Amblin’ to Alpine

After leaving Walla Walla, we headed south and east – for a special event in Alpine, Wyoming.

First stop was in Baker City, Oregon. We’ve never had such a colorful sign welcoming us to our campsite!

It also had some wide open spaces for walking.

Hagerman, Idaho

Next stop: Hagerman, where we had a pretty campsite that featured a pond with water wheel and very noisy frogs! They were so loud I couldn’t believe that’s what they were. When I tried to get closer and record their awesome croaking, they showed some resentment of my presence and stayed perfectly silent. Sigh.

Years ago we traced a bit of the Oregon Trail with Kevin, Becky, Dayna and Peter.[See Here and Here for Blogs]

Now we were much farther along on the trail… what we could see of it. From Hagerman, Idaho is an overlook was supposed to be for viewing the trail, but I’m not sure we could prove which trail was real… That beautifully straight trail in the pictures below? Whatever, it is amazing to think of trekking so far across a huge continent!

Also near Hagerman, we checked out the Thousand Springs State Park. Not far from the Oregon Trail overlook, is a little road headed steeply down from the top of a mesa to the river below. We were looking for a waterfall, but I’ll admit this one surprised me with its size and beauty.

Here’s a very short video of the surprisingly nice waterfall:

Rest stops have the best food!

Idaho Potato Museum

Another stop was to tour the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho. Who could pass up a stop like that??

In front of the museum was this mechanized potato planter from the 1930’s. Farming machinery has come a long way since then!

Marilyn Monroe and the Potato:

As one story goes, a columnist described one of the actress’ looks as “tacky and vulgar” and added that she would have been better served wearing “a potato sack,” so the Twentieth Century Fox PR department capitalized on the moment. The less colorful version of the story is that the studio was simply hoping to drum up some publicity by suggesting their starlet was so beautiful, she could even make a potato sack look good — which she indubitably does. So I got to pose with her!

The museum notes that virtually all potatoes come from Peru. When the Spanish came to South America looking for gold, they returned with more potatoes than precious metal. They then spread across Europe, and even to Ireland, where many folks think the potato originated. They mentioned one story of the Potato God:

“Once there lived a good tribe and a bad tribe. A volcano erupted on the lands of the good tribe, which forced them to live with the bad tribe, who enslaved them. The good tribe prayed to the Potato God using huacos (little earthen pottery). He answered their prayers with potato seeds. He said, “Plant these and have your tribe eat that which grows underground. Feed the greens to the bad tribe, and they will sicken and die.” As the potato is related to the belladonna plant which is poisonous, the bad tribe did indeed sicken and die, releasing the good tribe from slavery.”

There was also and interesting story about the invention of TV. Philo Farnsworth grew up on a potato farm in Idaho. He was very gifted science student, especially excelling in physics and chemistry. His dream was to send a picture electronically from one place to another – but how? When in the potato field, he looked at the long rows, with plants evenly spaced along them, and he was inspired with the system that TV now uses. He could scan a picture line by line, like reading a page in a book. He presented sketches in his chemistry class while still a teenager. He later ran into patent conflicts with RCA, but won his main battle when his chemistry teacher presented the drawings from class.

Another weird story at the museum was the history of Mr. Potato Head. They claim he is about as famous as any toy. (you remember him, right?) He was the first toy to be advertised on television, and actually the first ads targeted to children. Originally the toy just had body parts you would pin on a regular potato, but parents complained that they’d find rotting potatoes too often, so the plastic potato head was created.

Alpine, Wyoming

We met up with all our kids and grandkids at a beautiful log home in this small town, about an hour south of Jackson, Wyoming. We figured the house would be big enough for all ten of us, and we were planning on leaving the motorhome in the yard while we slept inside with the family. We needn’t have worried about the size of the house… it had beds for 18! (plus a hide-a-bed we found later) We had a great time with the family, and celebrated three birthdays! Dayna’s 11th, and Cherryl’s and mine as well.

The view from the “Cabin” was great!

The view of the front of the cabin was pretty much blocked by somebody’s motorhome…

We ate very well for the long weekend, as is evidenced by the cooking paraphernalia.

Below are some views from the road looping behind the property:

Grand Teton National Park

We drove to the Tetons one fine day… that clouded over and threatened us with rain. We still had awesome scenery and a great time! But we elected not to put the kayaks or paddle boards in the lake.

As long as there was no lightning, we felt good wading in the cool water of String Lake. Plenty of amazing views and a nice walk through wooded pathways.

Some of us drove on to the dam at the south end of Jackson Lake.

This is where we launched canoes for float trips down the Snake River many times in the past. An absolutely gorgeous trip that didn’t work out for this trip.

After a bit of time below the dam, we headed “home”, with the rain threatening even more.

By the time we reached our Alpine home, we were on the other side of the mountains, and the weather was perfect… for roasting hot dogs and making S’mores. A great way to end the day!


  1. I just got caught up on your blog posts. It’s great seeing America’s beauty – even if only second hand through your camera. You do a great job of capturing it.
    I was interested to read that you spent a college year in Newbold. That must have been around the same time I took off to Bogenhofen in Austria, 1972/73. That’s where I met the young Swiss with whom I’ve been spending the rest of my life. Now we’re Grossmami & Grosspapi.
    What did you take away from your year abroad? I still have contact with many of the Americans and people from other countries that I met in that year. We all agree that it was a pivotal, mind opening experience and profited greatly from it.
    Did you ever get a chance to use any of Mr. Dutton’s German?

    • Yep, that’s the same year I was at Newbold. I LOVED it! Wouldn’t trade that year for anything! The only problem was none of my science classes would transfer to my US major, and I had to work like crazy my senior year to get everything crammed in. That load was probably a good thing, to set me up for survival in dental school!
      Unfortunately I haven’t been good at all with keeping up with Newboldian friends. Wish I’d been better with that. And no, my German is terrible, no reflection on Mr. Dutton! Life moved me into Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish, so now I’m terrible with four other languages! Good to hear from you!

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