The Raw Idaho Desert Is A Secret Hideaway

Jen Underwood
Feb 28 · 5 min read
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2007 Kuna Desert Idaho. Copyright Jennifer Underwood

I moved around a lot when I was in my thirties. I was living in Oregon when my friend and I decided to move to Idaho. It was more his decision than mine, I dragged my feet, not having anywhere else to go really.

I was shocked once we got there at how different it was from what I expected. Nobody ever really says anything about Idaho other than potato jokes. If there were potatoes, you didn’t see them. Large vast fields, flat lands, and mountains off in the distance. Then you see Canyons, and the long Boise River that runs for miles across the state, that adventure seekers love to white raft on.

My friend had an old 1980’s RV. We stayed in it after a series of misfortune made us leave Oregon when everything seemed to fall apart. I had no desire to live in a twenty two foot space with anyone, but had no choice.

We settled in Meridian, Idaho outside of Boise at an RV Resort. I did not care for it much. Fast food places lined the streets, and it felt cold and distant. The only relief I felt was walking behind on the flat sidewalks through private neighborhoods, to see beautiful setting sunsets. Winter was windy and cold. The wind would rock the RV so bad, we thought it would tip over. When you take the trash out, or go to take a shower, the dry air hits you. You are 4,000 feet up in elevation, and you can scarcely breathe when it is cold.

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Outside the RV Resort In Meridian, Idaho. Copyright Jennifer Underwood

So in the late summer of 2007, I was eager to take photos. I had been playing around with photography for a few years, had read some books, and realized this was a hands on experience. So, I read the best time to go out is when there are storms, or at sunset and sunrise.

Oddly enough, everything worked together exactly like that one day in August of 2007. My friend and I drove out to Kuna, Idaho about a half hour past Boise, and first you see a small main street, than a cute little park. Then you drive over a small bridge that leads to flat desert lands, like you just entered into the movie: The Misfits.

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I took this one off the side of the road. Note this one, and the top photo are not in my ebook.

You see rocks, tons of them, desert grass that is yellow, or burnt yellow, and very few shrubs other than what you see. The mountains stretch off in the distance, and it is a small two lane road. We went out several times so I took the above photos first.

Upon returning in August, I was stunned. It was dusk, and the sun just set itself up to put on a show. God’s hand was everywhere, as if He had set up the stage for the perfect lighting show.

Off to the west, dark blue sky hovered. To the right, shimmering light like dust settled over the mountains. In the forefront, was a dark blanket upon the desert floor, and I loved the contrast of light and dark and wanted desperately to photograph it. I used manual settings for some, and used presets for others, but if I did not have any idea what I was doing, or did not have the natural talent of photography I was given by God, it would have blown up in my face. I was a nervous wreck that day. I really wanted good pictures, and I was determined to get it right.

Turns out, I did. Some came out sharp, but the angles were exactly what I wanted, and did not need much work other than what was seen.

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I call this: Dim the Lights because I loved the contrast of dark and light.

I wish I had relaxed more so I could enjoy the moment. Than, amazingly, a Rainbow suddenly appeared, wide and vast to enjoy. I took a few shots of it.

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Copyright Jennifer Underwood 2007
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Mountains were close by, and this shot spoke to me as I was standing there waiting for the sun to set.

When I left, I had my friend abruptly stop the car when I yelled. I jumped out and took the most awe-inspiring shots of the clouds. Dust, dirt, storm, and sun all came together in a beautiful melody.

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These pictures in larger size are available in my new e-book: Lost In A Cloud, you can find on Payhip, and on my website.

When I left that day, I had no idea that I would remember for years to come the best photography day of my life. I did not know that many pictures would not present themselves as beautiful as what I saw that day.

We went back to the desert at midday in cooler months, and I remember it was so quiet, it was a humming, deafening silence. Sitting there made you uncomfortable because you could all but hear your brain rattle. A lizard crosses a rock far away, and you hear it. The tiniest of gnats flies by, and you hear it. It was the sound of silence, literally. No place on earth was like this. I would return here many times before I left for my home state North Carolina in 2009. I miss it, but recommend it to anyone who wants to experience the real Idaho. Not a bunch of buildings, or potatoes, but raw desert.

Jennifer Underwood is a Landscape/Nature Photographer for fourteen years. She lives in Upper Western North Carolina, and is also an Abstract Expressionist Artist.

To see the e-book of these photos, please go to my website listed in my Bio.

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