Tag Archive | Idaho

Circus Trip 2018: Idaho, Montana and Tires

Day 2, July 17, 2018

You should probably know now that some days on my road trip weren’t really all that exciting.  Some days had a lot of driving, and less sightseeing.  This was one of those days.

I woke up at 6 and even though I wanted to get a bit more sleep, I couldn’t.  I got up at 7 and got on the road just before 8.  Kim and her husband both work early, so I said my goodbyes to her adorable dogs, horses and cows, and headed out.

I got on Highway 2 and it wasn’t long before I crossed into Idaho.  The sign was on the other side of the road, and I opted not to cross over to pose with it.  I was still getting my selfie-stick legs at that point!

Welcome to Idaho!

I stopped at Albeni Falls and Dam on the Pend Orielle River (pronounced Pon-duh-rey) and checked it out.  The Albeni Falls Dam was completed in 1955; Lake Pend Orielle is one of the largest and deepest natural lakes in North America.  It is 68 miles long and 1,237 feet deep at its deepest point.  I saw an osprey nest on top of the railroad bridge there, and managed to get a decent photo!

I also stopped at a viewpoint overlooking the Moyie River and the Moyie River Hydroelectric Project, but it was less than impressive from that vantage point.  I could have gone down to the river level to catch a view of the dam, but that would have meant doubling back.  Some things just aren’t that exciting…

Moyie Dam

The Montana state line was worth a stop though!  Montana had one of the prettiest signs of the whole trip and it was easy to get to!  Of course, I had to pose with it.

Welcome to Montana!

Lunch was at a rest area a bit further into Montana, a peanut butter and honey sandwich, peas and a peach.  You will find I ate a lot of peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  No refrigeration required!

The temperature outside was still in the mid-90s, and in Libby, Montana, the tire indicator light lit up.  I stopped at a Les Schwab tire store and they checked the tires, which were all about 5 pounds over their ideal pressure at 40 PSI.  The guy explained to me that tires “bloat” in hot weather, but that they would go back down when the temperature dropped.  As I have lived all my life where it really never gets above the low 80s, this was new to me!  You keep learning new things!

My next destination was my final stop for the day – West Glacier.  I was going to spend some time in Glacier National Park!  I didn’t have a reservation, and it was high season, so when I stopped in at the Timber Wolf Resort Campground and they had one remaining site, I took it, even though it was the group campsite.  They were kind enough to not charge me extra.  All of my friends could have joined me!  It turned out to be a nice campground, even though the roads could have used a water truck (they were so dusty!) and the showers were one of only a few that you had to pay extra for (75 cents for 7 minutes).

A path at Timber Wolf Campground

Dinner was a four cheese pasta box and chicken sausage; it was my first time using my camp stove on the road!  I also had a Black Box Merlot, that came in a 500 ml tetra-pack.  I’ve never been much for wine in a box, but it came in so handy on this trip!  I didn’t have to worry about an open bottle rolling around the car and it is reclosable!

I made a meal!

Even with the high temperatures that day, it cooled off quickly after dark.  I walked down to the gazebo at the campground, where they had wifi and I did some blogging and relaxing.  By the time I was ready for bed about 10, it wasn’t too hot to sleep in the car!  I did put the screens on the car door so I could sleep with the windows open without letting all the mosquitoes in.  Those things came in handy!

Elk, WA to West Glacier, MT

Yellowstone Road Trip 2017: Craters of the Moon NM

Day 9, Tuesday, August 1, 2017

We got up around 6 am and got on the road at about 7:15, since we had a long day ahead of us!  Trying to keep 3 kids quiet while you are packing up tents, brushing teeth, and getting ready to go is tough!  Today was the day we were going to see Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve!  Craters of the Moon NM is a relatively little known monument in kind of the middle of nowhere Idaho.  It is really cool though!

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Craters protects the site of lava fields and lava tubes that were created by previous volcanic eruptions; it compass three major lava fields and about 400 square miles of sagebrush steppe grasslands. The is 53,571 acres in size.  The three lava fields in the monument are along the Great Rift of Idaho, and have open rift cracks, including the deepest rift crack known on Earth.  It is 800 feet deep! There are examples of almost every kind of basaltic lava, as well as tree molds, (where a cavity is left by a lava-incinerated tree), lava tube caves, and many other volcanic features.  Craters is also known for its excellent wildlife habitat, as many animals survive on the sagebrush grasslands.  This post, however, will not contact much wildlife because it was about 95 degrees on the day of our visit!

Pahoehoe Lava and a Cinder Cone

We went out into the lava fields to hike some of the lava tubes – remember to bring a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water – it was really hot the day we were there!  The above ground hike is 1.6 miles, if you walk to the entrances of each of the lava tubes.  You can also go inside!  Remember, if you want to go into the lava tubes, you have to have a free cave permit; just stop by the Visitor’s Center before you head out, and they will give you one, hassle free.

Me at Craters

Our first lava tube was Indian Tunnel – this is a fairly long lava tube, but has sections where the roof of the tube has collapsed, so part of it is exposed to the sky.  It is really cool!  The cooling lava and the later collapses of the roof left huge lava boulders on the floor of the cave, so you have to scramble over them in order to make it through.  The kids loved it, and even the 5 year could easily do it.  There were lots of pigeons in the shady upper reaches, and we found a lot of chipmunk and other rodent bones in the cave as well.  We left them for the next people to enjoy.

 

 

We also hiked into Beauty Cave and Dewdrop Cave.  Dewdrop Cave is the smallest; it is really just a recess back into the ground, but there is a tucked away section that is pretty dark.  Beauty Cave is relatively short, but completely dark (bring a flashlight). Beauty Cave is suitable for most people, as long as you can enter the cave, you will find that the floor of the cave is smooth and easy to walk on; it doesn’t have all the boulders that are present in the other caves.

My niece and nephew climbing into Dewdrop Cave

Boy Scout Cave is the most challenging of the lava tubes.  It requires crawling and squeezing through tight spots; we debated, but ultimately decided to leave Boy Scout Cave for another trip, and settled for a quick peek at its entrance.

 

The entrance to Boy Scout Cave. We passed

After the caves, we planned on a picnic at one of the picnic tables in the shade.  Where we quickly realized why no one else had snagged the shady spot on such a hot day.  As soon as we got out of the van, we were SWARMED by hornets!  And I mean SWARMED – they were everywhere!  It was so bad that my brother got back in the van to drive it away, while the rest of us followed on foot in hopes that we could lose the hornets and not let any of them into the van.  It was crazy!  Our tactic worked, and we did manage to escape without anyone getting stung.  There was a huge meltdown in the van a little bit later after we discovered a small bug that needed to be let out.  No photos of this hornet cyclone – sorry!

The hornet escapade did prevent us from doing another hike that we had planned on, the Devil’s Orchard Nature Trail, because the trail head had some hornets hanging around the cars, and the kids absolutely refused to get out of the car.  I’m not sure I blame them – perhaps the hornets are why it is called Devil’s Orchard.

 

Me again!

Instead we went to see the Spatter Cones.  There are two miniature volcanoes here, and a third called Snow Cone, just a short walk away.  These cones were created when the volcano spewed blobs of hot lava into the air, mounding into the form of a cone about 2,100 years ago.  These spatter cones are mere babies in the life of geology!  Snow Cone was fascinating, because its crater is so narrow and deep that snow from the winter lasts all year long!  We got to peer down into it and see the remaining snow – on the first of August on a 95 degree day!  We also found a chipmunk enjoying the cooler temperatures of the crater.

 

We headed back to the Visitor’s Center and listened to the Ranger Talk on types of lava.  She explained the differences between cinder cones and spatter cones, as well as black lava versus pahoehoe lava (which gets its name from the Hawai’ian lava flows).  She let us hold lava rocks; some are really heavy and others are way lighter, depending on how dense the rock is – it was a great talk, and everybody enjoyed it.  Of course we got Junior Ranger badges too!

Our stop for the night was at a Sleep Inn in Nampa, Idaho.  It was our first hotel of the trip!  We had talked it over and decided that camping in 90+ degree weather just didn’t sound very appealing, and setting up after our long day of driving seemed like a chore too (who knew Idaho was so wide?). The shower was amazing though!

 

Distance for the Day: Victor, ID – Craters of the Moon NM – Nampa, ID (5 hours, 51 minutes; 341 miles)
Craters of the Moon Entrance Fee: $15 per vehicle for 7 days, free with a National Parks Pass
Sleep Inn: Nampa, ID: $107 per room (includes tax) – free breakfast!

Boise Roadtrip: The World Center for Birds of Prey

After visiting the Old Idaho Penitentiary with me the day before, it was Jon’s turn to choose a touristy activity.  Of course, he hadn’t really done any research ahead of time, so he is lucky that we drove past an informational road sign on our way into Boise, stating that the World Center for Birds of Prey was nearby.  That got him curious enough to look it up online and declare that that’s what he was interested in seeing.

The center is a couple miles outside of town, a pleasant drive through strip malls, urban sprawl, and then agricultural land.  It is located at the top of a hill, and it overlooks the valley below, which is designated as a wildlife preserve.  The World Center for Birds of Prey was founded by the Peregrine Fund, as a conservation and education center for… well, duh… birds of prey.  I had heard of the Peregrine Fund before, but had never really thought about what their mission is – I learned that they are actually a group dedicated to the ancient sport of falconry.  That’s right – the Peregrine Fund is a sportsman association for hunters who use falcons to kill other birds – including other birds of prey.

At the center, they are pretty candid about this sordid connection and explain that conservation is part of their mission, because they need the prey birds to remain at healthy numbers in order to be able to continue their sport.  That got me thinking – I really don’t agree with the concept of sport hunting (using birds or otherwise) but I suppose they do have a point.

Their first conservation mission began in 1970, to save the Peregrine Falcon from extinction – the Peregrines and other birds of prey had become threatened due to the agricultural pesticide DDT, which causes birds to lay eggs with thin shells.  The breeding program and legislation to ban DDT were so successful that the Peregrine Falcon was removed from the Endangered Species list in 1999.

We bought tickets (AAA got us a discount) and listened to a kind, older gentleman give the intro before heading through the double doors back outside into a fenced area.  The man explained that the birds are not able to be released into the wild for various reasons; either they have been injured or because they are too imprinted on humans.  The center doesn’t take in wild birds though; because they are a breeding center for critically endangered birds, they cannot afford to risk diseases getting into the center.

Once we stepped outside, we were in a sunny courtyard with several benches and natural landscaping.  Around the edges of the courtyard, there were several gorgeous birds on perches in enclosures.  The center has two Bateleur Eagles, native to Africa, who were raised from birth by humans and are imprinted.  They were hatched in 1966 and 1968 – making them 45 and 47 years old!

Bateleur Eagle - Native to Africa

Bateleur Eagle – Native to Africa

I had never seen a Bateleur Eagle before (nor had I even heard of them), and I was struck by how beautiful they are.  They are considered medium sized eagles, but they seemed large to me – and they are all black with red orange feet and faces.  Also on display were a Bald Eagle, an Ornate Hawk Eagle (native to South America), and a Peregrine Falcon.

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Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

In another enclosure, the center has three California Condors, two adults and a juvenile.  The story of the California Condor is an interesting one.  Over the last hundred years, the condor population declined significantly due to habitat loss, hunting and lead poisoning because Condors eat the carcasses of animals discarded by hunters.  The shot used to kill other animals often contains lead, and the pellets were ingested by the Condors as they were feeding on the carcass.  Add to that the fact that Condors only raise one chick every other year – although they will hatch a second egg in a year if something happens to the first egg.

As a result, the wild population plummeted to 22 – that’s right – there were only 22 California Condors remaining in the world in 1982.  The drastic decision was made  to capture all of the remaining Condors and begin breeding them in captivity – the capture was completed in 1987.  The World Center for Birds of Prey has 20 breeding pairs of Condors – and they have released several Condors near the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  To date this year (as of June when we were there) the center had hatched 14 eggs!

California Condor Adult - Native to California and Arizona

California Condor Adult – Native to California and Arizona

The program is not without some controversy, but there is no way to deny that it has had success.  Currently, there are 226 Condors in the wild and another 179 in captivity.  And they are beautiful to see – these birds have the largest wingspan of any North American bird, about 9.5 feet!  They eat carrion and have the characteristic bald head of a vulture, and always worth mentioning, they poop on their feet to keep cool in the hot desert sun.  How’s that for making good use of your resources?!  In their enclosure, they have enough room to do a bit of flying, although in the wild they will soar at altitudes of up to 15,000 feet, looking for their next meal.  Amazing!

After seeing the birds outside, we went inside, where there is a small museum and some other birds.  The museum contains exhibits on falconry, the captive breeding program and specimens of many bird of prey, ranging from the very small to the very large.  It is disconcerting to see dead animals preserved, but it does allow you to compare the different birds to each other to see differences in size and appearance.

Orange Breasted Falcon - Range from Southern Mexico to Argentina

Orange Breasted Falcon – Range from Southern Mexico to Argentina

Inside, we saw:

  • Gyrfalcons – native to the Arctic and threatened by global warming
  • Eurasian Eagle Owl – the largest of the tufted owls – native to Northern and Southern Europe
  • Turkey Vulture – native to the Americas and the Caribbean
  • Orange Breasted Falcon – native from Southern Mexico to Northern Argentina
  • Aplomado Falcons – Endangered – native from the Southern United States to Southern Mexico
Eurasian Eagle Owl - Native to Northern and Southern Europe

Eurasian Eagle Owl – Native to Northern and Southern Europe

The Center also breeds Aplomado Falcons – in 2012 their 24 breeding pairs hatched 74 chicks!  These falcons are released in Texas and New Mexico to repopulate areas where the birds had not been seen since the 1950s.  During our visit, they had demonstrations of various birds they care for – we watched one with a Western Screech Owl.  That little guy was super cute!  It was an opportunity to see the bird up close and to hear a bit about what they eat and how they live.  I did kind of want to take him home though!

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I really enjoyed our visit and learned a lot – if you are in the area, you should definitely go.  It is well worth the time.

We Went to Antiques Roadshow!

Finally, the day had arrived!  It was the morning of Antiques Roadshow!  I had literally been waiting for years for this day! (Yeah, get it out… If you must say to yourself what a huge nerd I am, so be it!  I can take it – I know I’m a nerd.)

We had the 8 am time slot and the instructions said to arrive at the venue a half hour before your scheduled time.  That would be 7:30 am.  We ate breakfast and headed out, arriving in plenty of time (Of course!  Because we had made sure we knew how to get there the day before!)  We parked and walked into the expo center, getting mentally prepared for “The Long Wait…”  I even brought snacks…  Jon is not very patient about crowds and lines, so I made sure to prep him on the fact that there would be crowds and there would be lines, and I explained that he had decided he wanted to go, so I had better not hear any complaining….

Other people were walking in too, and as we passed several of them, we checked out their items.  I can’t help it – I walk fast – I learned from my father who has much longer legs than I do.  I had to keep up with dad or I might have gotten singled out by the lions as the weak gazelle.  Ok, maybe it’s not as dramatic as all that – I just walk fast.  We saw all sorts of neat things – an antique chair, vases, a metal model car in a big glass case, but of course, nothing would be as valuable as my items!

We Were Some of the Younger People There!

We Were Some of the Younger People There!

We got to the entrance and they tore our tickets and let us in to the staging area…  The first room was set up with a huge snaking queue line.  There are signs indicating the entrance time, and then you snake back and forth until you get to the beginning of the line.  Since it was still early in the morning, the line really hadn’t gotten very long yet…  So far, so good.

At the beginning of that first line, we found several volunteers who are there do to a preliminary assessment of your items.  The appraisal area is divided out by categories and the volunteers take a quick look at your items and assign them to categories.  We showed the gal our artist proof print (Posters and Prints), my bracelet (Jewelry), my great grandmother’s glass cosmetic jar with a silver lid (Silver), and my father-in-law’s small glass vase with the silver inlay (Silver).  Once we were assessed, another volunteer took us into the main room.  They don’t allow any photos inside the main area, so you will just have to imagine it for yourselves (hopefully I can do justice with a verbal explanation…

Jon Practicing Patience - Luckily the Line Wasn't Long (You can see by the barriers behind him what it might have been like later in the day...)

Jon Practicing Patience – Luckily the Line Wasn’t Long
(You can see by the barriers behind him what it might have been like later in the day…)

When you enter, you see a big circle in the center of the room with the Antiques Roadshow royal blue curtains hung all around.  There are spaces between each curtain and the category lines begin in this area.  At that point, you pick a line and wait until a volunteer comes to collect you.  Then you are in the main appraisal area.  The appraisal tables are set up around the perimeter of the circle, and the filming area is set up in the middle.  There are also big flat screen TVs hung up around the center area to give you a good view of any filming that is going on in the filming area while you wait.  The volunteer who collected you at the category line drops you off to wait in another short line at the appraisal table.  There wasn’t much of a wait in the line we were in, so before we knew it, it was time for an appraisal!

The appraisals are brief (I wasn’t really expecting anything different) – if the appraiser doesn’t know the manufacturer or anything about your item, they aren’t going to do much research as you stand there.  We went to the silver category first.  The appraiser let me know that my great grandmother’s cosmetic jar isn’t worth that much, other than the sentimental value, but that it was made in the 1890s by an American manufacturer (he couldn’t say which one).  He also explained that it would have once been part of a set (long ago lost, I assume, since I was only given the one jar).

Next he took a look at Jon’s dad’s “Louis XIV” vase (as he likes to call it); the one he picked up for a steal at the Goodwill where he worked in the 1960s.  The appraiser didn’t know who made it, but he did know it was American made, not French, turn of the last century (1890-1910), not Louis XIV period, and not even a vase at all.  It is actually a perfume bottle that is missing its original stopper.  Suddenly it all made sense why it was such a small vase!  Jon’s parents aren’t going to be striking it rich from the proceeds of the sale…

For my silver and scrimshaw bracelet we had to get in a new category line.  There wasn’t much of a wait in this line either, so before we knew it, we were back at another appraisal table!  The jewelry appraiser was very pleased with my bracelet, although he didn’t know the artist.  My mom had gotten the bracelet in the early 1990s, back when they had classified ads on the radio.  She got it from a woman, and believed that it had been made locally in the 1970s.  The appraiser said what he saw in the piece matched up with the story my mother had been told.  It was made in the 1970s, from silver and mastodon ivory, and was most likely made in the Northwest.  He said there was a lot of that style of jewelry being made here at the time.  It won’t ensure our early retirement, but he appraised it at quite a bit more than my mom paid, so that made me happy.

Which left us standing in the line for posters and prints.  It made sense, considering we brought an art print, but when we got to the front of the line, the appraiser frowned and said he wouldn’t be able to tell us anything about our print.  Apparently posters and prints is more the concert or travel poster variety.  He pointed us over to tribal art, so we got in line over there (we didn’t have to go back and stand in another category line).

And tribal art was where it was at.  We brought in a 1960s print by a woman artist living and working in Alaska.  The theme show of the print shows strong women and a whale; very forward for the early 60s.  The man at the table lit up when he saw our print.  He took a look at it, and explained that it was very unusual for art to show women in such strong roles during the time period.  Our artist proof is numbered, and he explained that it isn’t common for artist proofs to show a run number, and a run of only 5 (ours is number 2) increased the value.  He let us know what he would value it at now, and told us it will certainly increase because of the scene depicted.  We were pleased with the information that he gave us.

All in all, it was a great experience.  We learned a little more about all of items and everything is worth more than we paid for it!  All of the appraisers were very friendly, and treated us kindly even though our items certainly wouldn’t knock anybody’s socks off.  We didn’t ever feel like anybody was snooty or condescending and the other folks in line were all friendly and personable too.  To be honest though, we didn’t have much of an opportunity to stand around and chat with other Roadshow-goers, because the lines were short and moved so quickly!

In fact, the lines were so short, we were shocked at how quickly we were done!  Jon didn’t even have time to get grumpy about the crowds or the lines!  We were back in the car and on our way at 8:26 am!