Teapot Dome Hike on October 19, 2017

A local hike in the southwestern Idaho's Bennett Mountain Hills in October 2017 is discussed in this post.
This was the path I took down the mountain. The summit is not visible in the photograph.

Summary of a local hike: This hike was more of a “get out and get some exercise” type of hike than an adventure. It can be done in short order so it’s a good “after work” or “just don’t want to sit around” activity for visitors to Mountain Home and Elmore County, Idaho.

This “canary in a mine” hike documents my physical fitness improvement in the last few years. In 2012, I could barely summit this local peak. I found this hike to still be a little strenuous but the biggest challenge was making sure I didn’t twist my ankle on the rocky ground.

The Hike Details
Date Of Hike: October 19, 2017
Name of Hike: Teapot Dome Canary in the Mine
Link To Photographs: https://photos.app.goo.gl/yjb6UywmTQgAK8nL2
Total Hike Mileage: 2.56 miles
Vertical Feet: +1,098 feet / -1,098 feet
Average Slope: +15.9% / -15.9%
Elevation Ranges: 3,741 feet / 4,717 feet
Hike Time From Trailhead To Summit: 1 hour 30 minutes
Facilities At Trailhead: None
Land Ownership: 100% BLM public lands
Road Mileage from Boise, Idaho to Trailhead: 54 miles

If venturing to this area, please understand the small town of Mountain Home, Idaho is a city in decline. Your best options are to avoid the place completely and stock up on food, supplies, and gas elsewhere. #MountainHomeIdaho #CityInDecline

If you would like more information about mountain biking, hiking, rockhounding or any type of outdoor adventures along the Owyhee Front, I will be glad to discuss your options.

This story was originally published on October 24, 2017.

Thanks,



Tim Bondy
Freelance Writer & Citizen Journalist

I am currently a proud citizen journalist, aka, "enemy of the American People!"

Local Political Forum Was About What Was Left Out

The October 17, 2017, Political Forum in Mountain Home, Idaho was interesting. Here's my opinion on that event.

The 2017 Mountain Home City Council candidates 
On October 17, 2017, the Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce hosted a political forum. These forums are usually informative, if not way too long and tedious. This forum was educational and informative for what was presented. But what wasn’t offered or presented was just as interesting to me. I’ll start off this blog post with what wasn’t presented.

The upcoming November 7, 2017, election will be important to local Elmore County, Idaho voters, and residents. So, when the local Chamber of Commerce put out information they were going to host this event, I was happy. I don’t really know the three candidates running for the two seats on the Mountain Home City Council and I have no idea what’s going on with the Western Elmore County Recreation District (WECRD) candidates. I am truly clueless about those two.

What Wasn’t Presented Was …
(A) There is a Mountain Home City Library Levy issue on the 2017 ballot. The $105,000 levy is intended to fund the replacement of the entire library building roof. The story of why the library roof needs to be completely replaced is complex and spans many years. For this reason, someone from the city should have been sitting on the hot seat during the forum. If city leadership or library board believes the taxpayers need a special levy to fund the roof replacement, they should have been there to answer questions. They weren’t.

(B) A vote to recall two members of the WECRD is also on the ballot. Art Nelson and Judy Mayne are being recalled because of some alleged financial shenanigans. The Friends of Recreation, a local grassroots organization is the driving force behind this recall effort. Neither Nelson nor Mayne where involved in the forum. Neither party involved in this recall could bother to sit at the forum table? Really? One or both candidates may be out on their ass soon. Or maybe the chamber didn’t invite them.

(C) Two Mountain Home Rural Fire District commissioner seats are also up for grabs during this election. While only one of the seats is being contested, this is an excellent platform for getting residents involved in local politics. No one from the rural fire district was on hand to answer questions but I’ve never seen the fire district even publicizing their monthly meetings so flying under the radar is what they wish.
As a former local newspaper reporter, I attended six or seven of their monthly meetings. This taxing district controls some significant taxpayer monies and yet they couldn’t bother showing up for the forum? Or maybe the chamber didn’t invite them.

Is There Any Wonder …
why the City of Mountain Home and Elmore County are in a state of decline? I don’t wonder at all.

What Did Happen – City Council Candidates
Three candidates for the two open city council seats were involved in this political forum. Well, sort of.

(A) One candidate, Eric Tautfest, is still active duty military and for some reason, he couldn’t sit on the panel. Instead, he had his campaign chairman, Brenda Raub, sit up there. She tried to answer questions for the Tautfest. That didn’t work out very well. Raub said “I cannot answer that question because I haven’t had a chance to discuss that issue with him” quite often. So basically, I never got a feel for Tautfest’s platform, beliefs or what he wants to do as a city councilman. Oh, and if you want people to get to know you as a candidate and you cannot speak at the political forum, then at least have a website and present your platform in that medium? Just a thought. My prediction … He’ll lose.

(B) Matt Bundy was well-spoken, knowledgeable and likely already has one of the two seats in the bag. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he is currently a sitting city councilman.

(C) Daniel Brennan was also well-spoken but had some obvious holes in his knowledge about the basic job of and responsibilities of a Mountain Home City Councilman. He’s lucky Tautfest isn’t running a real campaign or Brennan would have a tight race on his hands for that seat.

The 2017 WECRD candidates


What Did Happen – WECRD Candidates
Neither David Kellerman, the incumbent, nor Douglas Meyer appears to have a great handle on the job and responsibilities that come with being a recreation district director. There are supposed to be three directors on the board and it’s possible that two of the most experienced directors could be recalled out of that position. (See my opinion about that recall above). Keep the seat in Kellerman’s more experienced hands is my thought on the subject. This is just a lose-lose situation but we have to make the best of a horrible political situation.

Chamber of Commerce Scuttlebutt
The Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce President Brandie Mills Garlitz surprised me when she asked the city council candidates a question during this forum. She explained the challenges the chamber has advertising local events and wanted to know what they would, as a city councilman, do to help get the word out about local events. Well FFS. The chamber doesn’t even put an article, blurb or notice on the front page of their website for events.

Recently I contacted Chamber President Garlitz and asked why the website didn’t have their biggest event of the year, Air Force Appreciation Day (AFAD), on the front page. She responded that AFAD is written up on the events page of the chamber website. I checked it out. There was outdated and incomplete information about their biggest event of the year on that page.

To top off my FFS comportment, neither the city nor county websites had anything about AFAD on the front page. That is a FFS moment. I won’t even get into a social media failure on the part of the local city government or the chamber, but FFS. Double FFS.

The City’s Economic Development Statement
The City of Mountain Home, Idaho has been funding their economic development office with a generous budget each year. Attracting new businesses to the area is a tough job but at some point, throwing taxpayer money at the problems without concrete results won’t cut it.

Paula Riggs, the department head, explained to the audience what a tough job the economic development office has. And for the last four years, I have been hearing statements like “we work really hard” and we’re doing everything we can to attract new businesses to Mountain Home.” Newsflash … that is what we pay employees to do in the United States and around the world. At some point shouldn’t we expect results? Hard work isn’t the goal.

Nine months later, the City of Mountain Home, Idaho website still hasn't been "branded" with the new logo

The one economic development office accomplishment I heard about at this October 2017, political forum was the unveiling of their new Mountain Home logo. That logo was bought and paid for about nine months ago. The logo is nice and most city vehicles are now branded with that logo. Yet, the city website hasn’t even been branded with the new logo. I want to say that logo cost taxpayers $8,000 but that would be completely out of line. But so is expecting different results from the same people who have been working in that office for the last few years.

Summary: Elmore County, Idaho is an area in decline. Twin Falls and Boise, the cities located east and west of Mountain Home are thriving. This political forum highlighted for me exactly why. Individual businesses can and will thrive but taking your lead from the chamber, city or county probably will not yield the results you need to be more successful.

This blog post was originally published on October 22, 2017, and is my opinion. You are free to disagree with me about any issue stated within.


Thanks,



Tim Bondy
Freelance Writer & Citizen Journalist

I am currently a proud citizen journalist, aka, "enemy of the American People!"

The Big Draw MTB Ride in the Bruneau Desert

A mountain bike ride high above the desolation of the Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness of Idaho.

The fear of falling was a motivator for not getting too close to the edge.

Summary of a Mountain Bike Ride: This ride was originally part of a longer ride in the desert southeast of Bruneau, Idaho on October 18, 2017. Located in the desolated region containing the Bruneau River Canyon and only 70 ‘as-the-crow-flies’ miles southeast of Boise makes this a good day ride to see some spectacular scenery.

The Ride: The approach road was 6-9 miles of washboard and rutted gravel road with the main problem finding safe parking off Blackstone-Grasmere road. I found my safe spot about 2 miles further into the desert than I originally intended.

Once on my bike, the gently rolling hills made biking a little more interesting. Gravel/dirt roads in this area aren’t marked very well and from my experience, they aren’t maintained very often either. To highlight this point I completely missed my first turn heading east towards the canyons. Later in the day, I came out that road and I understand why I missed the turn on this loop-type ride. It didn't even look like a road nor a trail.

This is the turn or intersection I missed. It's on the left ;-)


The highlight of the trip was riding down more widely traveled unnamed trail that followed the rim of an unnamed canyon to a spit of land high above the Bruneau River Canyon. The view from that spit of land was dizzying and spectacular. Really … it was “Wow.”

Once I took in the views from all sides of that spit of land, I headed back to find the trail I should have been on before riding this road. Yes, I did have maps and had the capability to get back on the original circuit that I planned. But once I discovered I missed that first turn, I decided riding the planned loop in reverse couldn’t hurt. The bonus being I was staying on my published route.

The loop road was turned out to be a two-track that wasn’t marked. This loop part of the ride is an official BLM jeep trail while the trail out to the canyon rim is not. My expectation was this part of the ride would be flat and a speedy ride. That didn’t pan out either.

There is an Air Force A-10 aircraft in this photo. They flew close to me but I was slow on the camera.


The loop road was flat but bumpier than the worst washboarded road I’ve been on. I probably cruised this two-track at 10 miles an hour and it tried to shake my brains loose for most of its length. The scenery wasn’t exactly special either. I did watch two military A-10 aircraft flying in the canyon only about 1/3 of a mile away. You don’t get to see that very often in other places in the world unless it’s a war zone.

This wasn’t a mountain biker’s ride but more of a touring #mtb exploring an area not many have ever ventured on a bicycle.

The Ride Details
Date Of Ride: October 18, 2017
Name of Ride: The Big Draw MTB Ride in the Bruneau Desert
Link To Photographs From Ride: https://photos.app.goo.gl/fNfYsEAwyRMEjfld2
Bike Ridden: Giant Talon 2 (2017)
Total Mountain Bike Mileage: 13.8 miles
Vertical Feet: +669 feet / -689 feet
Average Slope: +1.7% / -1.5%
Elevation Ranges: 3,401 feet / – 3,736 feet
Facilities At Trailhead: None
Land Ownership: 100% on public BLM lands. I may have entered the Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness while walking around the above mentioned “spit” of land.
Road Mileage from Boise, Idaho to Trailhead: 80 miles

Why "The Big Draw"? The Crowbar Gulch topo map identified it as such. 


If venturing to this area, please understand the small town of Mountain Home, Idaho to the north of this area is a city in decline. Your best options are to avoid the place completely and stock up on food, supplies, and gas elsewhere. #MountainHomeIdaho #CityInDecline

If you would like more information about mountain biking, hiking, rockhounding or any type of outdoor adventures southern Idaho, USA, I will be glad to discuss your options.

This story was originally published on October 20, 2017.

Thanks,



Tim Bondy
Freelance Writer & Citizen Journalist

I am currently a proud citizen journalist, aka, "enemy of the American People!"

Spivey Road – South of Oreana, Oct. 2017 Bike Ride

A fun but exhausting October 2017 mountain bike ride in southwestern Idaho.
 Full side photo linked to here
Looking down into Browns Creeks Canyon with the Silver City Mountains of Idaho in the distance

Summary of the Mountain Bike Ride: This mountain bike ride ( #Mtb ) was completed on Oct. 5, 2017, in the Owyhee Front south of Oreana, Idaho. The ride, located about 40 ‘as-the-crow-flies’ miles south of Boise, was on gravel and dirt roads, mostly suitable for higher clearance vehicles as well as ATVs and mountain bikes.

With temperatures in the 50s, this out and back, 22 mile, 1,600 foot vertical, bike ride was grueling for me. The road was rocky, yet not technical but was uphill all the way. The rockiness detracted from the ride because it prevented me from watching the horizon for deer and more specifically, bighorn sheep. However, the view to the south of the Owyhee Mountains and the various shallow canyons was quite beautiful.

The Ride Details: I forgot to turn-off my GPS tracking when I got back to the truck and it continued to track all the way home and into the house. All statistics are approximated but likely very close to reality.

Specifics
Date Of Ride: October 5, 2017
Name of Ride: Spivey and Alder Creek Road Ride
Link To Photographs From Ride: https://photos.app.goo.gl/PYkukRMsr8Gh1alA2
Total Mountain Bike Mileage: 21.9 miles
Vertical Feet: About 1,600 feet. This is the one stat my GPX/Google Earth are having troubles parsing.
Average Slope: 2.9% / Max Slope: 11%
Elevation Ranges: 2,792 to 4,285 feet
Land Ownership: Mostly Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and some Idaho State Lands. No private property was encroached upon during this ride.
Facilities At Trailhead: None
Road Mileage from Boise, Idaho to Trailhead: 65 miles

The end of the trail for me. 


If venturing to this area from the east, please understand the small town of Mountain Home, Idaho is a city in decline. Your best options are to avoid the place completely and stock up on food, supplies, and gas elsewhere. #MountainHomeIdaho #CityInDecline

If you would like more information about mountain biking, hiking, rockhounding or any type of outdoor adventures along the Owyhee Front, I will be glad to discuss your options.

This story was originally published on October 18, 2017.

Thanks,



Tim Bondy
Freelance Writer & Citizen Journalist


I am currently a proud citizen journalist, aka, "enemy of the American People!"

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