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 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.
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.
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.
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!!
The giant bear above adorns a place in the front of the shop. This wooden grizzly is about 16 feet tall.
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.
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.
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.
The area around the temple is a beautiful riverine green space — a haven for relaxation and ducks, geese and seagulls.
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.
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.
It was really something watching this 2 minute battle for the bread!!
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.
And who can resist the Yummy House? I had to, they were closed.
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.
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.
When we arrived it appeared to be snowing, but I actually think it was potato flakes falling from the sky to welcome me!!
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.
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.
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).
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.
We also spotted a couple of other older wall murals in town
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 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.
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!!