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American Falls, Idaho

American Falls, Idaho: Today was a driving day. We have officially pointed the Magna Peregrinus west as we actually need to be back in Oregon fairly soon. Something about a track meet.

Of course, since we left Thayne today, the sun came out and it was going to be a beautiful day. We could finally see the top of the snowcapped mountains to our east. Mom and Gene came for goodbye coffee this morning; then we hit the road.

The route today - Idaho 34 through Soda Springs - was simply spectacular. It was as if we were driving on the top of the world! Most of the day, there was a stream, river, creek, reservoir or wildlife refuge within our view. Except for some ugly Monsanto mining situation in Soda Springs, I highly recommend this route... if you are ever traveling between Thayne, Wyoming and I-84.

Mid-afternoon, we decided to stay the night in American Falls, Idaho. Just a little town on the Snake River that at one time had a huge water fall... but, of course, it is now dammed and the entire town had to be moved. American Falls was also along the Oregon Trail wagon train route. We found a great little campground on the American Falls Reservoir - Willow Bay Marina and RV Park - but our site is not too accommodating for our massive bus and the sewer connection is in the middle of the site (not to the side with all the other hookups) so is strangely under the middle of our RV and will go unused this evening. We also are suffering with only 30 amp and cannot use our clothes dryer. It's like we are living in caveman days.

But it is a pretty sweet campsite... even though the trees are preventing us from satellite television. Like I said, caveman.

But who needs television when we have this pretty vista from our window? The marina and RV Park are behind the dam and part of a park system with all sorts of sports fields, jogging paths, boat ramps, beaches, etc.

Oh, and don't forget the busy railroad tracks!

After setting-up camp, we drove the Honda into American Falls to see what we could see. First, here is a photo of the falls before they were dammed - but with a power station which produced electricity for a wide area.

Photo courtesy of US Bureau of Reclamation

And here is that view today:

Pelicans wait for fish below the dam

The dam is now just upstream of the old power station

Pelicans below the dam

And a view from down river, to the dam

After checking-out the dam, we took a drive through town. There is not too much to like about American Falls - though there are an amazing amount of city parks and an amazing amount of schools (including a fantastic new high school), and an amazing amount of churches, most of them Mormon, as 47% of the people in Power County are LDS. Many of the businesses downtown sit empty.

The building is crumbling. The windows are broken. Still, I loved this old neon sign for the Silver Horseshoe Bar. Please notice the little horseshoes decorating the edges of the sign.

Next stop? The American Falls Fish Hatchery. At this facility over 200,000 rainbow trout (over 10 inches long) are released into SE Idaho rivers and lakes annually. The eggs are treated so they become sterile - allowing native species to remain genetically pure, while still providing a ton of fish for anglers.

For 25 cents you receive a handful of fish food for the hungry critters in the water

This channel below the hatchery leads to the Snake River

We saw so much wildlife around the hatchery - Pelicans and Osprey fishing, rabbits, a few deer, and, would you believe - another Gopher Snake!?

This guy or gal was about three feet long - the same size as the snake we saw golfing last month in Indio - but this snake was digesting a Buick something as his mid-section was bulging! The snake was sunning itself on the road outside the hatchery.

Another quiet evening around the campsite, resting-up for our westward-ho in the morning. I marinated chicken breasts in mango juice, ginger and soy all day. DT grilled the chicken and it was served with a salsa of mango, cilantro, jalapeno, ginger and red pepper. So yummy.

This recipe is best with boneless, skinless breasts, but I only had split breasts today. Best part? Left over chicken can be cubed and added to left over salsa for a fantastic salad/lunch the next day.

Guess I'd better post this recipe.

Until my next update, I remain, your dammed correspondent.

RV PARK: Willow Bay Marina and RV Park - Campground on the reservoir in American Falls, Idaho. Tent sites, full or partial hookups. Lawn, trees, fire pits, picnic tables, store, bath house, hiking trails, boat ramp. Restaurant on site. We paid $30.