Lolo National Forest shrouded with smoke
Today we left our home on Whitefish Lake which has been a great respite for all of us. Driving through the Flathead Lake area, we decided to take another route around this beautiful lake. Although we couldn’t see as much of the lake on the western side; in the views we did get we could see lots of sailboats. The icy blue water was a perfect background for the white sails as they cut across the horizon. Heading west through the Lolo National Forest the smoke from the Lolo fire was thick. The fire is burning southwest of Missoula and the smoke followed us as we headed west. It was a reminder of the heavy cost of these fires both in trees and human lives.
Sacred Heart Mission Church and Parsonage
In Cataldow, Idaho we stopped to visit The Old Mission State Park. This area of Idaho is known as Silver Valley. This 40 mile valley is east of the city of Coeur D’Alene. The South Fork of the Coeur D’Alene River runs through the valley where silver, zinc and lead have been mined. A billion ounces of silver have been mined from this valley although tourism took the place of mining beginning in the 1980’s. The Old Mission State Park contains the National Historic Landmark of The Sacred Heart Mission. Built in 1853 it is the oldest building in Idaho. It was restored in 1976. The Mission was a combined effort of Catholic missionaries and members of the Coeur D’Alene tribe. In the early 19th century the Coeur D’Alene Indians heard of neighboring tribes who had powerful medicine men in black robes. They traveled east to St. Louis where they invited the Jesuits to come west to live among them. The Sacred Heart Mission was built in this valley of rivers and mountains. Although 175 years old the church and parsonage stood in their refurbished glory as a testament to this collaboration between the Jesuits and the Coeur D’Alene. Wandering over the buildings and grounds, even with Interstate 90’s noise in the background it was a peaceful journey for a Sunday afternoon.
Wheat Fields and Wind Turbines
From the Silver Valley we continued west through Spokane, Washington and onto Hwy 195 south. This was the most amazing change in landscape we have seen. Suddenly the rolling hills were golden with wheat, wheat, wheat and more wheat. It looked like the Sahara desert! We learned that Washington is the 4th largest producer of wheat in the US, harvesting 2.2 billion acres of wheat in 2015. Whitman County, Washington can produce 65 bushels of wheat per acre! The incredible sight of all this wheat, most of which will be exported, was a surprise for all of us.
In Pullman, WA where Washington State University is we turned east again and back into Idaho. We are spending the night in Moscow, Idaho where The University of Idaho is located. These 2 schools must be rivals being only 8 miles apart! It’s been a beautiful day as we have journeyed through the states of Idaho and Washington.