Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
Sunday was a travel day, not a long one because we don't do long travel days. About 200 miles from Twin Falls to Boise. I remember the bad old days when 500 miles was a normal day, but we struggle with half that now. It worked well in Europe, but out in wide open Western USA, trips get long because our days are short. Oh well, that's just how we do things.
We left Twin Falls early enough that we really needed a distraction to not show up at Cousin Tom's too early so, when there was a sign that said "Idaho History Interpretive Center", we turned off - and got lost.
Signage wasn't clear at all as we entered the town of Glenn's Ferry, but being lost enabled us to see the whole town, from edge to edge. On our second pass through the few blocks of "downtown", we spotted The Lobby Bakery and decided to ask for directions, and for goodies. As a bonus, we got a story and learned that the family-run business also organizes local live theater in the same building, a century-old opera house. An ambitious endeavor for such a small town.
We were directed west, over the railroad tracks, to the Three Island Crossing State Park, on the banks of the Snake River. This location was where many of the 19th Century pioneers forded the Snake River, moving from the eastern bank, over the three island, to the western bank that allowed passage to Oregon. Those who opted to not cross, were stuck on a longer trail.
The interpretive center was small but gave an interesting overview of the lives and struggles of the people of the pioneering era. Their 2,000 mile wagon trip seemed a mix of boring weeks of trudging across plains and days of danger and struggle, including crossing the Snake River. Many did not make it. It puts into perspective my worries about electric car charging stations.
By mid-day, we reached our Boise destination. Cousin Tom and Kathleen welcomed us to the condo they had moved into just days before. I hope we didn't put them too far behind in the moving-in process.
We didn't wait long before we hit "BAM", the Boise Art Museum. It has been quite awhile since we'd enjoyed a good art exposure. Tom and I wandered our own paths through the galleries, while Marianne and Kathleen took a more active approach, combining both looking and talking. (No pictures inside were allowed, a museum practice I disagree with, but it is their choice.)
The next stop was the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, a park filled with inspirational human rights quotes. It's a sobering place, but worthwhile.
Tom and Kathleen's daughter Gia and her little charmer Zelda came over for a visit. Marianne, ever the teacher, got the little one to share a session of drawing. Fun.
The after dinner ritual of blowing out the candles was Zelda's highlight!
After a restful night and a light breakfast, it was time for more Boise tourism. Tom had to go to work for a morning of class preparation. He's still working, teaching a class of four dozen graduate students. Real work! The rest of us are all retirees so we could enjoy the Idaho State History Museum.
The Idaho History Museum covers state history, including some coverage of native Americans.
The introductory video was a hit with Marianne, touring the state in 15 minutes.
The lower level collection of hands-on displays was a hit with all of us kids!
Kathleen did a great job as a steam engine driver.
I think my favorite was the series of "stories" of famous and not-so-famous people from the Northwest. (Including the band Paul Revere and the Raiders, that brought back University of Portland memories.)
There were zillions of other displays, all centered on Idaho, especially Boise.
It is a city with interesting house architecture, including from the Art Deco period.
After our Idaho history lesson, we met Tom for lunch at The Lively. The normally-popular eating establishment is quite elegant although Monday lunch must be a slow day because we were almost alone, just us and the staff.
I think the non-alcoholic cocktails were the highlight. They were certainly tasty and the style made the meal celebratory. Thanks Tom and Kathleen!
We finished the touring with drives through a few old Boise neighborhoods. The shady streets and elegant old homes reminded me of Seattle or Sacramento, other western cities with boom times 100 years ago.
That was all the touring we managed, so it was home for more chatting and a generous salmon dinner with the fish baked by Tom with a special recipe. (We need to remember the ingredients for our own efforts back home.)
Our Tuesday plan had been to drive from Boise to the small town of New Meadows for no other reason than it is about halfway between Boise and our goal:Moscow, Idaho. I had found an old B&B, The Hartland Inn and Motel, that looked nice enough AND it featured a Tesla charger, one of the few in all of north-western Idaho. What could go wrong?
Cousin Tom helped us find out. On his morning walk, he had heard an NPR report of a double murder in our quaint destination of New Meadows, just the night before. It seems the proprietors of the hotel had been gunned down at their front desk. "The Hartland Inn". OUR hotel. The proprietress and I had talked just days before. Dead.
Left with no other options, we left Tom and Kathleen in Boise and headed to Ontario, Oregon, to recharge Carla and to give us some thinking time. We called the Hartland Inn phone number, to express our condolences to whoever might answer and to confirm the hotel was closed. No answer. We decided to simply go to the hotel to find out what we could, so we headed north for an hour and a half.
In New Meadows, we found the Hartland Inn, the front door blocked with police crime scene tape and the stoop covered with bouquets of flowers. Around back, Marianne spotted a lady cleaning rooms and went to talk. The housekeeper gave us the sad and shocking story.
A guest had checked in, claiming some connection with the establishment because his name was "Hart". He proceeded to invade the space of guests and the staff, before security escorted him away. He left for a few minutes, came back with a gun, and shot Rory and Sara Mehen point blank.
Police tracked the killer down within hours, but the community is reeling. An evening memorial was happening the day we were passing through. It was hard to imagine how a community of 400 people could handle such shock and sadness. Our connection was slight, but the thought of young people being killed in such a manner, continues to haunt us.
After lunch in New Meadows, we drove north, not exactly sure where we would spend the night. The scenery of open plains and rolling hills was calming. We were distracted by a "Historical Information" sign and pulled off to be educated. The history lesson was something about being a location for prehistoric arrow head makers.
We took in the view and another traveler, an unshaven guy with eye-blocking shades, offered to take our picture. Primed by our exposure to what a stranger just did in New Meadows, we reluctantly agreed. When he removed his sun glasses, he revealed friendly eyes, and we relaxed. The picture was just fine. (Check the "Snakes" sign in the background. We stayed out of the grass.)
Further up this valley, we passed by a sign signifying the 45th parallel, half way between the equator and the north pole. Interesting, somehow.
Mostly, we passed the hills and valleys in silence, except with enough chatting to agree on an overnight stop in Grangeville, where the Super 8 hotel offered Tesla charging.
The little town was unremarkable, the hotel friendly and clean, and we easily settled in to digest what we had experienced this day. For us, it's a story, but we can't help but think of all the people affected far more personally by senseless violence.
John and Marianne