The summer of 1994 was a crazy one for me. I was just married, and my now ex was off in Colorado tending to his sick mother, and I wasn't about to spend the summer in Moscow, Idaho, where we were attending the University of Idaho alone and not making any money with a crappy summer job up there because every summer, Moscow becomes a ghost town when school's out for summer.
So I went home to Donnelly, Idaho to spend time with Mom, my sister Erika, and our zoo which at the time consisted of two German Shepherds named Nicholas and his younger brother, the famous Loki, and four cats. I worked full time at Bryan's Burger Den, where my sister was a manager, and I had worked there for the last 6 months of 1993 before going to the University of Idaho to complete my Bachelor's Degree.
Being home was a lot better than being alone up in Moscow, and Mom and I did a lot together on my days off from work. One of our adventures with Nicholas and Loki was a day trip to Lake Josephine. This tiny and pristine little lake about 10 miles north of Dad's home in McCall is a favorite fishing and hiking haven for locals and very little tourists.
But getting to Lake Josephine was an adventure in itself. Nicholas was not one of the best car passengers, and most of the trip from Donnelly to McCall was listening to Nicky barking at every that passed us on Highway 55, and it's made worse that his barking and jumping in the backseat of a 1985 Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback made the car shake everytime. One bark for cars and two for trucks!
After about a half-hour of travelling with 95 pounds of hell in the back seat and his little brother, we got to the road leading to Lake Josephine. Now this is where it gets even more treacherous. No car traffic, but we were now facing about three miles up a dirt road full of rocks and potholes that would make ones kidneys rattle. Dear Readers: Ever notice most of the Fernstrom family adventures involve twisty, dirt, and rocky roads? In a small car like ours, it was worse, and there were points on this road from hell that we thought the bottom would fall out of the car after hitting some nasty bumps.
But rest assured, dear readers, Mom, Nicky, Loki, and I made it to Lake Josephine intact, and we were greeted with some of the most beautiful scenery in Southwestern Idaho. Mountains surrounded the tiny lake that had rocks and fallen trees sticking out of it, and Mom and I soaked it all in for a few minutes before heading to Lake Josephine itself.
Nicholas was a pretty smart German Shepherd in his short life, and he could sniff out a swimming hole in his sleep, if he could, and before we were out of the car, Nicky and Loki had jumped out of the car and were halfway to the lake before Mom and I were out of the car. Mom and I had get out of the car fast before Nicky and Loki saw any of the other folks enjoying a day at the lake and greeted them.
But "Jaws I and II in flea collars" were having a ball in the water and could care less about the other tourists. Mom and I walked around the lake and took our shoes off to enjoy soaking our feet in the cold water of Lake Josephine while taking pictures and throwing sticks into the water for Nicky and Loki to chase. Surrounded by huge pine trees and mountains, there was plenty of shade to shelter all of us from the July heat.
One of my favorite pictures from this trip is one of me with Nicky and Loki. Sitting on a log in the water, I am holding a stick in the water that Nicky is staring at in hopes of another game of fetch. Loki is staring at the camera with that cute puppy dog look that we have loved over the years. Everytime I look at that picture, I get many warm and fuzzy feelings.
Our time at Lake Josephine was very relaxing for dogs and humans alike, and Mom and I were glad that the other tourists had left, and we had the place to ourselves to enjoy. After swimming, Nicky and Loki got out of the water and ran around the shore with Loki following his big brother through the woods and on the logs in the water.
After about 90 minutes at Lake Josephine, it was time for all of us to go home. We loaded Nicky and Loki into the car and made that lovely ride down the rocky road to Warren Wagon Road and to Highway 55. The swimming and fun had whooped Nicky, and he and Loki slept the whole way home in the backseat that was torn up from Nicky's nails. Mom and I enjoyed the peace and quiet the whole way home.
Nicky suddenly passed away from twisted stomach or colic in May 1997, and his brother is now 14 and arthritic but still a lover. Looking at Nicky and Loki enjoying Lake Josephine that day in July 1994 brings back a lot of happy memories from that crazy summer and a couple of hours at one of our Private Idaho's favorite places.