Sunday, April 04, 2010

2010 USA Tour : April 1st, Pocatello ID

Moondetour to the moon

When we set off from Boise, it was misty and threatening with snow falls, but I just did not want our Idaho experience to be just its I84 and I86 freeways. I had already found the previous day’s drive of total interstate very tedious. Claire loves interstate driving due to the ease and speed of getting to places. As she was tired today the interstate with no detours was very attractive.

I looked over to the mountains and wishing to set a course for them, but also worried that such a course would land us in snow storm and trouble getting to the gig.

As we passed a town called Mountain Home this was a junction with Route 20 that would have taken us to the mountains, but it still looked threatening over there. We kept going along the freeway to Gooding, and suddenly the sky was blue and the ice capped mountains looked stunningly beautiful. Claire was driving and I hastily asked, “please Claire lets take Route 26 to the mountains”.

At first, I do not think she was happy with the detour, but I had done a quick flick through Google Maps to find the detour was only 20 miles and 30 minutes different to going the freeway route. Route 26 is a 65 miles and hour speed limit route and very quiet, hardly any traffic. When Claire settled into this I think she actually thought this was a good choice as it did bring us closer to the Idaho countryside and its quaint wide street wild west towns that i feel could be used for western movie sets just as they are.

The highlight of this detour is a mountain pass after the tiny town of Corey that rises up into a plateau known as “Craters Of The Moon” that stretches about 30 miles. There was a lot of snow this high up but the highway was totally clear of snow and ice and still a very easy drive.

The scenery was magnificent, miles of lava rock formed into wondrous shapes from four small volcanoes. There was a sign telling the story of how difficult it was for the west travelling pioneers with their covered wagons.

We stopped for lunch by the visitor’s centre by the volcano mounds. The ranger there seemed to be pleased to see someone to break up his day.

battling all weathers to Pocatello

After lunch it was my turn to drive. The blue sky and sun vanished to present us with a snow storm that took away most visibility for many miles. Claire fell asleep for a couple of hours, which was well needed and extremely benefited the show later, as you will read.

The road passed out of the mountains and back onto plains. I had heard many antelope roamed here and it was almost certain that we would see some. Maybe it was due to poor visibility caused by the heavy snow, but I saw none.

After arriving on the freeway I15 and Blackfoot, heading to Pocatello, the snow quickly stopped to be replaced again by blue sky, sun, beautiful winds, and the strongest wind gusts of this tour. I suddenly found the RV extremely difficult to drive. Pocatello was not far away, though, about 20 miles, and we did reach the town safely.

PortneufPortneuf Valley Brewing

This venue gave us the most wonderful experience that neither Claire or I expected! The building is very 19th century industrial in a very olde world industrial warehousing part of town by the railhead.

The brewery is very old world and brought back child memories of the family brewery of the time. My father’s mother and sisters inherited Bulldog Beers in London. After World War Two, my father was at a loose end, deciding he would somehow return to the family tradition of natural healing rather than be the doctor he had qualified to become. His future was actually quite different, but he did work part time at the brewery while taking on further studies. We had homes in Hertfordshire and Yorkshire at the time and I remember being in Hertfordshire and taken off to the brewery, a building that looked like this in Pocatello, but instead of a railhead the beer was loaded onto barge boats in the canal. I also remember stories that the second Arthur Guinness, who finally launched the famous brew, actually introduced it to Bulldog first as an employee there and they released it as a limited special brew before he came to re-launch it in Ireland.

When we arrived we took the harp up an old ramp and then into a lift to a higher entertainment floor, the lift being worked by a combination of pulling cables and pressing buttons. The stage and entertainment area was like a small Vicar Street club in Dublin. Perfect!

We met Penny Pink, the brewer, in the middle of dumping spent mash after a day’s brewing session. Wonderful woman with a wonderful story of how her micro brewing company was created and is today an incredible success.

Before the concert, I joined Bill Connell and family for dinner in the pub section. Wow! What meals they serve here. The menu gives options of small or large plate. I went for small plate and it was huge! Claire skipped the meal to tune up and have some quiet time. She likes to eat after a performance.

Clairebreweryconcert in the brewery

Absolutely wonderful! I think Claire performed the best so far on this tour, and i though the night before at Shangri La was stunning. Nice sound system here that really suited her voice and made the harp sound great too.

Yes, it was like Vicar Street, Dublin. The atmosphere and support of the audience was similar. This place sort of made us feel like “stars”. Lots of thanks to Bill Connell, who I met on the Frommer’s tourism web site, who set this gig up, with the help of his family, in very short notice after we had been dropped from an Idaho Falls gig.

I cannot really highlight a top song from Claire on this day as every one was top.

After the show we travelled an hour to Idaho Falls to be ready for a day off on Good Friday, to explore. However, the drive home was through blizzarding snow, so at this point it seemed like Good Friday will be a total lay in Friday.




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