It was a beautiful day in Fairfield, except for one thing – summer was over. All the cattle had been gathered off the Bennett Mountains and trucked to Paul for the winter. The last cutting of hay had been bailed and stacked. Another storybook summer had passed and it was time for me to go home.
My uncle Mark Hansen had just finished loading my buckskin mare Mandy into the horse trailer as I finished moving all my things out of the bunkhouse. That year I was 16 and was driving home in my new, but very used, sage green 1968 Ford pickup which still bared the lettering, “Buhl Paint and Glass” on the doors. The $650 purchase was made a few weeks earlier with my last paycheck of the summer. I put the tailgate down for my shadow, a white German shepherd named Brandy, to jump in. I took one last look around the now quiet Lazy A Ranch.
You see, I lived in Draper, Utah, with my family, but I spent every summer of my teenage years working on my uncle’s ranch in Fairfield. My love for that place made leaving very difficult and made every school year in Utah go by very slowly.
I gave a big hug to Uncle Mark, made a quick check on my horse in the trailer and I embarked on the dreaded 4-hour drive home. The washboard dirt roads rattled my old truck as I drove off. In the vibrating rear view mirror, I watched the white fences bordering the ranch fade away as I wiped a tear. I swore that someday I would live here in southern Idaho.
In 2004, I finally did it. After countless boating trips to the Snake River, my wife Lori and I decided that we wouldn’t be happy unless we lived here. We built a home on the Snake River in Declo and NEVER looked back. Twenty years had passed since my Fairfield memories and life had taken me on an amazing journey. I married an incredible woman (my wife Lori) and we have two great kids (Haylie & Zack). I had a country music career in Las Vegas, which led to a computer graphic design business, which led to a wakeboarding event production company, which led to a senior photography position with a Utah magazine. And it has all led up to this… right here… right now!
Welcome to the Premiere Issue of
Southern Idaho Living Magazine!
After two years of hard work, visualizing and believing, we have made a great idea into a reality. None of this could have been possible without the support of many people. I especially thank Don and Janet Ames and Ryan Howe for their contributions.
From the day I moved here I have dreamed of joining my love for photography and design with my love for this great region. In every issue we will celebrate the best of southern Idaho, from Declo to Glenns Ferry and Ketchum to Jackpot. You’ll find in-depth features on interesting people doing amazing things, tips for gardening, cooking and decorating, family travel destinations, events, and things to do. We will revisit the area’s rich history, as well as look toward a promising future.
I can’t think of a better cover story for our premiere issue than Johnny U. His love for this area and his longing to return after years of performing on the road reminds me of my journey. Like Johnny, I love southern Idaho and look forward to showcasing it within these pages. I invite you to join us on our journey.