Carolina: Cruising Past 70: TRAVEL AWAITS: 8 Surprising Stops from Wyoming To Washington

Friday, December 3, 2021

TRAVEL AWAITS: 8 Surprising Stops from Wyoming To Washington

    


                                The complete article was published in Travel Awaits

I wrote about ten scenic stops we enjoyed in Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado from my sister-in-law’s home to that of my husband’s daughter. Here, are eight other stops we found as we continued westward to his son's in Boise, Idaho, and my daughter's in Seattle.

1. Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming


This little-known national park may be the least visitednot even 20,000 annual visitorslocated 15 miles west of Kemmerer, Wyoming. It's not generally known that it is actually the world’s best collection of fossils from the Eocene Epoch (56 to 34 million years ago), the warm period that produced the very first animals. The Visitor Center alone has over 80 samples, each one incredibly intact, not pieces that need to be assembled. "There are whole fish, crocodiles, turtles, palm fronds, and more from the epoch. In fact, there are trails that will lead you to fossils still intact on the ground, plus some that are still in the process of being excavated."

2. JCPenney Mother Store, Wyoming


On the way back to our campground. we chanced upon the JCPenney Mother Store and Museum. "On a corner of the main street of the small town of Kemmerer, Wyoming, which has a population of under 3,000, it was the first outlet of the department store giant — which today has about 600 stores in 49 states and Puerto Rico — built there in 1902." The tiny home of James Cash Penney, the founder, is just down the road.

3. Lava Hot Springs, Idaho

This is a small town only two hours from Kemmerer on I-30, population  less than 500. Because of its numerous hot springs that are quite good for bathing and the mildly turbulent river running through part of the town that is perfect for tubing, Lava Springs is a popular weekend resort in Idaho and Utah.

4. Boise, Idaho


It was only four hours from Lava Springs to Boise on I-86. It is the largest city and the capital of the state with a population of over 200,000. "My husband’s son is married to a member of Boise’s Basque community. Numbering about 15,000, it is the second-largest such community in the U.S. after Bakersfield, California. It is also the fifth-largest in the world behind Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and the original Basque Country in Spain and France. Downtown Boise features a vibrant section known as the Basque Block where we got the chance to stir the paella cooking in pans of four feet in diameter."

5. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

We usually go through the Yakima Valley to get to Seattle from Boise. But during this trip, we continued west through Oregon to pass by a national monument we were curious to see. It took us four hours from Boise on I-26 to reach the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, composed of three geographically separate units:

At the Sheep Rock Unit is near the town of Kimberly, Oregon, and is composed of the James Cant Ranch Historic District, the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, Cathedral Rock, and both the park headquarters and visitor center. "It is home to fossilized plants and mammals that lived there between the late Eocene, about 45 million years ago, and the late Miocene, about 5 million years ago, later than those found around Fossil Butte National Monument."


The Painted Hills Unit is halfway between the other two units, nine miles northwest of the town of Mitchell, Oregon. The hills are artworks of nature. They looked so fragile and I was afraid they might soon disappear. We enjoyed them so much because we could get up close to them. Besides, there was hardly a soul around. Wondering why this unit was not more famous. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to visit Clarno.

6. Bruce and Brandon Lee Gravesite, Washington


After a night in Mitchell, Oregon, we reached Seattle in another er six hours on I-90. But first, we visited Bruce Lee’s gravesite in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. After all, it has become a national and global pilgrimage site. Halfway up a hill in Lake View Cemetery,  his space is distinctly marked by evergreen shrubs, the final resting place of the legendary Chinese American martial artist and film star and his son, Brandon, lies.


7. The Gum Wall, Washington

From there, we went to Pike Place Market because right under it, in Post Alley, is the Gum Wall. It is "made of brick but is covered in, yes, used chewing gum. In fact, parts of the wall are covered several inches thick, 15 feet high, for about 50 feet. The tradition began around 1993 when patrons of the Market Theater Box Office nearby stuck gum to the wall. Theater workers diligently scraped the gum away twice but eventually gave up around 1999 when they kept coming back." 

8. The Fremont Troll

The last of our short visits was the colossal statue called the Fremont Troll. It can be found under the north end of the George Washington Memorial Bridge in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. "The troll is clutching an actual Volkswagen Beetle as if it has just swiped it from the roadway above...In fact, his right eye is a hubcap. Prior to the Troll, the area was becoming a dumping ground and a haven for drug dealers. In 1990, the Fremont Arts Council launched an art competition to rehabilitate it. Four local sculptors, who borrowed the idea from the Norwegian fairy tale Three Billy Goats Gruff, won!"


We continue to change our routes so we may discover more of these remarkable landmarks.

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46 comments:

  1. Plenty of surprises on this road trip from Wyoming to Washington!

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  2. Some great stops! Very enjoyable visits.

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  3. My favorite was the Fremont troll!

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  4. Sounds like quite the road trip with some interesting stops along the way. Gum wall? Maybe not but the lava springs in Idaho sounds great!

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  5. I guess the gum wall is popular with tourists, but especially in a time of covid it strikes me as a horror show. Loved your 'finds' along the way.

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  6. How fun! You have certainly made me want to visit some of these spots, such as where Bruce Lee and his son are buried in Washington.

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  7. Lava Hot Springs, Idaho sounds like a great weekend destination to relax and take a river float and the JCPenney Mother Store and Museum sounds like a great place to take a driving break and stretch your legs. I would never expect to come across a huge pan of paella cooking in downtown Boise!

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    1. The Basque population is big there...2nd largest in the country!

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  8. A wonderful post on different landmarks like the JC Penney mother store started way back in 1906. The information about the Basque community in Idaho was interesting and the resting place of legendary Bruce Lee and the gym wall in Seattle is something bI would love to see. The Fremont troll is brilliant artwork and the imagination behind it clutching the Volkswagen beetle is awesome.

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  9. That's a huge pan of paella. Lots of fun stops along this road trip.

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  10. We also like taking different routes even though it would end up longer hours. As long as we can see new places that are mostly underrated. Just like Fossil Butte NM and JCPenney Mother Store.

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  11. I would love exploring Western US. there are so many things to see. But I'm with you. I love to explore everything especially off the beaten path areas, so I would need an extended amount of time to do this trip.

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  12. I am so fascinated withh these natural formations. I have seen some fossils in the desert in India, but a full park sounds so exciting. The colours of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument look so stunning. The chewing gum wall is not my kind of thing, but the lava springs sure are.

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    1. You love nature more. You will love all the national parks in the US!

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  13. My mom is a huge fan of Bruce Lee and I think she would love to visit his grave site. I had no idea it's actually in Washington. Thank you for sharing this.

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  14. I like your travel style, Carol. You take time to enjoy what you see and don't rush from one site to another. I haven't seen any of the places that you visited on this trip, but I'd love to see some of them. The Lava Hot Springs in Idaho looks like my kind of place. If my husband retires, maybe we'll start taking longer road trips, like you do.

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    1. Oh yes, when we retired...that's when all these road trips started to happen!

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  15. Such great stops on the way from Wyoming to Washington. I would love to visit Fossil Butte National Monument and Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. I love soaking in hot springs! Sheep Rock, Painted Hills, and Clarno in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument look fantastic!

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  16. What a great trip! We will definitely add the Lava Hot Springs to our next road trip itinerary!

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  17. Looks like you all had a great time! I have never visited any of these locations before, but they all look like a blast with tons to see! I would want to make a stop for the paella!

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  18. It must be great to leisurly explore the area between Wyoming and Washington. Lava Hot Springs Idaho looks so relaxing! I saw the yellow tubes on your facebook and was wandering what you should do with them.....

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  19. With these stops, it's not hard to believe that there are so many breathtaking locations from Wyoming to Washington. It's nice when you don't have an idea how so many great areas are there along the route. You get surprised and then inspired! I'm interested in the Lava Hot Springs!

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  20. I'm totally with you that, when you have the luxury of time, as you do, it's more rewarding to take the slow route and discover lots of interesting stops along the way. I had no idea Idaho has hot springs like this, so that's now on my To Do list!

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  21. A lovely road trip that I would love to do as well sometime. The Lava Hot Springs in Idaho looks like a nice spot to be in. Every spot for that matter is interesting.

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  22. Wow that Fremont Troll is incredible! No wonder there was a line-up for a photo-op. What a wonderful series of stops!

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  23. There are some great stops on here. I would love to check out the fossil sites with my budding paleontologist! Have to agree that the gum wall is probably not for me, but 100% jumping into some hot springs.

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  24. I have only been to Fossil Butte, John Day Fossil Beds and, of course Boise, and I liked them a lot. And I found that Craters of the Moon is a worthwhile stop on a short detour, too.
    Did you drive through Yakima or Portland on your way to Seattle? If you go through Yakima, then you can also visit Leavenworth, WA - a beautiful Swiss look-alike town.

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  25. Yes, we have been to the Craters of the Moon on another trip. The same with Leavenworth! All magical places.

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