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Interesting Country

sunny 70 °F


Upon arriving at the Elks Club in Hermiston, Oregon, a town of about 20K pop, I was greeted by no one! The place was closed on Mondays. So, I parked my MH in their lot and made myself at home. I had called ahead, left a message on my visit but no returned call. Fully expecting someone to stop by I left a note taped on the outside of my door. Nothing! Before leaving I wrote them a note with my home Lodge #, Membership #, and a donation check for the priviledge of staying. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose!

The American West is truly amazing in its boundless acreage and in its beauty. The trip from Hermiston to Boise was interesting and a delight. Hermiston is in the lush Columbia River valley and as I headed in a southeasterly direction toward Boise 200 miles away the landscape changed. The fertile plains became hilly, then mountainous with deep canyons. I say 'mountainous' as an Easterner. The locals call them hills. Back East these hills are mountains! Interstate 84 is a wonderful highway and on only one occasion did my MH slip below 40 mph on a long 'mountainous' climb. The freight trains are busy here in the west. I observed a number of long trains entering mountain tunnels along the way. About 50 miles from Boise we broke over a 'hill' and there was this vast green valley below. It is fed by waters of the Snake River and the Boise River which flows into it. The Snake River flows into the Columbia River from Idaho.

Wednesday evening I met at the Boise airport my dear friends, John & Chris Lehman of Naples. They were our neighbors in Punta Gorda and we have remained close ever since. They mentioned that they would like to visit Idaho this summer to escape the Florida heat so we made a plan to meet in Boise for a day of sightseeing. From the airport we went to a local restaurant to 'get refreshed' and to catch-up on the last few months since seeing each other, and to make plans for our day together in Boise. The State Capitol with a pop. of 250K, is a city easy to navigate. We met for breakfast, then walked the several blocks up to the Capitol building where we met, by chance, the Attorney General who welcomed us to their fair city. He spent about 10 minutes with us in the lobby. Then, he invited us into his office for pictures. What an unexpected experience. We took a self-guided tour of the building. It is built of Idaho limestone and patterned after the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Atop the dome is a 5 1/2' solid copper eagle dipped in bronze. The interior of the building is faced/decorated with Alaskan, Vermont, Georgia, and Italian marbles. Compared to most other Capitol visits this was very laid-back with no security officers present. I have a little book of State Capitols and at each one I have the corresponding page stamped with a date. When we inquired about the stamp we were escorted into the Governor's office where his secretary stamped my book. She invited us into his office where we took pictures sitting behind his desk. Pretty neat! After leaving the Capitol we met a Brigadier General and a Full Colonel on the Capitol steps who also welcomed us to their fair city. Talk about the royal treatment!

We then took a City Trolley Tour to get an overview of the town. The 75 minute tour showed us points of interest, such as their 5 City Parks named for prominent women of Boise. Artwork is displayed throughout the town and parks. A drive through the neighborhood of Warm Springs told us of the existence of thermal springs in the city. This natural energy has been tapped for decades in energy conservation. Even the inmates at the former Idaho Penitentiary got warm baths once a week due to the natural springs. A visit to the old State Pen told of the harsh conditions in which the prisoners lived. Over the years , from 1870-1971, 15,000 inmates, some of the West's most hardened criminals called it home! The tour pointed out the Basque Block. The Basques were a group on immigrants who settled in Idaho from the regions of northern Spain and southern France. They were sheep herders. Their traditions are kept alive in this city block devoted to their culture with restaurants and a museum. John & Chris, who are widely traveled, knew about this culture having visited their region of Spain & France. It was new to me. Their culture dates back centuries for Basque men were mariners who sailed with Magellan and Christopher Columbus on their voyages to the New World and beyond in the 15th century. Today, their lifestyle in the old country is in the ancient tradition of donkey carts and simple living conditions.
We, sadly, parted company late in the afternoon for the Lehman's had hotel reservations in Twin Falls, ID. I left Boise the next morning (yesterday) for Bend, OR. The trip was an interesting one for I had to climb the 2,000 or so feet to the High Plains of OR. Eastern & Central Oregon is very arid with sage brush, rocks, and sandy soil, very much an extension of Eastern Washington to the north. Irrigation has enabled these ranchers to cultivate cropland with wheat and corn fields observed along the way. The views of the landscape are seemingly 'endless'. Again, the American West is so vast.
Upon arriving in Bend I was warmly greeted at the Elks Lodge where I booked in for 3 nights. My MH neighbors are from Alaska, California, and 3 couples are 'full-timers' who live on the road traveling from place to place. Being a Friday, the club had a Steak Dinner offering with dancing. I opted for the former, not the latter. This being a holiday weekend, many things are closed so I don't yet know what is going on in town. I'll report on that later.

Posted by dixter 07:43 Archived in USA Tagged oregon eastern & western idaho

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