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Winter Trip 2021 – McCall – This Time With Friends

Beautiful Payette Lake

We have returned to McCall after skipping last year’s winter festivities due to the COVID crap! If you, dear reader, follow our travels and my political rantings, you’ll know that we make an annual trip between Christmas and New Years. Usually we make the trip by ourselves, but this year we had another couple join us, my long time friend Jeff and his lovely wife Jaime. We, of course, all stayed at the Shore Lodge in the usual lake side suites. Just as the whole year of 2021 went, the trip started off very bumpy! Just two days before we left, the Seattle area was hit with a major snow event and then sub freezing temperatures. Combine that with a severe shortage of flight and ground crew, we left six hours later than we were supposed to. Finally hooking up with our friends, getting luggage, and the rental car, it was dark when we finally hit the road from Boise!! It made for a slightly harrowing drive except for the fact that road crews in Idaho do an excellent job keeping the roads manageable in winter! The hotel itself is under going major renovations and our wing of rooms had been recently been finished. As a matter of fact, in our room, we were the very first guests to stay in the renovated room. You might think that would be fantastic, but we soon learned that there were still kinks to be worked out! We discovered, not soon enough, that one whole wall of electrical devices would turn off when we turned off the entry light switch. These included both tv’s, a wall heater, and our fridge. So after loading the fridge with some items and then finally turning the light out to hit the hay, we effectively turned off the fridge for the night! It was no big deal and they fixed t the next day. Later, the other heater(the main one for the room) stopped working and we had to have a space heater in the room for our last two days. Never a dull moment for the Givens’!

Don't leave a full bottle of champagne out in sub freezing temperatures!

Let me tell you, we have been to McCall quite a few times during the winter. Before the trip, we were keeping an eye out on the snow report. In the beginning we were getting a bit worried there would not be a very good snow pack. That would quickly change the week before we arrived and the snow began to come down heavily. By the time we arrived, there was gobs of white stuff on the ground. There would be no worries involving having enough to play in however, it was extremely cold. It was colder than anytime we had previously experienced while there. Notice the picture to the right. Jaime had set out a bottle of champagne on their deck overnight and that was the result!

Jeff and Jaime, being from California, and all of us not wanting to freeze our asses off, we really wanted to ski but held off each day hoping for better weather. It snowed practically every day and we kept checking the conditions at Brundage and Tamarack and they were only for the die hards that were young and crazy. That would not be us! Our other option to enjoy the snow and get a good workout to stave off all the food and booze we were partaking was to go snowshoeing! We did this twice and it was easy as the hotel had snowshoes to rent right there. First we headed out to our usual location at Bear Basin Trail Head. It is a great place to snowshoe and also cross county ski. There are many trails with fantastic views of the valley to the west and it is hilly, which really pumps up the cardio. We also did some snowshoeing at Ponderosa Park which Debbie and I have been to before, but not in winter. It was a great place to snowshoe also and was a bit flatter than Bear Basin. That was okay by us and there were plenty of trails to choose from and not far from town either! We never did make to the slopes. It was just too damn cold for us wimps!


One thing that we always do, was rent a couple of snowmobiles and hit the tracks. We always use Cheap Thrills Rentals and discovered they are under new ownership. The new owners were great and it was like nothing had changed but the faces. They supplied everything, suit, gloves, boots, helmets, and everything was clean and kept us very warm. We had to drive ourselves to the meet up in a big parking lot where all the sleds were. Then after a brief safety and operation spiel, we were off on our own! Well Jeff and Jaime had NEVER been on snowmobiles before and by looking at the picture to the right, you would be saying ooopsie, one of them had a boo boo! Nope, just 15 or so minutes on the trail, I decided to ride on a small snow drift, lost control, and ended up in a tree well. Luckily for me, that stopped me from going over a steep drop into the snowy abyss. After some wrangling with help from fellow snowmobilers and nothing damaged but my ego, we were on the road to the first stop at Burgdorf Hot Springs. Like Cheap Thrills, the place was now under new management and it was quite a disappointment. Before we were barely off our sleds, we were approached by a guy who asked us if we had reservations. Huh!!! We had never needed a reservation to stop by for coffee and explained that to him. Now, due to COVID of fucking course, we now had to have a reservation just to walk in the building. Well, we left, without coffee.


Once we left Burgdorf, we headed further up the road to
Warren which is an old mining town that is almost a ghost town. It does have a population of 7 in the winter and there is a landing strip at the old town to get supplies flown in. We love it up there and made our way into the Baum Shelter for a quick bite and beverage. For a place this far out in the woods and away from civilization, it had an extensive
menu and was very good. After hanging out and warming up we finally headed back down the road and went a little bit beyond where we were supposed to. It was a great day and we put in 78 miles of riding! We all had a great time even with my little “accident”!


On days we didn’t have real plans, we drove around showing Jeff and Jaime the area, taking them to all the spots we usually make the rounds to. It’s also good for us to see what has changed, how many new houses have sprung up, and what is for sale. We didn’t see many for sale signs around, but it could just be the time of year too. Some of those drives had to be cut short due to blinding snow storms that would spring up out of nowhere! We also dined out and drank at some places that Debbie and I had never tried before. We had a great dinner at Ragazza Di Largo one night. The food was fabulous and so were the drinks. One day after snowshoeing we hit the Toll Station Pizza which was also good. Another evening we were craving Mexican food and went down the street to Pueblo Lindo and the albondigas soup was excellent. Right across the street from the hotel sat Lardos Grill & Saloon, and all these visits to McCall and we had never set foot in the place. We loved the place and it was just our kind of bar!!! It will be a constant stop each time we go back!!! Our New Year’s Eve dinner was in the hotel at The Narrows. It was really good and afterwards, all we had to do was walk down the hall and celebrate the coming New Year and not worry about driving. Oh and before I forget, we also had a spa day where we all got massages and spent some time relaxing in the pools. It was a great time with some great friends that ended too quickly! For more photos of our trip, go over to our online photo album and have a look at the rest of the adventure!!


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