Oregon Trail

I visited the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center yesterday.  It was very interesting.  It  was well done and had a lot of good information.  The center is located by the Oregon Trail and you can still see the ruts from wagons that traveled the trail.

 

Exhibits at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.
Exhibits at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. The Oregon Trail can be seen in the background to the right of the blue wagon.

We went into town in the afternoon and sat outside at a pub.  I talked Regis into ordering the Death Burger because it had two patties.  Dart got the second patty.  Everyone was content with full bellies and great drinks.  It was toasty out and the guy told us that the tap house across the street allows dogs inside.  If I can talk Regis into going again today, we can sit in the air conditioning!

Where is Dart below?  Since he is not at a National Park or National Monument I will give you a hint that he is on the Oregon/Idaho border.

 

Where's Dart (5)?
Where’s Dart (5)?

We saw these ponies on the side of the road in Oregon.

 

Roadside ponies in northeastern Oregon.
Roadside ponies in northeastern Oregon.

While Regis was driving today, he pulled over to let someone pass him.  When he did, I noticed a deer next to the river on the other side of the road.  I ran over to take a picture and saw that a fawn was climbing out of the water behind its mother.   I took a couple pictures and then left quickly because the mother saw me and was concerned.   I didn’t want to cause her or the fawn any more stress.

Baby mule deer in northeastern Oregon
Baby mule deer in northeastern Oregon. (As shot with telephoto lens)

When I got back to the car, a guy on a bicycle pulled up.  He wanted to know if we had any extra water.  It was very warm outside.  Fortunate for him, we had one bottle of water left.  He thanked us and told us he was in a bicycle race and had left from Astoria, Oregon on his way to Yorktown, Virginia.   (We looked it up and he’s in the Trans Am race.) That’s a long way. We saw a lot of cyclists in Idaho and again here in Oregon.  They are cycling in the mountains.  My plan would be to have someone drop me and my bicycle off at the top of the mountain and then coast to the bottom to get picked up!

Birds of Prey

Today we went to the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.  Over 800 pairs of raptors nest in the area in spring and early summer.  It was set aside as a conservation area because of the high density of birds of prey nesting there.  We saw several immature hawks on electric poles.  We probably saw about 7 of them with one hawk to a pole.  There are very few trees in the area, so it is probably the best place to perch while waiting for mom and dad to provide lunch.

 

Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area

We saw numerous Raven nests on electric poles.  The young are very large in the nests, so they are probably going to fledge soon.

I saw some birds of prey over the cliffs by the Snake River, but I was not able to identify them.  I don’t do well identifying birds of prey.

Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area

Since we were there in the heat of mid-day, there was not much bird activity.  We saw lots of Piute Ground Squirrels.  I suspect they are a major menu item for the birds of prey.  Apparently, the birds are attracted to nesting along the Snake River because they use the cliffs for nest sites and there is abundant prey in the desert.

I didn’t realize until our visit that in the past, there was a little mishap between the Snake River and a volcano.  The volcano spewed its guts and filled up the Snake River canyon.  The Snake River had to find a new path and significantly altered its course.  I learn so much by visiting all these areas!

We headed into Oregon and set up camp.  I immediately went to wash some clothes and while sitting outside waiting for the clothes to wash and dry, I was entertained by a Robin(s).  There was a small sprinkler set up in the grass and it may have contributed to the Robin’s success in obtaining worms.  I never realized how much trouble a Robin can have pulling a reluctant worm out of the ground.  I also didn’t realize they break the worm up in pieces before carrying off to its nestlings as many pieces as will fit in its beak.

Robin getting a worm.
Robin getting a worm. (As shot)

We went out to scope the town after dinner.  Upon our return, we saw several people looking up into a big tree in the campground with binoculars and cameras.  Of course, we joined them and were rewarded with the sighting of a barn owl.

Barn Owl
Barn Owl (As shot)

Water

Yesterday, we left Nevada and arrived in Idaho.  After setting up camp we went to the Snake River and took in the scenery.  I didn’t realize how much I missed seeing water until we got to Shoshone Falls at the Snake River.  Although the surrounding area is high desert, the water was a pleasure to see.  There is a lot of irrigation in this area, so there are crops and grass.  This is the first time we have had grass in our campsite for awhile.

 

Shoshone Falls on the Snake River.
Shoshone Falls on the Snake River. This is a moderate flow of water.

We saw this beautiful golf course by the river and I wanted to play!  I also wanted to paddle board.  The river looks lazy enough for my skill level to paddle board.

 

Snake River by Shoshoni Falls.
Snake River. Do you see the beautiful golf course? I’d really like to play it!!

 

Perrine Bridge over Snake River.
Perrine Bridge over Snake River with a clearance of 486 feet below. Those dots in the river are people paddle boarding or kayaking. This may be one of the only man-made structures in the US where base jumping is allowed year round without a permit.

But, instead of paddle boarding today (which I seriously considered), we went to the Sawtooth Recreation Area instead.  On the way to the area, we had to cross the Snake River over the Perrine Bridge and saw these guys jumping off the bridge.  Another thing that looked like fun!

 

Guy getting ready to jump off the Perrine Bridge.
Guy getting ready to jump off the Perrine Bridge.
Guy successfully landing on his feet after jumping off the Perrine Bridge.
Guy successfully landing on his feet after jumping off the Perrine Bridge.

 

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is nestled up next to the Sawtooth Wilderness.  We wanted to scope the area for a possible future trip.  We fell in love and we are putting it toward the top of the list for a longer stay on a return trip.  There is a lot to do there and lots of camping possibilities.  We found several lakes that looked very inviting for paddle boarding.

 

Sawtooth Wilderness on the left, Sawtooth National Recreation Area in the valley and on the right.
Sawtooth Wilderness on the left, Sawtooth National Recreation Area in the valley and on the right. The Salmon River begins a little to the left in this picture. (Also called the River of No Return).
Sawtooth Wilderness Sign
Sawtooth Wilderness Sign

 

Pettit Lake in Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
Pettit Lake in Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

We went on a walk and the scenery was stunning.  Dart was in heaven.  He hasn’t been thrilled on our walks lately, so I have been worried that something might be wrong with him.  I know he isn’t crazy about the heat, but he was happy to go on all those hikes last year when we ventured across the northern states.  It was around 72 degrees today and there was no shade on the hike.  That isn’t significantly different than one of the hikes we took in New Mexico, but today he was happy.  We were able to let him off the leash (which is permitted in some areas) and he was extremely joyful.  At one point, his tongue was nearly hanging to the ground but he was clearly still happy.  I don’t know whether he liked being off the leash or liked the northern environment.  The sun is not as direct overhead, which could make a difference.  I am no longer worried about him.  He is healthy and fine.  I guess he prefers to be in northern states, so transplanting him to Florida for his home base probably doesn’t sit well with him.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area and where we hiked with Dart.
Sawtooth National Recreation Area and where we hiked with Dart.

On the way back, we stopped in Ketchum at a brew pub and sat outside to eat and have a beer.  I got a double burger and gave Dart one of my hamburger patties.  The weather was perfect and the view was amazing.  The food and drink were pretty good.  What’s not to like about that?

 

Ely

The other night, we went out into the middle of the basin where there are almost no lights in order to look at the sky.  It was amazing.

Yesterday, we spent time exploring Ely (pronounced E-lee), Nevada.  We started off with some great coffee drinks from the Flower Basket Espresso Depot.  Then, we briefly visited the Nevada Northern Railway National Historic Landmark.  This is a great location for railroad buffs.  It is an operating historic railroad.  It is a 56 acre site with over 70 original buildings and structures.  There are a variety of steam and diesel train rides available.  The steam rides are only available on certain days, so we may have to come back this way later this summer because Regis wants to take a steam ride.  There is also an option to ride with the engineer in the locomotive’s cab.

Nevada Northern Railway National Historic Landmark
Nevada Northern Railway National Historic Landmark

 

We walked through the downtown area of Ely.  There are a variety of murals painted on buildings and I’m showing a few favorites here.  There are lots more to see.

 

Mural in Ely, Nevada.
Mural in Ely, Nevada.
Mural in Ely, Nevada.
Mural in Ely, Nevada.
Wood painted like a door in Ely, Nevada.
Wood painted like a door in Ely, Nevada.

We saw some interesting thrift stores with some unusual antiques.  We know that there is more to do and other art and historical locations.  After all, this was once an important stop on the loneliest road in America.  That would be Route 50.  Route 50 originally ran from Sacramento, California to Ocean City, Maryland.  I did not realize the history of this road when I grew up in a town next to it in Maryland.  Along the Route 50 stretch in Nevada, towns are few and far between.

Thrift Store in Ely, Nevada. Note the hours vary, it is the loneliest thrift store in America, and it has cool junk.
Thrift Store in Ely, Nevada. Note the hours vary, it is the loneliest thrift store in America, and it has cool junk.

It is amazing how prevalent aliens are in the American Southwest!

Picture of aliens on the second floor of a building in Ely, Nevada.
Those are all aliens on the second floor looking out the windows.

We stayed in the Ely KOA while here.  It is a great location.  The campground is very nice and well maintained.  There are ATV trails accessible directly from the campground.  Amazingly, it is open all winter.   When we are back this way, we will definitely stay here again.

Great Basin National Park

And a cool park it is.  Great Basin National Park is probably considered to be in the middle of nowhere and that adds to its appeal.  It is a beautiful park with stunning vistas, caves, bristlecone pines, and great night skies.

Dart at the entrance to Great Basin National Park.
Dart at the entrance to Great Basin National Park.

There are two great hikes I would like to do in the future.  There is a nice hike to the summit of Wheeler Peak that is appealing (except trying to get oxygen at this elevation may be a struggle for me) because the view is likely awesome.  There is not much pollution here, so you can see a long, long way (reportedly on an average day one can see more than a 100 miles).  I would also like to do the hike to the Bristlecone Cove.  Some of the Bristlecone Pines are nearly 5,000 years old.  That is astonishing.

Flowers at Great Basin National Park.
Flowers at Great Basin National Park.
Scenery at Great Basin National Park.
Scenery at Great Basin National Park.
Scenic view from Great Basin National Park.
Scenic view from Great Basin National Park.
Great Basin National Park.
Wheeler Peak at Great Basin National Park.

There are also some caves here with unique features.  I will add that to a future visit.  We are willing to leave Dart in the motor home for several hours if we are close by, but we are too far away to do a cave tour and will not leave him in the car.  No problem!  We will add to the “to do” list.  There is lots we can do with him.

Additionally, the night skies here are reportedly amazing.  Enough so, that they are building an observatory in the Park.  This will be the first observatory in a National Park.

 

Nevada Fence Art

We are in Nevada in the basin and range country.  It is beautiful.  It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out where Dart is.

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Where’s Dart?

On the way to the park today, we had the option of going a direct route on a dirt road over the mountain or on a paved road around it.  Regis got to decide.  I would have bet my whole life’s savings on his response.  He chose the direct route.  He said if we were going to take the other route, we could have got a Smart Car instead of a Jeep.

We disturbed a small herd of elk who thought they had the mountain to themselves.  It was an interesting ride.  We didn’t see anyone along the way.

On the way back from the park, we had the opportunity enjoy some Nevada fence art.  Here are a few favorites.  Notice we had another alien encounter!  He didn’t have good wifi access either, But he did have a coffee maker and a kick ass boom box!

 

 

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Nevada art. This one is my favorite.
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Another alien!!!!

 

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Nevada art. What can I say?
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Nevada art. That appears to be the skull of a cow inside this old car.

Not far from our campground, we went to visit some ovens that were used to make charcoal in the mining days.  We had lunch there and went on a short hike.

 

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Ward Charcoal Ovens Nevada State Historic Park
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View from Ward Charcoal Ovens Nevada State Historic Park

On the way back, we saw this Pronghorn.  She appeared to be alone, so I wonder if she had a little one tucked away somewhere.  When looking at this picture, I realized she has very skinny legs.

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Pronghorn in Nevada