Sunday, March 7, 2021

Mosaic Monday #121: Road Trippin', Part 7

Here in Montana, locals flaunt shorts, with tans faded by winter's shadows.  The red-winged blackbirds call "o-ka-leee" from the reed beds down at the lake.  The first motorcycles of spring are gunning along the highway, clean chrome glinting in the sun.  I can feel the surging desire to hit the open road, the sun-roof cracked wide and the wind whipping my hair.  Well, it might be a BIT too soon for that, but we can imagine, right?  For now, I will take you back to another segment of our October road trip.

At this point, we still found ourselves in Idaho.  What comes to mind when someone says "Idaho" to you?  Probably "potatoes".  Me too.  So, it was a no-brainer to visit the Idaho Potato Museum.

Idaho has a climate (short summers with hot days and cool nights) and soil (windblown volcanic, a light soil) suited to growing spuds.  Since Idaho receives less than 9 inches of rain annually, irrigation is required, and the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer satisfies that need.

The following two pictures outline the potato growing cycle.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.  I was fascinated to learn that potatoes are planted from the potatoes grown the previous season.  Small potatoes are used whole and larger ones are cut into seed pieces about the size of a golf ball.  (I am sure we have all had a potato that started to grown from the "eye" of the spud - that's exactly what happens, on a VERY LARGE scale!)

94% of the potatoes grown in this region are Russet; 6% are niche varieties such as Golds, Reds and Fingerlings.  And some of them go to make vodka!!!  ***Did you know???  Less than 1% of the vodka sold in the U.S. is made from potatoes.   While a far superior alcohol can be crafted from potatoes, grain has replaced it over the last century as a more readily available crop.

By far, the most incredible part of the cycle, for me, was the harvest.  Depending on the equipment used, 4 to 12 rows are harvested at one time, and directly into a truck.  Most potatoes are stored in climate-controlled facilities referred to as cellars.  Check out this video - you will be amazed!

Of course, you can't have a Potato Museum without Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head.  Well, they had many!!!
We skedaddled on north to Idaho Falls, our resting place for the night.  Although the sun was shining in a sapphire sky, a lazy wind let you know it was bitterly cold.  But we didn't let it stop us from briskly walking the Greenbelt along the Snake River.

The Idaho Falls Temple shines like a beacon along this stretch of the river - it is impossible to miss.  It was the first temple constructed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Idaho.  Construction began in 1939 and was completed in 1945.  Its general design and individual details create a unique blend of two architectural styles -- Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern.  "The temple's soaring tower draws the eye upward, reminding people of the building's heavenly purpose - to bring people closer to God."  (from a plaque near the temple)

As impressive as the temple, but in a different way, is the namesake of Idaho Falls.  The Idaho Falls waterfalls are created by the diversion dam for a hydroelectric power project.  The original dam was constructed in 1909.  The dam you see today was built in 1982 as part of a $55.3 million hydroelectric power project.  The citizens of Idaho Falls voted to invest $48 million in their future and the US Department of Energy provided $7.3 million through its Small Hydropower Demonstration Program.  This and 3 other hydroelectric plants help the City of Idaho Falls generate approximately 50% of its own electric power needs.

These single photos cannot capture the scale of the Falls; check out this short video to get a sense of the SIZE (and sound)!

If not for the cold, we probably would have walked further, or certainly would have lingered to absorb the picturesque Snake River.  As the map below indicates, the Greenbelt is extensive; we only traversed 2.3 miles of it.  (We brought our bikes specifically for the Greenbelt, but the glacial temperatures precluded that.)  A number of restaurants sport outside decks along the river; I can easily imagine a pleasurable dinner there, in warmer, post-pandemic days!  Watch this space!

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  1. Tha Falls are beautiful. And I had no idea how the pototatoes were harvested! That's amazing! WOW!! Have a wonderful week!

  2. ...I know little about Idaho other than potatoes and it looks like there's a bunch more out there. Thanks for sharing and hosting.

  3. Such a wonderful tour, thanks for showing us. You should have told Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head to hide, they're being hunted these days.

  4. lol, in Sweden our potato farms are not that big. :) But we have much more kinds of them. The best is the spring ones harvested in May/June. Delicious with melted butter. :) I cook more then I eat for dinner. The rest I eat in the evening, cold with cold butter on them. :) Take care!

  5. We drove through a portion of Idaho on our way back to Colorado after we visited Glacier NP a few years ago. We didn't have time to stop long, although we did see a few sights along the way. I know I'd love the Potato Museum, as I am definitely a fan of eating potatoes! I heard that Hasbro hasn't cancelled the toy--they just took the "Mr" and "Mrs" monikers off the packaging. They are both still for sale. Much to do about nothing, but that is how misinformation spreads.

  6. Before reading, I know nothing about Idaho. A wonderful interesting Post give me a spotlight from potatoes and Vodka over the fantastisc Museum to the Highlight, the nature... tue falls.

    Thank you, Angie, for sharing this lovely impressions of this Country. I enjoyed very much.

    Have a very good week.

    Happy MosaicMonday

  7. .Enjoyed the Museum tour! We missed that, but we have visited the very impressive Falls and walked some of that trail. On an earlier trip, we stayed somewhere else in Idaho during the potato harvest, some little town I forget the name ..schools were closed so kids could help with harvest and I remember the whole area smelled like potatoes. Thanks for sharing your memories ...someday we will take another roadtrip!

  8. Wondeeful trip Angie. I had an few Idaho potatoes last time I was in the US, they were huge.

  9. Hello, Angie
    I enjoyed the museum tour. I am a fan of potatoes and Mr & Mrs Potato Head. I have photos of my hubby and son riding bikes on the trail around the Idaho Falls. We took a similar road trip. Take care, have a happy day and a great new week!

  10. What an interesting post, Angie! Even in far away Australia, we too associate the state of Idaho with potatoes, but it was good to see not only the enlightening potato museum coverage, but also other attractions. Certainly, worth a visit!

  11. Some people wear shorts here year round! It was in the 60s yesterday and felt cool to us but lots of people had on shorts! lol It's fun to look at travel photos and plan trips. When I go somewhere fun, I always want to go back again! Happy MM!

  12. How fun to check out the Potato museum. Fun to see the Mr. and Mrs. Potato head collection. When I think of Idaho I think of potatoes and also of the Lewis and Clark trail. Now that we live right next door to Idaho I have more appreciation for the state. We will be spending a couple nights in CDA come Sunday. That is interesting that Idaho only has an average rainfall of 9 inches. Thanks for sharing your research.

  13. A timely post considering all the hubbub about Mr. Potato Head's gender and its political correctness. It never really bothered me. I sure don't understand why such a big deal was made of it this week.

  14. Angie, your first paragraph is poetry. I love the images I saw with your words. :-) The Snake River is another river I'd love to see one day, preferably in this life. Cheers!

  15. Just look at you posing in front of the worlds biggest potato! Who knew there were so many Mr (and Mrs) Potato Heads in one place. It won't be too long, surely, when you can once again experience hitting the open road in that sun-roof vehicle of yours, with the wind whipping your hair. Lovely words, lovely photos. It is always a joy to learn a little more about the country in which you call home.

  16. We've never visited Montana or Idaho. Drove through once as a kit on our way to Calgary, so your post was informative and interesting. Poor Mr. Potato Head has taken quite a hit lately. Since we drink Vodka, I wouldn't know the difference. Looks like you had a lovely trip.

  17. Lovely photographs. Fun to check out the Potato museum and to see the Potato head collection.

    Have a lovely week.

    All the best Jan

  18. Another interesting travel post this week. You will soon be in spring and out on the road again. A Potato museum? really! It is good to see the city generating some of its power. We should all be going more down this path. Stay safe, enjoy your week, and thank you again for the link up.

  19. Yep, I've grown potatoes from the eyes. They were tasty.

  20. Angie, The potato harvesting interesting. Those are massive falls. Thanks for sharing and hosting! Have a great week. Sylvia D.

  21. A museum devoted to potatoes? Now I've seen most things, but never a spud museum. Do you use the term "spuds" in NA? Sue hates me using that "common" term but it's one I grew up with.

    I'm liking those blue skies and like you, looking forward to driving withe windows wound down.

  22. Such a wonderful tour of Montana or Idaho. Lovely photographs. It is fun to check out potato head collection and amazing potato museum

  23. i definitely neeeeeed to visit that potato museum. i think if i had to pick one food to live on, it would probably be potatoes, or bread. but most likely potatoes!!

    i adore the sound and sight of waterfalls, the video was quite impressive!!!

  24. A beautiful tour of a bit of Idaho! The falls are so pretty. Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head now have new names, I've heard - just Potatohead so as not to offend anyone. I do love eating potatoes, although I try to limit myself these days.

  25. This area is where my mother grew up and my parents spent the last 30 years or so of their life after they retired. I love it.
    Everybody there calls the potatoes "spuds." I had several relatives who grew them. On the harvest at the ends of the field, the machines are not as efficient at getting the potatoes as on the straightaways so the cheapskate relatives go out and "glean" the spuds for their own use.
    That Temple may be the most beautiful building I have ever seen anywhere. I've had several relatives married there (non-believers are not invited) and a bunch more relatives did their "temple work" there.
    Those paths along the river are life savers. I've spend many miles running and walking up and down them and have found a bunch of geocaches.
    Great post, brings back lots of memories for me.

  26. I love potatoes and had plenty of those Idaho potatoes growing up. Nice tour, Angie and thanks for sharing.

  27. I love going on these road trips via the internet with you and your travel bud. So much fun.
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

  28. Looks like a fun trip. Whenever my potatoes spud I pop them in some soil. I've gotten many small potatoes that way but would like to try for a bigger harvest. If nothing else, I get a very large plant in the growing process and I do love green anything on my balconies (even so-called weeds are welcome). I have friends who used to make gin from potatoes and grapefruit. I'm not a fan of gin but it was pretty darn good. Potatoes get a bad rap but are actually nutritious and keep longer than a lot of veggies. I like to boil them whole, then slice and roast in the oven with olive oil, s&p and seasoned salt, and put them on a salad of greens, tomatoes, onion, with a lemon tahini dressing. So delicious. I have that at least once or twice a week. Have you heard of the Big Idaho Potato Hotel near Boise? It's pretty cool and rentable on Air B&B. :) Take care.


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