Register Rock | American Falls, Idaho

A few weeks ago, we traveled from Boise East to a small city called Sugar City, Idaho. This is where my husband grew up. The drive was actually quite beautiful, as we followed the Snake river for part of it. When we drove through American Falls, there was an exit sign for “Register Rock”. Curious, I told Jess to pull over so we could check it out. I am so glad we did!

Register Rock, is a prominent piece of history for the emigrants who headed West, whether on the Oregon Trail, or the Mormon pioneers escaping for religious freedom. Apparently this rock was a place where those travelers would stop and make camp, would carve their names into. It’s basically like a guest book.

IMG_4572IMG_4571IMG_4569IMG_4568IMG_4565There were other rocks in the area that were also used similarly, but most of them have worn away, or maybe haven’t even been discovered yet.

The rock now is protected by a shelter, and is behind a fence so you can’t touch it. There’s a small window you can peek through to get a good look at the rock though, which was nice.

The oldest inscription I found was 1835! It was very cool to stop and see something like this, especially because I have many pioneer ancestors who made this journey or ones like it across the plains.

After we looked at the rock for a while, we decided to hike for a bit, and I was so glad we did! This area of Idaho is just gorgeous. It’s in Massacre Rocks State Park, which was called so by the emigrants because of the constant fears of being ambushed by the Native Americans above them on the rocks. I would love to come back here and camp!

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It’s amazing what beautiful things we have in our own backyards. I was so glad we decided to pull over when I saw that sign!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Wahclella Falls and the Fish Hatchery at Bonneville Dam in Oregon

What a weekend! We drove up to Portland to visit my family and we definitely packed as much as we could in the 4 days we had up there. I wish we could have stayed longer, but it’s just a good reason to go back! We took two days to explore the breathtaking Columbia Gorge. There’s so many hikes and waterfalls- it would literally take a week maybe two to see it all! Because we have littles and little legs we needed to pick holes that were kid friendly.

The first day we went to the gorge, we hiked Wahclella Falls. It was not a flat or easy hike, and Memphis protested and demanded to be held several times, but we survived. Us out of towners were pretty cold at first and all had our layers on, but by the time we reached the falls I was sweating! The weather here is so unpredictable but we got really lucky and it ended up being sunny and pretty warm.

 

 

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The hike itself was gorgeous. I still cannot get over the moss covered trees! My kids called them “fuzzy trees”. My stepdad Rick was a fountain of knowledge pointing out every plant we passed and telling us what it was stinging nettle, and Poison Oak which thankfully no one walked through or touched! We even picked some delicious wild raspberries along the trail, but also saw salmon berries,Oregon Grapes, and huckleberries! We saw a few garter snakes and Rick picked it up while the littles squealed with delight.

The Falls were quite impressive. The greenery surrounding Wahclella makes it seem like you should be in Ireland instead of Oregon. It was quite magical really. We made our way to the water which was too cold to swim in, but the littles had a good time throwing rocks in the water for a long time. Okay, the adults threw some rocks too! The kids explored a cool dripping cave, and then we headed back down the trail to the cars.

That same day, we visited the Fish Hatchery which is across the road from the Wahclella Trailhead at the Bonneville Dam.

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We saw lots of fish, and even Bigfoot! It was worth driving over to see the hatchery.I had never been to one before, so it was very interesting to walk by all the huge tanks holding the baby fish in them. Tons of tiny fish were leaping out of the water which the kids enjoyed watching. We moved on to the Rainbow Trout which were so vividly colored, and the kids liked throwing in fish food and watching a giant writhing pile of rainbow fish fight over it.

From there, we moved to the sturgeon viewing areas. Man, were these prehistoric fish impressive! They even had a viewing window under their pond so you could watch them swimming underwater. The largest one they had must have been at least 10-15 feet long! Memphis loved looking at their eyes, and Calvin loved to point at the pieces of dead fish along the bottom of their tank. Shay just couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that they are as old as dinosaurs.

Once we were done watching them, we drove up to the actual dam. Inside, we took the elevator down so we were underneath it, and they had these viewing windows where you could watch the fish swimming up the ladder from under the water. We maybe saw one fish from under there, but were much more interested in the alien-like Lamprey which were suctioned to the windows! Their alarmingly sharp little teeth made it look like a horror film! Honestly, I could have watched them all day. I never knew that they are basically leeches and suck the fluids out of the fish they attach to! Calvin started talking to a group of people and told them that “They are basically related to Dracula!” which made us all laugh! He’s such a good tour guide!

We walked outside to watch the fish leap up the ladder from the top of the water. Sadly, we saw plenty of fish but none of them were jumping so we didn’t stay long. We got a good view of the dam from up there, and then called it a day.

It was such a jam-packed day of fun and we really lucked out with the weather being so nice and sunny! I snapped this photo of Memphis when we pulled into my birth mom Sherri’s house.

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You know it was a good day when he’s asleep in the car (which he never does anymore) AND covered in dirt!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Jump Creek Falls

Just outside of a small town called Marsing, Idaho is Jump Creek Canyon. Without GPS it would have been impossible to find as we maneuvered around private land. This one neighbor is obviously FED up with travellers thinking his property was the way to Jump Creek.

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Yikes. We get the hint!

There is an upper trail and a lower trail. The upper one looked a little too advanced for the littles, so we decided to do the lower one. I’m so glad we did! It was not a super long hike, but it was windy and uphill with lots of rocks and slippery gravel. It winds along the stream that comes down from the falls. So, we took our time with the kids, and that was just fine. There were lots of caves and cool rocks to explore on our way.

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The mouth of Jump Creek Canyon

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One of the many caves and caverns we discovered!

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Once we made it to the end of the trail we were pleasantly surprised by the waterfall! It’s not as full as it would be at the end of spring/beginning of summer with most of the snow melt but it was still very awesome. There a good-sized pool underneath that’s perfect for swimming in. It happened to be an extremely hot day too (98) so the kids didn’t mind the chilly water. Shay discovered a cool tunnel right by the waterfall that she liked to explore and climb through. Memphis was content to stand in the shallows and throw rocks, but Calvin and Jess and I braved the cold water for a few minutes.

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When we had our fun with the water, we decided to climb up some rock formations to get a better look at the top of the waterfall.  I asked a very drunk gentleman to take our family pic, and thankfully there was one good one, because the rest had his finger in the way!

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On our hike back through the canyon we decided to follow the stream instead of the trail and it was a whole different experience! We had to hold Memphis through some of the deeper water, but most of it he was fine wading through.

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Jump Creek Falls was totally worth it, and I cannot wait to go back and do the upper trail one day!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

MK Nature Center in Boise

You know what sucks? Sinus infections. Even more so in the middle of the heat of June. Thankfully, a visit to the local Urgent Care has gotten me some meds so hopefully I will be feeling back to my normal self by tomorrow.

So, while I am sick at our temporary home here in Boise it gives me some time to sit down and write about our adventures last week to the Morris Knudsen Nature Center. It’s located on Walnut street behind the Idaho Fish and Game Headquarters. It’s also situated right on the Boise river and the green belt of the city.

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The littles LOVED these fish signs!

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We always have a HOOT!

The best thing about the MK Nature Center is it’s FREE! I love some good free fun, and this place offers so much. It’s 4.6 acres of gorgeous forest with an enormous pond and stream in the middle that has board walks to walk and observe the fish. They had some GIANT white sturgeon which the species itself is about 200 Million years old. My kids could not even wrap their heads around the fact that they were looking at something as old as dinosaurs. The longer one was about 7 feet long and 200 lbs!

rawbrunettemknature1rawbrunettemknature2rawbrunettemknauture3rawbrunettemknature12rawbrunettemknature13I could have watched the fish swim around all day, but my littles have much shorter attention spans. So, we kept walking along the stream walk. As you go further up, there are these cool viewing windows that give you a look under the water. There were lots of charts and signs telling us what we were looking at, and the kids really enjoyed it.

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As we made our way down the stream walk, I took a tremendous fall. I was attempting to take a photo, and thought that standing on a log would help me get a better view. Unfortunately for me, the log was not stable so the moment I put my weight on it, the thing rolled from under me. My legs literally went up over my head and I landed on top of the log with my back and my elbow went directly into the ground. It hurt, but thankfully other than some nasty scrapes and bruises I am alright. I am, however, grateful that no one other than my children witnessed my epic fall! After a trip back to the visitor center and some band aids, we continued on our adventures.

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Once we completed the stream walk, we visited the Butterfly Gardens, and then headed back to the visitor center where there was plenty to see and do. They had the cutest little burrowing owl named Hoots, a turtle named Splashy, and a one-eyed American Kestrel named Fiona who were outside that the kids had a good time watching for a while. A very informative employee had a table set up outside with various horns and antlers that the kids could touch and pick up. She even taught us how to tell the animals ages by counting the rings on their horns!

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We finished our day exploring the inside of the visitor center which had plenty to do and see. The kids looked at the different stuffed animals who are native to Idaho. My daughter particularly loved the display about bats, since bats are one of her favorite animals. They also got to say hello to a gopher snake named George, and three adorable tiger salamanders. They made rubbings of different animals and charts, guess what skulls belonged to what animals, and even got to guess how much a newborn black bear cub weighs, (spoiler: it weighs 8 oz! I was surprised too!)

rawbrunettemknature23rawbrunettemknature22rawbrunettemknature20rawbrunettemknature19So, if you want something fun and FREE to do with the kiddos in Boise definitely visit the MK Nature Center! It did not disappoint! Now, here’s praying my meds kick in quickly and this sinus infection is soon a thing of the past!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette