What I Learned From My Dad

Growing up I had my head absolutely filled with pearls of wisdom thanks to my dear old dad. "Never trust a Kevin Costner fan" is one that I may forever regret ignoring, Brandon.

The only problem is, I can only seem to recall one nugget of fatherly advice with any regularity, and it is hardly terribly useful.

When I was 18 and driving to BYU for the first time, my dad handed down to me this sage advice: Don't go to Pocatello!

It seems that when one is Utah-bound on the I-84, there is not one, but two opportunities in which to accidentally find one's self heading to Pocatello. I can only imagine the sinking feeling one might encounter upon reaching what one expected to be the Salt Lake Valley, only to find that one is actually nowhere instead. So every time I made the 11-hour drive back to school for the start of a new semester, I would receive a phone call from my dad at about the 8-hour mark.

"Remember, don't go to Pocatello!" he would say. And I would say, "Thanks, Dad."

To this day I have never been to Pocatello. Isn't that sad for me?

Here's another Randy Lovin classic: "Four-wheel-drive will help you go, but it won't help you stop."

Recently I drove the long, winding 11-hours to get down to Salt Lake City. About eight hours in as I passed the first of two opportunities to accidentally wind up in Pocatello, I heard my father's voice loud and clear in my ears.  "Don't go to Pocatello!"  So then I shouted, "Don't go to Pocatello!" Which was incredibly satisfying.

So sometimes now I say it randomly, just because. Why not? is what I figure.

I have come to regard it as some kind of Life Clue. Surely there is deeper meaning in it somewhere? If I find it, will I unlock some secret of life?

Could Pocatello be a metaphor for Hell?

"Stay on the strait and narrow, and Don't Go To Pocatello?"

"The road to Pocatello is paved with good intentions?"

That's not it.

Maybe it is about avoiding temptation?  I did a Google search, and it turns out Pocatello is full of delightfully tempting and fascinating things to do. For example, visiting the Standrod Mansion, which calls "the most beautiful building in town."

Happy Fathers Day anyway, old man.

Your #1 Daughter


  1. I'm not as close with my dad, but I now want to go to Idaho specifially to say "We're not going to Pocatello". Because, clearly, there is a deep, philosophical, potentially poetic explanation to why Pocatello isn't gettin' the love.

  2. That is some solid advice, is what. You really ought to thank your father at least one more time for that little gem, "Don't go to Pocatello!" Although I'm somewhat pleased to hear that Google's take on Pocatello might just have a positive spin, I'm here to tell you it's worth skipping altogether. I've only been a few times, and it's only been because I've been accompanying someone else who HAS to go there. Like this one time, I drove my brother up there from Zion to take a final (cause he had come home for our grampa's funeral and needed to study some more, so I drove him there.)

    I do not love the Pocatello. It's kind of like...Ogden. In fact, my own father (himself a SE Idaho native) calls O-town and Poky "twin cities." He does not love the POcatello, either. Matter of fact, "True Idaho" doesn't begin until...somewhere north of Pocatello. Maybe Shelley or Firth?

    I could go on, because I'm in a rambling sort of mood, but I'll stop...

  3. Parenting advice from a mom who sent her baby off to boot camp yesterday and another is getting married on Saturday: Start EVERY day filling your baby's bellies with warm food and smooch them up. Light up every time they come in the room, especially first thing in the morning. Make your home the safest, most love-filled place, full of good music, great literature read aloud as a family, and strong traditions built on faith in God. Stay married to and in love with their dad. This will take you a long way and the rest is up to God!

  4. Me=only child. Hubs=uber competitive family of six sons lots of seething resentment. Upon having twin girls I was worried about how to help them have healthy sibling relationships. My friend was from a family of 5 kids and they were all like best friends, lived together at college, vacationed together etc. She said that her parents made them celebrate each other all the time. If one had a piano recital, they all had to go no matter what. If it was a birthday, they all did the decorating and party planning for their sibling. She said it made them love giving love to their siblings because they knew when it was their day they would have six fans in the stands cheering for them louder than anyone. My girls are only five but they have yet to have one fight. Not a one. And they are best friends. It may just be a twin thing but we hope it's not. That's my only advice.

  5. I had to do an entire piece for a creative writing class about parental advice. It was fascinating. My mommy's #1 rule is that you never pass up an opportunity to pee. if you have to go, even a little, and an opportunity presents itsself. PEE!

  6. Would you believe I was THREE Nat posts behind today? I opened your blog to see what I've missed recently and I saw THREE posts I had not yet read. What a treat! Has it really been that long? PLUS I read your newest post on Nat's Nest. Wow. I am all Natalied up today. :)

    So as for your sad posts -- I surely hope and pray you find what you're looking for and I pray you can sell your house SOON (although lousy neighbors is a sad situation - I know from experience) and I surely hope you're computer doesn't break. What we do without it?! But keep your chin up. Things could always be worse. I'm sure your dad might have something to say about this. :)

    Finally, my dad was always full of funny stories and interesting facts. I don't know if he really had so much advice as he just prompted us to keep an open mind. He'd always say things like, "Maybe there really is a big foot???" LOL Although I've never seen Big Foot and I highly doubt I ever will, I've always had my suspicions of the possibility. I like to believe anything is possible just for good measure. :) HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

  7. Always were clean underwear incase your in an accident.

    Stop when you double your money.

    Having money in the bank is important.

  8. Unfortunately for me, I married a man with relatives in Pokie Chokie, as I refer to it. Love the relatives, really dread taking that blasted turn that will inevitably lead me to the place your wise father told you to avoid. And with your allegory I will now feel like a sinner everytime I go. Thank you. I'll probably be taking a trip to Hell at the end of the month and will think fondly of you ;)

  9. My dad had two pieces of advice that I take to heart and try to remember in daily life: "You don't HAVE to do anything." Translation: You choose to do something or not and base your decision on whether or not you are willing to take the consequences related to doing or not doing said thing. Also, "Enjoy the moment." Translation: Always, take time to enjoy what you are doing when you are doing it, and not be so busy worrying about things to come etc...

  10. I've been to Pocatello, both literally and figuratively. Keep listening to your dad.

  11. That's some sage advice from Old Man Lovin- keep avoiding pokey- it's lame.

    The house cleaning can wait- that's my great advice. It gets you out of a lot of cleaning and you get to play with your kids.

  12. There is a reason Pocatello is fondly referred to as Poke-a-hell-hole. Seriously. I try to only stop there for gas in route to UT or back up North. I'll even call friends who reside there and say I'm driving through but not stopping because it is that bad.

  13. Parental advice: savor the small moments, make time to be with your kids and when you set aside that time don't get distracted by anything gets really busy sometimes and sometimes parents put off doing what their kids want because they have to or they're tired, don't do that all of the time. Don't be one of "those" parents. I regret it every single time I have had the audacity to do it. But also, another little nugget of advice is that your kids will forgive you long before you forgive yourself, so don't beat yourself up too much.

  14. AnonymousJune 21, 2010

    Advice my dad gave me:

    Never turn the car on while the hood is open.

    ALWAYS make sure you have a backup plan in case something breaks, falls apart, etc.

    One thing you should always have in your dorm/desk/car is a screwdriver set.

    There are a bazillion ways to make chicken taste good.

    Also, my brother went to Pocatello once! It was for a choral festival...he said it wasn't too enjoyable of an experience, so I suppose your papa is giving you good advice by saying "Don't go to Pocatello"!

  15. Cute post & great Dad story! I've never been to Idaho at all, but think now if I do I at least know what town to avoid! heh : )

    I can't really think of any Dad-advice, altho I'm sure he gave me lots of it (well, keep the rubber side down, but really that's just common sense!). What I find myself hearing, in the random moments of my life, are his little Tv/Movie quips. "Make it so, Number 1," was his favorite line to say to me when I'd propose a trip or some other fun thing. Or his singing "On the road again" every time we'd take a trip.

    Good times, good memories!

  16. Hmm, now I'm wanting to visit Pocatello just to see what I'm not missing out on! (I must have a slightly rebellious nature.)

    Parental advice: My parents used to tell me over and over and over and over, "Sometimes you just have to do what you don't want to do."

    I even heard myself saying that to Liberty a few days ago, and I clapped my hand over my mouth in shock. But, it's good advice I have to admit.

  17. I am from Pocatello. Boo.

  18. Wise father. I live an hour away from Pocatello. We lovingly call it "Poke-a-Hell-Hole."

  19. Just found this post, and had to say, as someone who grew up, and spent 17.8 long years in Pocatello, I find myself seemingly laughing and frowning at the same time. My hometown has some amazing hiking and biking opportunities (that I rarely partook in), smooshed within a mountainous desert with some interesting people.

    PS the Standrod Mansion. Ha. Great job, Google.


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