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McCall is a mountain village in central Idaho. Hugging the southern end of Payette Lake and nestled into Douglas Fir and Lodgepole and Ponderosa Pine forests, the town began as the hub of the Southern Idaho timber industry. When the local mill closed in the late 70’s the town, like many others based upon resource extraction, suffered a heart attack.

Abandoned Boise Cascade Mill circa 1978

Abandoned Boise Cascade Mill circa 1978

Recovery, in the form of recreation and nostalgia for bygone days, was mercifully prompt. Today McCall survives as a two-season paradise. During the winter, Christmas-card scenery entices snow lovers from November through April. In the summer, streets and shops are clogged with outdoor enthusiasts of all flavors: mountain bikers, hikers, boaters, sailors, kayakers, and golfers bask under serene blue skies.

Former site of the mill, now The Mill Park.

Former site of the mill, now The Mill Park and Mile High Marina.

Fall is a third, less frenetic, but perhaps best of all season. The crowds disappear. Second homes and cabins that rim the lake sit empty. Aspen groves, huckleberry and dogwood bushes blush in anticipation of the coming cold. Elk bugle and deer relish easy town living, where they are safe from hunters’ high powered rifles.

Payette Lake on a quiet fall morning.

Payette Lake on a quiet fall morning.

DSC_0690DSC_0720DSC_0718McCall and Payette Lake buried under a blanket of early morning fog.

McCall and Payette Lake buried under a blanket of early morning fog, taken from nearby Brundage Mountain Ski Area.

Live lawn ornaments.

Live lawn ornaments.

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Sunrise looming on Payette Lake, taken from the former mill site, now a city park.

Fall in McCall is my paradise.