Remembering When

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This trip is to Montana. I had planned to take this trip a year ago, but with significant forest fires last year in Montana I went to the Owyhees instead. This year I visit Montana!

The first day was spent driving. Not really vacation time – it was driving time. I stopped for the night at Rose Lake Sportsman Access in Idaho. A simple quiet place to spend the night.

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Parking at the boat trailer parking lot for the night.

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Rose Lake

Five miles is all I drove the next day before my first vacation stop – the Old Mission in Idaho. Although the mission building has had extensive renovations, after watching the video in the visitor center I could image the work required to build the building with nothing more than axes and knives. The priest didn’t stop working when the basics were done, he carved ornamental accents and made lighting from scrap metal. It reminded me of being a kid and having a pocket knife so I could whittle while on vacation. I had the basic understanding about making something from wood with a knife, but all I remember making was a stick with a point. I admire the ambitious priest working long hours to create beauty, not just a stick with a point.

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The Old Mission

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Hand carved ceiling panels stained with blueberries.

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Hand made chandelier

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Hand made shelf.

I love going to small town museums. The people are talkative. It helps to absorb the area. In Wallace I could hear in their voices that the people are proud of their mining heritage. I went to Wallaces’s railroad museum and saw they had a model train set. It reminded me of my brother’s train set. We would set it up on the ping pong table with all it’s fancy stuff; a depot, a tunnel through a mountain, and more items that I’ve forgotten.

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The trail museum.  The old depot building was moved when I-90 was built.

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A gorgeous glass sign.  The model train set care taker is to the right.

As a kid, we use to drive from Seattle to Red Lodge each year to visit my grandparents. Lookout Pass was an important milestone. We would sleep close to the pass on the west side so we could tackle the pass in the cool morning. We had a green Pontiac, and dad hung a burlap water bag on front of the car in case the car over heated. We would start driving up the pass with my dad vigilantly watching the car thermostat. About half way up he would announce he was turning on the heat to cool the car down. All the windows would get rolled down. It was an adventure. Today one zips over the pass with no concern.

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A stop on Lookout Pass

Notes:

  • Most of the campgrounds in Idaho along I-90 close after Labor Day weekend.
    Camping options after Labor Day include sportsman access sites and the Silver Dollar Bar.
  • There are two locations for Rose Lake sportsman access. Take a left turn into the first access point. The second location is small and doesn’t allow camping.
  • Currently it is estimated that there is 70 years of silver yet to mined. However, it isn’t like the past. There are only two active mines. One state employee at the Old Mission use to be a mining engineer. She lost her mining job but didn’t want to leave the area.
  • The next night I stayed at Beavertail Hill State Park. About a half mile from I-90. A good functional spot for the night. Look for a spot as far from the freeway as you can get. There are trains tooting their whistle all night long adjacent to the freeway.

 

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Lonely Road

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Today I started driving home.  I decided to take the backroads – the blue route.  The road was scenic and remote; in places slow and twisty.  The road north of Burns had a rhythm; twisty-turny up hill, pine forest, a summit sign, twisty-turny down hill, then valley grasslands; repeat.  It took me 7 hours to drive it.  I’m guessing I saw a total of forty cars the entire day, except for the short stretch on highway 26 and at Burns.  An enjoyable road.

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Silver City

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I had been wanting to go to Silver City for years, ever since I had seen the TV show Northwest Backroads on it. I think that show was about eight years ago. When the snows came on Saturday, I was wondering if I might not make it in this trip. But I decided to hang around and let the roads dry out for a couple of days. Today: Silver City or Bust.

I took the road from Jordan Valley. It is a gravel road freeway all the way to the DeLamar mine that is now closed. After that the road is a single lane windy, twisty, road that I drove at 5 to 20 mph.  I was glad I had waited two days for the roads to dry.  There was still a bit of compacted snow on the road in a few locations.  Following are photos from the drive.

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I always pause to wonder about the life of the people that lived in abandoned houses.  To let a home crumble to ruins strikes me as sad.

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Rock Hounding

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I am not an avid rock hounder and have little experience in rock hounding. And I don’t know much about rocks. But I love geology and I like the concept of rock hounding. Today I visited a place south of Succor Creek State Park to look for fossils. I had been to this place before with a geologist, someone who gave me a clue of what to do. I had a chisel and hammer with me ready to split open the rocks looking for leaf fossils. Success.

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The large leaf is about 2 inches long

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Lazy Day

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Today would be a lazy day. A day to let the roads dry out.

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Rocket and I went on a walk along the road follows the shoreline. I reflected on our public lands. I was camping for free, with a million dollar view; our public lands are a national treasure. We have something very special in the US.

Snakes – Oh My

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I had read that the Owyhees was rattlesnake country. One of the hunters I talked with didn’t bring his hunting dog with him because of the snakes. Another group had all their dogs given the rattlesnake vaccine. I took this chatter as a serious warning. Rocket would have to stay on a leash.

On our walk up Juniper Gulch we fortunately saw no snakes. The next day I walked up the Sage Creek track.

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