Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Eastward Ho ~ May 25th-26th, 2012

May 25th ~ Hwy 20 is a blue highway, a road less traveled with spectacular and sweeping views of the high deserts of Oregon and Idaho. Farms and ranches are patchworks of color in a sagebrush sea. Eastern Oregon is onion country so there are acres of a subtle blue green hue along the road.

Just west of the Idaho border is the small town of Vale, OR. It's time to gas up and get some lunch. We park the rig near a machine shop and ask the owner for a recommendation. He points us across the street to the Starlite Cafe. We place our order and the waitress delivers our sodas and then brings over the standard squeeze bottles of mustard, mayo and ketchup. As she goes to place them on the table she appears to fumble the bottles and "accidentally" squeezes the ketchup bottle at Rod. A stream of red heads right for his chest. After a moment of stunned silence we realize it's not ketchup, but a string of red yarn. We just dissolve in laughter along with our waitress and the locals sitting near us. The food is great, the staff delightful and the pies to die for. The Starlite is a triple threat if you're ever in Vale.

We get to Boise late in the afternoon. Our intent had been to stay in an nearby RV park over Memorial Day Weekend but our hosts Linda and Steve insist we park the rig in the driveway and use their guest quarters. They call it the Casita but read Honeymoon Suite, a delightful and comfortable spot to call home for a few days!

First night in Linda makes an incredible dish with cod, shrimp, salmon, prawns, and veggies (like paella without the rice). I need to preface this with the fact I've never been a seafood person, but this first meal in Idaho is the beginning of a new chapter in my gustatory digest. We were joined by friends Ken and Betty. In spite of the fact we hadn't seen each other since the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in February we call it an early night. We'll have four days to catch up and Saturday is going to start at o'dark thirty. We're headed to the Camas Prairie for a day of exploration, photography and birding. It's named for the Blue Flowering Camas ~ an important food source for all Native Americans in the interior Northwest. The Camas Prairie is also a traditional Nez Perce gathering place.

May 26th ~ Linda starts us off with smoothies for breakfast. No ordinary shakes these: almonds, walnuts, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, Greek yogurt, and orange and pomegranate juice ~ a total meal. We're going to introduce them into our breakfast menus at home. At 6:30am we're off (Linda, Rod and I) to meet up with Ken, Betty and their friend, artist Geoffrey Krueger ( He has a fascination with cloud laden landscapes and old farm buildings, and today would turn out to be a gold mine for all of us.

Yellow Headed Blackbird

Camas Prairie

Barn Diva and Truck

Soldier Mountains

Old School House

After the rain fog at an old corral

Ken was a great guide: we saw a kaleidoscope of wildlife, birds and waterfowl, wildflowers and mountains, farms and woodlands, old buildings and corrals. I might add that these back country gravel roads are in better shape than most of Sonoma County's paved roads! We're home by early evening, leftovers for dinner and straight to bed, exhausted and happy.

Anecdote: We stopped on an old farm road to watch two young pronghorn antelope watching a tuxedo kitty in hunting mode. She kept leaping into the air clapping her paws together. Our guess was maybe grasshoppers. Anyway we were as enthralled as the antelope and so no one got a picture. All I could think of to write down so I didn't forget was "Two antelope and a cat go into a bar."