Week 5: Crossing Idaho and Eastern Oregon

Crossing Idaho and Eastern Oregon

A very hot, very dry, and usually pretty interesting week. But thank goodness for the audio book The Ocean at the End of the Lane. We highly recommend this tale, read by the author in a most intriguing way, which sustained us across many a bleak desert stretch.

Massacre Rocks State Park 
The first night out after Jackson. Lisa found that she really enjoyed this park; Julie hid out against the stifling heat. But we both liked watching the American pelicans (who knew?) with their 9.5' wingspans fly along the Snake River.


Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot
One of our all-time favorite museums. So many things to like, but the "Taters for Out of Staters" parting gift was just THE best. Wrapped carefully in a bright purple potato bag were two boxes of dehydrated hash browns, along with the tater Christmas ornament I was compelled to buy (and the only one of the whole trip!).

I had to send my Dad a postcard of this potato queen. No one has rocked a potato sack quite like this gal:

Of course. A Mr. Potato Head collection and a great piece of historical realia:

We then proceeded over to Twin Falls for a tasty lunch at the SnakeBite in the historic (but awfully sunny) downtown. On our way there, we got stopped at a train crossing and had one of our few close calls this trip. We sat and sat and watched the train--for some unknown reason--go forward and then back up and forward and back up. I looked down the block and saw that the crossing was clear just a block away, so I skedaddled down there. I laid up short of the tracks (there was a stoplight on the far side that was red) but didn't realize that the train would back up this far. It started coming right toward us and thank goodness no one was behind me because I had to throw Rocksie in reverse to avoid having the crossing arm come right down on our solar panels. Oops! I should've known not to stop there, given where I grew up.....

And, of course, we had to drive out to see what the town was named for.

We carried on over to the western side of the state and stayed in a most unique state park,
Bruneau Dunes. It was 105 when we pulled in, so the park wasn't too full....

We waited till the much cooler morning to explore the park and the dunes, which of course, Bago loved. We wished our timing had been better, though. There is a neat space telescope at the park (you can see the observatory in the background of the photo below). I was not open during our visit, which was during the blue moon, but I bet it'd be fun to go when they're having star gazing, as this park is far away from any light pollution.

The color of these dunes, though, is distinctly taupe, which the signs attribute to the presence of lots of iron.

After all the warning signs about scorpions, badgers, snakes, et al, we didn't think this was a very good idea....

After our morning hike, we headed up to Boise to see their state capitol (a must do as we travel), visit a DDD lunch site, and do a little shopping at the famous outlet, Sierra Trading Post (which turned out to be completely disappointing, although Lisa did find a cute new shirt).

We had lunch at the Pizzalchik (Pizza-Salad-Chicken) and really enjoyed the thin crust, all-homemade pizzas. I had the spicy elk sausage with locally foraged mushrooms, while Lisa enjoyed a smoked salmon/caper deal. We got a tub of their chicken salad (which really is quite salady--all kinds of vegetable goodness) for dinner, too. A cold salad supper is just what the doctor ordered on hot summer nights.

Our final desert campground stop was in desolate Eastern Oregon at Unity Lake State Park. Not too much lake there anymore. We took Bago down there for a swim. Boy, was that a mistake. It's a swamp of soupy mud all along that shore. Not our favorite stop....

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