Sunday, July 30, 2017

Continuing on Highway 395 through Nevada and California

We were warned by owners of the trailer park which we stayed in Thursday that we would not reach Reno by Friday.  And they were correct.  That highway is not one to travel very fast on - especially with our 37 foot motor home towing a car and not powered by diesel.  As we left Burns there were signs indicating that for the next 90 miles there would be no services as gasoline stations for 90 miles.  Signs also warned us that there may be cattle on the road.  We passed a town named Wagon Tire, population of 6.  And a road called Poverty Basin Road.  At least someone had a sense of humor.  After miles of sage brush plains dotted with black rocks and cattle we had a surprise.
We first saw large sand dunes and then what looked like a dried lake bed.  Checking our AAA tour book we learned that we were at the base of Abert Rim, one of the highest exposed fault scarps (steep slopes) in North America.  The 2000-foot-high escarpment is great for hang gliding.
And pictured below is Lake Abert.  A very remote lake, with no signs of recreational water activity.
Highway 395 also brought us through the the Goose Lake recreational area, into California.  That lake, as well as other lakes in the region, were vestiges of prehistoric Lake Chewaucan. That probably explains the dry sea beds and alkali flats which we had been seeing.  We had no choice as to where to stop for the night, there was only one trailer park in Likely, California.  The town  had a couple of buildings; "Most Unlikely Cafe" and a community church.   The trailer park was out of town a distance, in a remote area surrounded by cattle ranches.  The travel guide said it was a golf resort, besides a park for trailers and motor homes.  How likely was that, we wondered, as we drove up to the park and saw no golf courses, or the presence of a restaurant  that was supposed to be there.
 After we had parked our rig and got settled for the night, I walked the perimeter of the park.  Found the golf course and the restaurant which was closed for the day.  No activity anywhere, however.  I still wondered if the "resort" part of this park was a thing of the past.  But no, as I was again hiking around the park the next morning, a parade of golf carts passed me heading to the links.
I thought we were going to have the same scenery on Saturday as the past two days, but the land along the highway started greening up with plant life other than sage and juniper.  What a beautiful sight to see fields covered with black-eyed susans!   We started now seeing fields covered with a variety of crops.  We also noticed that the highway was following a creek.

We also started seeing what we thought was the backside of the Sierra Mountains, covered still with small patches of snow on top.  We passed up Reno and went 30 miles further to Carson City, just for the reason that we wanted to see the capital of Nevada.  It is a few degrees cooler there, also.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Highway 395 south through Oregon

Shortly after we left Pendleton, Oregon this morning we turned onto highway 395.   It was slow going on this highway, what with having to ascend a few summits, averaging 4 and 5 thousand feet in elevation.Our motor home is a bit doggy when it come to climbing hills, much less mountains. 
Ordinarily we cover 300 miles in a day, today we did 200 miles.  The scenery was great, however, and time was not an issue.
This was probably the first summit we climbed and I took the picture looking back at the road below us.  Mountains and hills off in the distance.  Rather desolate looking.
First sign of life we see, a house and some outbuildings.  Once and awhile we do see small numbers of cattle munching grass on the hillsides.  This is high desert, crops can't grow here.  Has to also be brutal during the winter.  We always knew we were getting to a summit when we saw the sign "chain up, snow zone".
Usually, on two lane roads, there are very few rest areas, and when they are available they are too small for our rig to get in and out.  What a surprise to find this rest stop, which was quite large.  Turned out that it is part of the Clyde Holliday State Recreation area, and a campground lies next to the rest stop.  River's name is North Fork of the John Day River.
Just wanted to show more of the beautiful scenery.  Until we had arrived at the rest stop we had been traveling through the Umatilla National Forest.
It was exciting to go through a town after wandering in wilderness areas most of the day.  This is the town of John Day, population around two thousand.   Descendants of  gold miners now raise cattle or work in the logging industry here, according to our AAA tour book.  After the town we entered the Malheur National Forest.  It was in the news back in 2015 when there was an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  Coincidentally one of the men participating in that attempt was in the news today and got 2 and one-half years in prison for having a stolen machine gun.
Shortly after we left the town of  Day we saw a road sign indicating that ahead of us was a "burned watershed".  We were to watch out for fallen rocks or trees.  It encompassed a large area of burned out forests, The charred trees were close to the road, some had been cut down, but certainly not all.
Devine Canyon was the final picturesque area of the day for us, pictured above.  Beautiful gorge with towering rock formations on both sides of the road.  It struck me that people are usually heading to the more popular national parks and places like this are not on many people's radar.
Our stop for the night was in Burns Oregon, a one trailer park town.  We were lucky to get one of the few remaining spots to park our rig for the night.  Hopefully we will reach Reno tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Basque Museum and Cultural Center

John and I were curious about a Basque museum located here in Boise.  What we did know was that Basque Country is an autonomous community in northern Spain.  Many years ago the majority of the people were sheepherders.  Not surprising, then, that those migrating here at the turn of the century were looking for similar country to continue their sheep herding.
Pictured above are the hills surrounding Boise.  Not surprising, then, that the Basque came to Idaho, as well as other western states.  The first Basques came over in the late 1800s, some wanting to get in on the gold rush, others just stopping in places like Idaho and Nevada.   California presently has the most Basques..  Those who came over first built boarding houses which could accommodate 15 to 20 people.  These places were more than a place to sleep and eat, there were magnets for the Basque culture.  Next door to the museum is a boarding house built by Cyrus Jacobs in 1864.  It is the oldest surviving brick dwelling in Boise.  Several families lived here over the years and took in boarders until 1969 when the house was was purchased for the purpose of preserving it.  It is located on a block of other Basque buildings in Boise.  By the way, the oak tree is a sapling of the oak tree which stands near the medieval Bizkaian town of Gernika, a Basque country village.
 The museum is next door to the home.  We were fortunate to get in on the last tour of the day of the boarding house before touring the museum.  Our guide's father came over from the old country as a young man so she was able to give us a bit of a glimpse into the Basque culture and their way of life here at the turn of the century.  People who rented out rooms were like surrogate parents to their boarders.  They helped with medical issues, translating, and banking.  Most importantly they preserved the Basque culture.  After the evening meal the dining table was pushed against the wall and musicians climbed on the table with such instruments as the tambourine and accordion to provide an evening of dancing.  There were pictures taken of such happenings, which can be seen in the museum.  The archive of the museum contains a host of other materials as manuscripts, passports, obituaries, record albums- to name but a few of them.  There are also toys to folk art , dance costumes and saddles.  A wonderful museum!
In the boarding house the master of the house and his family had a couple of bedrooms downstairs.  There were three rooms upstairs similar to the one above.  Men shared beds with other men, the women did the same.  They wrapped themselves in a sheet and shared a common blanket.  Overflow of people were sent outside to the carriage house.  The carriage house is still on the property, a family lives in it presently.  Remnants of a bowling alley are next door to the house
The building pictured above is on the corner of the block which has the museum.  It was a hotel built in 1912.  The builder of the hotel, Juan Anduiza, had a regular size pelota court placed in the building so that the Basque could continue playing the game from the old country ( a game similar to handball).  The court remains in the building, but the rooms were turned into offices in 1948.
One last item here.  Earlier in this posting I mentioned the town of Gernika.  It was burned during the Spanish Civil War (1937).  Spain's ruler Francisco Franco ordered the bombing, but he insisted the town bombed themselves.  Pablo Picasso's painting Guernica (Basque name for Gernika) was his response to that tragedy and the pain it caused.   A copy of that painting is in the museum.  Today Gernika is a sister city to Boise.
In the Basque neighborhood is a cafe offering the food of the old country.  I had lamb stew with croquetas de pollo, John had a chorizo sandwich.  A good ending to our day!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

102nd Snake River Stampede

I have faint memories of going to rodeos in my childhood, the years I lived in Texas.  John has never seen a rodeo, so we decided to attend one when we read about a rodeo happening in Nampa, Idaho.  We went Friday evening, after a week of competitions had already been playing out at the rodeo.  Friday night was down to the wire; the best off this evening were going to compete in the final show on Saturday.  The prize money paid out this year came to $444,020.  The largest payoff is team roping with a total of $122,800 up for grabs for 172 men or 86 teams.
In team roping equal money is paid for heading and heeling.  To explain further, the header ropes the head of a steer, and the other team member ropes the heels.
Second highest paying event is barrel racing where 145 cowgirls were going after a total of $69,920 (entry fee is $296).   That's just a bit more than the steer wrestling where 114 bulldoggers were competing for $66,900.  The speed of the cowgirls around those barrels was impressive, I believe the best of what we saw was 16 seconds, to go around several barrels and back out of the arena. 
Whoops there goes a man flying off his horse in the bareback bronco riding.  In team roping each man puts up a $400.00 entry fee and for bareback bronco riding it is $250.  Your money flies out the window if you barely make it out of the chute!  Chutes are pictured below.

It was two hours of good entertainment.  Other events included steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping and bull riding.  There were clown acts as well as a lighted drill team called the Snake River Stampeders.  With the lights off in the arena cowgirls rode in the dark with lights on their clothing and horses.  Some of the team members have held Miss Rodeo Idaho titles.  The women have to try out every year to be part of this team.  And only in this particular rodeo can the awesome drill team be seen.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Idaho Botanical Garden

It was a bright, sunny and hot afternoon when we walked from the prison over to the gardens.  No shade to walk under anywhere.  Part of that walk was over the Outlaw Field.  Now that field is used for concerts,  back in the day it was used by the Outlaw prison team for baseball games.  The entrance to the garden did not look like much and we were at first hesitant to put out the money for the entrance fee.  The guard at the gate reassured us it would be worth our while.
Several days ago, at Twin Falls, I saw this beautiful flowering plant.  Has purple spikes on it with blue flowers on them.  Bees and butterflies love this bush.  No one could tell me its name.  Found the same plant at the gardens, and it had a label on it - blue flame sage.  What a beautiful name for such a  pretty flower!  Figured if nothing else I gained that from the garden.  However, the garden does have a lot more to offer.  It has English and Meditative Gardens.  As the prison and  gardens are surrounded by dessert, we were surprised to see such lush green areas
The sea holly bush in the English Garden, native to eastern Europe, is quite beautiful, fully in bloom now.
A section of the garden is devoted to the plants Lewis and Clarke found in their travels to the northwest, and are native to Idaho.  That was interesting.  Here I found the syringa bush, state flower of Idaho.  Unfortunately it is not in bloom now, so did not get a picture of it.  But I did get a picture of the creeping hummingbird trumpet flower which is fully in bloom now.
 In our travels we have discovered that many botanical gardens have their own unique features.  For the Idaho Botanical Garden it is their Firewise section of the garden.  If you live in this area the landscaping around your house should have three zones.  The first zone should be 0-30 feet plus from your house, and should have only firewise plants.  These plants have high moisture content, high soap or salt content, be low growing and non-resinous.   In zone 2 the plant density should be reduced, and have only the plants from zone 1.    That area should be 30 to 100 feet from the house.
Zone  2 is pictured above,  and pictured below are some of those plants, including the soapwort.  John did a bit of research and learned that the soap is in the bulb, a lather can be worked up with some rubbing.  Besides the soapwort, there are a variety of plants with that chemical in them.
Soapwort is the purple plant on the left side of the picture.  Next to it is the Arizona Sun Blanket which is non-resinous.  Both can be in zones one and two.  Zone three, 100-200 feet, from the house, can be most plants and trees, but they should be kept pruned and thinned out.
And finally, please note the hill off in the distance.  It has a cross on its top and at the base was a cemetery for the prison.  I walked near it, could see a few headstones- just did not last long out there because of the burning rays of the sun.

Old Idaho State Pennitentiary - Part Two

I did say I was going to be more upbeat in this posting, so how about a rose garden?   The prisoners worked on the grounds as well as a rose garden.  Notice the hills which surround the prison.
The seed company Jackson and Perkins first tested the Tropicana Rose here.  Through the years different small industries were tried to keep the men convicts from getting too bored.
During the 1930s the building pictured above was a shirt factory.  However, that was the Depression years and lawmakers believed that the common goods produced by convicts should not compete with those of "honest" citizens..  It later became a license plate factory.  During WW11 the prison inmates washed clothes for the local military bases.  The old laundry can still be seen on the tour.
Some of the older buildings in this prison are still standing, as the dining hall.  It was burned during a 1973 prison riot.  Riots happened over the years of this prison's existence.  A governor's committee cited that the heat, poor living conditions and staff problems caused a riot in 1971.  The hospital was burned down then.  Pictured below is what was left of the dining hall after it burned.
Over the years new buildings were always being built- to replace those burnt during riots or just because of overcrowding.  Pictured below is a cell block built in the 1950s.
We were allowed to tour this particular building.  It housed 320 inmates in 4 man cells.  Several cells were set up to look as they might have looked back in the day.  Home sweet home.
The Idaho Botanical Garden lies on a tract of land which use to belong to the prison.  From the prison we did not have to walk very far to get to it.  More on that garden in my next posting.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Old Idaho State Penitenitary

Not sure how I am going to bridge the gap between this posting and the previous one, except to say that back in the late 1800s there were few fool proof ways of convicting someone of a crime and human rights were not always considered.   In 1898 a Chinese gentleman, Yee Wee, was accused of murdering someone, and he denied doing the deed.  His translator said he gave an admission of guilt and Wee was sentenced to hang.  The Governor twice delayed his hanging.  In 1906 someone reviewed the court documents again and said there was no admission of guilt.  I am sure there is more to the story than that, but Wee was pardoned.
Pictured above is the prison, built in 1870 and home to a total of 13,000 convicts until 1973.  Women incarcerated here numbered 215. The jail could incarcerate a maximum of 603 people at a time.  A 10 year-old child spent one year here for murder, and a 11 year-old boy did three years for shooting his mom.  The most common crime by prisoners over the years was theft.
On entering the prison the convict was first processed in the warden's office.  Pictured above is the 1920s kodak view camera and a board to measure height.  In 1882 the Bertillon System was initiated, which included a front profile, as well as 11 body measurements.  Another method used by law enforcement was a sketch of the body with the location of all body markings.  Which brings me to the subject of tattoos.  In one of the prison buildings was a rather extensive display on the history of tattoos.  Captain James Cook's sailors return home with them after a visit to Tahiti.
  The word comes from a Tahitian word "tatau",  meaning to tap or strike.  For the sailors wearing them meant that they faced and met the challenges of the sea.  It was a symbol of an adventurous life.  Years later it was the military, gangs, and prisoners that usually wore them.  It gave them a sense of identity when that was taken away or restricted.  United States prison rules did not allow a person to get one after being incarcerated, but tattoo artists were active inside the Idaho prison.
There were many buildings to look at on our tour of the prison, and I was not sure what to show my readers next.  The above symbol of death (popular as a tattoo) brought me to the next subject and the picture above of the prison's hanging room.  The prisoner was hung from a noose on the ceiling, lever was pulled and he dropped through the door on the floor.  Ten hangings were done here, the last one in 1957.  Three cells (death row) was on this floor as well as a viewing room.
Might as well finish this on another depressive note.  Pictured above are the solitary cells, located in what prisoners referred to as "Siberia".  No windows in these cells, only a hole in the ceiling for ventilation.  But hey, it was better than what was first used, a 4x4 cage, like something an animal would be transported in.  On our tour we also saw a trapdoor which led down to a dungeon, in the 1890s that was solitary.   So the cells pictured above were possibly better.  Prisoners said that in those cells they froze in the winter and roasted in the summer.  Something close to hell.  Will conclude this prison story in my next posting.  I will work on making it a bit more upbeat!

Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial

After we had toured the capitol John and I walked for several blocks seeking to find a church founded in 1872, the First United Methodist, also known as the Cathedral of the Rockies.  We found the church, sadly the original church is no longer standing.  However. it has been replaced by a very beautiful Gothic structure with impressive stained glass windows.
A very friendly volunteer of the church explained the numerous large stained glass windows located around the sanctuary and after our tour encouraged us to visit the Anne Frank Memorial.  She explained that in the early 1980s white supremacists were settling in northern Idaho and promoting their cause.   Idahoans, led by Bill Wassmuth, saw a need to build coalitions to battle the Aryan Nations.  Shortly after that a traveling exhibit on Ann Frank came to Boise.  They were looking for a home for their exhibit and discovered that Boise was the most appropriate place.  We walked over to the memorial from the church.  It is located in a park- like area complete with fountains and plants.   At the entrance of the memorial there are large  marble tablets upon which are written universal human rights, stating that everyone has a right to social progress, freedom and better standards of life.
The centerpiece is a life-size bronze statue of  Anne Frank pulling back an imaginary curtain, one hand is behind her back and holding her diary.  If you follow the direction of her gaze, it seems that she is looking at a tree.  She mentions this tree in her diary.  A sapling from the actual chestnut tree in Amsterdam has been planted in this garden.
Behind the statue of Ann Frank is a space marked out showing the amount of cramped space she and her family had to live in for two years.  I believe it was a total of seven people.  Beyond that space is a steep staircase which, at the time, was hidden by a bookcase.

The large stone wall behind the bookcase is part of a series of walls reminiscent of Amsterdam.
On the stone bookcase are quotations from Ann's diary, as shown above.  Also in the memorial is an 180 foot quotation wall.  Here are statements from presidents to slaves.  People who survived the holocaust, as well as the Japanese who suffered interment here during World War 11, and Native Americans.  All have a common voice decrying the loss of human rights and dignity.
There should be a memorial of this kind in every city of our nation.   It left me feeling more stronger than ever that we should not let our government lead us down paths which build walls, restrict immigrants fleeing poverty and war, or deny health, food or education to its own people.

Friday, July 21, 2017

State Capitol of Idaho

As our readers may remember, John and I always enjoy touring state capitol buildings.  For one reason, it does give us a good local history lesson.  And we did learn a few interesting facts on our tour of the building.  Below is a front view of Idaho's capitol.  Idaho was created as a part of the Idaho territory in 1863 by President Lincoln.  It was signed into statehood by President Harrison in 1890, as the 43rd state of the United States.
The inside of the capitol is not as ornate as some of the other state capitols which we have toured.   We first noticed large, beautiful "marble" columns supporting the rotunda.  They are not solid marble but have a finished surface comprised of gypsum, glue, marble dust and granite dyed to look like marble.  This fake marble, called scagliola,  originated in Italy in the 16th century because real marble was expensive and heavy.  However, in the Idaho capitol marble still is extensively used.
On the fourth floor is a statue of George Washington on his horse.  It was carved from a single piece of pine by an Austrian immigrant in 1869, after which it was bronzed and presented to the Idaho territory.  Opposite that statue is a replica of Winged Victory of Samothrace.  Unfortunately we could only look at that statue through plastic sheeting- workman were doing repairs on the ceiling above it.  In 1942 France sent boxcars filled with gifts to the capital cities of America in appreciation for the food, medicine, fuel and clothing they sent to France during the war.  Idaho's boxcar included a replica of Winged Victory of  Samothrace.

Pictured above is the Great Seal of the State of Idaho.  Only state seal which was designed by a woman, who was Emma Green.  It was adopted by a state legislature in 1891.  The miner on the right represents the chief industry at the time the seal was created.  Opposite him is a lady representing justice, freedom and equality.  Behind her is a sprig of syringa, the state flower.
This state capitol has another distinction which sets it apart from other state capitols.  Hot water boils underneath the grounds and sidewalks.  It is the only one in the United States heated by geothermal water.  Boise sits atop a large, naturally occurring geothermal resource where water is pumped from three thousand feet underground.
Speaking of water, the Boise River runs through the city.   After touring the capitol we walked several blocks through the downtown area and caught this river scene at the Ann Frank Memorial.  More on that in my next posting.

Shoshone Falls

This is the continuing saga of our adventures in the city of  Twin Falls.  We received information on where to see the falls of the Snake River Canyon and continued 3miles from the Visitor's Center into the city.  Realizing that we had a steep drive into the canyon to see them, we detached our car from the rig.  It was well worth it to see the "Niagara of the West". 
Shoshone Falls plunges 212 feet into the lower Snake River, making it one of the tallest waterfalls in the United States.  It is comprised of a series of falls that include the following: Bridal Veil, Bride's Maid, and Bridal Falls on the lower left; Two Graces in the Center; Sentinel as the southern most-and largest- fall.  Ordinarily the falls, by this time of the year, are not as spectacular ( during the summer the water is diverted for irrigation).   It was because of a heavy snow melt this year we were able to see the usual beauty of the falls.
The falls are almost fully diverted for irrigation, goes down to a trickle and then the river is changed downstream of Milner Dam into one of the West's most powerful rivers.  The Twin Falls Canal Company as well as the North Side Company manage miles of canals, laterals, and irrigates a total 363 thousand acres.   All thanks to the Snake River Plains Aquifer, an underground natural reservoir about the size of Lake Erie.  This information we received at interpretive signs in the park.
While we were standing on the observation deck a large rainbow had formed at the bottom of the falls.  It was quite the spectacular sight!  We finally made it to Boise later that day.