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USA Radio
May 22, 2014

Oregon: The Heart of the Trail

We started our morning bright and early with a tour of Boise, including the Old Idaho Penitentiary (Old Pen), located on the outskirts of downtown Boise. This retired prison opened its doors in the year 1872 and officially closed in December 1973 – that’s a 101-year run! The most intriguing part of the tour was learning that in its early days, it was not a crime to try to escape, so attempts happened quite frequently.

Then we got on the road, following the river and admiring the architecture on our way to the World Center for Birds of Prey. They work to rescue and rehabilitate birds of prey, especially those close to extinction. We sat in on a live bird demonstration, where we were able to get up close and personal with one of their domesticated birds, the Aplomado Falcon. That was a real treat!

But an even sweeter one? Crossing the state line into Oregon! The whole car erupted into cheers when we saw the sign – our fifth state.

Exploring sure does work up an appetite! So we stopped into Paizano’s Pizza in Baker City for some creative pizza combinations, like The Alaskan, which had a garlic Alfredo sauce, smoked wild-caught salmon, red onions, shaved asparagus and cold sliced tomatoes. This was definitely an adventure in flavor and we left happy and full!

Visiting the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center was next on our list. It was a unique experience for our group because it offered an interactive display of the many places we had been throughout the week. And it was nice to compare our modern experience to what the trail was like back in time. Not only was the building impressive on the inside, it also offered an amazing view of the surrounding mountains and more than four miles of interpretive trails.

A quick stop at Hamley & Co. had us feeling like we were in Texas rather than Oregon! Since 1883 they have been selling leather goods, metalwork, and custom saddles and Western wear to cowboys and everyone else.

Next up was McMenamins Edgefield, a national historic landmark originally built as a county poor farm (a publically funded farm that services needy people – we had to look it up too) that is now a destination resort. Covering almost 30 hectares of farmland near the stunning Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area, it is unlike any other hotel we have ever experienced. There are no televisions and no telephones in the rooms, encouraging a state of relaxation and escape. This resort included cozy interiors, gardens, local food and drink, live entertainment and more! It was a stay we won’t soon forget!

Just one more day left on the trail. Stay tuned!

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