Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Palousey, a Creamery, and a Winery – all in Moscow, Idaho

Our bus wheels finally got rolling after our scheduled 8 am departure from Dent Acres was delayed due to the automatically retracting steps not automatically retracting.  Ugh, just when everything seemed to be working great!  This happened once before and the solution (as told to us from a trusted mechanic) was to apply a sh*#  load of silicone and hit it with a hammer.  The silicone would clean off the road dirt and the hammer would provide enough force to get the gear turning.  Surprise, we have both of those “tools” and since I know nothing about repairing mechanical things who was I to object.  But when that did not work on the first try, bolts started coming off and more problems erupted.  We planned on heading to Moscow, Idaho – a college town just a couple hours up the road – so off we went with steps that did finally retract but made a repeating banging noise as they went in (we kept our fingers crossed and said a prayer to the step gods every time we opened the door).  Certainly Moscow must have an RV repair shop that can quickly and easily (but as experience has proven - never cheaply) get the bolt back in place and stop the banging.  Not so fast, as fate would play out, the small town repair shop would be booked until mid-July so the banging was destined to continue … and so was our nomadic lifestyle. 

What drew us to Moscow in the first place was the Appaloosa Horse Museum.  But what we found was a full day of activities that had us dropping Spirit at daycare so we could get an early day start on our long day’s adventure.  (Before you start feeling sorry for the lively pup since we ditched her with strangers just know that she loves spending a whole day romping with strange dogs.) 

Moscow sits on the Idaho border just across Washington State in an area known as Palouse Country – a name it gets from sitting in the Palouse River drainage.  And with that said now I can tell you the colorful history of the Appaloosa horse.  Early white trappers and settlers saw the Nez Perce Indians with these distinctive horses and their noticeable spotted coat patterns and gave them the name “A Palouse Horse.”  Then it became “A Palousey Horse” and finally the name "Appaloosa" stuck.  Today, many owners affectionately call them  "Appys."

The Nez Perce took great pride in their horses and careful breeding produced strong and steady horses suitable for their rugged and harsh environment.  That all changed in 1877 when the tribe rebelled against the U.S. government and a war ensued.  The tribe fought and fled from the U.S. Cavalry in an unfortunate escapade that had them fleeing their homeland and traveling nearly 1,400 miles across country unfamiliar to them.  When the tribal leaders finally surrendered in Montana, they were forced to relinquish their horses and the Appaloosa breed began to die. 

The breed was all but “lost” until 1938 when an avid Appaloosa breeder by the name of Claude Thompson recognized the importance of preserving and improving this unique American horse and he established the Appaloosa Horse Club.  The Appaloosa Museum and Horse Club are based in Moscow and continue to encourage the perpetuation of this uniquely American Breed.

We enjoyed the small (but very nice and informative) Appaloosa Horse Museum but my mind frequently wandered to our next destination that would have us crossing the border into Washington.  The neighboring town of Pullman is home to the Washington State University and a famous creamery called Ferdinand's.  I am not one who is very eager to be back on a college campus but when I found out that the university had a creamery with world famous ice cream and cheese, I was ready to enroll.  Luckily it was not hard convincing Betsy to make the trip across the border to partake in my indulgence of sweet butter fat.  Let me just say, the cappuccino chocolate chip paired nicely with a scoop of huckleberry and we enjoyed both while watching students flavor cheese curds for the famous Cougar Gold Cheese.


Since we were starting to like hanging out on this college campus (which is actually quite attractive) we decided to check out the Grizzly Bear Center just a few blocks away.  The center has been in existence since 1986 and houses live grizzlies that are used in research to gain a better understanding and knowledge necessary to conserve bear populations around the world.  The number of bears fluctuates between 8 and 10 and is the only program in the world to house adult grizzlies for research. Pretty cool!

The campus turned out not only to have a creamery and bear research facility but an art museum, arboretum, botanical center, wildlife conservation center, and veterinary anatomy museum as well but we skipped the cultural side of the university because we had one more thing to do in Moscow before picking up Spirit and heading to dinner – check out the oldest winery in Idaho - Camas Prairie.

I know some of you wine snobs are turning up your noses and rinsing your palates as I speak, but come on this is the oldest winery in Idaho, established in 1983.  O.k., so we gave a little chuckle when we saw that statistic but for a tasting of 6 wines for 2 bucks it was worth a try.  And, we did actually end up buying a bottle of cabernet sauvignon.  The wine was good but we had a bitter taste in our mouths when we found out we could have bought it $3 cheaper in the local food co-op. 

And speaking of local co-op, check out one of our purchases (and I'm not the butcher in the picture below who wanted to hitch a ride to Montana with us) I'm referring to the house-made brats.

Moscow was a great two-night stop for us with a fun day filled with stuff to do, an incredible food co-op where I could stock up on cheese, and a pizza restaurant that had us returning two nights in a row.

It is hard transitioning from our Dent Acres paradise but we know that other wonderful places and people are lurking...and ice cream, wine, and pizza help.

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