|Leaving Marsing, we drove eastward along the interstate. What a change!! We’re going faster than 55mph and it feels very strange. We’ll see what happens to Jim’s mileage now that we’re finally rolling along. We’re going to see our dear friend Mivy Johnston. Her daughter Missy is expecting her first child, and we’re excited to see her. We’ll also get to see Misty’s brother Justin. Last time we saw these kids was maybe six years ago, so they’ve grown up and we’re eager to “meet” them again.
We stopped at Three Island Crossing State Park. We keep calling it “Three Mile Island” State Park, but there’s not a nuclear reactor in sight out here. What there are, ar three islands in the Snake River here, and the river is relatively narrow as a result. One can go from one island to the next without having to cross huge expanses of water. Sooooooo, this became a very popular place to ford the Snake as the immigrants were traveling the Oregon Trail. A ferry was eventually started by an old boy named Gus Glenn, hence the name of the town here: Glenn’s Ferry. The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center at the State Park was amazing. What a treasure trove of information, artifacts and photographs of people crossing this country in the mid-1800’s. We spent more than an hour exploring the center and its exhibits. We learned that 60% of the 54,000 immigrants walked the trail, most of them barefoot. So much for cowboy boots.
Rolling further down the interstate, we chuckled over a truck whose tail gate read: “INISSANT.” Yes, it was a Nissan! We watched combines sweeping the fields, cutting wheat into rows. Then a picker upper machine – I dunno what’s it’s called – sucked up the laid out rows and poured the wheat into waiting trucks. Many, many dump trucks were lined up to receive the wheat – not grain yet, since it had the stalks and chaff still on. Here and there was a tall cell phone tower built at the edge of someone’s field. If you’ve read this blog at all, you know how strange it is to us to see tall, tall towers with cell phone stuff on them. These are not camouflaged with fake trees or anything and they’re not hidden away on any mountain top. They’re just out here in front of God and everyone, relaying cell signals for all of us. There’s a sort of lovely simplicity about that! We spent the night at Clearwater Rest Stop, overlooking the Clearwater River. The rest area is surrounded by fields. Between the fields and the rest stop are tons of roadside sunflowers. Just lovely! It was hot, so we ran the generator for the A/C and I made extra special turkey jerky for dinner. Plain. Cold. Out of the package. Found a couple of apples , too. He ate it all.
Next day we were off to Mivy’s. First, though, we had to stop in Blackfoot, Idaho to see the world famous Potato Museum. Now I realize this does not sound very scintillating, but I have to admit it was interesting. There are more things potato on display here than I imagined existed. We learned all about how potatoes are grown commercially, quite a bit about how to grow them in our back yards and a bunch of stuff about other things that only parenthetically relate to the potato. For example, there was this beautiful young woman who wanted to be a movie actress. The beauty of her face and her perfect figure overshadowed producers’ interest in her dramatic ability. To get noticed, she played up her sex symbol status. In 1951 she wore a sexy and very revealing dress to a holiday party. A columnist commented in print that this young woman’s stunning figure would look good even in a potato sack. The remark prompted her publicity agent to have a dress made from a burlap bag, which this young woman wore for a photo session. The bag had been packed at Long’s Produce in Twin Falls, Idaho and it showed the Idaho identification and Long’s Sawtooth brand of potatoes as never before.
The Long’s wrote the starlet to thank her for the publicity, and she graciously responded with an autographed picture of the potato sack publicity photo. The starlet was Marilyn Monroe; the picture made history and made Idaho potatoes famous around the Unites States.
Seeing Mivy and Misty and Justin again was wonderful. Jim and Mivy did Tai Chi together many years ago, and we have stayed in touch. Our families stayed close and we shared in each other’s joys and sorrows as the years went by. So every time we are near eastern Idaho, Mivy’s is on our list of places to stop.
We went to Misty’s baby shower, had breakfast with Misty, Mivy, Justin and his friends at Mitchell’s Café (home of the biggest biscuits I have ever seen –the size of a large coffee mug) and went to “The Bodies” exhibition at the Museum of Idaho. You’ve heard about The Bodies, right? It’s real people, who donated their bodies to science. And their bodies were stripped of skin and soaked in um, plastic or resin or something, and put on display for all of us to see all the internal parts, organs and thingamajigs! It was fantastic. There is one exhibit where it’s all the blood vessels in the body. They were injected with plastic (or something more technical, I don’t know what) and once that hardened, the tissue and skin and sinew was removed by dunking the body in acid. The result is an entire set of vessels, arteries, capillaries and arterioles, standing alone, enabling us to examine every little skein. Another exhibit showed lungs from real folks: healthy ones are pink. The ones from people who smoked are charcoal gray. And they had babies and fetuses: from four weeks on up. Amazing. Anyway, it was a terrific way to spend a very hot day in a cool and interesting place.
One of the best parts of going to this was entering and paying. The old gal (and I mean old, maybe 80? They must be hard up for volunteers), gave me a fixed stare and said, “The waste basket is to your right; you can spit your gum out there.” I felt like I was in fifth grade again and Mrs. Jansen was trolling between our desks in class, wastebasket in hand, making us open wide and checking for gum!
Mivy’s home is small but cozy and her backyard is cool and green and calm and sheltered. It was wonderful to sit back there on a hot afternoon, feet soaking in a kiddie pool, eating raspberries from her bushes and catching up on kids and life. She is an important part of our lives, and we bless her and her family.