Or was that Tuesday and Belgium? In any case, we did, indeed, find ourselves in Paris Friday, but just as you might be thinking, it was not the Paris. (Although I suppose to the folks that live there, it probably is.)
Yup, we were in Paris, Idaho yesterday. Just passing through, really, on our way from Bear Lake to Montpelier. And what would take us to any of those places, you ask? Well, if you’re a diligent reader of this blog (and you are, are you not?) you no doubt remember our forays into the mountains last year in search of fall leaves. We had great success when we headed somewhat east and south, but not so much when we ventured north to Bear Lake. We made that trek in very early October and discovered we had already missed the leaves, so we were determined to time it better this year.
Oops, okay, this year the leaves are late and there was only the barest hint on them on our drive yesterday. (I cheated, the spectacular picture here is from last year!)
Notwithstanding the lack of leaves, however, we still thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Caribbean of the Rockies, otherwise known as Bear Lake. Another “down side” to our trip there last year had been the weather. It was overcast and gray, with a blustery wind which not only made our stop at the scenic overlook and interpretive center bitterly cold, but also kept us from experiencing the turquoise color of the lake. This year was much better and the lake did its sparkly best imitation of the Caribbean.
Although it took us some backtracking (guess it would have been clever if I’d actually gotten directions) we finally found Cooper’s Restaurant with its glass enclosed dining room overlooking the lake in Fish Haven, Idaho. We had excellent seafood lunches all around for surprisingly reasonable prices. (I had 8 very large Cajun grilled shrimp over a bed of rice pilaf with a baked potato — I know, the starches! — and a large, very tasty salad for $10.) And you couldn’t beat the view!
We then took our stuffed little selves back out to Chris and Louise’s car and continued northward around the lake to Montpelier where we were looking forward to the Oregon Trail Museum. Along the way we discovered we were in Paris! (Admit it, you were wondering when I was going to get back around to Paris, weren’t you.)
Friday in Paris, that had a nice ring to it. Of course, it didn’t occur to me to take any pictures, but my ever accommodating friends were wiling to drive the few miles out of the way on our return (we were taking a different route home or we, obviously, would have simply been passing through again!) so I could grab a snap of the historic Paris Tabernacle. Built in 1889, this red sandstone building is on the National Register and truly is lovely.
Before our return trip to Paris, though, we reached our “destination” of the day, Montpelier, Idaho, home to the National Oregon/California Trail Center. Ironically, on our trip last year to Bear Lake, Chris and Louise had noticed the existence of this place in the literature and had raved about what a good museum it was, having been there many years ago. In the last day before we set out for the museum, they realized through their research that the Oregon Trail Museum they had been to was a different one. Given that the Oregon Trail was 2,000 miles long, it’s not surprising that there’s more than one museum. This one, they reported, was quite different from the other one they had visited, but very good in its own right.
They did a fun job of historical re-enactment here, with a thirty-minute program led first by your “Wagon Master” (fully in character) through the logistics of the trail, costs of the trip (that “free” land the government was offering took a might expensive trip to claim, as it turned out), provisioning, and life on the trail. They had a great “simulated” wagon ride where you bumped and rocked your way along for a time, exiting the wagon into an well-done re-creation of a pioneer wagon encampment. Rounded out with a funky but fun train museum on the lower level and a very nice gift shop (we we tried hard just to stay out of), it was a worthwhile stop in a very pleasant day.
Now if we could just find some fall leaves!