More trips with Europeans: Nick from Poland joins us for an exciting adventure to one of Idaho’s frontier towns.
“Is there anything new since last year?” I ask the lady sitting behind the counter at Murphy’s tiny museum.
“We have a new Chinese exhibit,” she answers. “It’s where the gun display was.”
“Neat, thank you.”
Kayla’s boyfriend Nick is back in Boise from his home in Poland for the summer. We figure if you’re visiting Idaho of all places from overseas, you’d better see some of the old frontier life.
So we all piled into the Jeep and headed south through the desert, across the Snake River to the mountains that rise up around historic Silver City. A walk around the Owyhee County museum is a pleasant break along the way.
Brenna’s favorite museum feature may be the creepy, century-old dolls. “Look at these, mom!” she calls.
A southern Idaho outback experience wouldn’t be complete without an orange Owyhee canyon so we part from the road just before starting the climb into the mountains to drop in along Sinker Creek.
“Oh, god,” I hear Kayla murmur as the Jeep crawls down the canyon-side roadcut.
“I wonder if this was meant only for ATVs,” I muse, only half in jest.
We cross back and forth through the creek several times as we head downstream through the canyon. “See, I’m washing it too,” I reassure Jessica.
“I heard something rattle and saw a snake,” Brenna tells us as she returns from a little on-foot exploration.
“There are definitely rattlesnakes out here,” I say. I haven’t seen one but I often hear of them.
“I’m going to go back and look at it,” Brenna suggests.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
A sketchy creek crossing followed by what looks like a tight fit between trees persuades me to return the way we came rather than following the creek out. Getting stuck is something I only try to do with the younger kids.
“What is our chance of getting up that?” Nick asks as we face the canyon-side road again. Its last hundred yards was a bit steep. I would be wondering too if I hadn’t tested the Jeep’s limits before.
“One-hundred percent,” I answer.
We make it safely back to the gravel road and finish the winding mountain drive to what was once one of the most prominent cities in Idaho.
Electricity is no longer supplied to the town so residents rely on generators or solar power. The hotel uses solar and cooks with propane. We’ve learned the hard way it means they only provide cooked food at particular times. Today we’re lucky.
We thumb through binders on the table filled with historical articles and anecdotes and a log of prominent visitors going back to the 1970s. We find only two from Poland. Nick is the third.
I thought we might drive up to War Eagle Mountain for the view but snow is still conspicuous not far above town.
starPhoto by Mikolaj Wus
After lunch we visit Pat’s What-Not Shop, as usual, then continue along the town’s dirt streets toward the cemetery. Like many of Idaho’s waterways this spring, area creeks are running over their banks and flooding the road.
Pioneer cemeteries are an interesting exhibit of early diversity. Almost every headstone notes a far-flung birthplace, east coast or overseas.
Here lies an honest man Oliver Hazard Purdy Born Barre, Orleans Co., New York Sept 12, 1824 Killed Bannock Indian War June 8, 1878 His Motto Forewarned, forearmed His Creed He was always ready for the battle when the bugle sounded. He never flinched from duty.
Nick will be returning home in a couple months and Kayla with him to continue college over there. But for now they still belong to slot canyons, ghost towns and desert drives.