30.08.2014 - 31.08.2014 26 °C
Boise featured strongly in my brother's plans, mainly because he thought it is the potato capital of the world and really wanted to see some potatonalia. Sadly, it was not even the potato capital of Idaho - that would be Blackfoot, near where we started the day's travels. Blackfoot has a very highly rated potato museum, which claims to "lead you through the revolution of the potato industry" and has the largest potato chip on display. Most interesting of all, they have chocolate covered potato chips which look pretty good.
Since leaving Boise, I have heard of Florenceville, New Brunswick being the big cheese of the potato world - it is where McCains started, claims the title of French Fry Capital of the World and boasts the Potato World museum. No sign of any chocolate chips, however. There is a Big Potato in the Idaho Historical Museumin Boise but the museum was closed for renovations.
So we wandered downtown Boise for a bit, didn't really see much to admire except for the State Capitol, which had a tableau of Chief Twisted Hair of the Nez Perce people talking with Lewis and Clark in 1804, and headed for the Whole Foods for breakfast (where I got a bit of stick for having chicken curry). Thinking ahead, we had them make some fabulous sandwiches which kept us going.
The drive for the day didn't have anything spectacular like the Beartooth Pass but all in all it was a nicely varied drive, a combination of forested ravines, big sunburnt hills and prairie - about 300 miles in all. We followed the Payette River which fed into the Snake River as we headed north up ID-55 and then rejoined US-95. Not far out of Boise we caught up with the Thunder Mountain Line train, which does a 15 mile trip up the river. The river is a pretty major destination for white water rafting and, where it is calmer, paddle-boarding and kayaking.
The paddle-boarder had a lot of trouble getting up on the board and came close to falling in several times although never actually did before the triumph seen in the last photo. The road took us into McCall which was so pretty we had to stop and wander around and try out the Fogg Lifter cafe - which was rather more like a living room than a cafe. Nice place, even of we got hopelessly lost leaving, because we had no idea we were actually on the road we wanted, so tried some others.
The road took us up past the Nez Perce forest and then a place called Grangeville: as we drove, I started to realise that I had been before, certainly the Nez Perce territory was looking familiar and I remembered going into Grangeville and thinking it was a dump.
The land flattened out as we went through the Camas prairie, which was intersected by the Lapwai Canyon - which required some rather large wooden trestles to let the Camas Prairie Railroad through.
The big reason for coming this way was my brother's desire to see the locks and shipping at the major inland port of Lewiston. Poor bugger, because there were no locks and not much more shipping - this is how busy it was.
Lewiston was a funny sort of place - across the river from the main road, there were several small big-box shopping areas ascending the hill, with a defunct Walmart perched at the top. The small historic district was on a bend in the river and looked like it might have been worth a look, but we didn't really stop - got hassled by some young guys hooning around who apparently had driven up from California, and this was all they could find to do. The Motel 6 was cheap, so I would have been OK to stay but we decided to carry on. The drive out of town was spectacular.
Leaving was probably the right thing to do, as it meant we could stay in the very pleasant town of Moscow, a place I really enjoyed on my last visit to this part of the world, and home base of the University of Idaho. Oddly, despite being Saturday night, town was very quiet - a combination I guess of most students being too young to drink and many of them leaving town for the long weekend. It isn't a very big place, but it has a wonderful modern Italian restaurant - Maialina - where the staff was very careful to point out that they didn't make doughy, cheese-soaked slabs of crap. The waiter may have been a bit full of himselfbut it really was good food.