The oldest building in Idaho is also among its most impressive. The Jesuit mission at Cataldo, built between 1850 and 1853 for the Coeur d'Alene tribe, has survived the ages magnificently. After finishing the White Pine Scenic Byway, we toured both the church and its museum in the nearby visitor's center.
Across 82 miles of old pine trees, historic towns and sparkling lakes, the White Pines Scenic Byway brought us northeast from Potlatch to the old mission at Cataldo. It was a peaceful stretch of driving, with few other cars and increasingly beautiful nature.
Moscow is best known as home to the University of Idaho. It's a college town through and through, with the kinds of shops, restaurants and environment which cater to students and professors. With its tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly streets, youthful population and progressive, laid-back atmosphere, Moscow might fit better in New England than Idaho.
PETA members, feel free to skip this post. You're not the target audience for the Jack O'Connor Hunting Heritage and Education Center, and probably won't appreciate the photos which are to come (hint: a lot of dead animals). Everyone else, please follow me.
When Lewis and Clark met the Nez Perce in 1805, the tribe controlled a territory of 17 million acres which stretched across the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. We visited the museum dedicated to them in Spalding, Idaho, just east of Lewiston.
There are a lot of cities across America that claim to be haunted, but Lewiston is probably a more fertile ghostly breeding ground than most. This was the original capital of the Idaho Territory, where prospectors and mountain men came to spend their money on liquor, women and gambling. It was the kind of lawless, greed-soaked place which inspired intrigue and murder... and exactly the kind of place which might produce ghosts.
The massive wooden dog is one of America's most unique Bed & Breakfasts, the brainchild of Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin. Although we weren't staying the night, we couldn't resist dropping in and trying to figure out what exactly would possess anyone to create such a curiosity. It seemed a safe bet that Dennis and Francis would be interesting folks.
The month that we arrived in Idaho was a month of fire: August 2012 saw the state's worst wildfires in more than a decade. Thankfully, we were never directly affected by the flames, but their smoke was a constant companion, obscuring the normally clear blue skies of the Northwest behind a heavy screen of haze.
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.
Any doubts as to the toughness of little Riggins, nestled between two of North America's deepest river gorges, can be dispelled by its original name, "Gouge Eye", which originated from a legendary bar fight between rowdy locals and gold-hunting prospectors.