Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Fair Day

Our park had a booth at the 150th annual North Idaho Fair.  We volunteered to work a 4 hour shift. 

Mostly Mark worked and I walked around looking at all the booths and exhibits!  This fair was very large.  There were lots of 4-H activities, food booths, and information booths for the area. 

Our booth focused on the Museum at the Brig here at the park.  Unfortunately, most visitors to the park don’t know that Farragut started out as a Naval Training Station during WWII.  After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the US decided it needed a naval training station that was not on coastal waters.

Of the 800 buildings that were built within 11 months, only one remains.The Brig (Jail).

The Museum at the Brig is open Memorial Day to Labor Day and is a wonderful history of life at Farragut Naval Training Station from 1942-1946.
Our last work assignment will be to help out at the annual reunion for the Farragut Naval Training Station sailors and/or their families.  This year it’s September 6th.

We're not sure when we will be leaving here but we will be back next year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Factory Tours - Lots of Fun

I love to go on factory tours.  They are so interesting!  So far I think my favorite one was the potato chip factory in New Brunswick, Canada. (See August 6, 2011 blog).  It certainly was the tastiest!

The factory tour we went on this morning is probably my 2nd favorite tour.
The Buck Knives factory gives free 45 minute tours of their 128,000 square foot plant. (Reservations are required, fully closed shoes are mandatory). 

The first Buck Knife was produced in 1902 by Hoyt Buck. 

We saw the knife production from the raw materials to all the different stages of the different products they make. Our tour guide gave us detailed information about the history of Buck Knives and the history of their products. 

Unfortunately, no pictures are allowed on the production line.

There is a store where you can purchase their products (pocket knives, hunting / fishing / sporting knives, and cutlery.)  They also have factory seconds at a huge discount.

After the tour we went upstairs to the small museum.  I was able to take a couple of pictures through the windows into the factory from there.
Up in the museum there were a set of mammoth tusks and a couple of teeth.  Our tour guide told us that these tusks will be kept whole but that the company does have a small supply of mammoth tusk that they do use to make knife handles. 

There were a lot of nice display cases:

If you find yourself in Post Falls, Idaho, this is a very interesting factory tour.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Into the Abyss - What a Ride...

Before we got to Idaho we started to research things to do in the area.  One thing that stood out was a "Rails-to-Trails" conversion that stretches from Montana all the way over to Washington (not that the Idaho Panhandle is all that wide).  Rails-to-Trails is the term for converting an abandoned rail line into a hiking/biking trail. The grades are gentle and all of the expensive tunnels and trestles that the railroad built are already in place.
We decided to ride the Route of the Hiawatha as it is considered the most scenic part of the route and offers a shuttle to take you back to your vehicle.  The route is about 15 miles long, goes through 8 tunnels and across 7 tall trestle bridges. We were required to have lights on our bikes because of the tunnels, so we visited a sporting goods store the previous week and bought what we thought we good lights. More on that later.

The days had been warm here, so we decided to start out early and beat the heat.  Turns out that a front had blown in and it wasn't warm at all. In fact, it was downright cold! We were wearing our bike shorts and tee-shirts, and had each brought a long-sleeved cotton shirt for the sun.  It turns out we were woefully underdressed, but after driving an hour to the trailhead we decided to go for it. Brrrr!
Into the Abyss
We started at the East Portal in Montana, and the very first thing that we did was enter the St. Paul Pass Tunnel.  This tunnel is 8771 feet long, which is 1.66 miles.  The tunnel is about 12' wide, and doesn't have a single light. Our brand new bike lights cast a puny little cone of light out in front of the bikes, but did nothing to actually light up the tunnel.  So I led the way with Teri close behind, and we peddled, and peddled, and peddled though that cold, wet, dark tunnel for about 20 minutes until we finally saw the proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel".  It was an interesting experience, to say the least!!  At the halfway point we crossed back in to Idaho, but we didn't see the sign because (have I mentioned this already?) it was really dark!
Inside of the Tunnel - Flash Picture
As we approached the end of the tunnel we heard the sound of water running, and emerged next to a beautiful little waterfall.
Once out of the giant tunnel we continued on a gentle downhill grade through a number of smaller tunnels (as short as 178' and as long as 1516') and over spectacular trestle bridges.  The highest trestle was 230' above the creek below.
Railroad Trestle
In spite of the cool, cloudy weather, we enjoyed beautiful scenery throughout the ride.
It took us about 2.5 hours to reach the lower trailhead where the shuttle was parked.  We made sure to get there on time as the shuttles run on 90 minute intervals and we didn't want to wait in the cold for the next one!
So we boarded the shuttle and got taken (almost) back to the truck. I say almost because they drop you back at the end of the long tunnel, and you get to ride back through to the beginning, This time there were quite a few people coming down as well as a few going back with us.  With extra riders and brighter lights around us, we could actually see the inside of the tunnel this time.

We may try it again when it isn't 40 degrees outside and cloudy. It was an interesting and beautiful ride.