Fort Hall, Idaho: Our route today was just filler, as our Yellowstone campsite reservations do not begin until tomorrow. It’s okay. We needed a few things - printer cartridges - that would probably not be available in the national park. Plus, there was a little diversion that sounded interesting. Our route today included east on I-84, then to I-86, then to I-15. Speed limit for cars on these roads is 80 miles per hour... we travel at 60. (It's not the going - we have 650 horses - it's the stopping.)
We stopped at a rest area that offered a historical marker explaining settlers coming from the east along the Oregon Trail. Massacres (natives killing settlers, settlers killing natives) were explained here. There is also a famed rock where European immigrants heading west would write their names.
Our campsite tonight was at an indigenous casino (near Blackfoot, Idaho). The casino is very nice and completely smoke-free (shocking). While checking in, I told the clerk we needed an office supply store, a car wash, and a liquor store. She sent us to the right direction and we were able to procure printer cartridges, our bar is re-stocked, and our car is washed - all in a one-mile stretch of Pocatello.
After our errands were finished, we still had time to visit a fun thing we found in the vicinity: The Idaho Potato Museum! The museum is housed in the old Oregon Short Line Railroad station in Blackfoot, which was the shortest rail route from Wyoming to Oregon, thus providing great distribution for the wonderful Idaho potatoes. There is a great history exhibit of how European explorers brought the potato from South America to the European continent, and how American botanists (Luther Burbank) developed varieties that we still enjoy today.
I'm not saying you should plan your next vacay around a stop to a potato museum in Blackfoot, Idaho... but we've been to less interesting museums. The museum showed the early history of the tuber, up to frozen French fries and tater tots. We learned that only 20% of Idaho potatoes are eaten as fresh potatoes - most are eaten as chips, fries, tots, or in some sort of dehydrated form (instant potatoes, potato flour, and potato starch). There is a display of the largest potato "crisp" (aka a massive Pringle) larger than a place mat. Hundreds of potato peelers. Zillions of potato mashers.
The museum also had a vast collection of Mr. Potato Head dolls, and science experiments where students could use potatoes to make a clock (DT remembers doing this in elementary school). It was a fun hour, learning about how the potato grew so well in Idaho and how potatoes now feed the entire world! A restaurant (serving only baked potatoes, French fries, and tater tots) is on-site, and if you call two-hours ahead, they will have a baked potato ready for you to eat.
We only bought a few postcards in the gift shop, but the museum offers "free taters for out-of-staters" so I asked about the offer and the young attendant offered us a packet of freeze-dried mashed potatoes with "butter flavor" that I politely declined. Another interesting item in the gift shop is a poster/photo of Marilyn Monroe wearing a potato sack. There is a bit of controversary about the photo, but it is still iconic in Blackfoot, Idaho.
Dinner tonight was so easy - tortilla soup made with the left-overs from last nights tacos/chicken stock + vegetables, black beans, etc etc etc. It was going to be a nice, quiet evening in our RV, even though the hotel+casino were hosting Larry the Cable Guy in their outdoor venue (next to the RV park). We could hear the sound-checks as were checking-in to our site early this afternoon, and the show was set to start at 8p.
At 5p a terrible storm blew through the area. We had alarms sound on our phones. Thunder. Lightning. Wind. Big rains. It was so scary we put down our TV dish and hunkered-down. Manila-style thunder and lightning! The rain was relentless, and as I type this several hours later, the rain continues. We never heard a thing from the adjacent arena, so assume the show was either cancelled or moved to indoor space. (?)
Big things happening in Costa Rica! Lucile Joy turned 8 today!
Until my next update, hopefully from West Yellowstone, Montana, I remain "of course we had our car washed today" correspondent.
RV Park: Buffalo Meadows RV Park - at the Shoshone-Bannock Casino and Hotel on I-15 north of Pocatello. Full hook-ups with 50 amp. Pull-through. Only bummer is you need to register at the casino hotel prior to arriving to your site. With our Good Sam, we paid about $39.