For over 12 years I have driven, or rode, across I-80. A bit of Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah going west. Going east on I-80 I have traveled through Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York.
Before I get totally lost in this post I want to recommend a series of books – historical novels – by Dana Fuller Ross.
Independence! Is the first of the series and set in 1837 during a land rush to claim the western lands by American settlers in a race to lay claim to the land before England or Russia take ownership.
At that time, in American history, most of the population lived in the New England Colonies. People were piled up on each other. President Andrew Jackson opened the west to anyone that wanted wide open spaces, had the fortitude to settle and improve the land they chose, and wanted out of the confines of the east. Thousands of men, women, and children started their journey across country to a better way of life. Many didn’t make it.
In Guernsey, Wyoming there still remains evidence of this westward move. Joe tells me there is a cave where the immigrants left messages carved into the walls. Register Cliff is the name of this historical site.
Somewhere around 18 or 20 years ago I read the “Wagons West” series and I was reminded of it today as we made our way up US 30 leaving I-80 in Wyoming.
On US 30 in Kemmerer, Wyoming stands the very first JC Penny store from 1904. It was known as the “Golden Rule” store that served the mining families and ranchers out in the back of beyond Wyoming. The store has been turned into quite an amazing museum which also sells goods to tourists. It is worth stopping to see if you find yourself in the back of beyond.
US 30 is a two-lane road used by the trucking industry, as well as normal traffic, to get into Idaho for livestock and produce which makes its way to your table. The landscape will not keep a teen interested for long. It is nearly 200 miles of dirt, scrub, rocks, an occasional town with a population of 96 souls, trains curving along the rivers and streams, and the highway.
Montpelier, Idaho is located on the historical Oregon Trail and has erected a learning center in this small town. Click the Montpelier link above to be taken to the website and watch the movie they have.
Seeing the Oregon/California center in Montpelier brought those books I spent hours and days reading – Wagons West. Which then jumbled everything I wanted to write about today. All the ideas were stepping all over each other. Maybe I have kept it all together and have a coherent post. I won’t bet money on it though.
US 30 into Idaho continues on as a two-lane road.
Rivers and streams cut through the pastures and mountains.
Hills shrouded in low lying clouds made it look like they were on fire.
Before I make this post into a tome I will leave you with the sight outside my hotel room window. Idaho Falls on the Snake River in – Idaho Falls, Idaho. We are staying in a 40 year old hotel with a fantastic view.
Tomorrow we will continue through Idaho then enter Montana, switch back into Idaho before entering Washington.
Hope this has given you a spark for a summer vacation with your family. Or just entertained you for a few minutes.