Monday, July 30, 2012

The trip to North Fork, Idaho

The trip on Hwy 12 from Lewiston, ID to Lolo, MT is a very scenic drive at an easy pace. For over 130 miles, I can count on one hand how many vehicles past our big rig.

          First we followed the Clearwater river for many miles until it disappeared. When the Clearwater left our sights another river replaced it...The Locsha. The Lochsa river, combined with the Selway river to the south, makes the Clearwater river the Snake's largest (by volume) tributary.

The Clearwater was named for just the reason you'd think.

There are limited places to pull over unfortunately.

This is the other place to pull off. Lunch stop is always great when your wife makes delicous sandwiches. (beer's not bad either)

The Lochsa river had better rapids than the Clearwater but there was a 15 mile piece of the road that was under repair and with loose gravel.

Darby, Montana is a cool little community. Nice downtown area, good parks and beautiful old municipal buildings.

I had never been in a tannery but found it intriguing. Although I couldn't get much info from the owner, his mountings and furs were outstanding...don't tell PETA.

The south-side of Darby is just as cute as the north-end. Heads up people, I found out while looking for a fresh muffin that there is no bakery in town...could be opportunity knocking here!

Well, we are back in Idaho for at least a month.

Because I mistakenly turned down a dirt road, and hence was unable to turn around for miles, I really trashed the motorhome with a 1/4 inch layer of dust. With an unhappy wife the very first thing I had to do was wash down the unit.

Not a bad front "picture window", eh? This is the Salmon river and 50 feet from us the North Fork of the Salmon enters the main river.

The water is very refreshing...but Donna is scaring the fish away.

Some of the Hwy 12 Idaho animals

While driving on and near Hwy 12 that goes from Livingston Idaho to Lolo, Montana we saw some of the regular creatures and an occasional rare one.

        Hawks and other birds of prey are of special interest to Donna and I...especially the abundant "red-tails".

Beautiful plumage underneath.

The happy couple sitting in a tree. In less than 5 miles we came upon no fewer than 20 hawks. Most were red-tails but some red-shouldered, coopers or ferruginous hawks. could you? Yeah I'm a closet treehugger but a realist at the same time. I understand our need for meat, but being in central Idaho for a month will be a test for me. Central Idaho is ground zero for killing wolves which I am very much against.

These domesticated animals startled us when we parked down a dirt road  to let the dogs out. We were startled by rustling of leaves and breaking of branches, then the sounds of Swiss bells that hung around their necks greeted us.

The rare encounter for us was this badger...for some reason I thought he was young. He was waddling on the side of the road than posed for me before drifting back into the forest.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Livingston, Idaho

          We left Irrigon, Oregon by way of Tri-Cities, Washington to Livingston, Idaho. Hwy 12 from Walla Walla is so beautiful with many square miles of wheat fields.

The long and lonely...dirt road. I love it!

Ran into this heliport for fire fighting in the middle of nowhere.

Our horrible spot on the Snake River. :-)

The morning view out the front windshield.

This is the kind of boat that if your best buddy wants to go fishing with have a legitimate reason to say, "sorry only room for one"!

We went through Joseph, Idaho just in time to participate in "Chief Joseph Days

I guess if I had a log house or cabin, so should my mailbox.

Hells Canyon Overlook was a let down. 37 miles of a second tier road with the expectation of seeing "Hells Canyons" but all you see is rolling canyon, no cliffs and no river from there. We did see some great country on our 300 mile loop.

Brownlee Dam might be unimpressive to most but this is the tallest embankment dam I have ever seen at...420 feet.

The turbines create more than 580 megawatts but at what cost to the salmon and stealhead.

All along the Brownlee Reservoir were wild cherry trees. We picked a bunch but their meat was less and more tart than commercial crops.

These sandy beaches usually only occurs when a river is allowed to run its normal course, which means occasional flooding.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Irrigon Farming

This being our last week here before we move on meant I could drive around the area by myself looking for things to see or learn about.

Here is a potato harvester. This machine digs down into the sandy loam more than a foot to unearth the vegetable and strips off the green leafy part of the plant while sending the bulb onto a conveyor belt.

Here at the back, the dirt and leafy material are expelled. 

From the conveyor belt, the potatoes are quickly inspected by a worker as they fill the truck.

 While driving around to different farms I ran into an onion farmer who explained how the sandy loam is very good for potatoes and onions but it tends to blow away in the gorge winds. They plant wheat grass between the rows after harvesting to help keep the soil on the farm.

One of my favorite vegetables is the onion. While my wife is not a fan, I could eat raw onions every day... but then if I did I would probably have had a short marriage.

     A drive around the tree farm in mid-afternoon gave me some very good light for photography. It's said there are deer and elk in abundance at the 18,500 acre tree farm.

It also revealed a lumber mill in the middle of the farm.

The bark has been stripped of the poplar and here a timber loader is setting the logs on to a size separator. 

The finished product is sitting on the docks waiting for trucks or a train to move the wood.

All this is made possible with good soil but more importantly the water from the Columbia River.

While my John Deere 755 may not be a piece of equipment that you'd find on a "real" farm, it's as close as I'll probably ever get...:-)

Last look at our lovely spot on the Columbia River...we will miss it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A couple days in Pendleton, OR.

During the 49 mile drive on Hwy 84 from Irrigon to Pendleton we passed this Pendleton Grain Growers storage building. You see a lot of the grain storage buildings because it's mostly wheat grown here.

This is a cool, old wooden building right in the middle of Pendleton. The trains run through the center of town.

Everyone says Pendleton is famous for the "Pendleton Woolen Mills" but I was disappointed by the mill. I had wanted to get a Pendleton shirt after last wearing one in the early sixties. I knew it would be expensive...but had no idea they were all made in China. FAGITABOUTIT!

Here I am in the back room of Hamley & Co. looking at some of their old leather cutting machines. Hamley is the "other" famous landmark in Pendleton. We were allowed to go into the back room some saddles and leather goods are still made...IN AMERICA!

Hamley is the "other" famous landmark in Pendleton. There wasn't much I could afford in the store but at least most of it was American or cowboy born. Ted was busy making a saddle but was very patient in explaining to this greenhorn all the aspects of saddle building.

Ted is helping another employee rebuild an older saddle. On the sales floor of Hamley's were about 70 saddles for sale, least expensive was $1200 and the most that I saw was $5900...ouch!

While I was watching the saddle builders, Donna talks to a very friendly lady making women's leather chaps.

After Hamley we headed to the Great Pacific Wine and Coffee bar for a real treat.

Every Saturday afternoon a group of local cowboys, farmers and townsfolk meet to jam for hours. They played whatever they wanted as their turn came around the table and everyone else chimed in with an assortment of musical instruments.

DJ invited Donna and I to his front row table and gave us the lowdown on the local musicians. DJ also gave us the history the Saturday group and some Pendleton local lore. Thanks DJ!