Idaho feels like a cousin of the Midwestern states who lives 1800 miles away. Like it shares the same facial features, but maybe has a different hair color and body build. Driving across the state, I concluded it has a Midwest vibe, but diverse landscapes. There are many similarities like rural small towns, farmland, and friendly folks. However, Idaho also has volcanic rock formations, mountains, deserts, canyons, and huge forests. So just as you are feeling at home surrounded by flatlands and cattle, suddenly you do a double take and see mountains in the distance. It confuses your brain for a sec.
I happily took some tourist bait and made us stop at the Idaho Potato Museum. Matt was less than enthusiastic to go inside. He said if the admission was more than $10 a person, he was going to wait in the car while I toured it. Well admission was only $5/person and guess who became enthralled by the potato harvesting equipment and factory videos?! I basically had to drag my engineering husband out of the museum when it was time to leave. I can’t blame him though the process of harvesting potatoes is pretty fascinating. Now armed with our potato insider information, we basically felt like Idaho locals. The rest of the time we drove through Idaho, we could see and appreciate the farmers harvesting the potatoes.
Like I said earlier, Idaho is a land of diverse landscapes. The most interesting probably being Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. It draws about 200,000 visitors each year. Matt and I stayed at the campground inside the preserve. The rock formations, caves, and lava fields were strange and fascinating. Some pioneers made the historic decision to travel along Goodale’s Cutoff which took them through part of this land. Imagine being a pioneer riding in a wooden wagon over these volcanic rocks?! What a nightmare.
We did a day trip to Salmon-Challis National Forest where we visited Sun Valley and even the ghost town of Custer. We also got to see the now retired Yankee Fork Gold Dredge which was used to extract gold from the Yankee Fork river. It was a real eye sore and pretty much destroyed the river’s habitat, but, you know, gold ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The good news is that there is a current government project working to restore the river to its former glory days.
Eventually, we made it to Boise, Idaho. Matt and I stayed a week exploring the area. We adopted an outdoor pet and named him Greg. He’s a praying mantis. He hitched hiked on our RV from Craters of the Moon. I discovered him while unpacking in Boise, ID. I put him on the tree next to our RV where he stayed for multiple days. He’s been a delight. Who saved who really?
We attended a football tailgate at Boise State University – Go Broncos! We went to the Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. We visited the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial which was beautiful and moving. We ate Idaho fries and sampled multiple fry dipping sauces – surprisingly blueberry ketchup is actually pretty good. We also treated ourselves to some fancy meals! Boise was an awesome city. I highly recommend checking it out yourself.
After saying goodbye to our pet Greg (he wanted to stay in Idaho), we left the potato state and headed to Washington.