A cold, wet Memorial Day in Boise with little to do lead us to one of the few things in town open that day – the Old Idaho State Penitentiary. I am not sure why, but we have visited a number of these type of places over the years.
This complex is quite small, likely due to the small population of the state over the years.
Some of the buildings didn’t even have roofs.
The facility housed men, women and youth in the same complex, but in different buildings. This is the youth section
The day started out in Boise, with a tour around town to check out some of the architectural highlights.
The Boise Depot is a former train station that is now used for special events.
We then left town, headed for Twin Falls. Along the way we made a stop at Bruneau Sand Dunes.
After climbing on the dunes for a while, we continued across the southern Idaho countryside.
As we arrived in Twin Falls we crossed the Perrine Memorial Bridge. This bridge is 486′ above the Snake River. It is also the only place in the country where people can BASE jump without a permit at any time.
The Palouse Hills area of eastern Washington is unique in that they were created over tens of thousands of years from wind blown dust called loess. This land turned out to be very fertile for the growing of wheat and barley, and the hills are covered with these fields.
Near the crossroads town of Washtucna is an old bus that, much like Cadillac Ranch, people come along and paint it, over and over again.
Palouse Falls is a 200′ high waterfalls situated in a 377′ deep canyon, shaped like a huge bowl. It is very impressive.
The overlook has a large number of marmot’s.
Birds seemed to like to ride the updrafts from the falls.
Just down the road (and river) is the confluence of the Snake and Palouse rivers at Lyons Ferry. There is an impressive road bridge crossing the Snake.
Just down river is the more impressive rail bridge, which we had the good fortunate of catching a long freight train crossing.
The Palouse Hills is a very scenic area far from any large cities.
After a week of travelling about in the mountains, with a few small cities mixed in, Spokane seemed like the big city. And it has been that way for well over 100 years.
As a result downtown has a nice collection of older architecture.
The island in the middle of the river at the top of the falls was the home of the 1974 World’s Fair. This clocktower was part of the Great Northern Depot train station that was unfortunately demolished for the fair.
The falls itself is quite impressive.
Also of note is Manito Park and Duncan Gardens. As for that 278 miles – it is that far to Seattle.
Our first entry into Idaho on this trip was in the northern panhandle. First stop was the small town of Wallace, and the nearby ‘ghost town’ of Burke
Burke is 7 miles up a canyon from Wallace. While it is known as a ghost town, there are still a few people residing in the area. It’s population was once 1400 (in 1910), now it is 15. It was the home to lead and silver mines. Now it is sort of a unique tourist destination to check out the abandoned buildings.
Back down the canyon is Wallace. When Interstate 90 was built from Boston to Seattle it’s route took it through these northern Idaho mountain to go past Wallace. Unfortunately the valley is very narrow here, and the good folks of Wallace didn’t want their town wiped out for the freeway, so for decades you could go from Boston non stop until you reached Wallace, where the road went through town – up to 10,000 cars a day.
The town decided this made it the ‘Center of the Universe’, with a sign proclaiming that fact to this day.
Finally they built the 4478′ long viaduct elevated above the town. And Wallace lost another of it’s claims to fame. But fear not, with the checkered history of Wallace they have other attractions in town, including a bordello museum (did not stop:)
About 40 miles further west is the small city of Coeur d’Alene. The entire town seems ‘squeaky clean’, with it’s lakefront resorts.
Our trip’s northernmost stops were in Montana, Idaho and Washington. In Montana we spent the night in Helena.
When we first arrived we saw the state capitol on a hill as we entered town. To our amazement we just drove right up, parked on the street just outside and walked in!
As we wandered around we looked down a hall to a room that had a sign above that said ‘Office of the Governor’. A lady was standing in the doorway, and she encouraged us to come on in.
She told us the capitol is the ‘People’s Building’, and during business hours is always open to just come on in, no security checks whatsoever. She showed us around the office a bit, including the room that is used for the governor to greet people. It contained a set of flags for the state of Montana, as well as the 8 tribes that reside in the state.
She also told us the best way to see the rest of the building and encouraged us to ‘explore’.
The next day found us in Missoula. There we checked out the riverfront and some of downtown’s historic buildings.
Our road trip worked out that we spent a night in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. On a previous trip to Yellowstone we missed the Grand Prismatic Spring due to lack of parking, so this trip I wanted to rectify that oversight.
To do that we left Jackson at the crack of dawn, meaning we arrived at the Grand Teton National Park just as the sun rose – what a fortuitous break.
The wildlife were just waking up and starting their day as well….
It only takes about an hour to drive through the park with a few stops for photos, but what a beautiful hour.