Traveling to Marsing, Id
Aug 8, 2011
|Jim’s cousin Cindy and her husband Mike Sprinkel live in Marsing, Idaho, just outside of Boise. We couldn’t be in the general vicinity of Boise and not stop in to see them. We decided that rather than take the freeway (backtracking to Spokane and Pasco), we would meander along Idaho 95. Before we could leave, the awning over our front door fell off – luckily in Stoneridge – and Jim had to fix it. God we’re lucky he knows how to do this stuff. I can’t imagine owning a motorhome and not knowing how to fix things. It’d cost you a fortune, not to mention how far off you’d get from your schedule, waiting for the repair guys!
We took an alternate route rather than go through Hayden and Coeur d’Alene again and get stuck in that traffic. Past Coeur d’Alene, the road started climbing into the mountains. Jim’s getting pretty anal about fuel mileage, and we were having this long, friendly and cheerful conversation about how going up and down these hills was killing our fuel mileage and wondering what it would have been had we in fact gone around to Spokane and Pasco. You understand this was a friendly and cheerful conversation, right?
There are lots of firs and pine along here; the fir trees around the berg of Plummer look distressed – some sort of beetle, I guess – while the pine trees look just perky. Funny thing, that those bugs are so species specific. We toodled into Moscow, Idaho. I remember when we were kids, visiting my Vroman cousins in Spokane, my mom and dad took a day or two and went to Moscow. Being Russian, they wanted to see the place, take pictures and send postcards to the family. So today, I get to see it. Nice little town of about 28,000 folks with many activities. Today there is a Hog-fest going on – oh how I wish I could talk Jim into going! They also have something called “Shakespeare in the Silo.” One can only imagine the venue for that. Another thing I wish we could have done. And oh, to have stayed at Green Acres RV Park! Wonder if Eddy Albert and Zsa Zsa Gabor (or was it Eva?) live there in their retirement?
Past Moscow the landscape changes to rolling hills. We passed a field of garbanzo bean plants. It looked sort of like alfalfa but the plants had lovely white flowers. Don’t think I’ve ever seen garbanzos growing. We passed an old barn with a sign on it: “Go Vandals!” I sure hope that’s the name of the Moscow High School football team. Actually it would have been better if they’d have called themselves “The Cossacks!”
We’ve been on a high plateau, and as the road nears Lewiston, it drops straight down what seem to be cliffs to the Clearwater and Snake Rivers. For six miles we go down a 7% grade, with six runaway truck ramps making me pretty nervous. The view was spectacular, despite the runaway truck ramps. Finally down to river level, Highway 95 follows the Clearwater for a while. The water looks like it would be very welcoming to a wagon train traveler in the mid-1800’s. Everything is dry and desolate but along the river. Near Cottonwood, we saw a sign advertising a “Dog Bark Park.” There’s a statue of a huge beagle, say 5-feet tall, and next to is a huge, 7-foot red fire hydrant. Inside the fire hydrant was an outhouse for humans. Interesting humor here in Cottonwood!
From Lewiston to Grangeville, we’re on the Nez Perce reservation. The Nez Perce National Historic Site is here, with commemorative sites all along Highway 95 from here on out. For countless generations, the Nimiipuu or Nez Perce have lived along the rivers, canyons and prairies of the inland northwest. Following the breakout of war in Idaho between the Army, who wanted to remove the Nez Perce from their traditional ground to make room for new white settlers, and the Nez Perce, nearly 800 Nez Perce spent a long and arduous summer fleeing U.S. Army troops first toward Crow allies in eastern Wyoning and then toward refuge in Canada. Forty miles short of the Canadian border and following a five-day battle and siege, the Nez Perce ceased fighting at Bear Paw, MT on October 5th, 1877. It was there Chief Joseph gave his immortal speech: “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” Despite the cataclysmic change of the past two centuries, the Nez Perce are still here in Idaho, living on their reservation. As we drive along, we can see their homes, their businesses and numerous museums and cultural sites.
We overnighted in Grangeville at a campground called “Bear’s Den.” The name of the young couple who own it is “Bear.” Sold ice cream at their little store, so of course, after dinner guess who had some. Past Grangeville, Highway 95 climbs over White Bird Summit, and then another 7 miles, 7% drop into the valley of the Salmon River. Beautiful water in this dry land, with inviting white sandy beaches sprinkled along the banks of the river. The canyon was steep, and we saw a guy working a gold dredge as we drove by. At Lucile, we entered “Hells Canyon National Scenic Area.” The walls of the canyon are steeper and steeper. We got sidetracked at Fiddle Creek Ranch, which grew and sold lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in this small skinny plot of land along the river, in this steep canyon. Cantaloupe, cherries, corn, tomatoes, peaches, green beans, peppers, plums, huckleberries (in jam) and onions all made it into the motor home after this stop. And a piece of pie a la’ mode that didn’t make it as far as the coach.
Riggins is a cool town making its living off the river, the rapids, the fishing and the tourists who come for it. I’d like to poke around here for a bit, but we have to keep on rolling. We picked up the Little Salmon River here, and the canyon gets tighter and the walls get taller. At New Meadow we leave Highway 95 for Highway 55 toward McCall. This is the Payette Scenic Byway, and it’s lovely. Near McCall we saw a soaring hawk, and thought of Ethan, who took us to McCall when he and Hilary were living in Idaho and Addy was just a mite. Sign on a store told us that “Camping is nature’s way of feeding mosquitos.”
Road south of McCall flattens out as we enter Long Valley. There is roadwork here, and the gravel road reminds us of Alaska. But interestingly enough we didn’t get any windshield chips there, while we sure got one here. The clouds here in Idaho near the mountains are spectacular: huge billowy cumulous clouds that remind you of whipped cream or, in early morning, of pink cotton candy. Ethan loved these clouds when he lived here and we learned to love them too. Passed the tiny hamlet of Cascade, 1001 population, and it has a move theater, predictably called the Roxy.
We are along the Payette River now, and we stopped for lunch along its banks. The cool breeze off the water makes this a lovely spot. The fir trees are so think on the walls of the canyon there isn’t a shred of dirt to be seen. It’s also very clean here; litter control is handled by the Great Old Broads of the Wilderness …… I want to join!!
Our stay with Cindy and Mike was great. They are such wonderful hosts. Cindy and I spent a day shopping and poking around. She took me to the gym and we did two Zumba classes in a row – that let us eat all the pizza we wanted to that night! We love the street names around here: Working Dog Lane, Chicken Dinner Road, Purple Sage Drive and the ever popular Underkohlfers Corner! We also spent time with other cousins Winnie and John Pombo, who live a little ways away from Mike and Cindy. Mike helped Jim do some stuff on the motorhome and also asked a local guy where we could get our rock chip fixed. There was a rodeo in Homedale, the town near Marsing where the guy could fix our chip, and the cow girls vying for Ms. Rodeo Queen were out in force the day we went to fix the windshield. The high school football team in Homedale is known as the Trojans. Jim says he figures there aren’t any teen pregnancies in this town!