Skip to main content

Life in North Idaho: Guest Blog from Linda Tanaka

February 14, 2023

 NOTE:  In this is a special guest article by temple member and friend, Linda Tanaka who lives in North Idaho, reflects on interconnection and all the relationships, causes, and conditions that make life in the country possible.

Greetings from North Idaho or as my brother, David, calls it ‘the wilderness’. 

Our fall season was short lived.  Snow arrived before Thanksgiving and didn’t let up until Christmas.  We were doing snow management for days in a row.  Toss in having to buy a new snow blower before Christmas and a low of -24 degrees [that’s “minus”] with frozen pipes, Winter 2022 will be one to be remembered.

House in Snow

Are you wondering how a person born and raised in the Eastern Oregon desert then 30+ years in Northern California could end up about 6 miles from the Canadian border?  That’s a long story but I will give you the condensed version. 

My husband, Vic Cherven, is a geologist with extensive knowledge of California geology from his jobs during his career.  

Man and Woman on Deck of Wooden House


We had moved to Valley Springs, which is in the foothills not far from San Andreas, in 1996.  In late 2003, we watched in horror as a developer destroyed a seasonal creek and its flood plain to build a housing development next to the golf course where we lived.  We knew this would dramatically alter the drainage through the course.  We decided it was time to make our escape plans.  As Vic put it, ‘Water will always be an issue, and it isn’t a matter of IF the BIG earthquake will happen, just WHEN.’ 

After Vic collected a ton of data and made a couple trips to North Idaho, we were able to find property that met our criteria in the fall of 2004.  We packed up the house along with our 3 Irish Setters and headed north in May 2005.  Vic’s parents lived a block from us in Valley Springs and followed a couple months later.

Trees, River, and Train

Image:  Moyie River with Train

There are three mountain ranges that surround this part of the Kootenai Valley, the Purcells, the Cabinets, and the Selkirks.  We are nestled in a North/South running valley with the Moyie River. The Union Pacific railroad runs along the east side of the river across from our property.  We have 100 ft of riverfront.  After July the river is so low you can walk across it.  Bussard Mountain is on the west side of our valley.  Being in the valley means the sun sets around 3-3:30pm in the winter.

Large House with Deck in Woods

One of the first things we noticed after we moved here was the lack of noise, most of the time.  Mainly, no sirens!  We rarely have airplanes fly over.  We occasionally get road noise from Hwy 95 and Moyie River Road, the main county road through our valley.  There’s a cement bridge that crosses over the Moyie to our road.  Our road is a dead end without any outlets so there’s little traffic.  We have gotten accustomed to the whistles and rumble of the UP trains going north/south several times a day and night.

Our road, Bussard Lake Road, is on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNT), not to be confused with the Pacific Crest Trail.  The Pacific NW Trail is 1,200 miles that goes between Glacier National Park on the east and Olympic National Park on the west.  From spring to early fall, we encounter hikers going by our house as they make their way west to USFS Trail 2202/Trail 32.  Vic enjoys talking with them, finding out where they are from and any adventures they’ve had along their way.

Fence Grass and Trees
Image: West Side of Bussard Lake Road--view at the end of  our driveway, looking at the mountains on the west side of our valley

Because we live on a deadend road, we are able to walk our dogs off leash.  They love running on the pipeline and through the tree farm.  I’m able to enjoy the sounds and sights of nature on our walks.  The squirrel chattering at us as we walk down the driveway.  Then there’s the birds---bald eagles and crows arguing over a deer killed by a train, turkeys gobbling in the woods then showing up in our yard.  We also hear the owls mainly at night and pileated woodpeckers.  Morgan, a Gordon Setter, our intrepid hunter, is always sniffing.  She loves flushing out a grouse from under a tree or the front deck.

As I reflect back while writing this article, I realize living here couldn’t have happened without the help and generosity of many different people over the years.  First was Michael, my manager on the Sutter Health IT Interface Team.  He agreed to letting me work remote without any questions asked, along with the support of our Director.  Keep in mind that in 2005, telecommuting was not a common practice as it is now.  I was able to get a satellite internet service, later switching to a local company when they installed an internet WIFI service tower at our end of the county.  This technology advancement greatly made working from home so much better.  We have worked together to install upgrades to their system that has greatly improved the speed.  I can join Zoom calls with few interruptions!!

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Charlie and Brad, the contractors, who we engaged to build out our walkout basement.  They worked through the winter and we were able make the move in May.  We later found out they were the best contractors in the county.  Their attention to detail was outstanding!

Living in the woods doesn’t mean we are alone.  When we arrived in 2005 there were only two other full-time neighbors.  These neighbors eventually moved away to be closer to family.  Their properties were bought by part time residents.  This means Vic and I have lived on our road the longest.  There are now 7 other full-time neighbors on the road.   There are a couple part time neighbors who come up about once a month, even in the winter, and will stay for a week or so.  We enjoy visits when they are here.  We have shared many holiday dinners with our friends.  The part time neighbors make their appearances in the spring and summer.  

Over the years I have made friends with others who live in our area.  You’d be amazed at how many people live in the woods.  We get together to share crafting ideas, card making parties, luncheons and shopping trips to Coeur d’Alene.  I’ve been attending a Strong Women strength training class sponsored by UI Extension since 2007.  These classes have led to friendships with gals who live in town and a source for local resources and news.

One person who we couldn’t live without is Frank of Boundary Heating who keeps our hydronic heating system functioning.  Frank has worked on our system pretty much since we moved here.  The original furnace wasn’t very reliable and we called Frank practically every winter.  He has made improvements plus replaced the original furnace.  It’s been a couple of years before we had to call Frank last week.  He put in a temporary fix, and we now have heat upstairs so we can cut back on the wood fires! 

We have our ups and downs, but we wouldn’t live anywhere else for now.  I hope you enjoyed this brief glance into life in North Idaho.

Namo Amida Butsu

Linda Tanaka

Contact Us
Follow Us