Aug 282013

Highway 75 between Challis and Ketchum in Idaho

Located right in between Challis, ID and Stanley, ID — along the Salmon River off Hwy 75 is where you will find one of the most picturesque campgrounds ever.  It’s called the “Salmon River Campground,” and we could hardly believe our eyes at the sites here.  They are all big and spacious sites but best of all, they are located along the Salmon River.  Right there!  If you love fishing or just relaxing by a river — this is the place for you. Continue reading »

Mar 152013

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{ Written by Jeff & Monica }

By Jeff

You cannot visit McCall without snowboarding/skiing at Tamarack Resort.  Located near Donnelly, Idaho and about 30 minutes from McCall we arrive and are excited for our day ahead.

Tamarack enjoys a 2,800 vertical drop that is filled with open bowls, glades, challenging back country and high speed corduroy groomers and the views are nothing short of spectacular.

Monica, B and I arrived at Tamarack Resort early Thursday morning. The Sports Dome was bustling with guests signing up for lessons, a modest line for rental equipment and a great espresso bar that served us up some of the best coffee, ever.

Outside the temperature was a perfect 19 degrees F, no wind, crystal clear skies and four inches of new snow.

Monica signed B up for a private ski class while I joined ski legend Wolfe Ashcroft  for a guided tour through the trails and trees of Tamarack.  Wolfe led me in a game of cat and mouse through the variable mountain terrain.  I was no match for this world class skier. Short hikes  from the summit rewarded us with uncountable turns in untracked powder.

From the base, two high-speed quads whisked us back up to the top in minutes. Lift lines are nonexistent and the snow sports staff and locals treated us as close friends.

Tamarack’s terrain, quality of snow and breathtaking views are a recipe for success.

It was an epic day and B is still asking

“When can we go back to ski Tamarack daddy?”

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Shots from the top (click to enlarge)

Tamarack Pano

Tamarack Pano2

Tamarack Pano3

By Monica

What hubby forgot to mention was that on this morning, when we stepped out of the Airstream and climbed into the truck it was – 7 degrees outside!  We had no  inkling it was that cold outside seeing how warm and toasty we were inside the Airstream.   I cooked a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes while hubby showered and B got dressed.

Time and time again we are so thankful to have our Airstream.  Even in these extreme temperatures we are able to enjoy ourselves glamping!

When we arrived at Tamarack Resort I was completely taken with the beauty here.  The mountains and the clear blue skies just took my breath away.   I signed B up for private lessons while hubby took off to ski the mountain and check things out.

I took a walk down around the base of the mountain and through the village to take some photographs to share with you :)

If you thought Tamarack Resort was part of skiing history, think again.  The resort is open along with lift upgrades, snow making machines and groomers to ensure corduroy runs for all to enjoy.   I was thoroughly impressed with the shopping experience in the sports dome to the many dining options from Morels in the Lodge as Osprey Meadows to the Canoe Grill, Seven Devils Pub and Hot Shots Espresso that served us an amazing coffee.

{ B with his private ski instructor }

Inside the Sports Dome things were busy with gear fitting, rentals, lift ticket purchases, etc.

It was definitely very, very cold outside and I had Oliver with me, in my pack and well, he was getting cold too.  We decided to head over to the Lodge as Osprey Meadows and check things out over there.

The Lodge at Osprey Meadows is elegantly perched above Osprey Meadows golf course and Lake Cascade. Wood beams, native stone, hardwoods, and hand-wrought iron complement the lodge’s interior furnishings. The Lodge Hotel Rooms, Studios and Condominiums feature the latest in design and look out on to magnificent views of the outdoors so this would be a great place to stay if you wanted to ski Tamarack exclusively, if of course, you didn’t have your mobile ski lodge :)

View from the deck of the lodge.  Beautiful wouldn’t you say?

As we drove back to the Airstream at the end of the day we couldn’t help but reflect back on how beautiful our experience at Tamarack truly was.  People who live here, truly love living here.   They tell me they wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world.

And do you know what?  I am beginning to feel the same.  This piece of the world is truly such an amazingly beautiful place.

We arrived back at the Airstream to freshen up before heading to our Apres-Ski dinner reservations at Rupert’s.

That post, coming next :)

McCall Trip Roundup:

Part 1: Arriving ♥
Part 2: McCall Town Guide ♥
Part 3: Skiing Brundage Mountain and Apres-Ski at the Shore Lodge ♥
Part 4: A Snowmobile Adventure to the Burgdorf Hot Springs and Beyond ♥
Part 5: A Day at Tamarack Resort ♥
Part 6: Apres-Ski at Rupert’s in Historic Hotel McCall ♥
Part 7: A Culinary Adventure in the Forest ♥
Part 8:  Brundage Cat Skiing Adventures & Apres-Ski at the Pancake House ♥


Mar 122013

8:00 am sharp we were at the office of “Cheap Thrills” snowmobiling rental company.  This was a BIG day for us.  We have NEVER been smowmobiling before and I will admit, for the few days leading up to this morning, I was nervous.   What if I tipped the snowmobile over?  Then what?  Ugh.  So many thoughts running through my head.

On top of those early worries, I was also not sure what to do with Oliver.  We could not keep him in his kennel in the Airstream all day while were gone.  That was for sure.  And what was more cetain is that he could not come on this trip with us.  *sigh*  Fortunately, thanks to the local vet in McCall (Dr. Parks), he referred me to a wonderful couple, Barbara and Buzz Smole who run the Happy Dog Inn.

“You will love Barbara and Buzz!  I bring my dogs there and some other doctors in the area also bring their dogs to them when they need a sitter.  They are the best!” Dr. Parks tells me over the phone and relief sets in.

So the night before we were going to go snowmobiling, we packed up Oliver’s things and headed 15 minutes from McCall into the town of New Meadows to the Happy Dog Inn.  The truck was very quiet during that 15 minutes except for some long pauses between questions from B.

“Will there be other dogs there mommy?”


“Can I see them?”

“We can ask Mrs. Barbara”

“What about crumbs on the floor?  Will they have crumbs on the floor?”

B has a serious phobia of Oliver eating something off the floor like a miniscule piece of chocolate that will send the puppy into a medical catastrophe.   He loves his dog, very, very much and really worries after him.

“I’m sure they keep their floors very clean.”

So we arrive and B goes first and rings the bell.  Barbara comes out and invites us in.  Her home is cozy, warm and Barbara is just a doll.  Totally easy to talk to and makes you feel like part of the family.  I explain how to prepare Oliver’s food, how he likes to sleep, how he will cry because he does not like to be alone — I went on and on and she smiled and listened patiently.

B asks to see the other dogs and she lets them out.  Two Cairn Terriers and one sweet Dachshund.  Bradley seemed satisfied as we petted the sweet dogs and then made our way back to the truck to head back to the Airstream.

Oh boy, the truck was quiet and when I turned around to peek at B he looked very sad looking out of the window :(

“Just one day honey,” I tell him.  “Just one day”

“I know mommy…24 hours”

So we head on into Cheap Thrills and are ready to go.  Then I see the wall of gear.  Okay the walls of gear.  Wow — suits, helmets, boots, gloves, you name it — they’ve got it.  I came thinking I was fully prepared with all of my ski layers and coat and ski helmet.

Nope.  Not even close.

Peggy and her husband Chuck run Cheap Thrills and this morning Peggy was there to help us get outfitted.

“Oh, I think I’m ready to go as I am Peggy” I tell her not wanting to put on another outfit.

“Are you sure?  When you are skiing Monica, your body is warm but when you are snowmobiling, your body is not warm and the wind chill is very cold”

I hesitated and then agreed.

“Okay, suit me up”

Peggy worked her magic whisking suit after suit off the racks for all three of us.  Then came the boots and the helmet and lets not forget the most amazing warm gloves I have ever tried on.

I felt like a true Michelin Man but did not care because I knew I would be warm.

We proceed to the counter where Peggy shows us the map of the terrain we would be covering and we decide that we should first head straight to the town of Warren (which sounded interesting from the gold mining history Peggy mentioned to us) and then head to Burgdorf Hot Springs where we could spend a few hours before heading back.

Good plan!

And here is Chuck with Hubby and B :)

Chuck is absolutely WONDERFUL.  This man will take his time explaining to you everything there is to know about snowmobiling from how to start, stop, navigate get the snowmobile unstuck to changing the belt which he made us feel confident we will NEVER need to do, as long as we stayed on the path.  I memorized Chuck’s every word as if I were going to take a major exam.  I mean, I was afraid of snowmobiling but now, after listening to Chuck and having him explain how to go about it – I felt very at ease and RELIEVED.  I was ready and excited!

“Let’s go!  Do you mind if I lead?” I shouted through my helmet (which I later learned is pointless – no one can hear you)

And we were off!

Our first stop?  The town of Warren :)

Elevation:  5,906 ft (1,800 m) |  Population:  16

30+ miles later and we arrive in Warren.  We park our snowmobiles and have a look around and imagine what it would be like to live here and what it could have been like “Back Then.”

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Take a walking tour of Warren here

We decide it’s time to head over to the hot springs and continue back the way we came.  B is having the time of his life and is riding on the back of hubby’s snowmobile.  I was fine with that since I take more confidence in Hubby’s snowmobiling skills than mine at this point.

Thanks to Fred Burgdorf who saw the ($$) potential  in these natural hot springs he turned Burgdorf into one of Idaho’s first resort towns opening in 1870.

Here for $6.00 you can soak for as long as you like in either the large swimming pool or in one of the smaller pools but be warned.  The smaller pools are where the natural hot spring inlets are and they average a temperature of 113 degrees farenheit.  For that simple fact, it is not recommended for a soak longer than two minutes (hubby came out after three and from his neck down he resembled the color of a beet, lol – it is that hot!).

One cool fact we learned was that these hot springs are infused with lithium (that’s right) and it’s true to say that after our soak, we definitely felt relaxed :)

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In addition to the hot springs, there are cabins that can be rented to camp in, making for a great weekend.  On our way out we were told that we may pass a group of snowmobiler’s coming in.  They were from a ski gear company that had rented out all the cabins to do a photo shoot covering their new products/gear.

What a cool setting for a shoot like that!

We climb out of the hot springs and are refreshed by the cool air against our skins.  Before we get too freezing we enter the cozy dressing rooms and slip back into our warm snowmobile clothing that has been kept warm by the wood burning stove.

We take one look back at Burgdorf to bid farewell and start up the snowmobiles to head back to the trail head where Chuck would be waiting for us.

What a beautiful day it was.

Absolutely.  Beautiful.

“We’re going to eat at Steamer’s tonight” I tell Chuck excitedly back at the snowmobile parking lot.

“Oh wow, really!  Let me tell you what you should order!”

I ♥ Chuck.  He insisted that his wife Peggy is a Halibut connoisseur and has had the best Alaskan Halibut in none other than Alaska on one of their last visits.  But the other night at Steamer’s Chuck tells me, Peggy ordered a Halibut with a Lobster Bisque/Sauce and he told me she said it was the best she has ever had.

I mean, he went on and on.

I was SOLD!  And lucky for me, it was the special of the night at Steamers :)  Hubby ordered the lemon trout with lamb and both were a huge hit.  B ordered the kid’s pizza and you know, what kid doesn’t love a pizza and this one was no exception.  We were a bunch of happy glampers that evening at Steamers.

Not to mention the cozy ambiance of the restaurant and the service which was impeccable.   Friendly staff and all smiles always checking up on us.   The tables were awesome too, nice and big so you had plenty of room and your dishes were not all cramped together.   They also had some great picture books covering McCall that I very much enjoyed spreading open on the table and having a look.

Speaking of big tables, I was actually able to set up my tripod ontop of the table, on the lowest level to snap some pictures of our food when unfortunately my battery died :(  I was heartbroken.  Even my backup batteries were dead (something I have learned on this trip is that batteries do not last long in cold weather).  I was relieved to have my iPad with me so I shot some pictures with that, but still — wish my camera would have been up and running.  Lesson learned.

“So what did you think about today?” I ask B over dinner.  “Did you have fun?”

“Oh yes mommy, it was epic!  I’m happy that I could ride back on the snowmobile with you and I think the hot springs were awesome.  Do you think there is really gold in the river in Warren?”

“Oh yes, I really do think there is still good there.  Would you like to go gold mining someday?”

“Oh yes!  But first mommy, can we go and pick up Oliver?  It has been exactly 24 hours”  he tells me, eyes wide with anticipation.

“Yes!  Let’s go get Ollie!”

We could hardly wait :)


Our day spent with Cheap Thrills snowmobiling through the backcountry to the sweet town of Warren and then to Burgdorf was something that we never even imagined existed.  To be able to snowmobile to hot springs and soak the day away was an incredible adventure we will never soon forget.

Dining at Steamers and the excellent food and service the we encountered gave our wonderful, adventure filled day a wonderful ending.

What an amazing town you are McCall and all the people here that we have met so far, thank you for your warm hospitality and warm welcomes! ♥

McCall Trip Roundup:

Part 1: Arriving ♥
Part 2: McCall Town Guide ♥
Part 3: Skiing Brundage Mountain and Apres-Ski at the Shore Lodge ♥
Part 4: A Snowmobile Adventure to the Burgdorf Hot Springs and Beyond ♥
Part 5: A Day at Tamarack Resort ♥
Part 6: Apres-Ski at Rupert’s in Historic Hotel McCall ♥
Part 7: A Culinary Adventure in the Forest ♥
Part 8:  Brundage Cat Skiing Adventures & Apres-Ski at the Pancake House ♥

Mar 072013

Glamping at McCall RV Resort & Northfork lodge has many benefits including it’s short proximity to the center of town.

Carrie at the front desk tells me:  “You just walk to the top of the hill and you’ll see the Airport.  Along the fence you will see the maintained pathway that will take you straight into town.  Just 20 minutes and you are there!”

So that is exactly what Oliver and I did.  We  left McCall RV Resort, found that path and made our way to the downtown portion of McCall to explore.

The skies were clear, the sun was shining and even though the temperature was in the 20’s — it felt beautiful . . .

mccall town

This town has so much to offer by ways of shopping, art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, a bakery and candy store and so much more.  In the summertime I am told the lake comes alive with boating, water skiing, jet skiing, paddle boarding, swimming, fishing and more.

While walking around downtown, I came to discover that the people who live here are not only incredibly proud of their town they are also extremely friendly and willing to help you find your way around should you get lost, which we did, a couple of times.  We finally made our way to the McCall Chamber of Commerce which is conveniently located in the heart of downtown McCall.  I picked up a map and some brochures covering outdoor activities that caught my eye.

As we continued on we spotted the local candy shop.  Their specialty are their candy dipped apples.  I exercised my willpower heavily this day but did buy B some chocolate covered seafoam (his favorite on trips like these).

We took a stroll past Rupert’s restaurant located right along Lake Payette in the Historic Hotel McCall.  Rupert’s is amazing and I am really looking forward to sharing with you all about our dining experience that we had the pleasure to enjoy.  In addition, I felt very honored to meet Chef Gary Kucy of Rupert’s who has been nominated for the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards as “Best Chef in the Northwest.”  We were very excited to enjoy Chef Gary’s delectable dinner that he prepared for us that evening at Rupert’s and it is a meal that hubby, B and I are still talking about today.  Once again, another reason to come to McCall if only to enjoy the culinary magic that comes out of Rupert’s kitchen!

Making our way around town we end up at the sweet little knitting shop called “Keep me in Stitches.”  This shop was full of ladies who were busily knitting away at the big table.  I kindly introduced myself and asked if I could take some pictures of the shop (because the colors of the yarns stacked up from the floor to ceiling were so inviting) and they were more than happy to allow me to do that.

“Have you been next door to Stacey Cakes?” one of the ladies asks me as she peeks up through her glasses.

“Oh, I am actually on my way there.  I have heard many wonderful things about it. “

{ This was the point when everyone around the table put down their knitting projects and proceeded to tell me about how wonderful it is next door.  A couple of the ladies even stood up and walked closer to me. }

Taking of her glasses to get a better look at me, one the the ladies proudly declared, complete with hand waving in the air  that “Stacey is a genius baker!  You must try her gingersnaps — you have to get yourself a bag.  I’m not a big fan of gingersnaps but her’s are something completely out of this world.  You will not be able to stop eating them.  Oh and you must try her salted caramel cheesecake – oh, my goodness, you won’t believe how good it is…” (she went on and on…..and I was listening very carefully!)

Another lady told me  “She makes the most amazing savory tarts you will ever taste.  You know, for us here in McCall, we are very lucky to have Stacey here because her treats are a true luxury for us.  People come from all over Idaho and beyond to McCall just to visit her bakery…”

So that was our next stop Stacey Cakes.  But unfortunately, on this day, she was closed :(

I stood there with my hand over my brow, peering through her bakery window, feeling really sad.  **sigh**  When she did open, I fell incredibly ill on our trip and could not make it.   While laying in bed in the Airstream I felt pretty frustrated that I was under “quarantine” until I could feel better.  It really is a huge bummer when you get sick on a trip that you have been looking forward to for months in advance.

I was really looking forward to visiting this bakery because it came highly recommended by not only those sweet ladies in the knitting shop, but by virtually everyone we met in McCall.   But remember when I wrote that the people of McCall are some of the friendliest around and very town proud?  Well Stacey herself found out from a mutual friend how badly I wanted to try her gingersnaps (and why I couldn’t make it in) so she sent me a box out of the kindness of her heart with a special note wishing me well.

stacey cakes

I will tell you, it was like we were having a special celebration in the Airstream back at home when I unwrapped these beautiful gingersnaps.   I took extra care opening the box, removing the bag, carefully opening the envelope — reading the note.  All of it was such a special treat for me.  B was patient with me while I took some pictures of these amazing morsels.   This boy understands my funny ways.

And wouldn’t you know, everyone in McCall was right.

These.  Were.  To.  Die.  For.

{  Soft and chewy, the taste of fresh ginger is there with a slight crunch from the sugar coated exterior and then all of a sudden you find that the buttery, crunchy, chewy cookie melts in your mouth}  Heavens, I have never had anything like this, ever, in my life.

I could probably move to McCall — just to be closer to this Bakery  {This thought, at the moment of my first bite,  did seriously cross my mind}

 A little bit about Stacey:

Stacey is a trained, skilled pastry chef and it has been her profession and passion for over 20 years.   She set up shop in McCall to provide her high quality, original baked goods that she is truly passionate about for the people in this small community.

You will find Stacey sourcing some of the finest ingredients such as apples from local farmers, rhubarb from a friends garden, flour, potatoes, huckleberries from regional growers and it is that, which makes her baked goods the finest they can be.   Nearly everything you will find in Stacey Cakes is baked from scratch, that is, using raw products to create the treats they offer.

Just read for yourself what some online reviewers have said about Stacey Cakes:

“We visited Stacey Cakes over the July 4th holiday week and bought one bag of ginger snaps. These were so delicious that my wife and two kids and I nearly killed the entire bag on the drive to Oregon! If I had only tried them in the store first I would have bought all the bags they had…they are that good! I also had a peach turnover that was delicious as well…This was the best food (or treats) that we had in McCall! This is a must go if you are visiting this area.”

♥ ♥ ♥

“Some of the best pastries we ever had! We had the lemon torte and caramel cheesecake. I like the lemon on the slightly tart side, and I felt the torte was just the right blend of tart and sweet. My wife loved the cheesecake, didn’t want to finish it, but kept eating because it was just that good! We went back the next day to take some home. We would definitely go back when we return to Mccall.”

♥ ♥ ♥

“No mere bakery, this tiny tucked-away shop holds a pastry chef extraordinaire. The delicacy of crusts, the care taken with fillings….an absolute must-go when anywhere near McCall, Idaho. We live a couple of hours away and head there for weekends when we can. My 15 year old son just finished the last of the weekend take-home treats, and piteously asked, “Can Stacey Cakes ship to our home??”

Art galleries are plentiful here as well in the town of McCall.  Just have a look at this interesting display that was on the outdoor entry at one of the galleries.  This display changes often as I learned.  When we first pulled into town,  there was a huge display of pink and purple pom-pom’s of some sort that caught my eye.

While walking around McCall with Oliver on this day, I was approached THREE times with the same question.

“Excuse me?  Were you at Steamers last night??”

“Um, no?  I am sorry, it wasn’t me.”

“Wow!  I could have sworn it was you!!”

Weird.  I wonder what the person I supposedly resembled was doing that made people come up and ask if it was me?   How funny!

So you can see below the restaurant they were referring to:   “Steamers.”  People have told me that it’s a popular place in town for dinner and that if I go (and if it’s available) I should order the Halibut with a Lobster Bisque sauce/topping.  Sounded divine to me!

Well guess what?  We did go and dine there and the food was really good (especially the Halibut).  Talk about an unassuming restaurant with some great food! More to come on Steamers soon ! :)

Located in the heart of downtown McCall is where you will find the Manchester Ice and Event Centre.   With its large indoor ice-skating rink and grandstand seating looking out towards beautiful Payette Lake and the surrounding snow-capped mountains, the Manchester Ice & Event Centre provides a stunning setting for a variety of skating activities and events.  Offering activities from open skating, hockey camps, private parties, ice shows and the McCall Figure Skating Club it’s a joy to know that this venue centrally located in the heart of McCall allowing everyone to walk to nearby amenities after time spent at the Ice and Event Center.   Town proud people have told me, “We could have built this way out of town, but we wanted it here, right in the heart of downtown McCall to bring everyone together.”

I could probably write a book covering  McCall and everything this charming town has to offer.  After spending our mid-winter break here, Hubby, B and I had fallen in love with it, the people and the general overall feeling that one gets when visiting here which I try to describe as warm and welcoming.

Needless to say, we have put a return trip to McCall on our summertime travel schedule and hope that you do too!

McCall Trip Roundup:

Part 1: Arriving ♥
Part 2: McCall Town Guide ♥
Part 3: Skiing Brundage Mountain and Apres-Ski at the Shore Lodge ♥
Part 4: A Snowmobile Adventure to the Burgdorf Hot Springs and Beyond ♥
Part 5: A Day at Tamarack Resort ♥
Part 6: Apres-Ski at Rupert’s in Historic Hotel McCall ♥
Part 7: A Culinary Adventure in the Forest ♥
Part 8:  Brundage Cat Skiing Adventures & Apres-Ski at the Pancake House ♥