We left Bend early Thursday. We headed East, which means that we were going to lose the two hours gained on the way here, but the sun would be behind us in the evening. Basic plan was to do touristy stuff in the morning and daylight, then drive in the afternoon and into the dark. This worked splendidly.
Starting off: Getting down from the mountains. More than 300 miles from Bend, OR to Boise, ID, almost all of it on US 20.
The mountains and lone gas station within miles, Riley, OR 1/3/13
A word about our return route. My basic wunderlust on long trips is generally to go back a different way. The fastest way home was to go the way we came, North through Spokane/Coeur D'Alene/Butte/Fargo, and the second fastest way was to diverge at Butte to visit Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. But we had an extra day, and we demonstrated that being in the car, even driving, wasn't too bad on Carole's knee as long as we took it easy. The longer way wasn't that much longer and wouldn't take that much more time overall.
So taking US 20 scratched several itches: First, we would be driving in the mountains during the day. We'd already seen the northern route on our side trip to Portland. Hence, south. Second, we could see several cities neither of us had been to.
Third, we got to drive on a western part of US Rt. 20. I went to college in Albany, NY, and lived on or near US 20, which starts in Boston and goes almost all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Ever since then, I've wanted to drive US 20, or at least see other parts of it. Forty years later, another itch was scratched.
And I must say: A brilliant move. The drive down the mountains was spectacular. Most of the trip was on a two-way road with a speed limit of 65 or 70, iirc. At night in bad weather the trip would have been a nightmare. For us, the roads were clear and the weather fine. Terrific. No sceneic overlooks or any one place I could say was more exhilarating than another, but I'm so very glad we did this.
Eventually stopped for gas in the middle of nowhere, which turned out to be Riley, OR. The sign advertised "visitor information" but this was a table full of maps and pamphlets. The lady pumped the gas (and didn't mind topping off the tank, which the guy in Bend said was illegal in OR...) and we wandered into the archery shop.
Dale, Co-owner Riley Store and Archery, Riley OR 1/3/13
"Did you kill all those animals?"
"Well, most of them."
Nice people, though the gas was expensive compared to Idaho. We didn't stay for long but filled up our coffee cups, stretched our legs and continued.
Startng out, I didn't know anything about Boise, and didn't have a set touristy thing to do. The AAA app had several Places of Interest. War museums, nothing about potatoes. Asking on FB, a local mentioned that Boise had the largest Basque population in the US. Who knew? The Basque Museum was interesting, and the whole block is dedicated to the Basque. Indeed, if Carole and I stuck around until the evening, there was a free tour of the Basque-style house next to the museum. Alas, we didn't have the time.
Wendy and Carole, Basque Museum, Boise ID, 1/3/13
Wendy, the Museum Store Manager, gave us student discounts and a bit of history. With her Scots accent... The museum is small, with lots of large text explanations. Some nice recordings of the unique Basque language, and a lot on the history of how people from Spain/France wound up in Idaho. I picked up a couple of CDs. We had a pretty good Basque lunch down the street at the Bar Gernika ("Tell 'em Wendy sent 'ya.") I wrote down what we had:
I had the Solomo Sandwich: "Marinated pork loin with pimientos and served on a freshly baked french roll"; and bean and bacon soup. Yum. Carole had the Chorizo Sandwich. "The famous Basque pork sausage served on a freshly baked french roll" (much tastier than Mexican chorizo, to both our palates); lamb stew. Yum again. We couldn't eat it all, and took the rest on the way.
Dave in front of Basque mural, Boise ID 1/3/13
ETA: Oh, I almost forgot. We managed to accomplish something great on the trip: We (probably) found a game that Richard Tatge doesn't have! We'll get it to him.
Plan A went off without a hitch. Okay, we got lost in Salt Lake City at night, but eventually found our hotel and crashed. A long day, but a good one.
Continued in 20130104 Trip to Oregon and Back: Salt Lake City and Antelope Island