, and commercial conveniences.
This led me to the next part of the journey, Sandpoint Idaho. Once again I knew virtually nothing about Sandpoint Idaho except that I had read that it had been voted “the most beautiful town in America” in 2012 by USA Today. 52 miles north of Coeur d’Alene I was amazed at the entry point to Sandpoint (a 2 mile bridge over the largest lake in Idaho, Lake Pend Oreille). The beauty was captivating and led to a well planed community that blended hand-crafted artistic license with old fashion family owned retail businesses. The pubs, and the Cedar Street Bridge Public Market which is a collection of boutique shops a restaurant and a wonderful view of the Sandpoint Harbor added to the town’s flavor and composition.
I was really looking foward to seeing the area. We visited land for sale in Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry, and Priest River which eventually made one thing perfectly clear. It wasn’t going to be easy to find land that looked out to a water feature. The closest I came (with several visits to the area) spanning the course of 4-6 months was in Priest River. First I found the most spectacular property (9 acres) that had panoramic views up and down of the Priest River. I loved it until I noticed a cellphone tower on the property that could potentially lead to health issues.
Another property in the same area was not quite so spectacular (5 acres) but had a mini version of the view we had just witnessed. I made an offer on that property (in a gated community) but was perplexed to hear the agent hadn’t informed me that the property was already in escrow. I realized after taking a jaunt around Sagle (the last town I would visit in this area) that this area was not going to afford me the type of experience I was looking for (within my budget).
I felt that somewhere in this state there was a place for Nancy and I that would provide us with the criteria I set forth on this mission. Finally, my last expedition would lead me to the place we now call home.
After returning to Potlatch to rest I ventured out the next day to meet the last realtor on the list, Russ Martin. Russ is a character exactly like you’d expect as a guide to both entertain and inform you about the history of the area. Russ grew up in the area of Lewiston/Orofino and provided some very colorful accounts of the locals, the hunting and fishing, and the wonderful history that is indigenous to this part of Idaho.
We traveled to places for sale that were weird, beautiful but remote, and then came upon what would become our property in Orofino. There were many trips to this area and many unusual experiences with sellers but the property we would eventually settle upon checked all the boxes: Fire station – 5 miles away, Hospital – 8 miles away, and the town of Orofino offered the conveniences we were looking for with Lewiston (and many more conveniences) only 45 minutes from Orofino with a population of 31,000.
The process to acquire the property at Tie Creek was relatively painless. However, it took three different mortgage brokers, a pandemic, supply chain issues, and a heart attack before our dream home would be a reality. Now we have a beautiful home in an area that’s like a park (bald eagles, elk, bear, deer, wild turkey’s, and even a cougar).
Whoever said the journey is the reward is an idiot… the reward is the reward.
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