Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Bit of Idaho by Vicki Rains

Last year was our year for touring Idaho.  Unfortunately, the smoke from brush fires was so bad that we mostly skipped the mountains all together.  So this year I thought we would drive through the mountains to get to Montana where we planned to spend much of our summer.  But first I wanted to stop in Blackfoot.

Why Blackfoot you ask?  Well you see, Roger & I are city folk born & bred.  We know less than nothing about farming (meaning that most of what we do know is completely wrong).  So we tend to take advantage of tours & exhibits that teach us what we don’t know.  And Blackfoot is home to the Idaho Potato Museum.  That’s right, a potato panegyric, a tribute to  taters, a salute to spuds.  We ran out of time to see the museum last year so this year we actually stopped for the night in Blackfoot just so we could tour the museum.  We learned that the potato originated in southern Peru, was brought to Spain & then was grown throughout Europe before it was brought to the U.S.  In turn the lowly spud brought the Irish to America after the potato blight wiped out the crops in the mid 19th century and created a horrific famine in Ireland.  Here are some highlights from the museum so that you can share in our joy of discovery.


Animated potato faces projected onto potato bags

 



Potato Varieties













A collection of potato mashers
The next day we drove to Arco and picked up US Hwy 93, starting our trek into the Idaho mountains along the Salmon River.  We stayed in Challis, hoping to drive our car to Stanley the next day but our plans were rained out.  The rain in Challis did bring snow to the high mountains so I’ll share a picture I took from our campground before we left. 

We continued our drive along the Salmon River to the town of Salmon where we began this year’s search into the travels of the Corps of Discovery.  Now, if you’re like Roger & me, in school we learned it as the Lewis & Clark Expedition.  However, I believe with the 200th anniversary of the Corps of Discovery in 2004-6, the name in history books was changed to be consistent with what the expedition was actually called.  Our interest in Lewis & Clark began when our son was a child & we took a Columbia River day cruise and then visited Fort Clatsop on the Oregon Coast.  I bought a book then about touring the Corps of Discovery sites.  This year I actually read the book.
The Bitterroot Mountains from just outside the town of Salmon
A Blue Heron that landed right next to our camping spot
It was near Salmon, in the Lemhi Valley that Lewis & Clark tried to find an easy way over the Rocky Mountains.  They followed the Salmon River for a bit, determining that the river wasn’t navigable in canoes.  They met up with the Shoshone Indians and Sacajawea was reunited with her brother, the chief of the tribe.  The Shoshones provided horses & a guide for the Corps to help them get over the Bitterroot Mountains.  We visited the Sacajawea interpretive center that commemorates that part of the journey.

Another Heron on the north fork of the Salmon River
We drove up to the north fork of the Salmon River and then onto a paved forest service road checking out why Lewis & Clark couldn’t navigate the Salmon River.  In June, after a winter of lots of snow, the river was pretty high.  The Corps of Discovery was there later in the year when the river level would have dropped.  We noted that there weren’t really many rafts out this time of year even though Salmon is a rafting mecca. The current was moving really fast and there were areas of rapids despite the high level of the river.  Roger & I decided that probably Lewis & Clark made a good choice.  Of course Roger & I know nothing about canoeing, kayaking, or rafting.

Statue from the Sakajawea Interpretive Center
Park behind the Sacajawea Center
Road out of Salmon



Robin out our front door.  No, we don't have a back door
We stumbled upon a small herd of Bighorn Sheep along the north fork of the Salmon




Along the Salmon River