Happy New Year 2024

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Every year becomes a notch in the calendar of life. Most people step into the new year with a resolve to become better in their personal and professional lives.

When we are younger it’s about new jobs, better income, perhaps hobbies/travel, and most certainly personal growth for those evolved enough to realize how important that is. The ticking clock of our expiration date isn’t thought about except for landmark ages where our friends remind us of just how old we are. That starts at age 30 and continues until 60.

After 60 (if you are a male)  you are addressed as sir or some variation to let you know that you are now “elderly”. Even your friends start telling you how good you look, “Compared to what?”

If you are blessed enough to have made some good decisions along the way, you can craft your own direction and life to perpetuate the happiness we all deserve.

This year of 2024 is a tale of two thoughts. On the one hand I am so very thankful for Nancy, my daughter, my friends, my health, our home in Idaho and the vision to travel and explore the world I’ve only read about.

Of course health is the most important. Without good health we are stifled in our ability to fulfill new and exciting chapters in our life. If you’ve experienced health issues and have recovered you realize how precious life is.

Now, time becomes a race against the aging clock. To experience the fruits of our labor and expand on the wonderful relationships we’ve cultivated through-out our lives. We must live in the moment always confident that the future is bright, the past is a memory, and the present is a gift.

2024 will be another trip to other parts of the world. Spain, Portugal, Madeira, and other places yet to be explored. This, while improving our home environment with beauty and creativity, breathing excitement into our visual wonderland.

The above thoughts are the best part of what is coming for Nancy and I in 2024. The flip side is to see what is becoming of the country we once loved so much.

With all  of the “Woke” hyperbole, gender confusion, mask mandates, more government over-reach, our personal freedoms being erased by greedy politicians, more “fake news”,  and the left wing control of most of the messaging… 2024 could become our Waterloo.

Children are now taught in our schools to hate our country. Our country’s history is now being used against us as a tool to erase all that which came before us. Teachers are now apologists attempting to cast hateful rhetoric about our history by suggesting those historical statues and events promoted systemic racism and other negative connotations.

History shouldn’t be erased to comfort those that don’t understand the benefits of learning from our past. While there is admittedly past and even present figures, historical events and symbols we should not blindly support… there is the pride we should feel in a country that far outdistances the rest of the world in humanitarian aid, technology, and more freedoms that have yet to be compromised.

When organizations such as “Black Lives Matter” identify with a racist agenda promoting one color over all others the time to stand up and be counted is now. If I said “White Lives Matter” I would be canceled in a heart beat… the hypocrisy is palatable.

Once again the double standard for those that are offended by everything, except their own systemic guilt for all that has transpired before them is a destructive force gaining incredible momentum.

This momentum is perpetuated by our educational system. From elementary school through college the teaching narrative of gender confusion, entitlement ideals, and socialist propaganda is simply brain washing. This is exacerbated by a left wing media that takes that agenda and spins it for their own destructive narrative to further divide us.

The owners of this mind control are the spinners of the web for their own economic benefit. From mask mandates, climate disinformation, and all the other laws going into affect to “protect us”. This is a sad commentary for those that still possess the ability for critical thinking.

2024 is poised to be the most important election year in our history. We either continue down this path of self destruction, which will wipe out our constitution, or we stand up for what this country used to stand for, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

Waterfalls and the Magic of Solitude

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Magic in Nature – Bidwell Park

As water falls into pools of quiet deep thought the answers we seek are the illusions of wisdom we hold close to our heart. The walks along paths through forests and glens appear to captivate the senses in a way that frees the best part of whom we are and how we see the world.

Everything seems so simple as sung by those that have felt the deepest expressions of musical sonnets. And yet, we find within our souls the wonder that is life and its nuances that carry us to our next adventure. Our experiences/adventures take us in many cases to uncharted territories that expand our horizones and deepen the layers of interspection.

The simplicity of staring in a vacuous manner at the beauty before us frees us from the complexity of dissecting the picture that unfolds within our spacial consciousness. To see the efortless scene changing within the framework of a picture is both inspiring and bewitching. Our base line ebbs and flows to the samba of movement provided by wind, water, sunlight, insects, birds, deer, and all those wonderful expressions of nature we will never see but only feel somewhere as a sixth sense.

For me it is the sunsets and the projection of different colors… the way light dances across the horizon that is most entrancing. And then there is the prospect of an unparalleled visionary involvment that combines the sensory with the sublime where imagination grips a beautiful memory that erupts over the embers of a thought we will never forget.

To become stress free within the body of nature and therefore experience it to our fullest requires the untethering of those obstacles that hold us to the constraints of the greatest hindrance we will ever know… the six inches between our ears.

This Blog is sponsored by PAZAZ. The Magic of Cooking and the Kitchen tools for the discerning chef that make this an unparalleled cooking experience. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purhcase these AMAZING Kitchen tools.

Living in Orofino is a Dream

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.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ (Kitchen tools for the discerning chef). Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.

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PAZAZ TM is more than a brand… it’s a lifestyle.

The “Magic of Cooking” implies the creation of something special in the kitchen, a transcendent experience by which all other experiences are judged. 
Music and Cooking are very similar. Both require passion, attention to detail, and a love that transcends the musical score or the recipe.  As you are the conductor of your life, we take very seriously our responsibility to give you the greatest kitchen equipment to help create your culinary experience. 

Lets Hear Some Good News, PAZAZ™ STYLE!

It seems that for the most part we only hear bad news. The good news apparently doesn’t sell but the bad news does. Well, whether it sells or not here comes some good news.

Recreational vehicles are a great way to tour the country, see the sights, and experience the many nuances of vistas, towns, and people along the way. But thanks to a dedicated father/daughter team (treading on the border of inspiration) they’ve become a lifeline for people who’ve lost their homes to California’s latest spate of devastating wildfires.

The brainchild of Woody Faircloth, the nonprofit “Emergency RV. org” pairs folks who are willing to donate their campers to a worthy cause with those in need. To date, Faircloth often with his 9 year old daughter, Luna (along for the ride), has delivered 95 motor homes to California area wildfire victims who otherwise might wait months for emergency housing.

Faircloth first got the idea for the charity in 2018. Like many that year the Colorado based father was tuned to the news coverage of California’s deadly “Camp Fire” which incinerated 153, 336 acres destroying hundreds of homes during Thanksgiving Week.

The story of a man who’d lost pretty much everything but managed to escape the inferno in his mobile home resonated with Faircloth. Inspired by how blessed that man felt just to have a place to spend Thanksgiving, Faircloth asked Luna what she thought about finding an RV and delivering it to a family so they could have a place to call home for Christmas. His daughter loved the idea and so the idea turned to action out of compassion for others.

Fairchloth launched a GoFundMe campaign to finance the first RV that he and his daughter dropped off in California. As word of their journey spread, people started reaching out to him via social media offering to donate their motor homes, and from there, EmergencyRV soon took shape.

Over the course of two months Faircloth and Luna have made the 40 hour round trip from Denver to California and back three separate weekends. Many of the mobile home recipients are firefighters and other first responders whose tireless efforts battling the blazes did not prevent their own homes from going up in flames.

One such man is George Wolley, who lost his own home to the Dixie fire on August 4th. “We fought the fire until we couldn’t fight it no more. We couldn’t stop it. We did our best. ” Wolley relayed this story to the Associated Press. “Before I got the RV, I felt like I was a burden on everybody that helped me… I slept in tents, my car…. the RV gave me a place to go.”

While his organization continues to grow and evolve, the original sentiments behind Faircloth’s humanitarian efforts remain constant. He’s grateful for the many blessings he has and blessed to be in a position to help others.

There are so many stories of people helping others from random acts of kindness to larger efforts, global efforts, that bring attention to the connection we all have with each other. It’s important to realize how many of us are blessed to live the life we live. Sometimes when our community needs our help we are there to lend a hand to lift others out of the circumstance they find themselves in and thus create a bond that makes where we live so much better.

Steven P. Pody wrote:

“Who can tell? Who can tell?

Like ripples in a pond,

how far a pebble of good intent

impacts the world beyond?”

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic of Cooking” Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.

An Up-and-Coming Wine Region

If you love wine as Nancy and I do you will not be surprised that we have literally stumbled upon an up and coming AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the Lewis-Clark Valley located in the central Northwest of Idaho.

There are two main AVA’s in Idaho. First, there is the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA, home to 16 wineries; then, in the southwest, there is the much larger Snake River Valley AVA, home to over 60 wineries (shared in its western part with Oregon).

The Lewis-Clark AVA is the first and only wine region to be nestled in the unique mountainous backbone of the Bitterroot Mountains. With steep river canyons and plateaus, it is home to the lowest elevation vineyards in the state at 950 feet. It’s also unique in that it spans both Idaho and Washington. Nearly 72 percent of the land is located in Idaho, while the rest lies in Washington State. The area is home to wineries growing just 80 acres of grapes which consist of 14 red and 9 white varietals.

Recently in wine competitions judges are consistently ranking Lewis-Clark Valley wines among the best in northwest competitions and beyond. The reason I am bringing this to your attention is because this region has really not been discovered by the average wine connoisseur. This region is considered part of the “new frontier” of wine growing areas in the United States.

It’s interesting that this region actually has a deep rooted history of growing grapes and producing wine. Wine grapes were introduced to the Clearwater Valley in 1872, thanks to the pioneering efforts of three gentleman, Louis Delsol, Robert Schleicher, and Jacob Schaefer. Of the three Schleicher was the most successful bringing home a number of awards for his hand-crafted wines.

To put things into perspective, when I first started going to the Napa Valley the wineries were more farm than winery. The hills were dotted with wineries that produced wines that were just starting to gain national recognition. The first real acknowledgement of wine in the Napa Valley belonged to Schramsberg Vineyards when then president Richard Nixon introduced this wineries sparkling wine “Blanc de Blanc” to the “Toast of Peace”. This was a toast (with Schramsberg sparkling wine) that opened up the normalization of relations between China and the U.S.

Then in 1976 there was the famous “Paris Tasting” which pitted Napa cabernet and chardonnay against the most famous first growth red Bordeaux wines from the southwest of France and the world renowned chardonnay from the Burgundy region located in the east-central part of France. Napa, with its Stag’s Leap Cask 23 cabernet and the now famous 1973 Chateau Montelena chardonnay, won the “Paris tasting” judged by a panel of all French judges. After that, California wines were about to explode.

Its interesting to note that there were really no decent restaurants in the Napa Valley until the early 80’s. That is when restaurateur Claude Rouas founded Auberge du Soleil and began a trend of exceptional cuisine to compliment exceptional wine.

Trends have no respect for people. I see the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA with its unique topography becoming an iconic destination. One such example of this trend can be seen from the Clearwater Canyon Cellars perched on the edge of a large sweeping bench overlooking the Clearwater River on the way to Orofino Idaho. To match its spectacular views is the wine it produces. Last year this winery won the prestigious 2020 “Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year”. Keep in mind that its competition included over 2,000 wineries from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.

Some quality restaurateurs are beginning to come to Lewiston, Idaho, and are  producing hand-crafted dishes sourced from local farms. It is not out of the realm of possibility that within a very short time this region will be associated with some of the finest restaurants, vineyards and wineries in the world.

DESTINATION… IDAHO, PAZAZ™ Style!

Let me just walk you through the process for choosing Idaho as a part time retirement refuge… far from the maddening crowd. The first set of criteria for choosing a part time retirement refuge was that the land was secluded but close to a hospital, fire station, and near a medium size town that had a quality supermarket and gas station.

The second criteria was the land itself had to have a plethora of water (in this case a well), with the lots large enough that I would not have neighbors too close, a view of water (creek, river, ocean, lake, etc.), mountains/hills, and a natural source of water like a creek or a river on the property.

The third criteria was the property must have electricity to it and a good road easy to access year round, preferably in a gated community.

The final criteria and perhaps the most important was the neighbors. The neighbors had to be quality people that care for each other and most importantly don’t care what you have but only care who you are. Giving, honorable people that believe in honor, integrity, and the value of keeping your word.

Nancy and I began our search at the top of the “panhandle” in Northern Idaho. Oregon and Washington were too expensive and suffered extensive droughts. Oregon had a drought in 2011 that lasted 270 weeks and Washington had a drought in 2014 that lasted 116 weeks. Idaho has suffered some drought but that was in the southern part of the state and not in the area we were interested in possibly looking at.

I had never been to Idaho before our search. I didn’t (at that time) remember anyone that was from Idaho and had never spoken with anyone about Idaho. This was a completely blind search. I did know that my beliefs were more in line with those of Northern Idaho with my perception of those people being kind and generous. I also remembered that Sand Point Idaho had received in 2015 by SmartAsset.com the moniker of “the best place to retire”. With that limited knowledge I proceeded with “the search”.

Before I arrived in Idaho I contacted a realtor that I’d been in email communication with and asked her to recommend realtors in Sand Point and Lewiston Idaho. Geographically she was located in the North/Central part of Idaho near a small town called “Potlatch”.

The Potlatch Lumber Company, as it turns out, was at one time the largest white pine mill in the world. I stayed in the small town named after the lumber company in a B&B which was located between Sand Point and Lewiston. And so it began…

I realized quite quickly that the area around Potlatch revolved around even smaller towns and didn’t meet the criteria I had assigned to this task. So, I drove up to Sand Point located 52 miles north of Coeur d’Alene. The entry to Sand Point is spectacular as it involves a two mile bridge across Lake Pend Oreille which is Idaho’s largest lake with 111 miles of shoreline. Cascading down into Sand Point’s main street you’ll notice the wonderful planned, quaint, expansion proposed for this beautiful town.

I was shown a myriad of properties that met some of the criteria I mentioned above but missed the mark on some very important requests. This town was impressive so I asked the realtor in Sand Point to target other properties in surrounding areas that might fit the bill. And so it was back to Potlatch to spend the night and get started on looking a little farther south in the Lewiston area.

The next day I drove to Lewiston to meet a new realtor named Russ whom was introduced as a local. He was supposed to know the in’s and out’s of the area and could possibly help me in my search based upon the criteria I’ve already mentioned. Russ had great stories about local history and drove me all the way to Kamiah passed Orofino and beyond looking at many different types of properties.

Well, I found nothing that really hit all the marks and so I went back to Henderson with the belief that there was something out there in the state of Idaho that would be just perfect. I came back twice more, actually making an offer on a property that was already in escrow, but missed out on that one above the Priest River near Sand Point. The final time before actually purchasing a property was with Nancy looking for that perfect home or land that would check all the boxes.

So in late September of 2019 (after I saw an advertisement for a development above the Dworshak Dam) Russ drove us up to Tie Creek. Tie Creek is a development built by the Potlatch Lumber Company that includes electricity, phone, a very good road right to the property and a gate to dissuade potential thieves. This property is 30 minutes from the medium size town of Orofino, 20 minutes from the hospital, and 10 minutes from the fire station. The final two selling points are that the parcels are 20 acre lots. We now own lots 13&14 looking out to the Dworshak Dam. We found our landing spot, our future part time retirement community, and by next spring the home will be completely finished.

Of course under the ever expanding category of, “its never easy”… there was a scamdemic, two of the three lenders backed out at the last minute, a well that was supposed to be 250 feet was actually 605 feet, and finally the difficulty in accessing all materials (in a timely fashion) to finish this build. Oh yes, and a heart attack thrown in for good measure. However now we can see a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train coming our way.

The greatest part of finding these lots are the people we’ve met (before committing to this transaction) that live near us. These people are the kind of quality people that provide the most wonderful insight into what the most important part of life is, family and friends.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ The Magic of Cooking, Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.