Saturday, October 11, 2014

On The Oregon Trail - Part II

Day one saw us leaving Iowa, crossing Nebraska and then Wyoming. About a half hour after a gas and lunch stop in Evanston, WY, we reached the 'real' Oregon Trail - the Y where I-80 splits and goes South toward Salt Lake City and I-84 turns North toward Idaho and west into Oregon.
The second day was also the longest. Six hundred miles would get us to Twin Falls, ID, but when looking ahead for a hotel, I wasn't too keen on any of the ones there. By going a little further down the road to Jerome, ID, I found the Best Western Sawtooth Inn and Suites. The online pictures looked good. The reviews were good. The price was right. It was booked.

The difference in price between this hotel and the 'bargain' one of the night before was around ten dollars. The difference in the hotels was like night and day. This is a picture I took of the lobby. The hotel staff was truly welcoming - friendly, helpful, professional. The room was clean, comfortable and attractive. The pool and hot tub, perfect after a long two days of driving.

This is a photo of the gorgeous live edge slab comprising the reception desk. It was so pretty. I should have taken the picture from a different angle to show it off properly.

And I love hotels that have the free libraries. Some operate on a take and leave policy - you take a book you haven't read and leave one you've finished while traveling. This is the most extensive travel library I've seen - they even had magazines and books for children.
If you are traveling to or through Idaho I highly recommend this hotel - The Best Western Sawtooth Inn and Suites in Jerome - as an overnight (or longer) stay. The only regret I have about staying here is that I didn't see the made-to-order omelets at the free breakfast the next morning until after I had already filled my plate with other selections. If we hadn't taken a different route home I would have booked another stay here.

Oh, yes, Sally's thrown shoe - I had noticed a noise coming from the left front wheel area of the car during my afternoon driving stint. Bud thought it was just the plastic undercarriage cover protecting the engine compartment. He had wired it up when it came loose once before. He tried fixing it again but when we made a quick trip to the Walmart just down the street the noise was even worse. Wish I had taken pictures of this - but - while I went into the store, my "he can fix anything" husband took the wheel off Sally and determined it was the brake pad making the noise. He applied some wheel grease (?) which did help for many miles before it started making noise again the next day. End of story: Sally got a brake job while we were at Kari's in Portland.
I'm sure the pioneers would have merely fashioned a new shoe for their trusty steed.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

On The Oregon Trail - Part I

Two weeks ago after watching granddaughter, Dominique*, run her last cross-country meet here in town, we set off for Oregon to see daughter Kari and son-in-law Ken in their new home in Portland. To quote Jerry Reed in 'East Bound and Down' from Smokey & The Bandit, "We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there!" As navigator and chief planner, I broke the roughly 1800 miles into three days of 600 miles each and started booking overnight stops.
The first of which was Cheyenne, Wyoming. It takes us a day or two to get our 'traveling legs' under us. At the end of that first day all we wanted was a bed and a good night's sleep. Packed up and back on I-80 early the next morning, the first thing I noted of interest was an old one room country school with what looked like a dome setting in the school yard. There was no signage so, like with many more such unknown sites along the route, I made a note to see if I could find information about it when we got home.

TGFTI - "Thank goodness for the internet." And thanks to 'Stefanie' and 'Roadside America', I learned that the dome I saw was actually the cupola from the 1917 Cheyenne Capitol dome. The granite school dates from 1892. This site is on the south side of I-80 about 20 miles west of Cheyenne.

Further along between Cheyenne and Laramie - about 10 miles east of Laramie is this giant Lincoln statue at the Summit Rest Stop. Sculpted by Robert Russin in 1959 to commemorate Lincoln's 150th birthday, it was moved to the rest stop after the interstate was built to mark the highest point on the Lincoln Highway (Hwy 30).

For me, the most intriguing unknown site about another 30 miles down the road - just east of the Carbon County, WY line,  was this obvious grave site:

Another one to make note of and look up when I got home. TGFTI again. It is the grave of Clement S. Bengough, a titled Englishman who traded his life in a castle for a ranch in Wyoming.
After seeing this large marker I could not help but think of all the hundreds, if not thousands, of unmarked graves along the Oregon Trail. I also thought of how we were zipping along at 80 mph covering in one hour what probably took the pioneers eight to ten days to travel.

We saw a number of antelope on the plains of western Wyoming. I kept trying to get a picture of some and missed a really good shot with antelope, cows and horses all together. I do have one picture in which I 'think' there is an antelope but it could be a rock. At least I can for certain identify the animals in this photo:

The end of day two saw us in Jerome, Idaho where our trusted steed, Sally, 'threw a shoe'. More about that tomorrow.

(*Instead of using one of the photos I took of Dominique at the cross-country meet, I opted to use one of her senior pictures in her x-c uniform. It shows what a beautiful young woman she is.)