Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Massacre Rocks State Park, Idaho

May 26-29, 2014:

Memorial Day finds us leaving Pocatello and moving 35 miles north to Massacre Rocks State Park just outside of American Falls, Idaho.  We are now in the Idaho farm belt, endless green irrigated fields and fields of freshly planted Potatoes.   We are still in the high desert country, but very little cactus, mostly various grasses, sage and juniper.  The geology has now changed from the sandstone sedimentary rocks to mostly igneous volcanic rocks. 

Everything is irragted here

Newly planted Potato field brings back memories of my youth

Massacre Rocks is on the Oregon Trail, one of the primary pioneer wagon roads of its day.  This particular place gained some notoriety as the site of an indian attack on a couple of the pioneer wagons in which about ten pioneers were killed.  There are large Volcanic rocks along the trail in the area that were natural ambush places hence the spot was named "Massacre Rocks".  It was hardly a massacre, pretty nasty, but the press sensationalized it as they still do today. The Indians as a whole were helpful to the pioneers, showing the way to water, places to cross rivers, find food, etc until the influx of settlers became overwhelming and started taking the prime real estate away.

Our campsite with the Snake River in background

How Massacre Rocks was named

The view looking out across highway where the
Oregon Trail passed through
The rocks in the park

The rocks were carried here by flood waters

The park is right on the Snake River with fishing, boating, wild life, hiking and Disc Golf.  The disc golf course is difficult according to the park brochure which says, "It ain't your momma's disc golf course".  The Oregon Trail passes also with wagon ruts still visible in a area. 

18 hole course is not your Mamma's

Golf course hole in front of the rocks that are all over park

The Snake River in it's natural state was a wild fast flowing river, but it has been tamed with the building of several Dams along its length.  The reservoirs behind these Dams have become recreational areas, wildlife preserves, but it's mainly about water for power and irrigation.  There were no lush green farm fields in this valley when the pioneer wagon trains came through in the mid 1800's. The river even in its weakened state is impressive and the valley is filled with birdlife, even Pelican's in the river. 

Snake River view from a  campground trail

Campground fishing dock on the river

It's almost straight down to the river
Pelican's are in the river

We hiked the Oregon Trail in the State Park with a nice view of the Snake River, but it is not the real trail, but rather a park trail to the real Oregon trail after you go through a tunnel under the highway.  Once on the real Oregon Trail there is a section where the ruts and path of the Wagons is still visible.

Oregon Trail sign

Nice sun flowers along the trail

View from the trail

This is the "real" Oregon Trail
Another view of the trail

After that we drove a couple of miles outside of the State Park to another small park called "Registration Rock" which originally was a rest or camping stop for Oregon Trail travelers.  There is a large rock there with many pioneer names carved into the stone. 

The rock is behind a fence for protection

Names gouged into the rock

Barely visible Indian picture done by J.J. Hansen age 7
Next was a ride to American Falls for a mail pickup and a cruise around town.  American Falls was named for the Falls and rapids on the Snake River there, which are now practically non existent since the Dam was constructed. It is definitely a farming community, with a huge grain silo complex in town along with several farm equipment dealers.  It's a different world there, we went to the local food market and they insisted on pushing the cart out to the Jeep. 

Grain elevators in American Falls

Oregon Trail marker in American Falls

Lots of tractors for sale

A view of the reservoir at American Falls

The Snake River just after the dam

How American Falls was named

As everyone is irrigating everything around here and with the river flowing within sight, seems to be no shortage of water, so I decided to wash the RV.  We've been exposed to a lot of blowing dust over the past two months, it's overdue.  Most private campgrounds do not allow this so you need to get it done when you can. 

Next stop is "Craters of the Moon" National Park,

Twinkles and Slick

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Honeyville, Utah to Pocatello, Idaho

May 21-25, 2014:

It was about 60 miles from North Salt Lake City to Honeyville, Utah, mostly on Route 15 north.  Route 15 is not much fun, rather congested and a major truck route.  Honeyville is small Mormon town surrounded by farm country with lush green fields and pastures.  We arrived at the Crystal Hot Springs and Campground at noon time.  It is a mineral spring pool complex that was used by the indians for centuries and was opened as a resort in 1901.  They claim that the water has more minerals in it than any in the country, I'm a little suspicious of that claim.  They have several pools and hot tubs and a water slide along along with a picnic and camping area.  It also has a nice view of a mountains and is in a beautiful farm land setting. 

Crystal Hot Springs
The entrance sign
We set up camp and immediately went to the "Golden Spike National Historic Site" in Promontory, Utah.  This is the famous site where the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads met to complete the transcontinental railroad on May 10,1869.  It was an actual town for a short period of time when through travelers had to switch from the Union Pacific railroad to the Central Pacific railroad.  Eventually an alternate route, the Lucin cutoff, was built across Salt Lake which ultimately brought about the closure of the original alignment through Promontory.  The original Locomotives used for the famous ceremony were scrapped, however the Park Service had replica Locomotives built in time for the 110th anniversary in 1979.  They have them positioned on track facing each other as was done for the original golden spike ceremony.  This National Historic Site most likely would not exist if it were not for a very dedicated woman who campaigned for it for 25 years or so.

The rest of the story, in 1942 the rails were
torn up for WWII iron and they had a
un-driving of the last spike

Locomotive 119 replica

The Jupiter replica

The view from the visitors center

Thursday morning we took a ride to the town of Logan.  On the way we passed through Brigham City with an interesting arch over the Main Street and several nice old buildings.  All of these Utah town seem to have been founded within a few years of one another and they have impressive buildings that were constructed very well and have been maintained in good condition.  Logan is a college town, University of Utah, immaculately clean and orderly as is the general rule in the Mormon way.  Twinkles loves the town as it has a good fabric shop.  We also had a great lunch at Great Harvest bread Company, which had good sandwiches, fantastic looking breads and pastries. 

The Brigham City gateway arch

Yet another immaculate Mormon temple in Logan

An interesting  jewelry store clock in Logan

Really impressive Temple in Logan

A relaxing afternoon at the campground mineral pool and hot tub, then sitting out in the campground in the lush grass, under a nice shade tree, looking out at the mountain, with the sounds of the birds all around me and the smell of the fresh cut alfalfa in the adjacent farmers field. Nice !!! Then a bird poop's on me from the tree above, such is life.

Friday morning we are back on the road traveling 100 miles to the Bannock County Fairgrounds in Pocatello, Idaho.  It's a large open campground with water, electric and shower house within the Pocatello city limits.  There is nothing presently going on and the campground is about empty.  It looks to be a quiet weekend here which is fine, we left Crystal Springs Hot Springs just before the crazy holiday weekend crowd arrived.  

Pocatello is a college town with an interesting "Old Town" area with many historic buildings, which will satisfy my urban cravings for a couple of days.  The name Pocatello has a nice sound to it, it is named after Chief Pocatello of the Shoshone tribe who was a quite a famous chief.  So, I had to go see the Chief Pocatello statue at the Rotary Rose Garden.  The Rose Garden is an attraction here also, but it is way too early for the roses.  The statue is impressive with several historical signs on the chief and the local history. 

Chief Pocatello sign

Chief Pocatello statue
We then went into the adjacent visitors information center and had a conversation with the woman there who was also pretty impressive.  About ten years ago, when she was in her mid 60's she went on a bike ride with a tour group to St. Augustine, Florida.  She then did it again the following year and she still rides but now stays in the local area.  She told us her daughter is a Mountain biker who can practically ride up trees, who is part of an organization called who do bicycle tours all over the country and World. Twinkles was quite impressed, so was I !

We then went across the road to the Fort Hall Museum and replica fort.  The museum was really great, excellent exhibits on all aspects of Pocatello's history.  Twinkles was quite impressed by Pocatello's old firetruck, a restored American La France built in Elmira, New York.  The old fort is a replica of the original fort which was located nearby and was one of the first trading posts in the area.  It was a very interesting story, it was a crazy period in history.  I can't imagine the interaction between the indians, the initial trappers, traders, explorers, and all the nationalities of immigrants, including the Mormons.  It was a highly volatile time to live through and many did not make it and we think we have it tough now ! 

Idaho is shaped by Volcano's and the Bonneville Lake 

1916 American LaFrance Fire Truck

Painting of Pocatello rail Yard

Interior of Fort Hall 

The meaning of a Painted Pony

We then did lunch at Portneuf Valley Brewing which is another impressive woman story.  Penny Pink started brewing beer in the mid 1990's with much success and eventually bought a building and started her own brewery in 2002.  In 2006 she also opened a restaurant in the brewery.  It appears to be very successful, the place is clean, the staff friendly, efficient, the food is great, artistic tee shirts and posters for sale and Twinkles even liked the beer (a first for her at a brew pub) and last but not least, they even have live music upstairs.

One of the Beer brews and posters
Next attraction not to be missed in Pocatello is the "Museum of Clean".  I must admit, I was not so keen on visiting this, the history of cleaning is not something I get excited about. We were given a brief introduction as we entered and then roamed around a bit on our own.  This museum is the brainchild and the passion of a Don Aslett, who started a cleaning service during college as a money making venture which ultimately grew into an empire with 100,000 employees at its height.  I sort of got lost for a while until I heard Twinkles calling me to come over and join a museum tour group with none other than Don Aslett himself.  He took us all over the museum explaining things, entertaining, teaching, joking, showing the work in progress, his future plans and even putting on a puppet show with audience participation. We were exhausted when we left the museum.   The man is 80 years old and was about the most dynamic and motivating individual I think I have ever seen.

I have found the perfect woman

Hundreds of vacuums in this museum

A vacuum cleaner bag quilt

That's Don with his Toilet Luggage that he
used when traveling on  business trips
After a nap and a shower, I had to return to the "Portneuf Valley Brewery" for the live music for a while which was good but the crowd was small and quiet.  Then over to party central, the "First National Bar" where the college crowd is hanging out.  The First National Bar is about the ultimate college hangout, a large pool hall on one side, large bar area on the other side, dance floor and large stage setup for serious live music.  They had a number of bands playing short sets, the beer and shots were flowing and lots of smoking.  In Idaho, it appears you can still smoke inside bars. 

The First National Bar
Did they check my ID ?
Sunday, I searched the web for "best breakfast in Pocatello" and found a place called Jeri's Jumbos Cafe.  Twinkles was not interested, always on a diet, so I went alone.  The reviews were certainly accurate, it was great in every way.  After that, we went for a hike on the City Creek trail on the outskirts of town.  Then a brief photo trip to Old Town Pocatello for me. On return to the Fairgrounds there was a horse racing event going on across the road.  I went over to take a look and caught the last race.  Wish I had gone earlier, it was really cool, lots of betting, food and beer. 

Jeri's Jumbo is on my recommended list

A walk is required after Jeri's Jumbo breakfast

Lots of wild flowers are blooming now

Classic old Pocatello Bus Depot sign

Classic old Bowling sign in Pocatello

Nice brick work at old Pocatello Union Pacific Train Depot

Many great old buildings on Main Street  Pocatello

The Oasis Bar sign is great

As is the old International Organization Odd Fellows sign 

The Chief Pocatello Theater was destroyed by fire
in 1993, the sign was saved
Sign in dark
A great Jewelry sign on Main Street

Great old stained glass windows on Main Street

Amazing brick work on Main Street

The Pocatello High School remains a classic
Beautiful Horse

The Bannock County race track

The finish
Next stop is a short hop north to Massacre Rocks State Park in Idaho.

More will be revealed,

Twinkles and Slick