Letter From Wallace, Idaho

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

June 29, 2016

14671646437561500431736Howdy Ranchers!

I’ve come to Wallace, Idaho today. It’s an old mining town 20 miles from where my leaky home on wheels is parked along the beautiful Coeur D’Alene River.

During last week’s rain we discovered our camp trailer leaks. We were parked at a lovely Airbnb property outside Sandpoint in the Selle Valley. It’s a possible home for future writing retreats with a beautiful house, rustic cabin, RV pad, walls through the forest, magnificent outdoor shower and a hot tub.

We took care of the property in exchange for the RV pad to parker trailer. We had to move when RV guests arrived, but concerned with the leaks we went to an RV place in town. After hearing our story, they have us a free place to park for the weekend.  It was miserable and I felt so inconspicuous with our trailer wrapped in a tarp and parked for all the world to see. I really felt exposed. But it was a generous offer and we had to wait until Monday morning to get inspected.

Not good news. Repairs would cost about 1,000. However, they showed us what needed doing, what supplies to use, and how to do it. So for a couple hundred dollars and a lot of Todd’s elbow grease, we can fix it. We bought the supplies, borrowed a ladder and moved closer to Coeur D’Alene where Todd has appointments.

Monday was a day of making phone calls until I got those appointments. Why is it so dehumanizing to get the help a veteran has a right to and needs? Some play into Todd’s pride…”soldier up, you can live in a tent…” Or they simply hold to a ridiculously rigid set of rules that shifts despite its rigidity.

I got three appointments up and we headed to CDA me and the dogs in the car, Todd in the truck pulling the trailer. The dentist was a cattle call for homeless herds and it devastated Todd to learn they’d only pull his teeth and not fix them. He has an appointment tomorrow and I’m canceling it. I’ll find a dentist working to work with our budget to do two root canals.

Dentistry has become a class separation. I’m appalled that all they will do for veterans or anyone down on their luck is pull teeth leaving smiled with gaps as big as class separation. Now it makes sense, the teeth whitening craze…it’s to show off that one can afford dentistry.

We headed into the mountains toward Montana where friends recommended free camping for 14 days. We found a meadow with a noisy moose and mosquitoes last night. Woke up and drove to an old inn for breakfast and felt lucky to have such mobility and ability. We found a better camp side right along the river. Peaceful.

Today, Todd is fishing and I drove 20 miles to Wallace where I’ve been catching up online, charging batteries and writing from a lovely old Carnegie Library. Cool, historic, free access and a wonderful little desk among rows of books. Alas, it closed at 5 p.m before I finished rounding up all the wonderful flashes of home.

Right now, I’m tapping on my phone to let you know we are well, and I missed my window of internet opportunity. I tried every so called wifi hot spot, but they all shut down by 5 pm! Welcome to a tiny mountain mining town! Because I’m unable to copy and paste the stories via phone, not to mention this is probably riddled with auto corrected typos, I’m unable to finish the flash round up. Tomorrow we have allotments so we will be within civilization and the show goes on!

New prompt tomorrow! Goodnight, Ranchers!

You May Also Like…

Taking a Break to Rebuild

Taking a Break to Rebuild

Hey Carrot Ranchers! While the relocation of CarrotRanch.com was successful, it's become more of a muddy mess than I...

2023 KIAW Virtual Tour

2023 KIAW Virtual Tour

Years in the making, the first Keweenaw Interactive Art Walk took place on Saturday, September 30. We couldn't have...

Virtual Art Walk

Virtual Art Walk

We are almost ready to go live on the Keweenaw Peninsula with the Keweenaw Interactive Art Walk. If you can't make it...


  1. C. Jai Ferry

    ~Sending you positive internet vibes for the morrow~

    • Charli Mills

      Received! Thank you!

  2. Norah

    5 pm!!! Which century are we living in? Poor Charli. So disconnected. I’m sorry to hear there’s no improvement to your situation. My Mum used to say that things were as bad as pulling hen’s teeth. The thought of pulling Todd’s teeth sounds even worse right now. And a leaky trailer! I’ve just checked out Wallace on Google and seen that the days might be warm but the nights cool. I hope you don’t get any more rain to make it even more miserable. Stay warm. I hope you have lots of blankets! While the town looks pretty and the river may be peaceful, I’m sure it doesn’t feel like home. Take care of yourselves. Best wishes to all. xx

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Things are as about as bad as pulling Todd’s teeth, yes. But I’m in a writing spirit this day and we need it for what we are trying to push through. As I just commented to Anne, Todd is taking a drug test for that aviation contract I told you about. He was dehydrated, though. I need to buy us more water evidently. And thanks for checking out the weather! Yes, it cools off and feels good at night. No rain until we can fix that roof! We are doing well enough under circumstances. September 1 can’t come soon enough but I do believe there will be some interesting opportunities in between. Wallace is a history bubble! That excites me!

      • Norah

        I like your spirit, Charli. They just can’t keep a buckaroo down, especially not the lead one! I hope those interesting opportunities help to speed the next two months and make them a little more tolerable.
        I’m looking into my crystal ball. I see lots of stories coming out of Wallace. Actually, I probably didn’t need my crystal ball to tell me that! It’s nice to hear you excited. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Just found out that on Mondays and Thursdays, the Wallace Carnegie Library is open until 8 p.m.! Things are looking up and today I had a client find my situation hilarious (calling from a street bench in Wallace because I had no private place to conference from). At first I was taken aback that she thought it funny, but then I began to see it from her perspective (working with a professional writer who is talking over mining equipment, accessing files on a computer set up on a bench, and organizing a major project was surreal for her and she laughed, and I began to laugh, too). And I walked Wallace today with my office on my back and decided I really like this place and I ought to laugh more often at the absurdity of my situation. Beats getting angry or crying! We are well today, thank you!

      • Norah

        I’m so pleased you found an opportunity and willingness to laugh. Laughter is good for the spirit and is able to cure all manner of ills. I’m not sure that it can cure homelessness but it might ease the discomfort a little. I can see you making the most of Mondays and Thursdays with their late opening hours. Small blessings. I listened to a TED talk today about a homeless writer. I couldn’t listen without thinking of you. She went from being homeless, living in a car and couch surfing, to giving a TED. She spoke of the importance of hope. It reminded me of someone I know! ????

  3. Annecdotist

    Thanks for letting us know how you are doing, Charli, and I do feel for you tapping out this post on your phone. Don’t forget that you can delegate the flash fiction compilation, although i know that you enjoy doing that yourself. And sorry about that leak that good that it’s fixed. I’m seething with anger at the humiliation of fighting for basic health care. Perhaps it’s time to reread The Grapes of Wrath!

    • Charli Mills

      At the end of Monday, after feeling drained of every shred of humanity, I rebelled. No way anyone should feel this way to get health care. People might tire of me saying so, but I’ll be saying so for as long as it takes to make changes. And for a Vet whose disability is directly related to service. In Sandpoint today for a drug test (for Todd’s aviation contract, which he has never failed, Mr. Puritan we call him). We need to hustle back down to CDA area to meet with free legal aide only available once a month for two hours and it already started, but Todd was too dehydrated to give a urine sample. Argh! Yes, you’ll see what I think about access to water in my latest post. This is just outrageous. But doing okay! And writing!

  4. TanGental

    Bummer. If it’s not one slap in the face it’s another. We live in complicated societies that somehow miss the humanity that less sophisticated arrangements manage. I hope you guys pull some luck from somewhere. It would be about time.

    • Charli Mills

      A friend recently asked if we’d been hexed. 🙁 No, but it’s become a tangled web of humanity in the current age and we are just beginning to see Shelob head our way. Time to untangle! But we do have a nice spot to camp and Wallace is exciting to my historical senses, if not friendly to my technological needs. I’ll figure it out.

  5. Ula

    My thoughts are with you, Charli. I hope there will be a turn around for you sometime soon.

    • Charli Mills

      At least I have landed in a “spot” and it’s a lovely spot. The Carnegie Library is gorgeous. Just wish it had longer hours!

      • Ula

        It is an inspiration how you handle the difficulties thrown your way. A positive attitude can do so much.

      • Charli Mills

        Yes, I’m leaning more strongly toward the positive attitude.

  6. jan

    I’m so sorry to hear – dentists. Ugh. I hope you find one with a heart.

    • Charli Mills

      There’s one out there! And I’ll find him or her!

  7. julespaige

    There was actually a place in the news the other day in a state not far from where I am that has a large radius of no electronics. A spot for those who wish to be completely off the grid. No cell phones or wifi allowed. That might be a choice for some. I know I’m not totally with it as far as computers are concerned. But I’ve come to like being connected.

    All the best with everything that is going on. Hope you are in a spot to see fireflies. I posted this on my short verse site:

    giving thanks
    ( haibun)

    Only a few steps to the window – in the
    darkened house between deepest dusk
    and some other wee hour. It is the height
    of their season I think, I watch them blinking
    on and off, from the ground to the very top
    of the trees in the summer only about a
    week old. ‘Bugs are brilliantly splendid.

    brave firefly blink
    after the thunderstorm in
    the summer night


    • Charli Mills

      We have many such spots naturally in the west! And many do live off the grid. Not my choice but I understand the need for freedom from modern society and technology. I like it all in balance. Ah, no fireflies but I’ve been watching the flycatchers on the river at dusk — beautiful and brave. Thank you for the haibun!

      • julespaige


  8. gordon759

    When I saw the title of your blog, I first took it for your next Flash Fiction Challenge, as it describes one of the most famous letters in the history of science, the letter from Wallace. So I wrote it as a story, I hope you enjoy it.

    Emma met the carriage as it rolled up to the front door.
    “Thomas, I am delighted you could come.”
    “But what is it about? You said you were worried about Charles. Is he ill again?”
    “Not ill, but very worried, I have never seen him like this before. It began a few days ago, just after he got that letter from Wallace.”
    At that moment there was a movement on the stairs and a gaunt figure in a colourful dressing gown stood there.
    “Thomas, how wonderful to see you, you are just the man I want. Come to my study”
    He followed his friend into the cluttered room, the desk was unusually tidy apart from a folded letter and a neatly tied bundle of papers.
    “Take a look at that, it’s a letter from Wallace.”
    “Yes, Alfred Wallace, he’s out in the Far East. I know him slightly and the other day I received this letter.”
    Huxley rapidly ran his eyes over the letter.
    “It’s just asking you to send a paper of his to the Linnaean Society, what’s the problem?”
    “Read the paper, you will understand then.”
    He sat down and began to read, after half an hour he looked up at his friend.
    “That’s fantastic, it is your idea, your theory.”
    “It’s incredible, it is almost a perfect precis of my short work. But he arrived at it independently. I know what I must do, I cannot suppress his work, I must send it for publication.”
    “But you have been working on it for twenty years, you naturally have priority.”
    “But to claim that now, now his paper is here, would be dishonourable.”
    Huxley thought, then nodded to himself.
    “Then you publish at the same time, you have the short paper, I saw it years ago. Publish it at the same time as Wallace’s, I know the Linnaean would take both. Then get that book out, and you will be remembered as the discoverer.”
    “But the book isn’t ready….”
    “And never will be at the rate you are working, publish the short book now, the one that has been sitting waiting for years. Then you can carry on collecting more evidence for your theory and publish it in good time.”
    After some argument he finally agreed, Huxley took the two papers to London, as he expected the Linnaean Society were happy to publish them both, in their next volume of papers.
    “But which should be first in the volume?” asked the secretary. Huxley seemed to think for a moment then said.
    “As they are both on the same subject, perhaps in alphabetical order of the authors name.”
    “Excellent, so Darwin first then Wallace.”
    Darwin had the priority his friend wanted.

    This is more or less what happened, it was the letter from Wallace outlining the theory of evolution by natural selection, that he had independently come across, that finally forced Charles Darwin to publish. The two papers were published as described, Darwin’s first as D comes before W. Wallace never minded, he became a great friend of Darwin, and received more official accolades and public recognition than his friend over did.

    • Charli Mills

      This is fabulous, Gordon! Thank you for committing to story, A Letter From Wallace! Now I’m curious to know if family names…Wallace…have any connections between the UK and Idaho. I spied a history book on the table here at the library and hope to check it out.

      • gordon759

        Glad to inspire a little bit of curiosity.

  9. noelleg44

    It’s appalling how our vets are treated. It makes me fume! Hope things start looking up for you, Charli!

Discover more from Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading