Twin Springs Resort (population: 2) seems to come out of nowhere, which a driver might tend to feel that they’re in the middle of, shortly before arriving. The dubious sign letting you know that you’re now ‘leaving the Boise National Forest’, seen seconds before arrival, isn’t reassuring.
“Are we SUPPOSED to be leaving the Boise National Forest?” I nervously asked my two passengers. They didn’t know. Neither did I.
We’d gone by many an ideal fishing hole and campground; and I couldn’t help but exclaim as we bumped along, “We have to go check that out sometime!” While the gravel road was admittedly a little harrowing, I was betting it was all going to be worth the trip; knowing that great experiences often require sacrifice. The best thing I could throw out here would be to soak in the jaw-dropping scenery of the Central Idaho Mountains and enjoy every bit of the ride.
We’d taken Highway 21 from Boise up the hill, then turned right immediately after getting past the More’s Creek bridge. We passed a very populated Spring Shores Arena and kept going. And going. And going. Eventually we saw a sign for the Cottonwood Ranger station where the road split. We kept right, but that’s about where I began to have my doubts. Should we have gone left, instead? Twelve more miles, and I didn’t see anything that looked like the cabins our friends told us about.
As hope was dimming, we rounded the curve and there we were, just that fast. It was everything I’d imagined and then some. If you like rustic, authentic Idaho, this is your spot. Eclectic furniture on the front porch of the office/common area/ bar/ store. A welcome sign, assuring that there would be cold drinks and friendly conversation within. The store/tavern’s motto is that they’ll be waiting for you at the end of the road ‘with a cold one’. It’s up to you exactly which cold one that might be. The establishment also touts snacks, the game on tv, a pool table and a meal table surrounded by chairs, and a common area complete with that living room/ man-cave feel, encouraging friendly conversation. There aren’t many strangers by the end of the weekend, unless solitude is what you crave, and if so, this is your place for that, too.
“We are here to help you have a good time,” said the Twin Springs website.
Well, all right then, I was ready. Any place that can relax a slightly OCD, semi-uptight-at-times person of German descent would get my vote, not to mention a return visit.
Three roomy cabins or even a two-storied house await visitors (called the Gatehouse) to choose from; (providing they called ahead to reserve them.) Each has its own stunning location, peaceful view of the Middle Fork, and built-in hot tub out on the back deck. Hot water is never a rarity with each being heated by the geothermal system. Getting the perfectly-temperatured shower in the morning was not going to be any problem.
“Where are the power poles?” I asked the other guests. They shook their heads. I hadn’t seen any, either, and yet we had electricity in our cabin. I found out later that a lot of effort had gone into creating a hydro-powered community here. Clever.
With the somewhat magical and restorative mineral waters literally out our back door, the river rushing by that both calmed and invigorated the senses, and the sun setting behind the mountains, we had all the makings of a beautiful stay.
After a long soak, a hearty meal and a much-needed rest on a bed with a high-quality mattress, I was beginning to think I wasn’t middle-aged after all. Nothing but nothing hurt on me in the morning. I discovered that I was a much more pleasant person when not dealing with pain of any kind. As the others slept on, the gravel road beyond was calling me. Taking my pepper spray, sunglasses and camera, I set out for a morning constitutional (isn’t that what they used to call them?), or in other words, a walk.
Good that I hadn’t read the information on the website about the bears in the area beforehand. Ignorance, in this case, was my bliss.
It would be honest to say that the views I witnessed as the sun came up inspired poetry. Not my own, mind you, but poetry all the same. Robert Frost, to be precise. Crunching up that road made me think of a similar walk I’d taken in Ketchum, some ten years before. It had been morning then, too. I thought about all that had happened in my life during the past decade, and felt both melancholy and gratitude for it all.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I—
I took the road less traveled by.
And that has made all the difference.”
Any atmosphere that could bring out the tenderness in me was journal-entry material. It had been a long while since I’d been this in tune with both nature and my own thoughts.
This would be the ideal location to do some serious writing. I wondered if I could swing a trip back up here in the fall, when the men would want to do some hunting, and I’d want to do some creative wordsmithing.
The smiles abounded when I re-entered the cabin. Three out of four fishermen had been successful. One of them had just caught her very first fish, and was glowing with excitement. Multiple fillets were loaded into the little freezer in the kitchen with no small amount of pride.
A few more great meals, another soak, and another sound nights’ sleep saw to it that I was one happy camper in the morning. Another day of fun and sun did nothing to lessen the mood. The group took a trip up the road to a spot called Neinmeyer, a campground with good fishing and even better shade. We played in the water, snacked, and lazily talked and napped while the sportsmen threw their casts and reeled in from time to time.
The only thing that was missing from my complete happiness was the sauna. I wasn’t a sauna-nut until I visited Europe and saw the skin they were all wearing over there. It could be genetics, but it could also be the fact that just about everyone, even those living in the humblest of apartments, had an indoor sauna. It extracts toxins and hydrates the skin, making people look and feel years younger. I could only imagine what fifteen minutes in the sauna would do for me, added to the combination of everything else. But alas, I could not find the sauna. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t asked.
“It’s that stone house right over there,” another guest at the resort told me, but it was dark and I couldn’t see where they were pointing.
“Oh yeah, it’s that stone place thataway,” yet another guest told me, but they pointed too quickly for me to see which direction they were referring to.
I wandered from stone dwelling to stone dwelling, ignoring DANGER: KEEP OUT signs, thinking that was just to keep the place private. That’s how I wound up briefly in the pump house. I found the sauna thirty minutes before it was time to drive back down the mountain; my bad luck. I would save my visit to the stone house for next time. Of course, it was the same little hut that I’d been passing by on my way down to the river all weekend long. Missing it took some talent; perhaps I had simply become far too relaxed to notice details like that during my stay at Twin Springs.
Would I make the long, dusty drive back to visit that part of Idaho again?
In a New York minute.
All bets are that the same hospitality, friendly conversation, beautiful setting, and cold sodas will be waiting for me just around that last bend in the road when I return.
Twin Springs: Population Two.
Highly recommended by this once world-weary traveler. Drive up the hill and find the ultimate place to chill.