Tips for your move to Idaho

I’ve been keeping my finger on the pulse of people moving to Idaho for a couple years now. Last July this crossed my desktop:

Idaho is America’s fastest-growing state, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Its population increased by 2.1 percent to almost 1.8 million from July 2018 to June 2019.

Because of this I thought I would offer a few tips to those moving in. There can be some culture shock and the locals are going to insist you adapt to their culture rather than you imposing your culture and “the right way to do things” upon them. If they wanted the city culture they would have adapted it or moved to the city years ago.

Finding a home.

I talked to a builder in North central Idaho a few months ago and he had some interesting stories to tell.

There are no houses available for sale or rent in the area. One family, desperate to leave California, brought a camping trailer and lived in it while they looked for a place to buy or rent. After several months they gave up and went back to California.

Home builders, if you can get one to return your call, will tell you they are completely booked up a year or more into the future. If you decide you want to get on their schedule you will discover it involves an interview and if you aren’t local the odds are very low of them you giving you an interview. They won’t answer or return your calls if you fail your one and only interview. Although there may be a half dozen or a dozen builders in your area you will be lucky to get more than one to talk to you. After you fail the first interview he will tell his builder friends what a doofus your are and share your name and telephone number with them.

Here are some common interview questions and tips for answers:

  • Why are you moving here? Wrong answers include:
    “I don’t have to work in the office anymore and we want to be in the country.”
    ”There is too much crime in the city.”
    ”Things are too hectic in the city and we want a simpler life.”
    Answers that won’t eliminate you from consideration:
    ”The prosecutors are on the side of the criminals.”
    ”Saying, ‘All lives matter’ will cost you your job.”
    ”They are making all my guns illegal.”
  • Who do you know around here? Wrong answers are anything other than a half dozen people who have lived there all their lives and will vouch for your good character. You will be asked how you know them and you should be ready to tell stories about them that your interviewer, who probably also knows them, will recognize as being in character.
  • What are you going to do here? Wrong answers include:
    “Farming a few acres.”
    ”Organic <anything>.”
    ”I have enough money I don’t have to do anything.”
    Answers that won’t eliminate you from consideration:
    ”If I can get a good enough Internet connection I can work from home.”
    ”I’ll do almost anything to get out away from the politics of <state/city>.”
    ”Construction/drive truck/heavy equipment operator/etc.”
  • What sort of hunting do you do? Wrong answers include:
    ”I’m a vegan.”
    ”I’m not against others hunting but it isn’t something anyone in our family would ever consider doing.”
    ”I was thinking I might try hunting antelope (or other species that doesn’t exist in this area of Idaho) when I get here.”
    Answers that won’t eliminate you from consideration:
    ”I’ve harvested a few mulies and some ducks, but nothing recently.”
    ”Hunting is something I have always wanted to try. Can you recommend someone to help me get my hunter education card?”
    ”My wife did some hunting when she was growing up and promised she would teach me after we get settled in.”
  • What type of guns do you have? Wrong answers include:
    ”We have a couple 9mm shotguns.”
    ”Part of the reason we are leaving the city is to get away from all the guns.”
    ”Nothing right now but I expect we will be getting an assault weapon or two after we get here.”
    Answers that won’t eliminate you from consideration:
    ”We started to buy a couple handguns a year ago but it was just too much of a hassle and the sheriff wouldn’t give us a concealed carry license unless we ‘donated’ to his reelection campaign anyway.”
    “I’d rather not discuss the details until we can get them out of the state.”
    ”I haven’t done an inventory recently but I checked with a moving company and we are going to need to rent a U-Haul trailer because they won’t move them for us.”
  • What did you think of that last presidential election? Wrong answers include:
    ”It was so scary that Trump got that many votes.”
    ”If Hillary had not given up in 2016 we wouldn’t have had to worry about Trump in 2020.”
    ”If there hadn’t been so much corruption Trump would have been in jail and we could have all breathed a little easier.”
    Answers that won’t eliminate you from consideration:
    ”Let’s go Brandon!”
    ”Why hasn’t the FBI interviewed any of the people who reported election fraud?”
    ”They called that an insurrection? One day soon they are likely to see a real insurrection.”

The weather deserves mention. Given the state of the education system people may not know that living within a few tens of miles of the ocean has a moderating effect on the temperature. Currently my property in Idaho looks like this:


That is a picnic table covered in snow next to my explosives production facility. The snow has drifted some so the depth is quite variable but on the average it’s a couple feet deep with another 10 inches or so forecast for the coming week. And my weather station went offline last night when the temperature suddenly crashed below –5 F:


It’s been a common problem. The weather station was sold by an Arizona company and it just doesn’t seem to be able to handle the cold. And –5 isn’t all the cold as things go around here. I’ve seen it as low as –30F for a week at a time while never getting above –20F. It’s not all that bad as long as the electricity doesn’t go out. That winter with the lows of –30F for a week included no electricity. We heated snow on our wood stove for water. After the electricity came back on we thawed the frozen underground pipes using our electric welder. You do know how to do that, right?

The –30 F for a week was an outlier. But there have been several times when it never got above 0 F for more than a month so you should be prepared for that. Also, with it that cold and lots of snow the county may not plow the roads for several days. You and your neighbors will need to get your dozers started up and plow them yourselves. Be sure and put winterized diesel in your snow removal equipment before it turns cold. The summer diesel will be jelly when you need it the most. Starting a diesel engine in the extreme cold is not for the novice. Know how to use glow plugs, block heaters, and starting fluid.

Oh! You alerted on the “explosive production facility”? It’s no big deal. You don’t have to have your own facility. Most people buy their recreational explosives from the local sporting goods store or even the local builders supply. I have my own facility because I make over a ton of recreational explosives each year.

Back to the weather… The summers are hot. 100+ F is expected in the late summer. Some of the lower elevations get days with the temperature over 110F. You should see the wildfires we get around here: That was in 2020 and was just a warm up for 2021. After they lite the backfires for the 2021 fire less than a mile from my brother’s house the flames were estimated at over 1000 feet high. If you want to keep your buildings you will need your own generator to keep your pump running and hope your well has the capacity to supply enough water to keep everything saturated. Why your own generator and water you ask? The power frequently goes out because of the fires. There is no city/county water supply. Your own well is what you have. The local fire department is a volunteer organization and will probably be busy someplace else. This is especially true if you are the new guy in the neighborhood and has been a little snotty about the local “deplorables”. If properly equipped, your dozer for plowing the snow in the winter can be used for fighting fires in the summer.

Gardens are common. Most people in the country have gardens and maybe a few fruit and/or nut trees and/or berry bushes. But its not required unless driving 30 minutes to an hour into town to buy fresh food is annoying. You will need to have a fence which is at least six feet high. The deer will jump over anything less than that. Instacart and Amazon fresh don’t deliver in this area. You might want to consider canning and freezing your own food too. Have enough on hand to make it through those weeks where the roads haven’t been cleared of snow or are closed because of the fires.

Transportation. The thing about no Instacart or Amazon Fresh services reminded me of a story about someone who shall remain nameless. This person was coming out for a visit and I offered to pick them up at the airport. They declined saying they would just take public transportation from the airport to the motel in the closest town to me. I repeated my offer but they insisted. An hour or so later they called back, “There isn’t any public transportation from the airport to your town!” Yeah, I was pretty sure you would discover that. I’ll be glad to pick you up.

Septic systems. Another service people in the city take for granted is a sewer system. That’s right, in addition to your own well you have to have your own septic system. This is composed of a 1000+ gallon tank buried near your house where the turds decompose until they exit as a smelly liquid along with the other stuff you send down your drain. The effluent from the septic tank go into the drain field a little further from the house, and much further from your well, to be reintroduced to the ground. The septic tank will need to be pumped out every three to five years. Do not neglect this! Get it done during the summer. If your drain plugs up during one of those times when the roads are closed because of the snow and the subzero temperatures you will be using a latrine made out of a snow drift. Your pee won’t necessarily freeze before it gets blown into your shoes and that will probably result in more frequent changing of your socks than if you just had to brush the ice off.

Because the bacterial requirements for turd decomposition differs from that required for food scrap decomposition you will not have a garage disposal in your kitchen sink. You will learn to compost for your garden or pay extra for garbage removal—if it exists in your area. You may have to take it to the transfer station yourself. They are usually within 30 minutes to an hour away from your house.(when the roads are passable). You might want a pickup to haul it because carrying garbage in your car can cause it to smell bad for a long time.

Vehicles. Speaking of transportation and cars… You should have at least one four wheel or all wheel drive vehicle for winter travel. And don’t count on all season tires to be “good enough”. Get dedicated winter tires. If you have a decent relationship with your neighbors they will pull you out of the ditches the first few times you slide off the road near their place. But if you are a slow learner they will grow tired of it and let you stay in the ditch for a day or two. They might give you a ride home or bring you some food, water, and a blanket. After all, we are friendly folks and care about our neighbors.

If you slide off the edge of the hill instead of a ditch… well, you will be lucky if your car stops tumbling after a couple hundred feet. It’s over 1,000 feet all the way down to the river. And the only people I have ever known to call a tow truck were city people. If you call a tow truck and manage to get one to come out the neighbors will be telling that story for decades.

Your Prius, Tesla, BMW, and Mercedes will be viewed in a very negative light with you thought of as virtue signaling and/or a snob. The Ferrari, Jaguar, or Porsche that was the status symbol of your city neighborhood will be be considered conclusive evidence you are an arrogant narcissist.

Privacy. You might think that because your nearest neighbor is hundreds of yards away that you have more privacy than in the city with neighbors a few dozen feet from you. Don’t count on it. When the deer are more common than people your neighbors know what vehicles you drive and when and probably where you are at any given time. When your spouse invites a friend over while you are in town or out of the area for a while within a few hours the neighbors will have shared that information with everyone else in a five mile radius.

Internet access. Do you require “good Internet”? If you do, then don’t even think about moving here. I recently had a repairman come out to my place to fix something and while waiting for someone to bring him some parts from town I told him he could use my open Wi-Fi. This is at a rather remote location where I have a dish antenna pointed at a mountain top four miles away to get my Internet. This connects to my router and retransmits to another location almost a half mile away where it is broadcast again at my gun range. Both the router location and the gun range Internet equipment is powered by solar cells and batteries. When he was leaving he thanked me for the Internet connection and commented, “That is a better Internet connection than I have at home.”

My service is 6 Mbs down and 3 Mbs up. For comparison, “good Internet” in the city is going to be something on the order of at least 70+ Mbs down.

Social factors. Having good neighbors is incredibly important. Defending against fires in the summer and travel in the winter are life threating even with good relationships with your neighbors. You will need to fit in to be welcomed or even tolerated. If you are a slow learner or think the way the things are done in the city is better then you are likely to become a social outcast and you will spend, at most, a few years before you retreat to the city where you belong.

Summary. Country life in Idaho is much different from what city people are used to. I’ve just touched the surface to give you some clues. People who live here do not appreciate people who move from the city and expect people and the environment to adapt to them or accept your insistence that they are your inferiors. If you are arrogant, difficult to get along with, or a slow learner they can and will make life difficult or deadly for you simply by minor neglect. You will adapt or you will leave—one way or another.

Update 1/8/2022: I forgot to mention the Indian reservation. The reservation encompasses a lot of square miles and several small towns:


The Nez Perce tribe has their own court system.

Business dealings with the tribe can be “interesting”. Once, my brothers and I came to a verbal agreement on a land swap with them. It was a great deal for both them and us. They were getting land which was well connected with their land (and not much of ours) and we were getting land which well connected with ours (and not much of theirs). After the verbal agreement it took (IIRC) six years to get a signed contract which only formalized the verbal agreement and said the deal will be closed within six months. It took seven, rather painful, months to close the deal.

I could tell stories for hours but that might spoil relationships that took decades to build.

The snow kept falling. Here are updated pictures of the same location a few days later:



Here is a picture of my brother’s front deck:


They lost electricity at the same time for a day or too also.

Quote of the day—BioViva Science

In fiction and the popular imagination the quest for youth is associated with a bevy of unsavory characters: pharaohs, vampires, and Saturday morning villains. Yet the real face of longevity research is us, all of us. All of us who have ever had to watch a friend or family member lose everything to an age-related illness, all of us who have had to sit by while a “natural” process executed an innocent person. What sort of perverse imagination could think anyone deserves to die in this way?

BioViva Science
Email sent on November 11, 2021
[I’ve had many people tell me something to the effect of there being something wrong with wanting to live for much longer than the currently expected lifetimes. The reasons were varied and none were compelling to me. Probably the best was something to the effect that there needed to be “room” for new people with new ideas to prevent a stagnation of civilization and possibly technological advancement.

The worst was rather personal.

As my mother was sliding away with Alzheimer I had a friend cheerfully tell me I should enjoy the natural aging. As that is what she did as her grandfather as his brain failed and he could no longer recognize family and friends or speak coherently.

I didn’t accept her advice then and I don’t now.

There is evidence scientists are close to effective treatments if not outright cures for dementia. With my family history I see this as a race between scientists and time. I have a rather keen interest in this race as my life has a much higher than acceptable risk of being decided by the winner.—Joe]

Underground nuclear bunker

‘We Live in a 6,000 Square Foot Underground Nuclear Bunker’

The bunker is primarily made up of four large rooms that all have 16.5ft ceilings. As you enter, you reach the smallest room. Then you get to the second biggest room, and turning to the right from there is the largest room. Circling back from there, you come to a smaller room at the back. There is also a mezzanine and a pump room and a small fan room. The first room was originally an office space, the second largest room was the telecommunications equipment room and the largest room was the battery room. That one room is 1,700 square feet.

There is only about 4ft of earth above us, but the whole structure is built with two feet of reinforced concrete, and I have heard that rebar is as thick as a human arm. It’s also electromagnetic pulse (EMP) shielded; the whole structure has a copper mesh around it in case there was an EMP burst, in order to protect the electronics. We have a 3,000lb blast door at the front, a 2,000lb blast door at the back and an escape hatch. The escape hatch leads to a full stairwell that you can go up and leave through. My understanding is that the bunker can withstand a near-miss nuclear explosion. As long as we are not vaporized in the crater, we should be OK.

Interesting, but no thank you. This isn’t for me. I’m not opposed to the heavy doors, EMP shielding, and the four feet of earth is acceptable. I don’t need or want 6,000 square feet to take care of. Nor would I want to have to spend hundreds of thousands to remodel it into something resembling a reasonable floor plan. The escape hatch would be kind of nice though.

My grade school was small

Back in the days of the dinosaurs schools were much smaller. This is the first through the fourth grade with the one and only teacher:


I’m the third boy from the left. Verl Presnall, who I mentioned when he died just over a year ago, is the first boy on the left. Second boy from the left, L.J., worked at CCI for decades.

Thanks to cousin Janis, first girl from the left, who posted the picture on Facebook.

Right to Bear Arms

Via email from Rolf:

Recommended Age Range: 4-12

The Right to Bear Arms is a tool designed to assist parents in teaching children about the Second Amendment and constitutional liberties.  It highlights the time Charisma Cat attempted to take over the forest by using tricks, social shame, and manipulation to convince other animals to give up their teeth and claws.  Only the Bears refuse to surrender their arms.  You can guess what happens next.

I just ordered a copy for a Christmas gift for my grandson.

More deer than people

Because of the gun range I spent quite a bit of time on my land in Idaho this summer. I saw more deer than people. I’m pretty sure it was the same deer multiple times. They came out of the woods at the same place, ate my crops in the same area of the field, and I’m pretty sure I was recognizing some of them.

Here is a picture of one group of seven (click to enlarge and see there are two next to each other at the upper left) about 250 yards away:


I saw as many as 14 at one time in this same area. Some of them would come as close as about 25 yards away without much fear as long as I didn’t pay much attention to them.

There were also other parts of my field deer visited but this was where I saw them most frequently.

Range construction is complete

The range proper is complete. I have some grass to plant and a few other niceties to finish up but it is entirely functional now.

The shooting box is at 15 yards.

This is from about 35 yards.


The pavers protect the washed river rock and drain tile directly underneath from dirt.

I need to get some target stands for USPSA paper and steel targets and a full set of Steel Challenge targets. That probably won’t happen until next year.

Minor range update

Barb hasn’t had a chance to visit my gun range and made comment the size being somewhat small. I parked my car in it and put some targets in the berm for scale so she could get a better idea of the scale:


She has revised her view of the size.

The tile inside the range and more gravel was installed yesterday and the washed river rock was put over the tile today.

Today I made two trips into town to pick up some concrete pavers to cover the gravel over the tile to prevent the dirt from plugging up the gravel and tile line. As the dirt from the berm starts to cross the paver line I will “rehabilitated” the berm.

The range still needs some more gravel but that should be completed tomorrow. Then it will be done!

I now need to invite Mike B. over. I told him about my project last winter and I promised to invite him over when it was done.

Update: The picture below is from across the road looking up range at the retaining wall for the berm. This is the reason for higher blocks on the left side than the right:


Large trucks would be visible from the range if the extra blocks were not present.

The castle wall

Yesterday someone pointed out the walls for my current home project look a lot like castle walls. He was correct. And from certain angles this is especially true:



I expect the project to be completed by the end of next week or the beginning of the following week. When it is done I’ll supply more pictures.

Eagle Scout fundraiser

The daughter of a long time Boomershooter has a daughter working on her Eagle Scout project and needs some money to complete it.

Here is her GoFundMe pitch:

Hello, everyone! My name is Elysia, and I’m a Scout from Troop 498. I want to be the first female Scout from my Troop.

For my Eagle Project, I want to build a eagle-perching pole on Eagle Island in Eagle Lake. A previous Eagle Scout put a pole on the island for our local eagles to perch on. It was there for many years, but it was made from a fallen tree, and eventually it rotted, and it fell during a winter wind storm. The community has wanted to replace it with something better, but there are a lot of projects they want to do, and not a lot of people that want to take charge. They were very happy when I said I wanted to do this!

My plan is to get a 35-foot aluminum flagpole and mount it in a concrete foundation on the island. At the top, I will put a lightweight triangular perching structure to replace the usual ball at the top of the flagpole. I will build the perching structure out of aluminum pipe and aluminum sheets, welded together into support arms, with some hardwood dowels for the eagles to actually perch on.

The flagpole is the most expensive part of the whole project at about $3750, but we need a pole like that because:

  • We need to transport the flagpole to the island by rowboat, and it comes in two 75-lb pieces. Wood utility poles would be too heavy to transport, even if they float.
  • The island is only 20-feet in diameter, so the pole needs to be light enough for a few people to lift it into the foundation socket without heavy equipment
  • Wood will eventually rot away, but we’re using only aluminum pole, aluminum screws and aluminum parts for the perch, so we won’t get galvanic corrosion between different metals.
  • The pole is rated for 60mph winds with a flag on it, so that should stand up to windstorms even with the perch at the top
  • It should be strong enough for 12-lb eagles to land on, but too wobbly for them to try to build a nest on it.

I hope to build the concrete foundation for the flagpole in August while the weather is dry and the lake is low. Then I’ll get the aluminum parts together to build the perch assembly, and some of the volunteers from my troop know some Boeing engineers with the right kind of equipment to weld aluminum. (I have my Welding merit badge, but welding aluminum is not like welding steel!)

About me:

  • My cultural background is Peruvian, Texan, English, and Cantonese, and my dad is a US Veteran.
  • The Hamlin Robinson School is the best school for kids with dyslexia and language development difficulties. They really helped me! I hope they can help someone you know.
  • I am learning American Sign Language, and I hope I can earn my Translator patch soon.
  • I help my grandma at the Shelton Community Lifeline, when I can. If we raise more money than we need for this project, and my local community agrees, I want to use any extra to help the homeless shelter.

After my $50 donation she has 3,920 of her $4,500 goal. Can you guys push her over the top? Donate here.

Sign of the times

On June 28th a nearby weather station posted a record shattering 114.6F.

Barb and I saw this on our morning walk on July 2nd:


Close up:


Most people in the Seattle area didn’t have A/C in their homes. Even multi-million dollar homes.

That is changing.

Quote of the day—Kim

Gun powder and sunshine make me nostalgic.

April 29, 2021
[Daughter Kim was at the Boomershoot staff dinner last night. At the table with us were Tim and T.J.

Tim told a story about his mom making homemade bread and he didn’t really appreciate and realize big of a deal it was that she did that. When he was young he didn’t want to eat it because he wanted bread just like the other kids at school had. When he was in the last couple years of high school he liked it because it tasted so good. His mom died on the same day he graduated from high school. Because he was still young and wasn’t fully aware of how special that homemade bread was he had never told her that he appreciated it.

Kim then asked me, “Do you remember how when I was young you would take me to the matches at the Lewiston Pistol Club?”

“Uhh… yeah.”

“Well, now, gun powder and sunshine make me nostalgic. I told someone at work about this and they said I need to tell you. I hadn’t done it yet. Tim’s story reminded of that.”

There was a bit of a pause and then T.J. said, “She’s a keeper.”—Joe]

Quote of the day—Sam Jacobs

Today’s colleges are little more than indoctrination factories for the foot soldiers of a cadre of militants intensely hostile toward Western civilization and the American way of life. We should be mindful about salvaging whatever we can from them while aggressively kneecapping their ability to brainwash our children and attack our freedoms.

Sam Jacobs
American Education: Child Indoctrination, Struggle Sessions and Debt Slavery
[This article resonated rather strongly with me. Last Saturday daughter Jaime told of the indoctrination being done on my 2nd grader grandson. It’s close to horrifying and short of home schooling there doesn’t seem to be a solution. She has complained up through the ranks as far as the school board where it appears they are simply ignoring her.

I would be incline to retreat to my underground bunker (I wish!) in Idaho with my children and their kids and wait out the collapse of civilization. But the communists always hunt you down and take your possessions, if not your life, in the name of equality/fairness/whatever-excuse. So the options are becoming more limited with each passing month.—Joe]