For those I havent already bored with this information, I grew up on the Oregon Coast, where winter is endured in varying degrees of rain-soaked misery.
While I cherish my youth spent there, I dont miss winters on the coast.
Moving inland was like getting a second summer. Before you balk at that statement, consider this: summer is when we play outdoors, and thats what we do during winter, too. We just play with different toys while wearing more clothes.
I know lots of other Southwest Idaho residents who have migrated from snow-deprived areas. Some come from a certain large state thats particularly sunny in the southern half, and not to stereotype, but many seem to relish complaining about snow.
What they tend to overlook is how much fun it is.
For many folks, I know I am preaching to the choir, but others might take some convincing, so here goes.
Winter is fun because:
You get to be a kid again. I dont care what your preferred downhill sliding apparatus is, were all after the same thing that giddy feeling of sliding fast on a slippery surface. It doesnt matter if youre a gangsta wannabe snowboarder, a Nordic skier in a Spiderman outfit, or a sniffling, red-nosed kid on an inner tube, sliding on snow is fun. We all have our favorite method, but they will all put a smile on your face.
The outdoors looks really cool swathed in white. Take the ugliest piece of real estate you can find, put a few inches of snow on it, and it looks 100 percent better. Take something amazing like the Sawtooths, cover them with snow, and they not only become drop-dead gorgeous, but also become an awesome playground.
Do it for the kids. They probably dont have any hangups about winter. Im no psychologist, but Im guessing its learned behavior. Take them out and let them romp in the snow. Get them in ski or snowboard lessons, or take them to a tubing hill and watch them light up as they fly down the hill. Let their joy rub off on you.
You dont have to be young or athletic to enjoy winter. Get on a tube and slide down a hill. Theres a rope tow to pull you back to the top. It probably takes just as much energy to get out of your La-Z-Boy and get a beer as it does to go tubing. OK, that sounds kind of negative, but you get the picture. You dont have to be in tip-top shape to have fun during winter.
Another great winter sport with little or no physical requirement is snowmobiling. Dont get me wrong; if you sled the rugged, steep backcountry on a deep powder day, you get one heck of a workout. But riding a snowmobile on a groomed trail is basically a scenic drive in the country.
Speaking of snowmobilers, theyre among the most gregarious bunch in all of the outdoors. Clubs are holding fun runs all winter. The gatherings are about getting together and having a good time. If youre on the fence about snowmobiling, attend one of their events, even if its just an after party.
If solitude is more your thing, buy or rent a pair of snowshoes and take a hike. The Park N Ski areas near Idaho City are a good start, but basically, you can do it anyplace you can find public land with a place to park. You dont have to make it an epic hike. Just spend an hour or so walking and listening to the soft crunch of snow under your feet.
If you want to up the fun factor, bring your dog along. If youre on groomed trails, make sure dogs are allowed. Watching a dog frolic in the snow will soften even the most die-hard winter hater.
If all this sounds like too much effort, take a winter drive. I know, roads can be icy and scary during winter, but it doesnt take much sunshine to dry out pavement. Pick a well-maintained highway, take a drive and marvel at the country. For current road conditions, go to the Idaho Transportation Departments website at 511.idaho.gov. Click on Winter Driving to see a color-coded map. Use good sense, stick to the gray or blue roads and you should be fine.
Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors