Sooo......my next series of posts will be recaps from my South Dakota trip. And then I'll tackle my Lassen adventure. Annnddd.....I have one final big vacation planned for later this month that will take me away from blogland for a week or so. But dear readers, be patient - I promise the photos and stories I eventually share will be well worth the wait!
|Lovely old buildings line the main streets|
My South Dakota trip started with departure in the midst of a huge rainstorm. After battling pouring rain and nasty driving conditions through the Columbia River Gorge, I hit blowing dust, coupled with dense wildfire smoke in eastern Washington. Then I passed through Idaho. The smoke from nearby fires was so thick, visibility was a challenge. And I had to close all the vents in my car - didn't want the interior smelling like a campfire!
|The Fainting Goat - Love the name!|
Knowing a lunch break was needed, I pulled off I-90 into Wallace, Idaho. Although I'd stopped here many times on previous roadtrips east, my visits had been limited to brief gas and rest area ventures. Friends had told me what a cute little town this was. Traveling by myself, I decided now was a good time to check this place out!
My friends were so right! Pulling into Wallace's main street, I was surrounded by amazing old buildings, most of them artfully restored. I parked my car, and headed towards a tiny restaurant named "the Fainting Goat." With a name like that, this place had to be good!
|Empty sidewalk tables|
Oh and it was! Not only did I have a wonderful strawberry salad, I also experienced exceptional service from a friendly local woman. When asking where the fire was burning, she replied there were fires all around the town. The closest one happened to be a mere six miles away. My waitress matter-of-factly stated she'd packed up her possessions that morning, fully prepared for an evacuation.
|A bordello museum!!|
After lunch, I exited the restaurant to strong wind gusts. With so many fires nearby, I was a little tentative about staying much longer. But the cool historic downtown district beckoned, and I ended up taking a short walk around, camera in hand.
Wallace got its start as a mining town, men drawn by rich silver deposits in the nearby mountains. After an 1890 fire burned most of the buildings, the town rebuilt with brick, some of these structures still standing to this day. Another huge wildfire in 1910 again swept through the valley, destroying a third of Wallace's downtown.
|Gorgeous train station|
But over the years, this tiny village persevered, and has now restored and spruced up its historic buildings. Instead of miners, it now attracts outdoor enthusiasts eager to recreate in the nearby mountains and streams.
|More unusual buildings|
Another fun fact about Wallace - every downtown building is on the National Register of Historic Places. When I-90 was constructed in the early 1990's, this designation forced the freeway to be built on structure above the town, instead of winding through it.
I really enjoyed walking around Wallace, checking out the old buildings now converted into cute cafes, brewpubs, gift shops and boutiques. They even preserved the old "house of ill repute" now converted into the Bordello Museum. (Now that's something you don't see everyday!)
I loved the old train station, now housing a visitor information center. The grounds were meticulously landscaped. So wonderful to see this lovely old building restored to its full glory.
|Old mining carts used as planters|
I chuckled when I noticed old ore carts had been repurposed as flower planters along one of the main streets. Definitely in character for this mining town!
|You don't see business signs like this!|
My stop in Wallace was a nice break from a long day of driving. But after a pleasant half hour walk around, I knew it was time to hit the road. Butte, Montana was my evening's destination, and I had many miles yet to travel.
But I'm glad I stopped and finally gave Wallace, Idaho a proper visit.