Travel odds and ends

We decided to drive a couple hours to fly out of Chicago. We didn’t have a direct flight to Idaho Falls, being a very small airport, and had a layover in Salt Lake City. I wanted to fly out of our hometown airport, but with things going on in the area tickets cost an extra $800 per person.

I haven’t been down to Illinois in awhile. One thing I noticed as I was digging around in my wallet for change is that all the tolls are paid online with no collection of cash or credit anymore. It said we had 14 days to register online to pay our tolls which amounted to $9. It ended up costing us $300 to park our car at the airport for a week. It took us about an hour to find our car upon return even though I took a picture of the outdoor lot we were in. Indoor parking was more expensive. Chicago airport is huge and it is easy to get turned around.

I try to research the area I’m going to be travelling in. But it’s a fine line for me. I want to learn about where to go and what to see, but not necessarily everything there is to know about the state. I enjoy learning about the state while I am visiting and experiencing it. What I wasn’t expecting was how dry Idaho is. I think one day the humidity was 8%. Coming from Wisconsin where the average humidity is 71%, I didn’t even think that was possible. One hundred degrees in Idaho wasn’t all that bad once you got out of the sun. We would be dying here with the humidity. Thankfully it’s only been 100 degrees or more here once in my lifetime.

Everything in Idaho that wasn’t watered was dry and barren. There were a lot of wide open spaces and sparsely populated areas. I noticed the gas prices there were around $1 per gallon more expensive than at home. The speed limits were a lot higher too. A two lane highway there had a speed limit of 70 sometimes 75 mph versus 55 at home. Whereas Idaho was dry and barren, Montana was heavily wooded. The speed limit was about the same though which was a little scary because there were also signs warning us of elk, bison, and cattle.

A lot of time when we travel to other parts of the country, people can tell we are from out of the area. Not there. We didn’t talk much differently. The thing is, it seemed like no one was from around there even some of the wait staff and shopkeepers. Everyone was a tourist or came to the area to work for the summer. A large majority of the people in our West Yellowstone hotel did not speak English when we went for the continental breakfast.

Other than that, I didn’t see too many mask wearers in Yellowstone. Even though it said masks were mandatory in federal buildings, no one was enforcing it. Hardly anyone wore masks on the plane either. That part seemed back to normal. There were even people coughing and no one really seemed to pay attention to it. Although I must say, the airport in Idaho Falls was very small and they didn’t have doors to go into the bathrooms. For about 45 minutes, we could hear a woman in the bathroom coughing and throwing up. She sounded so sick I couldn’t bring myself to even use that bathroom.

The only other oddity was that there was construction at the Salt Lake City airport. We had to exit the plane down the steps onto the tarmac and take a bus to the main airport area. The strange thing was as we were exiting the plane, Paul saw his luggage fall from the top of the conveyor belt onto the ground along with another suitcase that fell behind the conveyor belt. I was thankful I put the pint glasses I bought into my backpack.

Also, I want to add that I really enjoyed Idaho. When Paul and I were visiting New Orleans we went on a tour with a woman from Idaho. I told her I’d never been to her state and asked her what the top things to visit were and she basically told me not to bother going. Idaho potatoes are a big thing in Idaho, but nothing big. I was also jokingly told not to join a militia. Other than that, I really didn’t know anything about Idaho. I honestly just wanted to check the state off my bucket list and it happened to be close to Yellowstone. It definitely would have not made the top 100 list for a place to celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary. Who knows, maybe we’ll go somewhere warm in the winter. I just wanted to say I really enjoyed it there, probably more than I enjoyed Yellowstone or Montana in all honesty. I was not expecting that.

In the end, I checked Idaho and Montana off my bucket list of visiting all 50 states. Nine more states to go…

Honorable mentions of our trip

The big highlight of our trip was visiting Yellowstone and the sites I’ve already shared with you in Idaho. However, there were some other stops we made that are worth mentioning…

On our second day, we visited the Minidoka Historical Site where thousands of Japanese Americans were imprisoned after the attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII. The camp was located in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully we arrived at opening time because they were closing early due to a heat advisory and a broken A/C unit. We were able to visit the historical center with tons of photos and artifacts, watch a video of survivors, and take a tour of the camp. Honestly, it was hard to keep a dry eye learning about this tragic chapter in US history.

The camp was not fully preserved and intact, but we were able to tour some of the buildings. The building on the left was the cafeteria and the building on the right was where 6 families lived. They were not furnished inside, just empty buildings. There wasn’t a fee to visit the historical site and take a tour. It was a solemn adventure off the beaten path, but worth the stop if you are interested in history.

Afterwards, we decided to take a drive to Jackpot, NV to try to liven up our spirits a bit. It seemed we took a lot of back roads and even had the experience of watching a crop duster spray the field we were driving next to. I’ve only experienced seeing that a few times in my life and never so close.

Jackpot is right across the border of Nevada. It was a town created when Idaho outlawed gaming back in the 1950’s. It came up when I googled things to do around Twin Falls, ID since it was 45 minutes away. The pictures made it seem like it would be full of wild, wild west casinos but mainly it was a small area along the highway with outdated machines. Quite a different feel than Las Vegas which we visited earlier in the year. Paul and I had a set amount of money we were going to spend. I lost my allotted amount right away at Cactus Pete’s. Paul gave me some of his winnings and we walked across the street to Club 93 where we spent the rest of the afternoon and came back with most of our money.

Our last day of vacation we spent in West Yellowstone buying souvenirs for my mom, our kids, and their significant others. There were tons of shops to spend money in but after awhile everything was pretty much the same in each store. Surprisingly the stores were not a lot less expensive than the ones within Yellowstone. As far as dining on our trip, there wasn’t anything really impressive.

I felt like we had our down time days on the first day and last day of the trip. The rest of the time was run, run, run and it would’ve been nice to break it up a bit. For flying in, we spent a lot of time on the road. I’m glad I decided not to add a couple of days in Oregon and Washington to the trip, it would’ve been too much. I’ll have to check off those states some other time.

Gratitude week 136

  1. Summer!
  2. I checked Montana off my bucket list. Nine states left to go and I’m planning on crossing off another state in a couple months.
  3. My new phone takes amazing pictures which I am hoping to share with you this week.
  4. I love to travel but nothing beats sleeping at home in my own bed.
  5. Visiting Yellowstone.
  6. Getting caught up on my long to do list after getting back home.
  7. Uneventful flights.
  8. Being married to a wonderful guy for 25 years.
  9. Having a husband who is as adventurous as I am and likes to travel.
  10. The house was still standing when we got back home.