Saturday, June 23, 2018

Passing through Idaho

Visiting southern Idaho

Boise, ID

We left Arizona three months ago and were in need of an oil change, haircut and a visit to the chiropractor. We used our three days in Garden City, ID to do that and had time for a little riverside bike ride. We found "The Joint" which is a nationwide network with 400 locations across the country works well for us. They can look at your chart online and see how you have been treated in the past and know of any potential problems. Dr. "O" was very good and got me back on the saddle again.
As we rode along the beautiful Boise River Greenbelt to downtown Boise and stopped to watch the river surfers, a news crew that had been filming the surfers and us approached us. The reporter asked if he could "mic" Mike and film us for their "Idaho Life" piece.

In the above clip you can see us in three 1-2 second blips starting at second 49. We got a kick out of watching glimpses of our self that night on the news. Don't blink.

It was great to have signs along the multiuse path telling us what was just off the path. The container off to the right was being transformed into a coffee house.

There were also restaurants as we got closer to downtown Boise.

Arco, ID

In 1955, tiny Arco won fame as the world’s first nuclear-powered city. The reason that the government chose this corner of eastern Idaho as one of its nuclear sandboxes being it is remote and sparsely-populated, Arco is the kind of place that a nuclear accident might go unnoticed. Or at least under-reported. Did you know that the USA’s only fatal nuclear accident occurred in Arco, Idaho? In 1961, there was a core meltdown in the National Reactor Testing Station which killed three servicemen.

Submarine Park

 Craters of the Moon National Monument

Craters of the Moon formed during eight major eruptive periods between 15,000 and 2000 years ago along the Great Rift for a lava flow of 618 sq miles long. More eruptions are expected in the future.
Our visit to Craters of the Moon was chosen because there is not a lot out there in this section of Idaho and was good stopping place for a few days. We don't like to drive long distances. This turned out to be an interesting area.
Pioneers used the Goodall Shortcut through this section of Idaho rather than along the Oregon Trail along the Snake River to avoid the Indians that were known to harass settlers. There are still wagon ruts along the way.
There were four caves in the park to explore once we got our permit at the visitors center.

 On August 22, 1969, Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, Joe Engle, and Eugene Cernan landed at the airport in Arco. They then proceeded to Craters of the Moon where they explored the lava landscape and learned the basics of volcanic geology in preparation for future trips to the moon. Much of the moon's surface is covered by volcanic materials.
The wind was blowing so hard from the west yesterday. It seems to be the case frequently with trees growing like this.

Monkey flowers
The ability to grow in this harsh environment means overcoming a lack of moisture, meager soil, and surface temperatures that exceed 150 degrees Fahrenheit. In such a harsh environment, you wouldn't expect to see so many flowers and butterflies. We had arrived in time for the peak bloom in the middle of June.

Even though the air temperature was 68 degrees F, it got very hot hiking among the black lava rocks.

   The area is a designated International Dark Sky Park.
Climbing a cinder cone.

There were butterflies everywhere. This one kept landing on me. He rode on my hat for a while.

We got an early start to avoid the crowds. The sunshine made it pretty warm but was much cooler in the caves.

 Buffalo Cave
 We are going in after putting on our headlamps.
Mike's third eye headlamp.

Indian Tunnel 
We had to watch our step over the boulders.

Climbing out.

Trail markers to get back to the other trail.



We had a short 70 mile drive to Idaho Falls before heading to Wyoming. Roadside America suggested a stop at this museum. A little different than the power plant from which Mike retired.
Experimental Breeder Reactor I the world's first nuclear power plant
 This museum along highway 20 on the way to Idaho Falls was where scientists first created usable amounts of electricity by splitting the atom. The intern leading the tour was very interesting going back to 1951 including stories about the people involved in the development and working of this nuclear energy. It was much better than the self guided tour that was also available.
We looked through windows to see the stainless steel tank that comprised the core. It was kind of an eerie place.
 Heading to the Grand Tetons....


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Wallowa Lake, Oregon

Northeast Oregon

Wallowa Lake State Park

 As we traveled around Oregon, people kept telling us that we needed to visit Joseph and Wallowa Lake. We managed to get 5 nights with full hookups in the state park, so we could checkout all of the hubbub. Our first two days were pretty cold with lows in the 30s and highs in the 50s. The space heater was working overtime as we awoke to snow one morning. The park ranger said that the campground was not too full since many people asked for refunds and left early. That just made more room for us.
  Wallowa Lake is a glacial lake at the base of the Wallowa Mountains in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. 
We had full hookups but no WIFI or Sprint service at our site. Once a day we would walk to the marina and use their WIFI and watch the fishermen catching kokanee salmon.
 We hiked along the Chief Joseph Trail on the West Fork of the Wallowa River to the BC Falls on our first hike even though it was chilly and rain was in the forecast for later in the morning.

Many of the small wildflowers were in bloom.
 We hiked through several sections of landslides that gave me the willies.
Our handy bear spray was nearby for an easy reach. But when a dog came charging and showing his teeth at us on the trail, we were glad to have our poles in our hands. He saw them and headed around us. Shewww!

The second bridge to the second waterfall had been washed out but we could see it from where we were standing.

Town of Joseph

We enjoyed the small artsy city of Joseph named in memory of a Native American chief which is just 6 miles from the campground.
Chief Joseph, respected in his Nez Perce tribe, was misunderstood by the white man in the 1800s, and especially by the U.S. government. Today, however, he is recognized as having been a strong, compassionate leader.
The Wallowa band of the Nez Perce had lived peacefully in the remote Wallowa Valley for centuries.

As white settlers began to move west and north, they eventually reached the land of the Nez Perce. Chief Joseph recalled:
“The first white men of your people who came to our country were named Lewis and Clark . . . . They talked straight and our people gave them a great feast . . . . We had a great many horses of which we gave them what they needed, and they gave us guns and tobacco in return.”
This was in 1805, and the good feelings lasted for several decades. But in the 1870s, settlers and the U.S. Cavalry started to force the Nez Perce from their homeland. Chief Old Joseph had signed a treaty in 1855, but when the discovery of gold nearby prompted the government to take back millions of acres, he renounced the treaty. In 1863, a new treaty divided the tribe into treaty and non-treaty bands.
The chiefs eventually agreed to new boundaries, diminishing their lands to one-tenth their original size.

Wallowa Lake Tramway

The small Wallowa Lake Tram carried us up the steep 1.8 miles from 4200 feet to 8150 to some beautiful views and nice hiking trails on Mt Howard.

On our last day, we trekked up the steep East Fork of the river from the Alpine Trailhead. The river was running high with multiple waterfalls along the way. Fortunately, the temps were in the low 70s.
There are so many trails to hike and small towns to explore I this area. But we chose to stay nearby the state park.
 A local man was hiking the West Fork with his son and was showing us the mushrooms and how to distinguish between different types and how to prepare them. This one sells for $24\lb in the market. We saw a few morels but left them for the deer.

La Grande, OR

Heading to La Grande, south of Joseph, we stayed at Grande Hot Springs Resort on Hot Lake. The warm hot springs were refreshing for our sore muscles.
 Grande Hot Springs hot mineral water is sourced from Hot Lake Springs. It is collected at 171F and pumped to the property. The large pool was 96 degrees and small spa 104.5 after being mixed with 77 degrees domestic well water which is geothermal mineral water.
 The hot springs were a great place to visit at the end of our hike or bike rides.
The Grand Bikeway goes through Union which has a rural charm with a population of just over 2100 and Victorian style homes, buildings and tree-lined streets. This was where we would start our bike ride through the farms and ranches towards Cove.

Cove with a population of 680 is known as the land of the big prize cherries, and the home of apple pies. As we rode by the farms and ranches the cherries trees looked ready to be picked.

The winds were strong on our final day blowing in rain. As much as we would  have liked a bike ride, we opted for a hike in the Mount Emily Recreation Area. It is a huge area and happened to be having a mountain biking event. We just chose trails that weren't in their plans for a nice hike. La Grande turned out to have much more to offer than we had expected.
It has been quite an interesting couple of months in Oregon. From the beaches of the Pacific Ocean to the Willamette Valley, Cascades and the eastern farms and mountains, Oregon has not disappointed.

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