Thursday, July 30, 2015

Our Lifestyle Adventures: Stopping in Idaho and Nevada, then Driving Home to Arizona

Idaho farms
It was hard to leave Montana, especially with its Big Sky and green mountains.  The road home would take us south pretty much through US 93. It ran along the banks of the Flathead Lake for miles in the beginning. The whole route we took is scenic, according to Rand McNally. Indeed, I was rewarded with many photo-ops. I noticed, however, that the mountains became browner as we reached Idaho. Even through the city of Missoula (population, 69,000), the hills started to get brown.

Then, gradually we went up to the Lemhi Mountain Range up to 6,000 feet in elevation from the town of Darby. Our stop for the night would be at the other side of the mountain covered by the Salmon National Forest. We stayed at the Stagecoach Inn in the small town of Salmon, Idaho (population, 3.027). After a leisurely dinner at the Shady Nook Restaurant, a hundred yards from the Inn, we walked off a few ounces along the fast-moving Salmon River behind the Inn, famous for white water rafting.
irrigating Idaho's hills and valleys
Stanley, Idaho
In the morning, we were off again driving southwest on US 93 towards Boise, Idaho. Fields turned greener, with those irrigating sprayers that kept the land moist. Then we passed the beautiful town of Stanley, one of Idaho’s popular resort towns. Two hours later, we reached Idaho City, population 485, once bigger than Portland, Oregon. It was the hub of Boise Basin and many flourishing gold mines during the Gold Rush in the Civil War, producing $1B worth of gold, the largest since the California Gold Rush.  

atop the hill at Boise Depot
cooking a giant paella in downtown Boise
And then we reached Boise (population, 205,000) where Bill’s son Jim, wife Ana and children Madeline, 11, and Ben,8, were eagerly waiting for us. The week had lots of meals in and out and games that challenged the minds of the young and old. We went to the Farmer’s Market and the Boise train depot atop a hill where there were fish ponds and a small rock for climbing. But, after five nights, we were again on the go, already anticipating the much-needed rest in Phoenix, Arizona. 

the hills of Nevada
Joshua trees began to dot the countryside
The remainder of the driving could all be done in sixteen hours. But, instead of two eight-hour days, we decided to make it a more leisurely three-day drive of six hours each. Bill had not been in tip-top shape since the hectic days in Manila where he may have caught a sinus infection. The hills had become rockier (though I was happy to see golden rocks!) and the lakes shallower as we drove the Nevada part of US 93. And the Joshua tree started to make its appearance right before we reached the city of Las Vegas.
the Charcoal Ovens near Ely, Nevada
Our first stop, however, was at another small town on US 93, Ely, Nevada (population, 4,202). To our surprise, the town is the home of the Ward Chocolate Ovens State Historic Park. Six large ovens (30 feet high, 27 feet in diameter with walls 2 feet thick at the base) beehive-shaped, were built in 1876. Each one held about 35 cords of wood, each 4 feet high, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long and produced 1,750 bushels of charcoal for two silver smelters in the mining town of Ward. 
a dinner buffet at Fremont Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas
the Fremont Street Experience
US 93 S then brought us to Las Vegas, Nevada, our last stop before reaching home. Our 16 hours in Vegas consisted first of a couple of hours for a steak dinner buffet at the Fremont Hotel and Casino where we stayed. It is right on Fremont Street where the night offers even much better, easy to take fun than the Strip, I think. For about an hour, I had my photo taken with a Minion and Bill and I had a few of us to showcasethe unique ambiance of the Fremont Street Experience. Then, of course, I made it a point to exercise my index/pointer finger at the Penny Lane slot machines, while Bill had a few drinks at the bar. I had to quit at about 10 pm after a couple of hours, though, after a long streak of bad luck, losing all of $4!


After a lazy morning, we were on the road again at 8 am, really anxious to reach our “home” and start our vegging and chillaxing after the hectic launches in Seattle and Manila.  We also didn’t do ourselves a favor by taking on an equally hectic road trip after getting back to the US) even couple-friends, my family in Calgary and Bill’s family in Boise! At 3 pm, July 23, we finally got home for our six weeks of rest before we go on the road again on September 12!