We left Jackson this morning, driving in the opposite direction from the parks and towards the border with Idaho. Our route took us through the Snake River valley, which was green and rather softer than we expected.
Needless to say, I was a bit slow to snap the town sign in Afton, WY but as soon as I spotted it was made of elk antlers, i just had to have a photo and find out more
Clearly I was not on the ball with my camera today, because I missed the Idaho sign too. Not that I needed any reminder of where we are with such a collection of travel resources by my side!
Our first stop was in Montpelier, where we would rejoin the Oregon Trail. We’d left the pioneer route behind in Lander a couple of days ago when we took a detour to the National Parks. Now, here we were, back on the route again.
At the entrance to the town there was a life sized representation of a wagon and the people steadying it down the hill, for those arriving at this place had just come down one of the steepest descents on the route.
The National Oregon/California Trail Centre was right there and was the first place on our list for the day. We were looking forward to a simulated journey in a wagon, highly recommended in our guide book.
Once inside, we were introduced to our Wagon Master, Bob, who was going to ensure our safety throughout our “journey”. First of all, we assembled in the Mercantile in Independence, Missouri - which we well remembered from our travels last year. Bob explained how we might choose our “critters” and led us through the stores to select the essentials for the trip.
We began with 2 or 3 gallons of liniment, for the sore muscles which would surely soon occur. Next, a bottle of laudanum, obtained from the Chinese and to be used in emergency only because of the addictive properties. A couple of bottles of whisky would be useful - for external use only, of course, as an antiseptic and though two or three pounds of baking powder might seem useful, there would likely be little opportunity to bake. Most importantly was the 50 or 60lbs of salt, for preserving the meat that we might obtain along the way.
Having settled our accounts, we climbed on board the wagon and rode the first 1100 miles in a simulated journey, rocking and rolling in this “vehicle” with metal wheels and no suspension!
When we “arrived”, the front curtain opened and we were in the campground in Montpelier - then known as Clover Creek. Maddie was here to meet us and to explain what was what - though it was evening and the light was definitely not good for photos. We settled ourselves on tree stumps and listened to Maddie’s stories of the trail, once again marvelling at the tenacity of these people.
Having arrived safely, the doors opened and we were back in the present. We thanked Bob and Maddie for a fantastic experience and took a quick look at the quilt exhibition upstairs. Good timing!
Smiling at the “Famous Potatoes” number plate on the adjacent car, we did a quick “wooohooo”, because an hour or so earlier, we’d become “49 ers” - putting foot to earth in Idaho, we scored our 49th state!
The landscape here is way more fertile and greener than much of Wyoming, but the feature we noticed more than anything were the clouds. In the clear blue sky, they formed the most striking shapes!
We stopped a couple of times to take a closer look at historical markers, but the birds who had perched on them and left deposits behind made the photos unsuitable to post!
When I went to climb back into the car, I found a stowaway on the windowsill. Hmmm. (He hopped off shortly after I took his photo)
Our next stop was Soda Springs, where the pioneers had come across a carbonated spring, which had caused much curiosity and some excitement.
I immediately spotted Narcissa Whitman’s name from reading about her last year. She was the young woman who was distressed to say goodbye to her little suitcase, the last remaining treasure from home.
As we drove to the spring, another cloud appeared!
Hooper Spring was our first stop in the town and we were surprised to find something so structured.
Under the little wooden canopy was a small pool with fizzing, bubbling water. Signs advised that the water was for drinking and there was to be no swimming!
Yes, we filled a bottle and had a taste - a bit metallic for our palates however!
When we saw the deposit left by the spring in town, perhaps it was as well we didn’t drink too much! We just missed the two o’clock show in Geyser Park so hung around and waited for the next one at 3.
The geyser is “switched on” every hour, on the hour and sure enough, at 3pm on the dot, it erupted.
Just as I remarked that it was no Old Faithful, it went a bit higher. And a bit higher still.
At its highest, it was some 100ft high and was quite some spectacle. I was glad we’d waited to see it!
Now, though, we were ready to be heading for our overnight location in Pocatello, ID. It was a fairly straightforward drive, including the first JoAnns of the trip (rural road trips don’t offer many shopping opportunites!) and after dinner, we sampled a local delicacy.
Chocolate covered marshmallow, with coconut topping…sadly not likely to become our new favourite. For today, at least, that has to be an Idaho cloud.
If ever there was a cute cloud, I think I found it!