(Idaho. Dark, yes. But it’s a dry dark.)
Heads up, American homeowners! The verdict is in, and it’s a bit of a surprise. The newest best place to live isn’t on either coast, or on either border. It’s not New York, or California, or Florida, or Hugh Hefner’s green room. It’s not Key West, where people catch marlin, or Cleveland, where rivers catch fire, or Chicago, where the police never catch anybody.
Welcome to Idaho.
Yes, Idaho. This northwestern destination has become the fastest-growing United State, according to a new study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a federal government organization which, like many professional accordion players, only works once every ten years.
In case you forgot, or slept through “Flyover States” day at school, Idaho (the “Gem State”) sits just west of where Wyoming ends, and where Montana remembered they can’t swim. Given its location, Idaho is perfectly positioned to separate Washington and Oregon from the rest of the us, and thank heaven somebody’s handling that. Idaho is maybe best known for its potatoes, hence its nickname, the “Gem State.” (To be fair, this is the kind of thing that can happen when you’re busy trying to keep Washington and Oregon out of Vegas.)
Idaho became a State on July 3, 1890, because they were tired of watching everybody else shoot fireworks on the fourth. Naturally, this came as a bit of a surprise to the indigenous Niimiipu nation, who had already been living there for some 11,500 years without a single casino. For some reason, French Canadian fur trappers decided the locals had to change their name from Niimiipu to Nez Perce, which is French for “pierced nose,” though the locals had never done any such thing, not even once. (We did, however, discover a painting from the 1800’s of a Nez Perce gentleman named No Horn on His Head, though we were unable to determine from the painting if hornless heads were a good or a bad thing.)
It’s worth noting at this point that Idaho and Montana are home to both the Beaverhead and the Flathead National Forests. Why is it worth noting, you ask? Because running about wildly naming things Flathead can lead to sentences like this one, and I quote: “Chief Lawyer was the son of a Flathead woman and Twisted Hair.”
The official State motto of Idaho is “Let it be perpetual,” which is fine, unless the “it” is Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or an accordion concert. Idaho’s capital is the city of Boise, so named by yet another gang of French Canadian fur trappers, who back in the day (le jour) were getting to be pretty perpetual themselves. Idaho is twice as large as all of New England, and over sixty percent of the State is “public land,” managed by the federal government in Washington, DC, a place where lots of people have horns on their heads. Even so, the Gem State had a 2.2 percent jump in population last year, according to Census estimators, who actually get paid to make quotes like “growth was based on an excess of births over deaths.” Currently, there are some 1.7 million people living in Idaho, happily raising families and avoiding fur trappers. (By the way, neighboring Wyoming has just over a half-million residents, all named Ed.)
Interestingly, central Idaho is home to the nation’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, a much-needed sanctuary where, we’re guessing, it’s illegal to kill darkness. The Reserve was recently accredited by the International Dark-Sky Association, a group of otherwise seemingly normal adults who hate light bulbs and hold global seminars where they sit in the dark and mutter mean things about Thomas Edison. The Idaho Big Dark Zone is one of only twelve such reserves worldwide, if you don’t count North Korea.
One final note: the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the upcoming 2020 Census will cost us 15.6 billion dollars, not counting a tip. That’s almost fifty bucks per person, not counting fur trappers.
Seems a waste. Instead, maybe we should just buy Idaho a few lamps.