We arrived at our new home precisely 6 months ago.
Wow. Doesn't seem that long ago.
On the other hand, it feels like we've been here forever.
We're fully "assimilated" to the lifestyle here. The greatest compliment I've gotten in quite a while came from our landlord's wife. They live in CA most of the year and a few weeks back they were over at the house to cut down some dead trees in preparation for winter. I was helping/watching, and the wife asks how long we've been here. I tell her March, and she says "really? You seem like a mountain girl already."
We can't really tell if we're ideally suited to North Idaho, or North Idaho is ideally suited to us.
We're both happier, healthier, less stressed, more content. The kids enjoy the room to run and explore, and the doggies are in heaven.
We've met lots of genuinely nice people, made lots of friends, and generally established ourselves. We've sampled the local food oddities (German-style sausage, fry sauce, and tons of huckleberries), spent time swimming in the lake, and started exploring our new home.
There are quite a few differences between how people act here and how they acted in the deathtrap called the Valley of the Sun. Things move... slowly here. I've yet to see a single act of road aggression. People here assume you're not out to screw them over. Everyone tends to mind their own business. Yet, without the nosiness, there's a definite sense of community and neighborliness here.
Oh, and all that flak about North Idaho being a whites-only area? Yeah, I'd be more willing to believe it if I hadn't seen blacks, Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, even Sikhs... all at the same Costco at one time.
Even in itty bitty Sandpoint there's more than a few minorities, including the immigrants from Szechuan who run the local Chinese restaurant. The kids are fluent in both languages but well assimilated themselves. Quite the difference from Phoenix, where assimilation seemed to be a off-limits issue.
Everyone here seems to be from North Idaho, whether or not they started out here. It's a good feeling.
A few weeks ago I got Mel-napped by Tom of Tom's Garden after stopping at their garden stand. While showing me the grounds and how he got his tomatoes to grow in the climate we started talking. He and his partner Joe moved here from Massachusetts, Tom 16 years ago and Joseph 3 years ago. A friend visited from NY, and she remarked that "People are different here. So nice, and friendly, and happy."
Tom said, "that's because we all want to be here."
An openly gay couple from the Northeast, happier and more free in North Idaho.
So are we.
It was a good move.