Idaho Arts Quarterly » Reading Idaho

Reading Idaho

Backcountry Roads, Idaho

by

Backcountry Roads, Idaho

Lynna and Leland Howard

(Caxton Press)

On the map of Idaho, there are only a few major highways bisecting our strange, up-ended hatchet of a state. Travelling only these roads, you would think Idaho was nothing but a belt of potatoes and a length of car-sickening conifers. Backcountry Roads, Idaho lets us escape the bitumen and experience the vast wilds where the real history and beauty of the state still lives.

With text by Lynna Howard and photographs by her brother Leland, the book comprises 31 expeditions that cover the entire state. Each trip includes recommendations for vehicle travel (so you know if the old Corolla will make it or if you will need a Land Cruiser), GPS coordinates of interesting sites, and area maps.

The technical aspects of this book are only half of it. Within each itinerary, there are photographs and anecdotes from Lewis and Clark's journal, pioneers, prospectors; the people whose stories create our sense of place within the rugged landscape of Idaho. There are even short poems from Lynna Howard's notebook.

Backcountry Roads, Idaho bridges an unforeseen gap between coffee-table book and guidebook. It invites us to color the empty parts of the map with our own stories.