Category Archives: READING QUEST

MY READING QUEST CONTINUES TO IDAHO

 

I am currently on a quest to read a book written by an author from each state. I have finally reached Idaho, reading two books by Idahoan authors (yes, I looked up the word Idahoan!)

First – MOUNTAIN MAN by Vardis Fisher, the book the movie Jeremiah Johnson is  based on. Sam Minard is a hunter/trapper wandering through Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.  This book isn’t for the faint of heart, beginning with Sam coming upon a horrific scene of an Indian massacre, where a lone woman is left alive after her three children are murdered and her husband is kidnapped and scalped. Sam builds her a cabin and get word out to other “mountain men” to look out for her. He takes an Indian Wife, and simplifies her name to Lotus. When it is time for him to leave in the winter to trap fur, he leaves her pregnant in the winter (in the comfort of their cabin). He returns to find his family has been slaughtered most likely by the Crowe tribe. This begins a murderous path of vengeance, vowing to kill every member of the tribe that killed his family. Again, this isn’t for the faint of heart.

Then I found another book that is probably stylistically on the other end of the spectrum! Echoes from the Hills of Idaho by Ruth Butler. This is the humorous, tragic and folksy memoir of Ruth, a girl who lived the first few years of her life on a thousand acre dry farm, which was near the Grand Teton Range of the Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone Park was only a few miles away. Surrounded by the grandeur and beauty of the area, she also lived in a loving family. Her heartfelt stories are of growing up during the twenties and thirties. Complete with pictures, it is an endearing memoir and this childhood must have ignited a sense of adventure in Ruth because  she worked as an airplane mechanic in WWII, raised a family in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and traveled America solo in her motorhome after retirement. She wrote this book in her 90’s and even though she is in now in a wheelchair and suffers from glaucoma, she writes every days, writing her third memoir!

 

IDAHO FACTS

Idaho is called the “Gem State”, because nearly every known type of gemstone has been found in Idaho. 

Idaho is one of only two places in the world where star garnets are mined in significant quantities (the other place is India).

Idaho’s state capital building is the only one in the United States that is heated by geothermal water. 

Shoshone Falls, near Twin Falls, drops 52 feet further than Niagara Falls

Known for potatoes, Idaho produces one-third of the potatoes grown in the U.S. (it also produces the most lentils).

Hells Canyon, (in the Western portion of the state) is 7,993 feet deep, making it the deepest river gorge in North America (The Grand Canyon is only about 6,000 fee deep).

The state seal of Idaho was designed by Emma Edwards Green, making this the only state seal that was designed by a woman. (The state seal is used in the flag too).

Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who accompanied the Lewis and Clark expedition as an intrepreter was born here (and so was Sarah Palin, but we’ll forgive that).

The Salmon River is the longest free-flowing river that flows within a single state.

63% of Idaho is public land

The capital city of Boise was named when French-Canadian trappers arrived in the early 1800s and were so relieved to see the forest and river that they exclaimed “Les bois! Les bois!” (“The trees”)

In 2004, the mayor of Wallace, Idaho, a town with a population under 800 people declared the town as the Center Of The Universe, complete with a manhole cover painted to mark the site.

The Boise State University  Broncos play on the only blue football field in the world, known as The Smurf Turf!

This football field is also immortalized in Matthew (my art isn’t for everyone) Barney’s Cremaster series (and Barney grew up in Idaho too.)

There are more than 3,100 miles of rivers in Idaho, more than anywhere else in the US!

Napoleon Dynamite lived in Preston, Idaho – in fact they whole a Napoleon Dynamite festival every summer. 

If you know of other authors that are FROM Idaho, let me know!

Next, I will be traveling (by book of course) to Illinois (Ray Bradbury, Indiana (Kurt Vonnegut) and then Iowa (Bill Bryson)!

MY READING QUEST TAKES ME TO HAWAII

No, my quest (at this time) is not to visit the entire United States, but it is to read the United States. So join me  in my journey across the nation as I read a book by an author from each state. Today I am visiting Hawaii – and the book I chose was The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings. When I saw the movie, I knew I had to read the book!

 

This was originally published as a short story (The Minor Wars” from the book House of Thieves).  The main character is Matt King, a descendant of Hawaiian Royalty and American missionaries, sounds like aperfect life. But, his luck has changed. His wife, Joanie, is in an irreversible coma, following a boat-racing accident and will soon be taken off life support.

But, before this happens, he wants everybody to have the chance to say goodbye to her, and in contacting everyone he finds she was having an affair with a real-estate broker. Is this the person that the apparent adrenaline junkie Joanie ever truly loved? To make matters worse, his cousins are pressuring him to sell the valuable landholdings for development, which to him would be the last link to their past of their native Hawaiian ancestry.

All of this compels Matt to travel, and reconnect, with his two daughters – smart mouthed 10-year old Scottie and 17-year old Alex, a former model and also fresh from rehab. They go from Oahu to Kauai to find Brian Speer, the real estate broker Joanie was having an affair with.

Sounds pretty terrible – right? However, this DEBUT gentle novel is also funny. You can read it in a day. Frankly, I was sorry for it to end. I actually downloaded the book of short stories this originally came from. One interesting fact in the book, the daughter Scotty is sporting a George Clooney t-shirt – remember, he played Matt in the movie.

Here are some interesting facts about Hawaii:

The word Hawaii is from the Polynesian word hawaiki which means “face of the god” or homeland.

Hawaii is the only state that is not geographically located in North America. It is the only state that is surrounded by water and it does not have a straight line in it’s boundaries.

Because Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, he is the only president from outside the continental United States (oh yea, he was born in Kenya).

Hawaii is the only state to have increasing land area. Why? volcanic eruptions.

No other state grows coffee or has tropical rainforests.

The astronauts trained for the moon voyages by walking on Mauna Loa’s lava fields.

Hawaii is the only state to honor a monarch, celebrating King Kamahameha Day since 1872.

Hawaii 5-0 was the longest running police drama until Law and Order (shocking, I know). While the show was, and is,  about the state police department, Hawaii doesn’t have a state police department .

The hula was originally a form of worship performed by men.

Surfing, or as it is known in Hawaiian, heenalu, was invented thousands of years ago by the Polynesians, who first settled Hawaii.

My next stop is Idaho!

Is there anybody else doing any kind of quest?