Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Shoshone Falls, Idaho.
Shoshone Falls, Idaho
Shoshone Falls is taller than Niagara Falls (212 feet tall vs. 167 feet), and without the commercialism — though once upon a time there were some efforts to commercialize it. Based on the photos we saw of it at an Idaho welcome center rest stop, we decided it was worth a 45-minute detour off I-84. Shoshone was formed as part of the great flood 14,000-17,000 years ago, in the pleistocene era.

What Shoshone Falls looked like in 1874 before they were dammed. Photo by  Timothy H. O’Sullivan,

A shadow of its former grandeur, Shoshone was dammed in 1905 to irrigate an area now known as the Magic Valley. We lucked out and saw Shoshone at a near peak flow. In 2013 it ran almost completely dry over the summer. At its peak,the falls pump out up to 20,000 cubic feet of water per second, but has dropped as low as 300 feet per second.

Hanson Bridge overlook of Snake River Canyon near Shoshone Falls, Idaho

Snake River Canyon 

Evel Knievel busted his nose, a small price to pay after narrowly surviving drowning when his rocket-powered motorcycle didn’t quite make it across the Snake River Canyon in 1974. The same wind that prevented his crossing completion just barely lifted him to safety via parachute.  A little less than three years ago, in 2016, stuntman Eddie Braun was the first and so far only person to successfully cross above Snake River Canyon without going over the bridge.

Snake River Canyon is 50 miles long, and as wide as a quarter mile. The ice-age formed Snake River runs for nearly 1,100 miles. It starts in Yellowstone, and “ends” where it dumps into the Columbia River.

Eccentric veteran panhandler at Easter Oregon rest stop.

Oregon Rest Stop

As we crossed the Oregon border, we were welcomed by a “Got Weed” billboard, as recreational marijuana, aka pot, is legal in Oregon.  

The I-84 speed limit dropped from 80 mph to a more leisurely 70 mph. We wound our way through the rolling hills dotted with sagebrush and accented with bright yellow carpets of wild mustard.

I appreciated the ingenuity of a panhandler we met at the rest stop, with his camper and his chicken. Another admirer recalled him from prior years. and noted he had a different chicken then.

Henry the chicken.

This friendly chicken, according to his owner, was named Henry. Henry, unlike his “mean” predecessor Ernie, “Didn’t have a mean bone in his body.” I never did think to ask the name of Henry’s owner, but did feel obliged to make a donation for the pleasure of taking photos of him and Henry.

We stopped in Baker City  Oregon for gas at a spendy $3.25/gallon, but this sign lured us in for a spin through town.
Antlers “Absolutely Modern” Hotel in Baker City descriptor amused me.
Baker City steer Main street sculpture.
Baker City Geiser Grand Hotel, built in 1889.

Baker City Oregon
Platted in 1865, to support gold mining and the railroads, it took Baker City nine years to be considered a city. In its heyday, it became the biggest city between Salt Lake City Utah and Portland Oregon.

With about half of Baker City’s of the 130 buildings in Baker’s historic downtown built between the mid 1800s and 1915, Baker is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Clint Eastwood was among the stars who roamed Baker City for the filming of Paint Your Wagon” a musical comedy Western released in 1969. I credit Lee Marvin’s crooning for making it a comedy, which featured a feminist spin on the Mormon approach, with the leading lady claiming two husbands.

Baker City’s current population is roughly 10,000.

Pendleton sidewalk sign. What could be more appropriate for this rodeo town?
Beautiful detail on the sign’s saddle.

Pendleton cafe, its architecture consistent with the other downtown businesses.

Pendleton Oregon
Still hankering for more of Eastern Oregon’s tiny Old West towns, we stopped in Pendleton, another Oregon town on the Historic Register. 

The town got its start around the same era as Baker City, when William McKay planted his trading post there in 1851. The Oregon Legislature got around to incorporating it in 1880.

The town’s probably best known for it annual rodeo the Pendleton Roundup. The rodeo’s run for over 100 years, and always starting the second week of September.

We rolled through early afternoon on a Friday on the eve of Memorial weekend. The town was quiet. We wondered what percent of Pendleton’s business relied on the Roundup. There is of course also Pendleton Woollen Mills, still going strong. 

Pendleton’s Lot Livermore House
Pendleton’s LL Rogers House.
Pendleton Arts Center, perched alongside Umatilla River.
Pendleton Methodist Church

We weren’t quite as charmed with the business architecture in Pendleton as we were with Baker City’s. There were some gorgeous homes, many with placards spelling out their historical origins. 

Peonies in Pendleton. Rare to see them in yellow.
Violas, making their way as volunteers on a home’s retaining wall.

Despite the chill and gloom, gardens brightened the afternoon. I especially loved the violas, also known as Johnny jump-ups, making their way through an otherwise barren retaining wall.

Alas, while Pendleton deserves much more than our brief stop and this slight mention in my post, we didn’t stay long. We were looking forward to connecting with friends in nearby Irrigon, who were graciously hosting us for the night.

More on that in my final post on our cross-country road trip. Then it’s on to what happens to a boat left idle eight months and what we’re up to now. And I need to make more headway writing my book!

Location Location
We visited Shoshone, Baker and Pendleton May 24, 2019. We are currently on our boat, Serendipity, docked at St. Helens, Oregon.