Monday, August 20, 2012

US Hwy 30: Montpelier, Idaho

Montpelier, Idaho, is a town of about 2,500 people, situated at the intersection of two US Highways: US 30 (with which you are by now very familiar!) and US 89, a major, border-to-border north-south route (which is a prime candidate for a future Macgellan road trip!)

Accordingly, the town gets a fair amount of traffic and offers ample travel support services. It is a regional center for outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, hiking, etc., but doesn't have a whole lot else going on. The two exceptions are a famous truck stop and a national museum.

The Ranch Hand Trail Stop once won a "Best Breakfast in America" award, and advertises that fact on billboards for well over a hundred miles in each direction. The counter area is reserved for "grumpy old men" (I qualified!) and the breakfast is indeed quite good.

That's not honestly saying much, though, because I have many, many good "two eggs over easy, sausage, hash-browns and rye toast" in my travels. I'm not sure exactly what the criteria is for being the "best", but I give them credit for gaining notoriety and making the most of it.

Montpelier's other significant landmark is The National Oregon / California Trail Center which offers a combination of display rooms, art galleries and a surprisingly good "go back in time and relive the Oregon Trail experience" tour.

Guided by actors in period costume and attitude, the tour does a very good job of describing the motivations, preparation, equipment, costs, hardships, death tolls and experiences of travelers on the Oregon Trail in 1852. For example, the average total cost for a family of six to make the journey was about $1,500 and was equal to about ten years' average wages at the time. Almost one-in-five people died on the trail from a combination of disease, injury, starvation and indian attacks. The script is well written and delivered, the displays are well designed and realistic.

In sum, if you're ever passing through Montpelier, it will be well worth a couple of hours to have the best breakfast in America and travel the Oregon Trail. A couple of days here has been enough for me, so I'll be pushing west on my own trail in the morning... Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.


Les Trachtman said...

You are looking a bit stiff sitting at the breakfast bar. Perhaps you are feeling the effects of the drive?

Macgellan said...

This may make you laugh... When I first sat down at the counter I said "Howdy gents" to the two guys already sitting there... One of whom was the dummy!... Didn't realize it until I looked over at him after getting no reply of any kind... Cracked myself up!