Tuesday, August 28, 2007

(21) Henry, Soda Springs, Misc. stuff IDAHO

Henry Idaho
Soda Springs, 4th of July
Misc. stuff.

Now I know I told you I wasn’t going to send anything out while I was just sitting here at the Blackfoot Reservoir, but you should know me, and know that I like to write. So here are a few misc. adventures while acting Camp Host.

I decided to take a drive around the lake, via the Reservoir dirt road, which is the only way to get around the lake. By the way, the reservoir is owned by an Indian Tribe out this way and they are selling the water perhaps a bit too fast, as the lake is going down quickly. More so than in past years. Getting back to the drive, I’m trying to hunt down to elusive hot springs in the area and ended up just having a nice ride through a country dirt road. The views of the lake were great and I saw quite a few herds of cows and sheep.

On my way back, I was stuck on the road with about a thousand head of sheep being moved to another pasture. Dusty white fur balls, many with green dye markings on their backs. Hugging the sides of the truck, looking up at me with skittish looks in their eyes. Hoping, jumping over each other in an agitated dance with no rhythm. Fortunately, one of the Peruvian ranch hands cleared a path with his horse (Ye-Hah!) and two sheep dogs, so I could wind my way through the sheep. Of course the sheep were bahhing, and baying all around the truck as I slowly drove past them. Now tell me, that’s an experience one doesn’t have too often.

I stopped into the China Hat wayside store on my way back to the campground (only about a mile from the campground) and found I could get a great cell signal for my laptop/Verizon Air card, so stopped in and had a soda and talked to one of the owners while checking on my e-mails. Had a real nice chat with the gal about life in these parts. She won’t stay open this winter. Way too lonely, cold and costly.

Bob and Shirley are staying in a camper across from mine and Bob offered to take me out on a boat ride. He tried a little fishing with no luck. I on the other hand got the catch of the day, by hearing what life is like to live in these parts. Bob is 5th generation family living here. His Great Grandfather being one of the first Western Union mail delivery men. Riding his horse between Wyoming and Idaho along the Oregon Trail. He told me two of the areas worst natural disasters. The first around 1884 when the Big volcano in Asia blew darkening the skies around the world for over a year. The ranchers in the area with their cattle and sheep and the native animals like the dear and moose were all killed off within a year because of a lack of food. Nothing could grow with those darkened skies. Up until then, the ranchers hadn’t stored away any hay or grain for drought or a disaster like the one that occurred with the volcano. It was estimated that over 90% of all wild animals died from lack of food. In Bob’s own time, 1949, he was a lad in the 4th grade, he remembers the blizzards that lasted most of the winter. Temperatures as low as 40 below. Huge snow drifts. The only way the trains were able to get through this area, bringing food and supplies, was by hiring all the able bodied men in the area to shovel snow off of the train tracks all winter long. Houses were buried to their eves in snow and he was let out most of the winter from having to go to school. Again many of the ranchers lost their livestock. He remembers his mom and dad collecting the hides off of the dead sheep as they thawed out from the snows in the springtime. They haven’t seen such severe weather since and he believes the climate has gradually gotten warmer. Oh, and his grandfather once owned farmland that is now under water, below where we are today gliding across the Blackfoot Lake. His grandfather then bought more land south of Soda Springs, and once again was bought out when they decided to build another reservoir. Says his grandpa made out pretty well and was able to retire.
Before the reservoir was completed, a local Indian tribe used to make summer camp along the river, now under water, and fish, hunt and farm all summer long. A couple years back when the lake dried up, folks wondered along the former river banks and collected lots of arrow heads and other artifacts.

Also along the shore line are some peninsula’s and an island that are natural bird rookeries. Pelicans, seagulls and cormorants all have nests along this area.

On Wednesday Bob is going to his 50th high school reunion in town. There should be about 12 members in attendance.

Of course I had to go into Soda Springs for the 4th of July Parade. A bit disappointing. Lots of people in the parade, no real floats, but tons of candy being thrown to the spectators. Oh and I had a great breakfast in the park for $5.00. After the parade and breakfast, I checked out a few vendors around the park and bought a used book “Westward Vision, The Story of the Oregon Trail”. I’ve started reading it and it really gives a full history of the discovery of the West. What a great find. If I hadn’t mentioned it before, the Oregon Trail goes right through Soda Springs. I’ll be exploring more of the Oregon Trail in the next week or so, both in the book and seeing the physical trail on a trek I’m planning to Montpelier Idaho where they have the National Oregon/Calif. Trail Center.


A final note for this report, as camp host, I’m able to interact with more people. Even though the park is not very busy, the few campers that come through and many of the boaters and locals, stop by to talk and get a little information about the park.

So for anyone who is thinking of solo traveling like myself (and yes I’d love to have a companion but things don’t always turn out the way you’d like them too) being a camp host gives you much more opportunity to meet and interact with other campers and even the staff of the park your in.

As an example, I was given a bag of Idaho potatoes by one camper. I then went around to the other campers and shared the potatoes with them and in the offing, I met a few more folks. Pretty cool huh.

Biggest problem. Telling the 4 wheelers, they love their 4 wheelers out here, to slow down when going through the park. But it’s just a matter of educating them. And telling them to have a great time, just at a slower speed through the park.

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