Change of pace: My ‘neighborhood’ has an identity crisis

My wife and I live in a weird and wonderful place, a remote corner of Utah most people aren’t aware of. In fact, this is one of those places that would more naturally fit with another state — in this case Idaho.

My home is about 30 miles west of Snowville, just a mile on the Utah side of the border. It’s six miles on a gravel road off Highway 42. You have to drive into Idaho, then back into Utah, to get to my place.

If you know where Park Valley is, I live straight north as the crow flies, directly across the Raft River mountains. If you’ve ever been to City of Rocks in Idaho, I’m about 25 miles east. My “neighbors” (closest is a mile away) in the scattered ranches in the area go to church in Malta, Idaho, about 30 miles to the north. Many shop in Burley and Twin Falls, so we’re more oriented toward Idaho than Utah.

It’s a great place to live if you like solitude. If you love nature. If you like peace and quiet. It’s an even better place to get lost, to drop off the map. I’m considering writing a novel about a guy who wants to disappear. This would be the perfect place to do it. Utah law enforcement seldom gets to my little nook because they have to drive into Idaho to get here. And Idaho law enforcement does nothing here because I live in Utah. Pretty cool, huh?

 But there are challenges living in a place with an identity crisis. While we live in Utah, we have a Malta, Idaho, mailing address with an Idaho zip code. This causes all sorts of problems for someone who wants to live legally. (But it could offer all sorts of opportunities for someone who wants to live illegally.) 

My physical address is different than my mailing address. In fact, I don’t really have a physical address, although our GPS coordinates show we’re in Utah. The tiny Malta branch of the U.S. Postal Service serves me and my neighbors. Our mail carrier does a great job, driving 30 miles every day to deliver our mail. The U.S. Postal Service doesn’t seem to care about state boundaries, giving us an Idaho address even though we live in Utah.

So the Idaho address causes a lot of problems. My wife is an avid Amazon shopper, but our address doesn’t compute in Amazon’s computers. Amazon customer service hasn’t been helpful. We assume it’s because on GPS we’re in Utah, but we have an Idaho address, and that’s too much for Amazon. The order system doesn’t recognize our address, and so Amazon won’t deliver, even though FedEx and UPS have figured it out. (It’s actually a trick by me to stop wanton Amazon shopping.)  

Since moving here, we’ve had to deal with the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles and the Utah Driver License Division. It’s quite a hassle, but it’s always fun to see the look on their faces when we tell them we live in Utah but have an Idaho address. They’ve figured out a way to make it work. They obviously can’t have an Idaho address on a Utah driver’s license or Utah vehicle registration. So they’ve had us create a Yost or Park Valley address, even though we don’t live in those towns. And if anyone tried to find us at those addresses they couldn’t. And if they mailed us a letter to the Utah address, it wouldn’t arrive.

 One of the strangest addresses that have appeared on letters to us was a notice about jury duty from the Utah courts system. It had the correct mailing address, except it said “Malta, Utah,” (with the Idaho zip code) instead of Malta, Idaho. But it still arrived in our mail box. 

The regional state employees and Box Elder County officials are actually helpful and understanding because they’ve dealt with our neighbors who are also right on the state line and have Idaho mailing addresses. When we applied for a building permit and registered to vote in our new county, we were able to make it happen after a lot of explanation, even with an Idaho address.

We had a challenge with our health insurance because our insurance company doesn’t serve Idaho and we have an Idaho address. We got a letter saying we were being dropped because we had moved to Idaho. We provided documents showing we really do live and pay taxes in Utah. We still go to doctors and dentists on the Wasatch Front. Eventually, common sense prevailed and we were able to keep our insurance.

We’ve been told we should go to the Postal Service and ask them to give us a Utah address with a Utah zip code. We’ve actually done that, talking to our local postmaster. (We couldn’t get contact information for higher-up supervisors.) Our postal workers have been sympathetic and helpful, but suggested our only recourse is to ask for assistance from our members of Congress.

So, I love living here because I love nature, peace and solitude. Even if it means living in a place with an identity crisis. But, who knows? Maybe someday we’ll seek an act of Congress.