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Hoot’s Cafe in Whitebird, Idaho

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We Love Owls Too

On the way from Riggins to Lewiston, we stopped in at Hoot’s Cafe for lunch. Hoot’s is owned and operated by a woman whose name happens to be Hootie, who happens loves owls, and who just so happens to resemble one. Sometimes I get the feeling that Idaho is messing with us.


We wrangled Hootie into a chat before sitting down to lunch, and of course our first question concerned her name. Turns out, it’s not a nickname. Hootie is her full legal first name, which she’s had since birth. She told us that, upon considering her big, protruding eyes, her parents agreed that she looked like a “Hootie”. She’s lived in Whitebird all her life, and run Hoot’s Cafe for over fifty years. When we expressed our astonishment, she seemed surprised; as though working in the same tiny restaurant for half a century was just the most obvious thing in the world.

Hootie then introduced us to her collection of owls. Wooden owls, decorative owls, stuffed owls, plastic owls, ceramic owls and more. Over 1200 line the shelves, walls and tables of Hoot’s. Remarkably, Hootie didn’t buy a single one; they were all gifts. Friends or returning customers have made it a tradition to bring her another owl for the collection. I was upset that we didn’t have any owl paraphernalia in the car to give her, and briefly considered crafting something together out of a couple Coke bottles.

Lunch was great; the burgers were big, and the french fries are cut every morning from real potatoes. The best part, though, was the entertainment going on at the next table. Hootie’s husband is a miner, and had just hit a gold patch. He came in with a bag full of rocks, and everyone in the restaurant had gathered around his table to admire the strike.

Hoot’s is the kind of restaurant that can only exist in a town like Whitebird, Idaho. If you’re passing through, do yourself a favor and stop by. And don’t forget to bring Hootie another treasure for her collection.

Location on our Idaho Map

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October 1, 2012 at 1:08 am Comments (2)

The Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary

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Read Up On North American Wildlife

Wild animals who have been injured or orphaned could never be called “lucky”, but those in the McCall area at the time of their accident might at least consider themselves fortunate. For the past 23 years, the Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary has been dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of Idaho’s wild animals, large and small.


Since their primary goal is rehabilitation, Snowdon is normally off-limits to visitors. The less contact these animals have with humans, the better, and the staff try and keep interaction to an absolute minimum. For the curious public, there are occasional open houses, and “The Dome”: an educational center at the sanctuary’s entrance, with pelts and information about animals from bears to wolverines.

We were invited to take a rare peek behind the gates, and meet some of the animals currently under care. There was Luta, a beautiful red-tailed hawk who’s been in captivity her whole life. She doesn’t know she’s a hawk and wouldn’t survive long in the wild, so is one of the refuge’s permanent guests. The same goes for Ollie, a magnificent Great Horned Owl whose right eye was put out after a run-in with a truck.

Snowdown had recently been in the press thanks to Boo-Boo, a bear cub orphaned during the wildfires that ravaged Idaho in 2012. All his paws were burnt, but he was expected to make a full recovery. In fact, during our visit, he was already up and about, and we couldn’t even find him in his large enclosure at Snowdon… “Probably up a tree” explained Carolyn, who was acting as our guide. We did spot two other orphaned bears, as they were running away: sisters, who were slated to be released before hibernation season.

Snowdown is a non-profit corporation supported entirely by private donations and grants. Their facilities are small, but they manage to re-release almost every animal brought into their care. It’s an enterprise worth supporting — visit their website to help contribute and, if you can make it to one of their infrequent open houses, make sure to do so!

Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary – Website
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Great Hotels in Idaho

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September 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm Comment (1)
Hoot's Cafe in Whitebird, Idaho On the way from Riggins to Lewiston, we stopped in at Hoot's Cafe for lunch. Hoot's is owned and operated by a woman whose name happens to be Hootie, who happens loves owls, and who just so happens to resemble one. Sometimes I get the feeling that Idaho is messing with us.
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