For the last 20 years an alley in downtown Boise has been the center for creative urban art. Known as Freak Alley Gallery, it continues to this day to be changed on a regular basis.
Our cold, rainy Memorial Day weekend continued with a visit to one of the best named towns in the country, Walla Walla Washington.
The area around Walla Walla has always been farmed, only in the last few decades it has become known for it’s vineyards.
Further east, at the Idaho/Washington border lie the twin towns of Clarkston, Washington and Lewiston, Idaho. The Snake River south of the towns has an impressive canyon.
Washington Highway 129 leaves Clarkston south towards the Oregon border, which when reached turns into Oregon Highway 3. It is a very cool drive!
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.
As noted in the previous posting our mission for this day was to see the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. But first we stopped at Old Faithful.
Along the way we enjoyed the sights that are uniquely Yellowstone.
At last we arrived at Midway Geyser Basin, where the spring is located.
At last – The Grand Prismatic Spring. While it was obscured by steam, it was still an impressive sight. Mission accomplished!
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.
The small city of Vernal, Utah is in the far northeastern corner of the state. It is a short distance from two impressive, albeit very different, landmarks.
First is Dinosaur National Monument. While the entire park contains archaeological sites, as well as impressive canyons and rivers, it’s fame is due to the ‘Quarry’, an excavated wall with over 1500 dinosaur bones dating from 149 million years ago.
While some complete dinosaurs were removed and shipped to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, the wall retains the ‘scraps’
This important wall is preserved in an enclosed space.
While most are fragments, washed upon a long ago sea, one is nearly whole.
The remainder are scattered about.
Just north of town, at the Wyoming border, is Flaming Gorge. This reservoir is a result of the damming of the Green River at the Flaming Gorge Dam, towering 500′ high.
The resulting reservoir is immense, covering 3.8 million acre feet of water.
The Flaming Gorge comes from it’s location (among others) in Red Canyon, with it’s vertical walls accenting the water.
Rising over 2000′ above the valley floor along the edge of the Uncompahgre Plateau, the Colorado National Monument provides amazing views along Rim Rock Drive.
This road clings to the edge of the cliff, often without guardrails, with precipitous drop offs all along the 24 mile drive.
It does however have numerous overlooks that provide commanding views.