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  • Writer's pictureBarbi Taylor

Westward We Go!

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

Our 2022 North Dakota to Arizona trip is well underway.

We’ve been on the road over a month now and have covered a lot of ground. In fact, as I remember back over the past five weeks, I’m surprised how many places we’ve been and how much we’ve experienced. We began our trip visiting historical sites, continued with a quick stop at an old favorite, and now we’re relaxing lakeside after touring the state of Idaho.

We scheduled our first stop as a result of watching the TV show “Beyond Oak Island” They had a piece on the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City that piqued our interest. We made a point of planning our route through Kansas City, just to visit the museum, and it was well worth it. The Arabia steamboat sunk, in 15 feet of water, on the Missouri river in 1856, along with its 200 tons of cargo (all the passengers and crew survived), and was discovered in a corn field in 1988. The fact that the banks of the Missouri wander, silting in the remains of many of these ships, makes the task of finding them even more difficult. A team of five steamboat enthusiasts from Kansas City was determined to unearth the Arabia. After convincing a farmer to allow them to search and ultimately dig up his cornfield, there she was! Not only did they find the ship but all its contents in nearly perfect condition. Being a supply ship for merchants to the west it contained everything from dishware to hardware. The museum is beautifully done, and we marveled at the displays of treasures unearthed from the Arabia. Visiting the museum was well worth the side trip!

Next, was our stop at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Circumstances, including inclement weather, didn’t allow us much time to explore the vast landscape of the park, but what we saw resembled a greener version of the Badlands and is referred to as the "mini-Badlands". It definitely would be worth spending more time there. We found the visitor center displays to be extremely interesting and gained some insight into Teddy Roosevelt and his life. I’d like to learn more. He was quite the character. Medora is a little town right out side of the park. Sadly, we didn’t get to explore it. The town looked to be very interesting and welcoming. We did have breakfast at the Farmhouse Cafe, and it was delish. If you’re ever over that way we highly recommend it!

From there we continued to another out of the way place, but one on our list, the Little Bighorn National Monument. The day we spent in the park was quite moving and enlightening. Even our initial approach into the park was sobering, as we didn’t realize it was also a National Cemetery. The sea of white headstones immediately put us in a pensive mood. The cemetery is now closed to new internments but holds veterans from the Indian Wars through VietNam. After walking through the visitor center we decided to take a bus tour of the five mile long park trail. It was an excellent decision. Our guide was a member of the Crow Nation and lived on the adjacent reservation. He was obviously a student of the events that occurred there and gave a fabulous, sometimes emotional presentation. It was very balanced, and you could sense he had regard for both the Warriors and the Soldiers that participated in the battle. It was a tragedy, spawned by a string of events from an economic collapse and recession in 1837, resulting in a gold rush in the Black Hills which was land promised to the Sioux, to greed of some of the Indian Agents, and miscommunication of deadlines for peaceful resolution. After the tour we spent time walking through the park, visiting headstones of those fallen during the battle, placed exactly where the victims fell, white headstones for the Soldiers and red for the Warriors. Again, it was extremely moving and an excellent history lesson for all.

Next, we were on our way to exploring Idaho, but first a quick stop to drive the stunning Beartooth Highway and make a Yellowstone visit. Due to the massive flooding this Spring in the northern portion of Yellowstone National Park we had to make some modifications to our schedule. We still, however, had a pleasant time in Red Lodge, Montana, enjoyed sightseeing along the Beartooth Highway, and relaxing in Yellowstone for a couple of days. We are just now getting that video complete, so check it out on YouTube (LarryandBarbi) or go to our YouTube tab here on the website to view it.

Last year, due to fires, we didn’t get to explore Idaho to its fullest. This year we’ve spent nearly a month in Idaho. We started in northern Idaho, visiting Coeur d’Alene, and staying near Sandpoint on the Lake Pend Oreille. In our hunt for waterfalls we went north to Bonners Ferry and then within 1/2 mile of the Canadian border. The Panhandle portion of the state is stunning. The lakes have crystal clear water and are lined with both excellent municipal parks and beautiful lakefront homes. It’s definitely become a favorite.

From there we ventured to Hells Canyon and the Oregon/Idaho border. The Hells Canyon gorge is advertised as being deeper than the Grand Canyon. It’s actually a little difficult to access. We drove the Oregon Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, but it didn’t take us within viewing range of the Snake River. On the Idaho side however, there was a beautiful drive along the Snake River to the Hells Canyon Dam with excellent views of the river and rock walls.

Our next area of exploration was in southern Idaho, where the Snake River was also at work, creating additional deep gorges and captivating waterfalls. The city of Twin Falls surprised us with a jaw dropping gorge, the Shoshone waterfall, and lovely municipal parks. Nearby we scouted out more waterfalls, deep canyons, and springs shooting right out of rock walls in Thousand Island State Park.

Now we’re in the middle of the state in the massive Sawtooth Mountains on Redfish Lake. We’ve fallen in love with this area. It’s a hidden gem, rather remote, visited mostly by local Idahoans. We’ve met numerous families who talk of coming here for decades. It’s a family, summer destination. The lake is surrounded by National Forest land, meaning the area is basically undeveloped except for the tiny town of nearby Stanley, and the Redfish Lodge. It’s a popular camping and backpacking area. Boating, kayaking, and paddle boarding are favorite activities of young and old alike. There’s little connectivity here, which can be annoying at times, but the simplicity of life here and the ability to unplug entices many to the area. We will miss our little slice of tranquility when we leave this area.

We’ll be creating videos for each of these Idaho destinations, so subscribe to the YouTube channel to keep informed of our posts.

It’s been a month of discovery, and we look forward to what’s ahead. Signing off for now. Stay safe. Stay well. And please, make the best of everyday!

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