***Day 83-85: Idaho, cont: On wolves, mining mountaintops for microscopic gold, and WWJD? p.s, one word: solarroadways.

***Apologies, as this blog did not get transferred from my babystepstotheelevator blogsite back when it was first published and so it is appearing out of order
After saying goodbye to Jim and the critters, YERT headed toward Boise, where a lovely lady named Bonnie was waiting to hear from us since we’d had no cell phone service or internet connection for days. We saw more gorgeous scenery and hills, such as this one, left, with its encouraging message, as well as some weird sights like completely burnt forests, and what looked to be have been a river with no water in it…

Mark had to finally call Bonnie from a roadside phone booth. I had forgotten how a phone booth could look so necessary. By the time we rolled in, it was dark but not too dark for us to realize what an awesomely cute neighborhood she lives in (She calls it a completely blue neighborhood in a red state). She had made amazing veggie dishes for us (thank you, Bonnie!) and we also got to talk to Chris Walser and his cool wife, who told us that the Governor of Idaho went on record saying that he wanted to be the first to “tag” a wolf when the Bush Administration opens season on them (in the works.)

Mark got to do two of his Al Gore Climate presentations on Monday, at Albertson College and then talked to students afterwards about what YERT has been up to, while Ben and I went downtown and walked into a wonderful building that seemed to be filled withsustainable environmental goodness. We talked to Jessie Timberlake of Defenders of Wildlife about their wolf compensation plan – “paying” farmers for livestock lost to the occasional wolf’s meal – who then suggested that we go downstairs and talk to John Robeson at the Idaho Conservation League (awesome as Ben had been trying to get ahold of John anyway.)

John Robeson is part of Idaho Conservation League, a grassroots organization that is protesting against the Atlanta gold mine (a Canadian company has mining rights to the land, which, according to the Mining Law of 1872, gives them carte blanche to do with as they will). The process to leach microscopic gold out of tons of dirt by cyanide takes off an entire mountaintop at the headwaters of the Boise River, and cannot guarantee not to leach cyanide into groundwater and the river itself. As John said: To the people who fish there, who swim there, who drink from that river (all of Boise), the Boise River is worth much MORE than gold.

At about 6pm Ben and I wrapped up with John and turned our cellphones back on, but not soon enough to get to Mark and to our next appointment with an environmental reporter named Jill. We had gone right over our time and Mark was stalling for us but she had been having trouble reaching us when we were out in Elk Bend and was done, so we lost that interview. We felt pretty bad about it until her husband, Bob, took us to dinner and explained that she was actually quite swamped with work and was relieved not to have the appointment. (Thanks, Bob!)

Our next stop was a surprise. It was John’s recommendation – the Evangelical Vineyards. Here, Christians are sensing an imbalance and coming together to be better stewards of God’s Green Earth: Let’s Tend the Garden. (See also Restoring Eden.) Ben and Mark interviewed Josh, one of the flock, who told us of a dog-shaped B&B on our way up North. (I just googled b&b central idaho shaped like a dog and we found our place to stay. Ben made sure that we did it immediately as he did not want to miss out on this great opportunity.) Then we interviewed the gardener, “Mr. Bill,” who insisted that when we pick the organic raspberries, we must eat one for every two we put in the basket. Mr. Bill (Bill Meeker) also told me that the best success for the community garden is getting people to adopt a vegetable. Then they care about its development, and it thrives from individual attention. Hence his giant melons.

The Dog Bark Park in Cottonwood, ID, was built and painted like a giant beagle. We got there in the dark. Ben and I slept in the body, Mark slept in the head. We had a bit of a hard night; Ben is tired of my mothering him and i am tired of not being a real mother. lots of crying. horrible sleep. no fun in the dog. likely fault of 85 days and no days off. next morning breakfast was all tender, and crap coffee. After we ate we went back to the “Inn” and talked to its owner in his chainsaw sculpture workshop. He and his wife use only deadwood for their carvings and offer their sawdust and wood shavings to farmers for fields. They have had the same truck for 23 yrs, just keep on repairing it. That feels pretty sustainable to them. Our still camera died bc i had not charged batteries, hence no photo of the Inn.

And then there’s solar roadways. This seems a crazy idea but if somebody can take this guy’s cool ideas and make them work, we are all for it. Go onto the website just to sign onto his encouragement page!!!

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