Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lavender ice cream and alligator farms

Hold on to your hats, I've got quite a story today!

Ok, so we've been known to take some pretty wacky day trips. Sometimes on Saturday mornings we look on the map, find a place that we've never been before and then we drive there, just to see what's there. We've discovered all sorts of little out of the way places, and tiny little towns that we never knew existed, and along the way we've had a LOT of crazy adventures. Today's day trip was definitely no exception, and I have the photos to prove it! :)

The original plan for today was to go to the lavender festival. There is a lavender farm a tiny little town about two hours away from here in the complete middle of nowhere, and every July they have a lavender festival. July is harvest time for lavender, so right before they harvest it, when it's at it's peak, they open up the farm and they have a party!

Last year when we went they served a lunch of lavender chicken, lavender rolls, lavender potato salad and lavender lemonade. That sounds bizzare but it was actually really delicious! I had never eaten food cooked with lavender before! You could also get lavender ice cream, lavender snowcones and there is a gift shop with every lavender related craft you can imagine. And while you're there you can walk through huge fields of lavender, which is really beautiful to see.

So after last years experience, I've been looking forward to going back all year. So this morning we jumped into the car bright and early and made the two hour trip into the middle of nowhere Idaho to the lavender festival. Unfortunately when we got there we were dissapointed to find that it was not nearly as exciting as it was last year. The lavender farm had two unfortunate happenings this year. First of all, the owner is having health problems, which has made it hard to run his farm, and second, we had a unusually cold spring and the lavender crop has suffered. All the beautiful purple lavender fields that we saw last year were nowhere to be seen this year. The fields are full of green lavender plants that haven't bloomed.

We were sad that we didn't get to enjoy as much lavender as we did last year, but we did have our lavender chicken lunch and we ate our lavender ice cream, both of which we delicious! I did take some photos of the small amount of lavender they did have. Here are a few highlights:

This one is obviously not lavender, but they were pretty flowers, so I took their picture anyway. :)

So since the lavender farm wasn't super exiting, we got in and out fairly quickly and then we had the whole rest of the day to kill. Since we were so far from home already, we decided to explore the area, since it's not a part of the state that we're very familiar with. And that's when the fun started!
First of all, Shawn heard about a place not far from the lavender farm where a guy raises alligators. What, an alligator farm in Idaho you say? That's exactly what I said. Oh yes, apparently we have alligators in Idaho! Apparently in that area there are a lot of hot springs that come out of the ground and the water is so warm that it creates an area where alligators could theoretically survive. So some guy figured that out and decided to buy himself some alligators. This is Idaho. Most of the farmers I know are raising cattle and growing potatoes. Nope, not this guy. He's all about the alligators.

Shawn read all about the alligator farm and it sounded like a really fun place to visit and the flier said that it was "right off of highway 30." It sounded like you couldn't miss it. Hey, lucky us, we were driving right down highway 30 on our way home! What a perfect stop for an afternoon adventure.

So we drove down highway 30. No alligator farm. On the way we saw a sign for some fossil beds, so we decided to stop there while we looked for the alligators. After a brief stop at the fossil beds, which turned out to be a little wooden walk way and a sign about fossils, we were back on the road in search of alligators.

So we drove down highway 30 some more. No alligators. OH!! But we did see something really amazing! We were driving past part of the snake river and I saw what looked like a big bird in the middle and I couldn't figure out what it was because it was so far away but I made Shawn stop so that I could look. It was really far out in the water so I couldn't tell, so I got my camera out and put my telephoto lens on it and zoomed in. My lens still couldn't zoom far enough to get a good shot, but I did end up with this. It's a pelican!! I've lived in Idaho for my entire life and I had no idea that there were pelicans here. The only pelicans I've ever seen were in Florida. And come to think of it, that's also the only place I've seen alligators...

This is not a good photo, so you'll have to forgive it. It was just too far away for my lens.

So after the brief stop to look at the pelican we were back on the road driving down highway 30. Guess what? No alligators. What we did find along the way though was a fish hatchery, so we went there for a bit. It's Saturday, the visitors center was closed and we couldn't see any fish.

So we decided that we must have missed the alligator farm, so when we left the fish hatchery decided to go back up highway 30 to see if we just missed a sign. Guess what? No sign. I think someone was fibbing a little when they said that there were alligators right off Highway 30.

We then were able to obtain a map of the area and lo and behold, there was a alligator farm listed on the map. It appeared to be right off Highway 30! Jackpot! So we followed the map and what do you know, there is a completely unmarked street off of highway 30 with absolutely no signs that say anything about alligators. Apparently Mr. Alligator farm man doesn't want you visiting his farm very badly or he'd get himself some signs.

So we turned on the road, thinking "here we are, right off highway 30! It must be right up ahead!"

So we drove. And we drove. And then we drove some more. And then the road ended.

*SIGH* Apparently the universe did NOT want us to look at alligators today. So we turned the car around and started back the way we came. About halfway back we saw a gravel turn off with no signs or anything and decided to turn there to see if that was it. Once you turn in there is a tiny tiny sign that says alligator parking. Woohoo, we beat the universe! We found the alligators!

So we get out of our car and we are literally in the middle of nowhere. I think we we so far out that we were 20 miles from the middle of nowhere. So we get out of the car, walk up the path and here is what we see:

There you have it folks, Mr. Alligator man's entire $12.42 advertising budget at work. Way to go, Mr. Alligator man!

So FINALLY we reached the alligators. And you know what it was? Four alligators in a pond behind a chainlink fence. There was absolutely no one around, I have no idea who Mr. Alligator man is or why he has four alligators in a pond behind a chain link fence, but I do have an idea why there weren't better signs. :)

So after driving for 2 bazillion miles, we stood there for three minutes, watched four alligators sleep in the wate, said "Yep. those are alligators alright." and that was pretty much all the fun we had looking at alligators.

And you're so lucky that now YOU get to look at the alligators! And I didn't even make you drive 9 bazillion miles up and down highway 30 to see them. See how nice I am?!

Yep, those are alligators alright!

So the alligators were a bust, but while we were looking at them Shawn spotted some dragonflies and I LOVE dragonflies, so I got really excited and took a hundred photos. Because that's just how I am. :)

Oh yeah, and I saw a cool bird! Can anyone identify this one for me?

So after seeing alligators, dragonflies and birds (oh, and teaching Matthew how to pee in the bushes, which was a proud moment for us all), we got back in the car and headed home.

On the way I saw truck in a pond. I have no idea why there was a truck in a pond, but I don't ask questions, I just take pictures.

So 8 hours later, after seeing lavender fields without lavender, enjoying our lavender food, seeing fossil beds with no fossils, discovering that pelicans live in Idaho, enjoying scenic highway 30 eight hundred times in search of alligators, discovering alligators in the middle of nowhere, teaching Matthew to pee in the bushes, pondering why anyone would put a truck in a pond, and spending 50 bucks on gas, we finally made it home. Whew, what a day! We're just full of excitement and adeventure, aren't we?! :)

I think next Saturday I'm going to take a book, park myself in the hammock in the backyard and enjoy anything that doesn't involve alligators or car trips. I think I've had enough of both for a while. :)


Jenn said...

Excellent adventure Wendy! And that bird there is a red winged black bird, pretty technical, huh? We have a lot of those in Ontario. Your blog is such a fun read!

Crock said...

Absolutely LOVE the pickup pic! The treatment you gave that is fantastic... hope you put that on your for-sale site.

(oh and I am forever jealous of your dragon-fly shots... could *lurk* at those all day!)

BHB lurker ~ ezmommy

Minyo said...

Well, at least you were able to explore a new are of Idaho and you have some cool pictures to show for it. Sounds like you had an adventure, at least.

I agree, the bird in question is a red-winged blackbird. I think only the males look like that. Not sure what the females look like, but they're much less "flashy".

They're very common in the Iowa countryside. They've been known to dive down and scare people if they get too close to a nest or something. You should probably be careful if you find any red-winged black bird nests you want to photograph...or just wear a hat ;)

Sara said...

Got your blog off the BBC BH blog thread. You pics are gorgeous. I'll be back to visit to see more!

Kaylene said...

Wow! What an adventure!

Michele said...

Love the pics, Wendy! If that happened to us, dh would never let up about it...he can't see the adventure in things like that, just the aggravation! lol


~April~ said...

That sounds like much more fun that our every saturday. I absolutely love all your pictures. They're amazing!

Dawn said...

Wendy I love the pic of the truck in a pond - Love love love it. Can I pretty please buy a copy. Send me an email orchidofpurple @

Dawn said...

Wendy I love the pic of the truck in a pond - Love love love it. Can I pretty please buy a copy. Send me an email orchidofpurple @