March 23, 2014

Rico Austin’s Private Idaho

I was thrilled to be chosen to represent Arizona last year, 2013 in the Fifty Authors from Fifty States Blog as it has been my home on and off for the last 23 years; but, I am truly honored to have been given the nod to represent Idaho where I lived life to the fullest of my first 30 years. 

My own private Idaho is not based upon the 1991 American independent drama film, but of my experiences while growing up in a community and state of sparse population, but abundant with endless adventures for my four younger brothers, numerous cousins and me.
I was born and raised in Southwest Idaho, along the banks of the Snake River and couldn’t wait to find my own way. This part of the state is a farming mecca with never ending fields of potatoes, corn, hops and wheat bordered by orchards of fruit bearing cherries, apples, pears, plums and the most round peaches.  As you drive through the countless trees, you’ll pass through vineyards of glorious grapes that become some of the finest wines of North America such as those grown and bottled at Ste. Chapelle, Idaho’s largest winery just across the river from my small hometown of Marsing, population 801.  When I graduated high school there in the mid 70s the population was 510; others and I have left, but we have been replaced by those seeking a more tranquil life and peaceful, serene views of the winding Snake River and of the local landmark of Lizard Butte.

While still in Southwestern Idaho, we have to pay homage to the capital city of Boise, located in the high desert area about 40 miles from Marsing, (once the center of my world) is a tree lined valley of the Boise River, a distinct landmark for the early French fur trappers and traders which originally named this area, “La riviere boisee,’ which translated means, “the wooded river.”  Boise is the largest city and metropolitan area between Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah and is home to Boise State University, the largest university in the state.  BSU Broncos have the famed Smurf Turf aka the Blue Field of Football and have been nationally ranked in Football and in Basketball.  I studied at Boise State while playing football and it is here that my first, bestselling novel and winner of 14 awards, “My Bad Tequila” began during a Spring Break trip from BSU to San Carlos, Mexico, gone heavily awry. This is the story of that adventurous, journey of mystery which spans 30 years of the main character’s life.  My favorite line from the book is, “You’ll see the true reflection of me when the tequila bottle is empty,” I shouted out to the wind as I tossed the sad, angry, bottle-shaped mirror to the sea.

Growing up I loved camping, rafting, hiking, boating and fishing in the Salmon River Mountain Range,
Owyhee Mountains and the Teton Range that are part of the Rocky Mountains of North America.  Exploring my state was high upon my list, almost as high as the elevation of these ranges where vast mother lodes of gold and silver have been mined; but, still veins await discovery.  One of my favorite places to camp and walk the outdoors was in the Sawtooth Mountains on the south central part of the state where hundreds of lakes were created by vanished alpine glaciers. The largest of these lakes being Redfish Lake, Stanley Lake
and Sawtooth Lake of which many a trout have been pulled and served up as the main course of a delicious campfire meal.  Some of you may have heard of a place named Sun Valley, Idaho and/or the neighboring town of Ketchum, a skiers dream and home of former Olympic Gold Medalist,  Picabo Street.  She won gold medals in super G at the 1998 Winter Olympics and in downhill at 1996 World Championships.  She also won the World Cup downhill season titles in 1995 and 1996, the first American woman to do so.  

Street was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 2004.  Sun Valley is also the final resting place of Ernest Hemingway, one of the greatest American Writers, who too loved the Idaho outdoors and the adventures that were awaiting him.

There are so many numerous places of natural beauty within the State of Idaho, from the top of the panhandle with the towns of Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene hosting the lakes of Pend Oreille and Coeur d’Alene with its famous floating green where golfers from around the world test their skill and swing.  The

University of Idaho, home of the Vandals is located in nearby Moscow, next to the Washington border.  In Central Idaho is where Ski Town USA aka McCall is located, with the Payette Lake for water skiers being surrounded by the town and Brundage Mountain on the outskirts of town for the snow skiers.  McCall is mentioned in two of my books, each having a story that connects the reader to this place of the beauty and my favorite town within the borders of Idaho.  An in-depth look at Idaho through the towns of McCall and Marsing are shared in the biography / memoir telling the true story of how and when I met the legitimate, illegitimate son of the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Mr. Elvis Presley.  You will read of all the trials and tribulations of ghostwriting, John Dennis Smith’s epic and incredible mystery of being adopted and

discovering his birthright.  This is his journey of finding out WHO his birth mother and father really were.  

This too, is of my adventure, trying to get the full story documented, written and published for the world to read of this incredible, well kept secret of over five decades.

As we finish our travels to the eastern part of the state we have Pocatello which is home to one of the three state universities, Idaho State University and the Bengals mascot.  From Idaho Falls, you can see the towering Tetons in the background heading northeast to the entry of Yellowstone National Park by way of West Yellowstone, another picturesque spot in the very diverse state of Idaho that is made up of pure evergreen and aspen forests of wilderness with untamed rivers flowing through the rugged landscape.
When visiting this unique place on Earth with breath taking views of Hells Canyon, Shoshone Falls, Craters
of the Moon, River of No Return, Shoshone Indian Ice Caves and the Bruneau Sand Dunes, there are three

things you do not want to forget:  a camera to capture the beauty, a fishing pole to cast into the lakes and rivers, and a pen to encompass your thoughts as you see what Lewis and Clark first beheld in my own private Idaho.
(Pictures Provided by Author)


  1. Rico AustinMarch 23, 2014

    How appropriate for this to be shown March 23rd, the day that I once again leave Idaho after being here for 5 days, returning to my home in Arizona! From one great state to another great state - I have truly been blessed. rico austin

  2. The images of Idaho are stunning. It looks like a place I could visit. Have friends in Kuna but was never able to go there. Your stories about the descendant of The King will surely sell. A whole world of followers of The King are alive and thriving. I have a friend who is (ulgh!) an impersonator who adores The King, promotes his music, and may be interested in your books. By the way, he looks like Elvis! I will send him the link to your site. And just FYI, I live walking distance from the CoCoPalms Resort (now being rebuilt) where Elvis filmed scenes from Blue Hawaii. Elvis is alive and well in the world today. You should do well with your stories.

  3. Enjoyed the read, Rico. I've not been to Idaho, though Hemingway early sparked interest in the state and I've always admired Vardis Fisher, who set so many of his books in Idaho. One year we hosted two Mormon missionaries who did their dardest to convert me while regaling us with stories of growing up in the Idaho mountains.

  4. Wow! Now this state that I knew nothing about, has jumped to the top of my "must-go-camping-in-soon!" list! The scenery, the mountains, the lakes for my husband to fish, the communing with nature for all of us to enjoy? I'm hooked! I'm looking forward to enjoying all of this ASAP! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Okay, Rico, now you've done it; you let the cat out of the bag. Idaho is the best kept secret in this country. It is wild and beautiful. My son and grandkids live in Boise and I've been to ID many times, including driving from SLC. Didn't I read My Bad Tequila several years ago? Anyway, good job. I also live in AZ, now.

  6. How cool, Rico! I've never been to Idaho, but it looks lovely. I would like to visit one day and see the Smurf Turf up close.

  7. Hi, Rico,

    Thanks for showing us around Idaho. It looks and sounds beautiful. My husband has always wanted to play golf in Coeur d'Alene, but the rest of Idaho sounds just as great! Maybe I'll get there one of these days...

  8. Very interesting state. Thanks for the insight.

  9. A very interesting. Thanks for the tour and the insight.

  10. Have you ever considered publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other sites?

    I have a blog based on the same topics you
    discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my readers would value your work. If you're
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  11. I grew up in Montana, so we were neighbors! I now live in AZ too. All three great states! Thanks for sharing your experience and your state!

  12. Readers and Commentors, I will be giving away a copy of my latest "Son of the King" at the end of April of which I will select 1 comment.

  13. Rico AustinApril 13, 2014

    Gracias Amigas & Amigos for all the fantastic comments about visiting Idaho. I have truly been blessed to have been born in Idaho and have traveled extensively throughout the West with limited travel in the rest of the country with visits to 48 of the 50 states. I have never set foot in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania but plan to do so in the future. Possibly a wedding to attend to in a couple of years in the Cheese State, home of the Packers and I do want to visit Pittsburgh and Philadelphia ever so badly. For all those of whom have never visited Idaho or the West - As the phrase, "Go West Young Man" rings for young or mature women or men alike. rico

  14. Mary Deal, you are the lucky winner of my latest book, "Son of the KING, an ELVIS paradox unveiled." I have sent you a contact form on your website for you to get in touch with me via email with your mailing address and I'll get a copy sent out right away. Thanks to all for YOUR much appreciated comments.


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