We certainly didn’t see a lot around the eastern part of Idaho this past week due to some really ugly weather, complete with snow flurries one morning coupled with very chilly temps. We have come to the conclusion that in future years we won’t begin our trek northward until May!
When the sun came out this morning, we were both more than ready to head out and continue exploring the local area. There are three scenic by-ways (Sacajawea History By-Way, Lost Gold Trails Loop and Fort Henry History By-Way) relatively nearby that touched one another and thought it would be fun to get out and see at least a portion of them before the rains returned later in the afternoon.
But first, Spudology 101 question #3: Which of the following plants is NOT related to the potato? a) chili peppers; b) petunias; c) rutabaga; d) tobacco – answer below!
The first thing we determined on these scenic by-ways is that they really aren’t as scenic as we had surmised them to be; truly more historic as some of their names denote. The first by-way we reached today was the Sacajawea History By-way. Sacajawea, an “Agaidika” Shoshone woman was born around 1788 and is known around the world as the trusted and valuable member of the famed Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery. A lesser-known fact is her historical tie to Idaho’s Lemhi Valley where she was born and raised until the age of twelve. Captured by the Arikira Indians and forced to live among them in the Mandan Villages of North Dakota, Sacajawea would not see her home again until becoming part of the Corps of Discovery in 1805. It was during this expedition that she would help Lewis and Clark find the Salmon River and revisit her people. We only traveled approximately 30 miles on this by-way before turning off to head north and reach the next by-way.
The Sacajawea Historic By-Way travels 132 miles to its end point in Salmon, ID running parallel to the Continental Divide for approximately 100 miles and along the border of neighboring Montana. The drive is through the high country of eastern Idaho and following the Lewis and Clark’s expedition to the Northwest Passage. I’ve included a picture of the routes we followed to better show the path we took today. The views of the mountain ranges off in the distance are indeed spectacular coupled with the miles and miles of farmland; fields of barley, potatoes, hay and who knows what else.
We then reached the Lost Gold Trails Loop after a short drive on I-15 and our turn-off in Dubois heading north to Spencer. This early-day Gold Trail closely followed Beaver Creek towards Montana gold mines. When we reached Spencer the trail of yesterday becomes the Opal Trails of today because of several high grade opal shops within town; and there were plenty of shops advertising their opals, the ability to mine for them, create your own jewelry, etc. Idaho is also known as the “gem state”.
When we left Spencer the trail heads east along the foothills of the Centennial Mountains and along the Nez Perce trailhead. This is a huge farming and cattle raising area and a favorite for hunters as well as fishermen with the abundance of multiple streams crisscrossing the fields. This area didn’t have a tremendous amount of scenery to enjoy while driving through desert-lava rolling hill terrain and eventually running into our final scenic/history by-way; the Fort Henry Historic By-Way.
This area marks the first European settlement in Idaho and a monument denoting their arrival. The portion of Fort Henry Historic By-Way we drove took us past the St. Anthony Sand Dunes, a 20,000 acre area of sage and juniper, a winter range for large numbers of elk and deer. The only animal-life we’ve seen since we arrived are birds of prey (falcons, eagles and hawks). This turned into a two-lane gravel road, but through no mountain passes. We timed our drive perfectly, just as we arrived home the rains returned!
And the answer for today’s tater quiz is: c) rutabaga! And yes, this one surprised us both!
Till the next time . . .