Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Visit to the Idaho Capitol

We left Joe and Kathy's and headed to Boise to tour the capitol. We opted for the more direct, but two lane route that saved 60 miles. It took longer but there was almost no traffic. We stayed at the Garrity RV Park in Nampa, a park that we stayed at before. The park has had some bad reviews lately because there are so many permanent workers. We found the place to be fine, but they only have a few sites available for short term visitors. 
Several miles of the trip was through a narrow canyon beyond the Wild Horse Recreation Area along the Owyhee River. It was beautiful and I was real glad there were very few oncoming vehicles.
At the end of the canyon we entered Duck Valley. This is open range and there were many signs warning that cattle may be on the road. These cows had just crossed the road. As you can see we also encountered a massive number of bugs.
Idaho is the 25th state capitol building we have visited. This one is built in the same neoclassic style of so many capitols. Construction started in 1905 when the dome and middle section were built. In 1919 the second phase added the east and west legislative wings. Most recently, in 2007, underground atrium wings added hearing rooms.
Like all domed capitols we have visited there is really two domes, one outside constructed of steel and concrete and roofed with terracotta tiles and another inside. The interior dome is built with wood and plastered. The painting in the center has thirteen large stars for the original states and 43 small stars celebrating Idaho as the 43rd state. 
The Governor's ceremonial office. The desk has been used by every governor since 1919. There are two pictures of conservative icon Ronald Reagan.
I liked this. The current governor is Butch Otter.
Portraits of all Idaho governors. This is much simpler than many other states that have huge painted portraits of each governor.
This little public lounge had a video of state landmarks and framed maps of each county.
This room was the Supreme Court chamber until 1970. It is now the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee Room. Here both houses of the legislature work together to study and recommend how budget money will be allocated.
The House of Representatives chamber where the blue scheme is similar to the U.S. capitol. Idaho is divided into 35 legislative districts with two House members from each elected to two-year terms. 
The Senate chamber where the red scheme is also similar to the U.S. capitol. There is one senator elected from each of the 35 districts who also serve two-year terms. Both House and Senate members are elected at the same time. The legislature meets once a year from January to March.  At present, both houses have large Republican majorities.
When the recent atrium expansion of the capitol was done some historically significant trees that had been planted by Presidents Harrison, T. Roosevelt and Taft had to be removed. These are items that were made from the wood of those trees, thus preserving the history.
This statue is a replica of Winged Victory of Samothrace. The original was done around 400-300 BC. It was given to Idaho by the French as part of the Merci Train, sent to each state in 1949 by the people of France as a thank you for all the help we gave them after WWII. We have seen the original Winged Victory in the Louvre.
The statue of George Washington was carved from a single piece of pine by Austrian immigrant Charles Ostner in 1869. It was originally covered in bronze and displayed on the capitol grounds until 1934. It has been restored and covered with gold leaf and on display inside the capitol.

The floors throughout the capitol are made of four different marbles. The gray is from Alaska, the red from Georgia, the green from Vermont and the black from Italy. On the floor under the dome they use all four together. 
While the columns look like solid marble they are really made of a mixture of gypsum, glue, marble dust and granite dyed to look like marble. The process of making columns like this is called scagliola and was developed in Italy in the sixteenth century. They are much cheaper and lighter than real marble.
The Great Seal of Idaho which was adopted in 1891 was designed by Emma Edwards Green. It has a miner to represent the state's chief industry and a woman holding scales to represent justice, freedom and equality.
On the grounds is a statue of Governor Frank Steunenberg who served from 1897 to 1900. He was assassinated in 1905.
The statue of Lincoln has been at a couple different locations in Boise over the years. It was moved to this spot in front of the capitol on February 12, 2009. Lincoln signed the law making Idaho a territory in 1863.
The Idaho capitol offers an interesting look at the history of the state. Like many others we have toured they have restored it to its original appearance. The tour is self guided when the legislature is not in session.

We are moving quickly (for us) and have been to Helena and White Sulphur Springs in Montana. We are now in North Dakota and will be heading to Bismarck to tour the capitol over the holiday weekend.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Elko, NV With Friends

When we were in SLC we knew that Joe and Kathy lived only a couple hundred miles away near Elko, Nevada. When we called them we were happy to learn that they were home from Florida so we headed west to Elko for a visit. That drive took us across the Great Salt Desert, a place we have never been.
No, that is not snow, it is a mountain of salt. There are several of these along the route where they collect water from the the Great Salt Lake in large drying ponds, then harvest the salt that is left when the water evaporates.
Metaphor: The Tree of Utah.  Built on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the 1980's by Swedish artist Karl Momen. The sculpture is in sharp contrast to the harsh landscape of the area. 
The famous Bonneville Salt Flats still has water on it from the winter snow melt. The flats are famous for the measured mile where the world land speed records were set. The current record of 763 mph is the first to break the sound barrier and was set here in 1997. 
We knew Joe and Kathy lived "outside" of Elko, so they met us in town and we followed them. They live near the town of Lamoille at the end of the paved road in the foothill of the Ruby Mountains. Only the last two miles were dirt roads. :-)   
They have a beautiful log home that they built themselves. Most of it is done, but it is still a work in progress. They lived here in their RV while building so we had a full hook up site.  Very nice!
We got to spend a lot of time with Joe and Kathy getting caught up with what has been happening since we cruised together to Central America last year. Here is the link to the blog post about that trip.
Joe and Kathy were tour guides, showing us around the area. Their home is near Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway. The byway through the glacier canyon travels 12 miles into the canyon, but we only made it half way before we found the road blocked by snow. 
We came around a turn and were surprised by a few big horn sheep in the middle of the road. They were still very shaggy in their winter coats.
There were several great waterfalls from the snow melt. If you are in the area the drive through Lamoille Canyon is well worth it.
While riding around we came across something we have never seen were we come from. The ranchers were working with the new calves. There were over 100 that had been separated from their moms and were all mooing mournfully. They worked with about 25 at a time in the corral roping the back legs and then the front legs to hold them in place. 
I talked to the woman in the middle holding the big syringe she used to inoculate each calf. There were people from several ranches who took turns helping one another.
I did not know they still used a branding iron, I thought they all used ear tags. Since these cattle will be grazing on open range, ear tags are not good enough insurance against rustlers. The calves did not make a sound when they were being branded and hopped right up and ran toward their moms when they were released.  
A beautiful double rainbow with snow capped mountains. Their house is at over 6,000 feet and has a great view of the mountains behind it and the valley in front. Joe called after we left to tell us they had a couple inches of new snow.
The California Trail, used by pioneers traveling west, passed through the area. We visited the California Trail Interpretative Center that is just off I-80 west of Elko. The center has great exhibits about the perils these early travelers faced as they crossed this vast Northern Nevada desert. The trail was littered with personal items they abandoned to lighten their load.    
The type of wagons they used were rather small compared to the larger Conestoga wagons used to haul freight in the east. They only traveled a few miles each day determined in part by whether they used oxen, mules or horses. There is also a very good display about the Donner Party who passed through this area and were stranded in the Sierra Mountains in California. 
The reality that the wagons were used only to carry supplies and not people is shown with this display showing what each family needed to carry just to survive the long trek across the country. The pioneers would have walked most of the way.
The center also had a display of the different types of shelters the natives in the area lived in. Kathy and Nanc both said they prefer their homes on wheels over this crude home. The California Trail Interpretative Center is well worth a look if you are traveling I-80 in Nevada.
Hey, it's Nevada where brothels are legal. Elko has a small red light district to serve the local or traveling population. There are also a few casinos for those who want to leave some money behind.
Kathy, Joe, Nanc and Jim in their beautiful home. We took turns having each other to our places for dinner and enjoyed a couple great local restaurants. The Pine Lodge in Lamoille was a real surprise with great food in a neat log building.
The visitors center in Elko has several old pioneer buildings that have been moved to town. There is a school, blacksmith's shop and an old ranch house.
This statue of a Basque sheepherder is in the Elko town park. There is a large population of Basque who came here in the middle 1800's. A first for us was the The Star, a Basque restaurant in Elko. Every meal included a salad, cabbage soup and fries served family style. I had a lamb burger and it was wonderful.  
This is the typical Basque sheepherder's home when they take the sheep out for the summer. Very different from our house on wheels. After we left Elko we saw one of these along the highway with the sheep they were tending.
There is a lot of wide open land around Elko. On another day they took us to Jiggs, an old town that seemed to be about three people leaving from becoming a ghost town. It was a beautiful drive with the clouds, snow capped peaks and the green landscape.
Our destination, Jiggs Bar, the only business in town. There were a couple locals and miners in this little out of the way watering hole.
A perfect ending to our stay in Lamoille, the sun setting far across the valley. Joe and Kathy were wonderful hosts.  We had a great visit and we thank them for their hospitality.  Once again making and meeting friends is really the best part of our RV lifestyle. We are already looking forward to seeing Joe and Kathy at the Elks in the Keys next year. 

We are still behind with our posts. We are now in White Sulphur Springs, MT.  We will be slowly heading east to North Carolina where in late July we will be getting together with Keith, Michelle, Rick and Denise. We are happy to report that Michelle had her first follow up on her treatment and the results were very good.  Thanks to everyone for your kind thoughts and words of encouragement.  We hope the trend continues. :-)

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Utah Capitol and Temple Square

With Opus repaired we were back on the road heading to Salt Lake City to tour the capitol. This is the first of several capitol buildings we plan to check off our list this summer as we head east. Staying in or near any big city is always expensive and SLC is no exception. That said, Pony Express RV Resort is one of the most over priced parks we have ever stayed at during our ten years on the road. While every site is concrete, some were so unlevel a couple big rigs had there front wheels off the ground, something we never want to do. The one up side of this park is the nearby Jordan River Trail. 
Getting to SLC from Southeast Utah requires going over 7,477 foot Soldier Summit. This is a high pass, but the road is not that steep. It was much easier than the first time we drove this road in 2008 when it was snowing at the top.
Construction of the Utah capitol began in 1912 after the state received $800,000 in inheritance taxes from the estate of Union Pacific Railroad President E. H. Harriman. Like many U.S. state capitols, the Utah capitol is built in the neoclassical revival style of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The fifty-two Corinthian columns are made of granite quarried in nearby Little Cottonwood Canyon. The building underwent a major renovation in 2006 including the addition of large rubber pads, called base isolators, in the basement to protect the building from damage during an earthquake.
Utah was one of the first states to give women the right to vote. They have elected one woman as governor. I think Nanc would make a great governor, but in a state with a warmer climate. 
The Great Seal of the State of Utah was added to the ground floor to celebrate the state's 100th birthday in 1996. The seal has 1847, the year Utah became a territory and 1896, the year it became a state. 
A display of Utah flags through the years. Left front is the one that was used from 1922 to 2011 when they realized the 1847 was not in the same place as it was on previous flags, on the seal not under it.
The painting on the 165 foot high interior dome has the blue sky and seagulls. The seagulls are credited with saving the crops of the early settlers when they ate a swarm of grasshoppers that were feeding on their crops.
The spaces for painting in the rotunda were left blank for twenty years until a Depression era Public Works of Art Project funded the work. The paintings depict the life of the European settlers who came to Utah. On the bottom are the first Mormon pioneers and early fur trappers. The cyclorama shows the connecting of the railroad with the golden spike, early farmers, meeting with the Ute Indians and the Pony Express. The rotunda chandelier, which was hung in 1915, was in need of repair. During the renovation they found out that Arkansas had an identical one that was also in need of repair and wasn't going to be used so they donated it to Utah and they salvaged the parts they needed in order to reinstall it.  
Two of the four sculptures in the rotunda that represent values and ideals fundamental to the culture of Utah. The niches were in the original design, but the sculptures were added during the most recent renovation. Each has an adult mentor and a young learner.
The 24 monolithic marble columns were carved in Georgia and transported by rail to SLC. The building has a symmetrical design with the halls on each side being the same.
The old Supreme Court Chamber is now used only for ceremonial functions. The painting is of National Bridge National Monument. On the speaker's podium is a small stoplight that was used to warn the speaker when their time was up changing from green to yellow to red. The story is that the inventor went off to war and while he was gone someone else stole the idea for traffic lights and patented it.
There are twenty-nine senators elected to four year terms. Both houses of the legislature work part time. The forty five day sessions start the fourth Monday of January. The painting on the mural is of Utah Lake.
The scenes of Southern (left) and Northern (right) Utah were painted in the Senate chamber during the 2006 renovation. The top painting of Seraph Young, the first woman to vote, was added to the House chamber at the same time. Utah was the first state where women voted.
The House chamber has seventy-five members elected to two year terms. The Latin phrase vox populi, Voice of the People, is behind the podium.
The governor's suite includes this ceremonial office. The desk is known as the "tornado desk" because it was built with wood from trees that were toppled by a tornado in 1999.
View of the Wasatch Mountains from the capitol grounds. The Utah capitol is the 23rd we have visited. As usual these tours are a great way to learn a bit of the history of the state. 
On the grounds is a monument to the Mormon Battalion, the only religious based military unit in U.S. history. The battalion fought in the 1840's war with Mexico. That action eventually lead to the acquisition of the land that is now Southern Arizona and New Mexico by the United States. 
The Vietnam Memorial on the grounds was very touching. The words are especially powerful.
You can't visit Salt Lake City and not at least walk through Temple Square, the 35 acre headquarters complex of the Mormon church. The temple was built between 1853 and 1893 by the Mormon pioneers.  
The temple is not open to nonmembers of the church. This is a cutaway model in the visitors center. It looks quite lavish.
It almost seemed like they wanted the grounds to feel like the Garden of Eden with many fountains and beautiful flowers.
Hyrum and Joseph Smith, early Mormon leaders.
Brigham Young and the pioneers. Temple Square is a beautiful place and worth a look if you are in Salt Lake City and if you time it right you can have the opportunity to hear the Tabernacle Choir.  They practice throughout the week and everyone is welcome.  We were not there at the right time.

We are still behind with the blog. Since our visit to SLC we have been to Elko, Nevada to see friends. Boise, Idaho to tour the capitol and are in Idaho Falls for one night on our way to Helena to tour the Montana capitol. The weather has been crazy with a couple days in the 80's in Boise but lows are now in the 30's and 40's, to cold for us.