A few sites in Southeast Idaho – Idaho Falls and Blackfoot

Potato Museum - Blackfoot
Potato Museum – Blackfoot

While in Rexburg for the last week of March and the first week of April, I had the opportunity to take a couple of trips south to Blackfoot and Idaho Falls, where I was able to catch a few of the interesting sites in the area.  I even caught an amazing quarrel between a Canadian goose and a couple of seagulls.

Idaho Falls

The waterfalls on the Snake River called Idaho Falls
The waterfalls on the Snake River.  Idaho Falls, as they are called, were once rapids on the Snake

Idaho Falls is a nice little town at the base of the foothills with the Snake River running through the middle of town.  It is currently the largest city in Southeastern Idaho with a population of nearly 57,000 and a metro population of a little over 136,000.  Like Rexburg, it has a large LDS (Mormon) population and a large temple.

Carved Wooden Indian - by Peter Toth
Carved Wooden Indian              (Nov. 1980) – by Peter Toth

One of my trip highlights was being able to see the large Indian wood carving by Hungarian-born and American immigrant sculptor Peter Toth.  Over the years Toth has created at least one of these huge statues (all different) for each state in the United States.  All of them collectively (at least 74 are documented) are known as the “Whispering Giants”.  I hope to be able to begin my quest to visit many more over the years.  Many of the Whispering Giants can been here.

Located in North Tourist Park, one of over 70 from around the US
Located in North Tourist Park, one of over 70 from around the US.  This one is just over 27 feet tall

The Indian depicted above is a combination of tribes native to Idaho. This sculpture was  the 37th state in the series. As with all of his works, Toth did the work free of charge with supplies and materials donated by local businesses. The local Chamber of Commerce hosted the dedication program. Governor John V. Evans accepted and dedicated the sculpture.

Wild West Designs
Wild West Designs

Ironically, just north of the Whispering Giant is a unique shop called Wild West Designs Antler Art.  They have many interesting home furnishings inside, but it was the unique wooden carvings outside that caught my eye!!

Giant Bear with Fish
Giant Bear with Fish

The giant bear above adorns a place in the front of the shop.  This wooden grizzly is about 16 feet tall.

Cute "Welcome" Bear
Cute “Welcome” Bear
Bear chasing a Trapper
Bear chasing a Trapper

Further into town I came across a piece of nostalgia in Scotty’s Hamburgers.  This iconic drive-in has been around Idaho Falls since the 1960s.

Scotty's Hamburgers - Old Americana
Scotty’s Hamburgers – Nostalgic 1960s Drive-In

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to eat there since they were closed on Sunday and that was my day to drive thru town.

Idaho Falls Temple of the LDS Church
Idaho Falls Temple of the LDS Church

Like Rexburg, the crown jewel for Idaho Falls is the large LDS Temple.  Dedicated in September 1945 it was the first LDS temple in Idaho and is one of the older LDS temples, currently the 8th oldest in operation (see entire chronology here).  It was the only temple dedicated between 1927 and 1955.  Originally, it did not have an angel Moroni on top.  This was added by helicopter in September 1983.

Snake River in Idaho Falls
Snake River in Idaho Falls

The area around the temple is a beautiful riverine green space — a haven for relaxation and ducks, geese and seagulls.

Snake River in Idaho Falls
Snake River in Idaho Falls

As I drive around looking at the wonderful river sights, I came across some folks feeding the birds…it was a virtual crowd of ducks and geese and seagulls.  I was quite amazed to see them all congregated together fighting over the morsels of bread coming their way.

Gathering of the Birds
Gathering of the Birds
Solitary Seagull waiting for a quick grab at some bread
Solitary Seagull waiting for a quick grab at some bread
A proud goose
A proud goose

But, the real excitement came when a goose got a big piece of a baguette and was then attacked by a couple of hungry seagulls.  I had never seen anything like this so I had the camera on fast snap to get the following sequence of shots.

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Fighting over bread – the beginning

DSC_4963 DSC_4964 DSC_4965

Fighting over bread - the goose wins
Fighting over bread – the goose wins

It was really something watching this 2 minute battle for the bread!!

Old Bonneville Restaurant
Old Bonneville Restaurant

Idaho Falls still has a number of nostalgic locations.   The Bonneville, an old Chinese restaurant, appears to be closed now, but the sign remains.  I love old neon signs like these.  This one is especially classy with the dot on the I being a star.

Yummy House Chinese Foood
Yummy House Chinese Food

And who can resist the Yummy House?  I had to, they were closed.

Approaching Wolverine Creek Wind Farm, near Iona, ID
Approaching Wolverine Creek Wind Farm, near Iona, ID

As I typically do, if I see a Wind Farm, I tend to go there.  I am so excited to see natural energy in action and the wind farms are always like a giant flower garden blooming out of the ground.  The Wolverine Creek Wind Farm is housed in the foothills west of Idaho Falls, in the town of Iona.  There are 43 turbines, which can be seen from Rexburg on a clear day.  This site produces about 64.5 Mw of power.

Turbines from the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm
Turbines from the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm
Another view of the turbines
Another view of the turbines

Blackfoot, Idaho

Blackfoot, Idaho
Blackfoot, Idaho

I was excited for the chance to get to Blackfoot, Idaho so that I could visit the famous Idaho Potato Museum. So, on a trip to Pocatello, accompanied by a business partner from Rexburg, we stopped in Blackfoot on the way home for a quick look see.

Idaho Potato Museum
Idaho Potato Museum, Blackfoot, Idaho

When we arrived it appeared to be snowing, but I actually think it was potato flakes falling from the sky to welcome me!!

Sumoflam at the Potato Museum
Sumoflam at the Potato Museum
Sumoflam and Giant Potato
Sumoflam and Giant Potato – must be potato flakes and not snow!!

Like other similar museums have visited in the past (like the Mustard Museum in Wisconsin, the JELLO museum in New York, the SPAM Museum in Wisconsin…to name a few), the focus of this museum was a certain food, in this case, the potato.  During the visit I learned a great deal about potato farming in Idaho, I learned that Sweet Potatoes are not related to a potato and I saw the Guinness Certified “World’s Largest Potato Chip”, which is housed in the museum and was created by Pringle’s in June 1991.

History of the Potato
History of the Idaho Potato
Sumoflam with a Potato Picking Bag
Sumoflam with a Potato Picking Bag
a Sample Potato T-Shirt
a Sample Potato T-Shirt
World's Largest Potato Chip - 23" x 14.5"
World’s Largest Potato Chip – 23″ x 14.5″ – equivalent of 80 regular Pringle’s Chips

For fun, we took a drive around the small town to see another giant, a few murals and finally get a lunch at one of the oldest drive-ins (and eat ins) in town.

Giant Waitress
Giant Waitress at Martha’s Cafe in Blackfoot, Idaho

This former Uniroyal Gal (there are still of a few of these around the country) turned waitress adorns the front entrance to Martha’s Cafe. She has gone through a couple of changes.  She was formerly blonde (in 2011) and actually held a plate (see photos on this blog).

Mural at Eastern Idaho State Fairgrounds
Mural at Eastern Idaho State Fairgrounds

As with many of my town visits around the country, I also take a liking to wall art and murals.  I found a whole set of murals on the side of the wall near the fairgrounds.

Fairgrounds Wall Mural
Fairgrounds Wall Mural – Blackfoot, Idaho
Fairgrounds Wall Mural - Blackfoot, Idaho
Fairgrounds Wall Mural – Blackfoot, Idaho
Fairgrounds Wall Mural - Blackfoot, Idaho
Fairgrounds Wall Mural – Blackfoot, Idaho
Fairgrounds Wall Mural - Blackfoot, Idaho
Fairgrounds Wall Mural – Blackfoot, Idaho
Fairgrounds Wall Mural - Blackfoot, Idaho
Fairgrounds Wall Mural – Blackfoot, Idaho

We also spotted a couple of other older wall murals in town

Salt Lake Mural near Tent and Awning Shop - Blackfoot, Idaho
Salt Lake Mural near Tent and Awning Shop – Blackfoot, Idaho
Are We There Yet? Mural near Tent and Awning Shop - Blackfoot, Idaho
Are We There Yet? Mural near Tent and Awning Shop – Blackfoot, Idaho

Finally, we stopped at a great place for lunch.  I had a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich and almost ordered a Rice Krispy Treat Milk Shake!!

Rupe's Burgers
Rupe’s Burgers – Blackfoot, Idaho

Rupe’s Burgers is like so many other lat 60s/early 70s drive-in diners.  Great greasy not good for you food…and lots of it.  This one opened in 1962 as an A & W Root Beer.  It was open thru 1978 when the Rupe family sold it.  The place became R & B’s thru 1986 and then went out of business.  In 1987 the Rupe family bought it back.  The place seats about 100 inside and has room for 20 cars outside.

Marilyn Monroe in a Potato Sack
Marilyn Monroe in a Potato Sack

I finished off a couple of different visits and after a two and a half week stay in Idaho, it was time to get back on the road home to Kentucky!!

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Road Trip to Idaho – Day 2: Savage, MN to Miles City, MT

Rural Scene on Enchanted Highway, South of Gladstone, ND
Rural Scene on Enchanted Highway, South of Gladstone, ND

I embarked on Day 2 of my trip to Idaho – left Savage, MN in the midst of snow and fog.  The roads were scary heading northwest to Fargo, ND.

Snowy highways in Minnesota
Snowy highways in Minnesota

Today (March 9, 2013) was the second leg of my trip to Idaho.  Today I drove from Savage, MN to Miles City, MT.  I drove 781 miles over a 14 hour stretch.  Following is the map of the trip.


View Larger Map

My first stop along the way was for gas.  I stopped in Avon, MN…..which, I discovered, is also the home of the Lake Wobegon Trail.  The trail is 46 miles long and 10 feet wide.  It opened in 1998.  Avon is the home of the Lake Wobegon Trails Association.  Garrison Keillor, the creator of Lake Wobegon and the Prairie Home Companion show, lived in Avon at one time.

Avon, Minnesota
Avon, Minnesota
Lake Wobegon Trail
Lake Wobegon Trail
Wobegon Park, Avon, MN
Wobegon Park, Avon, MN
Wall Mural on laundromat in Avon, MN
Wall Mural on laundromat in Avon, MN
Wall Mural in Avon, MN
Wall Mural in Avon, MN

From Avon I proceeded north to Ashby, MN.  This is home to a large metal Coot statue, which is what I was looking for.  But, as I often discover, the town is also a quaint little place.

Ashby, Minnesota
Ashby, Minnesota
Coot Statue, Ashby, MN
Coot Statue, Ashby, MN

The coot statue stand outsides of town on Highway 78 and represents the largest Ashby area sportsmen club, Coots Unlimited (a parody of Ducks Unlimited).  There is more about it here.

Man walking road in Ashby, MN
Man walking road in Ashby, MN
Mural in Ashby, MN
Mural in Ashby, MN
Ashby, MN Water Tower in the fog
Ashby, MN Water Tower in the fog

From Ashby I proceeded north to Fergus Falls, MN.  The roads were a little better and my GPS had me taking a back road.  I was headed first to the Continental Divide Marker and site, which was built in 2000.

Continental Divide Plaque - Fergus Falls, MN
Continental Divide Plaque – Fergus Falls, MN
Downtown Fergus Falls
Downtown Fergus Falls

From Fergus Falls I continued heading northwest on I-94.  The roads were still icy, but had cleared up somewhat.  I then took a quick swing off at Exit 38 (Rothsay) to get a photo of the 14 foot tall, 9200 pound cement prairie chicken statue.  I have been here before (as well as a good part of the drive thru North Dakota – see my posts from 2005) .  This time I was able to get a more unique view of the giant bird.

Greater Prairie Chicken Statue - Rothsay, MN
Greater Prairie Chicken Statue – Rothsay, MN

I then got back on the freeway and fought more fog.  But the fog and snow make for interesting views that one would not see on a clear day.  Many trees took on shadowy shapes.

Tree in fog - northwest Minnesota as seen from I-94
Tree in fog – northwest Minnesota as seen from I-94

Along the road I found a road sign that provided the perfect description of this day’s trip had been to this point – Downer, MN (exit 15 heading north)

Downer, MN - Great description of the day
Downer, MN – Great description of the day

Ironically, shortly after Downer, things cleared up again, just in time for my entrance into the border town of Moorhead, MN. Moorhead has a Norwegian population and is home to the Hjemkomst Center, which houses a replica Viking ship and the beautiful is the Stave Church, a symbol of the Norwegian heritage in the Red River Valley. Built by Guy Paulson, the church is a full-scale replica of the Hopperstad Church in Vik, Norway. Norwegian Stave churches were built just after the close of the Viking Age in Scandinavia in the 1100 and 1200’s. The technique of using vertical posts-or staves- had been modified over time to become wooden architectural works of art.

Stave Church Replica - Moorhead, MN
Stave Church Replica – Moorhead, MN
Snowy Road in Moorhead
Snowy Road in Moorhead

From Moorhead I entered Fargo, ND and continued heading west on I-94. I passed thru Fargo so I could get to other sights along the road (and to also get out of the miserable snow!!) My first stop in North Dakota was Jamestown. Jamestown is known as the “Buffalo City” and one can find all kinds of Buffalo things, including “the World’s Largest Buffalo” statue the National Buffalo Museum.

Frontier Village - Jamestown, ND
Frontier Village – Jamestown, ND
Chuckwagon Cafe - Jamestown, ND
Chuckwagon Cafe – Jamestown, ND  They offer a      4 Meat Buffet what ever that is
World's Largest Buffalo - Jamestown, ND
World’s Largest Buffalo – Jamestown, ND

The “World’s Largest Buffalo” is a in Frontier Village. It was commissioned in 1959 by local businessman Harold Newman, and built by art students from Jamestown College, under the supervision of art instructor and designer, Elmer Peterson. It is visible from Interstate 94, overlooking the city from above the James River valley. The statue is 26 feet tall, 46 feet long and weighs 60 tons. It was constructed with stucco and cement around a steel beam frame shaped with wire mesh.

World's Largest Sand Hill Crane - Steele, ND
“Sandy” – The World’s Largest Sand Hill Crane – Steele, ND

Further west on I-94 is the small town of Steele, ND. There are about 800 people and one silver Big Bird! “Sandy”, as she is known, is a 40 foot tall 4.5 ton bird.  It was constructed of rolled sheet metal welded onto a steel inner frame, which was built in three different sections.  It was created in 1999 by James Miller, a resident of Arena, ND.  The crane was built to bring attention to the fact that the Steele area is one of the best birding destinations in North America. Sandhill Cranes are some of the migratory species that nest here.

Silo Family as seen from I-94 near Steele, ND
Silo Family as seen from I-94 near Steele, ND

I loved the shot above.  Tons of fun…

I finally made it to Bismarck, ND where I had a couple more interesting stops.  Bismarck borders the Missouri River and there are a number of parks along river road.  One is Keelboat Park.  There is a large four headed thunderbird statue at the park and it is uber impressive. The sculpture represents a powerful American Indian spirit that depicts thunderstorms.

Thunderbird Statue - Keelboat Park, Bismarck, ND
Thunderbird Statue – Keelboat Park, Bismarck, ND
Sumoflam and Thunderbirds
Sumoflam and the Thunderbirds
Lewis and Clark Sculpture - Keelboat Park
Lewis and Clark Sculpture – Keelboat Park
Grant Marsh Bridge over Missouri River in Bismarck
Missouri River High Bridge over Missouri River in Bismarck

In Pioneer Park along the Missouri River, there is a fairly new sculpture called “Rising Eagle”, which was made by art students from the United Tribes Technical College.  Dedicated in 2007, it was vandalized in 2010 and had to be rebuilt.

Rising Eagle Sculpture in Pioneer Park, Bismarck, ND
Rising Eagle Sculpture in Pioneer Park, Bismarck, ND
Rising Eagle Sculpture from the Front
Rising Eagle Sculpture from the Front

As I continued west of Bismarck on I-94, the weather was finally cleared up and there were sunny skies.  The views looked great.

I-94 west of Bismarck, ND
I-94 west of Bismarck, ND

A couple of miles before Exit 72 (about 20 miles east of Dickinson, ND) I could begin seeing the following HUGE sculpture by local artist Gary Greff (from Regent, ND).  Greff began his projects in 1989 and continues work today through donations from local people and many others. Named “Geese in Flight,” it is the gateway to the famous “Enchanted Highway” and is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture.”

Gate to Enchanted Highway - Flying Geese
Gate to Enchanted Highway – “Geese in Flight” – created in 2001

Built in 2001, “Geese in Flight” is 154 feet long and 110 feet tall and weighs over 78.8 tons.  The largest flying goose has a wingspan of 30 feet. Gary Greff used oil tanks and oil well pipe to make it.  I kind of envision the big “eye” in the middle as looking over the Enchanted Highway.

Flying Geese from Satellite (as pulled from Google Maps)
Flying Geese from Satellite (as pulled from Google Maps)

The Enchanted is a 32 mile stretch of road beginning at Exit 72 on I-94 and then going south through Gladstone and then all the way to Regent, ND.  Along the way there are a number of sculptures.  Greff even made dozens of small geese that line the nice dirt road up to the Flying Geese sculpture.

Geese along road
Geese along road

From the Flying Geese, I did go south through Gladstone and then on for another 10 miles.

Grain Elevator
Grain Elevator – Gladstone

Then about three miles down the road, is “Deer Crossing,” the second of the huge sculptures down the road.  The buck is 60 feet long and 75 feet tall.  The doe is 50 feet tall and 50 feet long.  These were erected in 2002.

"Deer Crossing" on Enchanted Highway
“Deer Crossing” on Enchanted Highway
Deer Crossing from satellite
Deer Crossing from satellite
Flying Geese as seen from Deer Crossing
Flying Geese as seen from Deer Crossing

I continued south in hopes of seeing more and made it ten miles to the “almost” ghost town of Lefor.  The prairie scenery was great.

Rural Scene on Enchanted Highway, South of Gladstone, ND
Rural Scene on Enchanted Highway, South of Gladstone, ND
More scenery on the Enchanted Highway
More scenery on the Enchanted Highway

I made it to Lefor and gave up as I had more traveling to do to get to Miles City, Montana for the night.

Remnants of old bank in Lefor
Remnants of old bank in Lefor

There are a number of other giant sculptures along the road south of Lefor, including a 60 foot grasshopper, pheasants on the prairie (including a 60 foot long pheasant), a 51 foot tall Teddy Roosevelt and a “Fisherman’s Dream”, which was completed in 2007 and includes a metal fish leaping up 70 feet through a metal pond surface.  Someday I hope to get back there to see all of these.  At the end of the road Greff has built an Enchanted Castle Hotel for the final enchanting stop.

I returned back through Gladstone and took a quick spin through the town and caught one final small statue:

Small Metal Sculpture in Gladstone
Small Metal Sculpture in Gladstone

I made way to Dickinson and then on to the border of North Dakota and Montana.

Sunset in North Dakota
Sunset in North Dakota

I was surprised to see that there was even a Beach in North Dakota!!

Welcome to Beach, ND
Welcome to Beach, ND
Beach, ND
Beach, ND

After a long day I made it to the hotel in Miles City, Montana.  Hotel sweet hotel…..

 

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