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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!!


McCall…….Again

Payette Lake

Yes, here we are again, the third trip to McCall in the last two years. Once again we stayed at the Shore Lodge in a gorgeous lake side suite just like last time. Also like last year, it was during the week of New Years and we did much of the same stuff we did last time. We were able to ski this time which we did two days in a row at Brundage Mountain! We also spent more time at the Old Idaho Penitentiary Rather than bore you with the details of another similar trip, you can refer here to last year’s trip and links, and I will list some highlights and provide more of a pictorial version on this one!


  • We were delayed getting to Boise by around three hours, thanks Delta Airlines.
  • Our rental car broke down and we had to fight with Alamo Rent A Car to get a replacement. We waited until 2am for the new one to arrive.
  • Debbie’s boots were “taken” from the ski resort changing room and never “returned”. Had to spend $200 for a pair of new ones.
  • This time we didn’t go snowshoeing, but instead ski’d two days in a row.
  • One of those days was New Year’s Eve and I was so beat neither of us saw the new decade ring in!
  • Unlike last year, this time we were able to book a massage and spa day at The Cove in the hotel!
  • And yes, we booked a room for next year!!






Return To McCall

Beautiful Payette Lake

Yes, here we are again! As I mentioned during my last post regarding our trip down in October, Deb and I decided to return again for the last week of the year! We camped in our trailer in October and saw Fall in McCall, and this time stayed in more luxurious surroundings in Winter! It was a magical winter wonderland and since it was the week after Christmas, we still were able to see the town decked out in holiday regalia! We stayed at the Shore Lodge in a gorgeous lake side suite.

The place was absolutely perfect for us! Amenities included, nice bar, two restaurants, small gym (yes we did work out), out door pool and hot tub, theater (we did not use), game room, and a spa. Unfortunately, the spa was booked the whole week we were there so we weren’t able to enjoy a massage or anything else. At night they would build a fire and you could go out and have s’mores with the ingredients provided by the hotel. And every night while the s’mores were cooking, raccoons were hiding in the darkness with little glowing eyes waiting to grab a morsel off the ground or out of the trash! Everything was clean and the staff were very friendly and helpful. As a matter of fact, people in Idaho were nice and happy in general! We love it there!!!!

The weather was beautiful for most of our stay. Mostly clear blue skies with the occasional snow flurry now and then and man was it cold! One overnight low went below zero…..brrrrrrrr. Now if you are familiar with McCall or Idaho in general, you would know there is plenty to do whether it is summer or winter! After we had settled in and had a look around, we started planning our activities for the week. Just six weeks earlier Debbie had knee surgery, so skiing was out of the question. But there was plenty else to keep us occupied.

So we got to it and one of our first things we did is rent snow shoes for half a day. We thought it would be enough and didn’t want to push Debbie’s knee! We asked about where the best place to go and headed to the suggested destination of the Bear Basin Trail Head. It was a great place to snow shoe but we also had to share trails with cross country skiers too and they had the advantage and their own trails that we had to stay off of. That was okay by as as there was plenty of trails and room for both! It was so cold, that both of our cell phone batteries died and we didn’t get a chance to take as many pictures as we would have liked. Luckily before they died, we met a couple of hikers and their dog and they managed to snap a few of us! The most disconcerting thing was that we didn’t know what time it was or couldn’t pull up a map of where we were. That made us turn back a bit earlier than we would have. The last thing we needed was to be out after the sun went down! We had a great time anyway and got plenty of cardio.

One thing that we just had to do, was rent a couple of snowmobiles and hit the tracks. I did a little research before we left to find the best place to rent them. We settled on Cheap Thrills Rentals and were really glad we did. We had brand new sleds and 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! Now the only thing that we didn’t really like was that we had to stay on the road, so going off into snow fields wasn’t allowed. Now I get it and why they request it, but it was tempting to hit a nice flat looking clearing to go have some fun in! At any rate, we still had a blast! We road back up to Burgdorf Hot Springs where we had been back in October. We stopped there and had a cup of coffee and thought about going in the hot springs because we did bring our stuff. We decided we didn’t want to change, get wet, dry off, etc! We’d rather continue to ride.

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. It was very cool and we rode around exploring then went 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 just over 90 miles of riding!

Some days we spent driving around the local area looking at different spots around McCall and checking out properties of course and just getting a lay of the land. We also wanted to get more familiar with the town itself and of it’s surroundings. We found some really nice developments and some areas that were just meh. Sounds like we are looking for another place to buy right? Well you never know, we really love it out here. It could be another place to land in case Washington State goes sideways like it just might! We were also able to spend New Year’s Eve here too! The hotel had a big party which we attended. Had a great dinner, drinks, shared a table with strangers that became one night friends, and even did some dancing. It was a great way to end the year and ring in the new one.

We had to say good bye to McCall and drove down to Boise for the last night. We left mid morning to give us a bit of time to check in to our hotel and have some time to do a bit of exploring while we could. We just looked on WAZE and just started driving. We drove onto the campus of Boise State University and looked around. It is a very pretty campus and also drove to the stadium and checked out the blue field. We also saw the capitol building and were surprised at some of the mansions that were nearby in a very cool neighborhood. We then stumbled upon the Old Idaho Penitentiary which was awesome and spooky. We had gotten there too late to see much of the place and were only able to go into the women’s ward. It was not a comfy place to have to be into back in those days. It was such a bummer that we got there too late to see anymore, because it was so cool. Finally we hit a local restaurant that was recommended by some of our good Snoqualmie friends, the  Barbacoa Grill. OMG this place was huge, busy, and sooooooo good. They make the best guacamole fresh right there table side. The drinks were great and the food was awesome and the place was packed. The vacation was such a blast and went way too fast. We both were experiencing post vacation depression upon our return, but we had our little four legged buddy to cheer us up! In addition to the pictures I posted here, you can find many more in our online album, so go take a look!

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