Friday, March 30, 2012

Idaho - Northern and Southwestern

Today, let’s start with the tippy top of the state of Idaho.  They call the northern part of Idaho - The Panhandle. You can explore the beautiful and rugged Canadian/USA border while on the International Selkirk Loop named after the Selkirk Mountains.  It covers Washington, Idaho, and the province of British Columbia, Canada.  The biggest thing to remember is to bring your passport.  You will need it to get into Canada.  Along the loop, there are all types of accommodations from campgrounds, cabins, hotels, and even T&Bs (Tents and Breakfasts – its a bed in a fully furnished tent).  There’s so much to see and do.  The website suggests 7 days and I wouldn’t doubt that it would take that long.  But, they also have a 3 day sample itinerary as well.

Selkirk Mountains in Idaho
I’ve recently been schooled in how to pronounce this place in north Idaho – Lake Coeur d’Alene.  I might still not know how to pronounce it but from the pictures and of what I hear – it’s BEAUTIFUL!  Check out the Lake Coeur d’Alene Scenic Byway for some pretty country roads.  The travel guides say to bring your binoculars and watch for bald eagles and the osprey that nest in trees along the lake. 
Lake Coeur d' Alene Scenic Byway
There’s also a 73 mile hiking/biking trail called the Trail of Coeur d’Alene that is said to have breathtaking viewpoints.  It crosses the panhandle from near the Washington border to near the Montana border.
Trail of Coeur d'Alene
A few friends of mine are from the Lewiston area.  At the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers, it has the lowest elevation in Idaho at only 738 feet above sea level.  Lewiston is a great jumping off point because it has all the basics you’d need as in grocery stores, nearby Walmart, hotel/motel, etc.  But, it’s also near a lot of places.

Lewiston isn’t that far from Hells Canyon.  It’s North America’s deepest river gorge and comes from the Snake River.  The rapids in the canyon can range up to class IV and V (aka POWERFUL rapids).
Hells Canyon with Snake River
In the southwest part of the state is Idaho’s capitol, Boise.  It being their capital, you know I’m going to have you check out their capitol building.
Idaho's Capitol Building
This area has a LARGE Basque population. The Basques are an ethnic group from a region in the north-central part of Spain and southwestern part of France.  I had never heard of this group of people.  But, it fascinated me that these immigrants would be in such a rural part of America and have created their own community in IDAHO of all places!  They have a museum where you can learn more about where they’re from and their immigration to America.  They also have one restaurant in particular that they praise, Lekuonaid.

Another type of people that I was SHOCKED would live in IDAHO were those that like good ole Soul food!  Boise has a pretty big Soul Food Extravaganza.  I wonder how it compares to REAL southern restaurants.

Right outside of Boise, there are other great sites.  The Bruneau Dunes State Park is filled with shifting sand dunes that are up to 470 feet tall!  On my last post, we learned about southeastern Idaho’s St. Anthony Sand Dunes that are 50-500 feet tall too.  In two weeks, we’ll discuss the state, Indiana, where I climbed 200 feet tall sand dunes and thought that was a workout.  WOW!  I’m just marveled by these tall sand dunes – how they got there, why are they still there, etc.
Bruneau Dunes
In the same area of the state as the Bruneau Dunes, you’ll also find the Bruneau Canyon.  It’s another interesting marvel of nature.  It’s a desert gorge on the Bruneau River that is 1300 feet wide, 800 feet deep and 60 miles long.
Bruneau Canyon
In June, the town of Weiser will host the National Old-time Fiddlers’ Contest and Festival.  This is a 60 year tradition that began during intermissions of the fifth annual Weiser Square Dance Festival.  Turns out Weiser has been recognized as the “Fiddling Capital of the World!”  Each of the almost 350 contestants have four minutes to play three tunes; one must be a hoedown, one must be a waltz, the other is a “tune of choice” (something other than a waltz or hoedown) with judging based on danceability, old-time style, rhythm, and tone.  Just sounds pretty cool to me but I like ALL kinds of music.

One funny recipe I found while researching Idaho is a recipe for Ice Cream Potato.  It’s funny because no potato is in the recipe.  I might try it one day.

Another thing I found while researching is that at three of their state parks, you can rent Yurts to stay in.  Cool!

Lastly, I found this website to have a lot of information about Idaho and the rest of the Rocky Mountain area.

These are just the places I’d like to visit in southwestern and northern Idaho.  If you know of anywhere else in Idaho we should check out, please leave a comment below.  Next week, we’ll see what’s just round the corner in Illinois.

**All Photos Found Online

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