By: Dave Connolly


Rightfully so, our discussions are about the past at Bates - Austin.  However, I'd like to relate something that occurred in June 1995, but I think it depicts some of the "threads" that tie us back to those "Good old days at Bates."


I decided to show my Boise, Idaho friends some of the special places around Bates and Austin, so I took them to see the "pothole" located just below Vinegar Hill Lookout.  Those of you who have visited this beautiful deep canyon, I'm sure, share my appreciation of the unique scenery.


It turns out the last of June was still early for all the snow to disappear.  I would have been okay except for one macho move about 100 yards from our destination, when I tried to prove my new truck was "unstuckable."


During the next two hours, I assured my friends that even though we all of a sudden seemed very isolated, this was my old "stomping" area and if necessary, I could walk for help.  Internally, I was dreading a long walk to civilization.


Fortunately, after a lot of digging we got out of the snowdrift.  Immediately our problem was no longer and we turned to recording our experience with pictures of the snow and beautiful scenery.


It was getting to be late afternoon, so we started back down the mountain to civilization.  Much to our surprise, only a half mile from the "pothole" we discovered our sense of isolation was mostly in our mind.  Here was two of my old Bates friends (who still live in Bates) with walking sticks coming up the road.  After a friendly greeting they explained that they make an annual pilgrimage to this area on their anniversary.  I believe they said they were celebrating around 56 years together.  What a wonderful place to annually reflect on your time together without any of the daily bustle of life interrupting your thoughts.


Although life has dealt them some pretty severe blows (like so many of the rest of us), they had a composure about them that said, "Hey - it's okay.  We'll accept what we're dealt in this world and still show our appreciation for the wonderful expressions of nature and life."


They depict the character of long time Bates-Austin residents. They are able to bring themselves in closer harmony to their natural surroundings than what "outsiders' are able to accomplish.


This is the "magic" that continues to draw people back to their Bates-Austin roots ... many years after the physical communities have long since disappeared from the landscape.