In what has become somewhat of an annual tradition, my parents decided to take us on a trip. This time our destination was the Rocky Mountains, featuring Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. Of course we also picked up several new counties on the way.
On Saturday night, after a brief layover in Denver, we landed in Salt Lake City. We picked up our Dodge Caravan and headed to our hotel – the Home2 Suites in Layton, Utah. On Sunday morning we got up and drove north into Idaho. Our first destination was the Craters of the Moon National Monument. We drove to the city of Blackfoot, where we stopped for a quick lunch at McDonald’s. From there we went northwest on HWY 26 and picked up Butte County. We continued on to the city of Arco, where we took a side trip on HWY 93 all the way to Darlington, and the Custer County line. After we crossed it, we went back to Arco, then drove straight on to Craters of the Moon.
After we left Craters of the Moon, we continued on HWY 26 and picked up Blaine County. We then headed west on HWY 20, and south on HWY 75, until we found ourselves in Lincoln County. Almost immediately we turned right onto a small road which led to the Camas County line. Once we reached it, we turned around and headed back into Lincoln County. Our next stop was Shoshone Falls, a waterfall located in the city of Twin Falls. We crossed the Snake River into the city limits and picked up Twin Falls County.
Before we left town, we stopped for dinner at Chile’s. I recommend the enchilada soup! Once we left town, we headed west on I-84 towards our hotel in Boise. But we had one final stop near the city of Hammett, where we got off the highway, crossed the Snake River once again, and picked up Owyhee County – our last new county of the day.
On Monday we decided to do a solo drive before my parents got up. We picked up Boise County and Gem County, via Highways 55 and 16 respectively. We then went back to our hotel for breakfast. Once we all left for the day, we drove up I-84 and made a brief stop in Ontario, Oregon for gas, before heading up HWY 95 and into Washington County. We continued into Adams County, where we stopped in New Meadows to eat lunch at Subway. When we were done eating we took a side trip to the east on HWY 55 to reach Valley County, which was about eight or nine miles away. At that point we turned back and went straight up HWY 95 again. It turned out to be one of the most scenic drives we had ever taken. We made our way north, stopping through the towns of Grangeville (where was got gas and saw a domestic dispute where a man called his wife a “ding ding) Kamiah and Greer. We wound our way up HWY 12 next to the Clearwater River. The mountains and the scenery were some of the most majestic we’d ever seen. Along the way we picked up Idaho, Lewis, Clearwater and Nez Perce Counties. Our hotel was the Hampton Inn in Lewiston.
After we checked into our hotel, we crossed the Snake River into Clarkston, Washington (and Asotin County) and had dinner at Fazzari’s, where we tried the Shotsy – a pizza with sauerkraut and mustard. It wasn’t bad! After dinner we walked next door to enjoy some ice cream at Baskin Robbins. That evening we took a solitary drive back into Washington on HWY 12 and HWY 261. We drove about 90 minutes and picked up Whitman, Garfield, Columbia and Walla Walla Counties. It was one of the longer “turnaround” drives we did. But we finished up all the counties in southwestern Washington. No counties left behind!
On Tuesday morning we took another solitary drive to pick up the elusive Oregon County of Wallowa. It took about an hour winding through some mountainous roads. But we got there!
Once we got back to our hotel, we had some breakfast and headed out. Our destination for the day was Missoula, Montana. There’s no direct route from Lewiston to Missoula. So you have to go around the mountains. For county collectors, this is perfect! We headed north on HWY 95 all the way to Coeur d’Alene, picking up Latah and Benewah Counties. From there we continued north on HWY 2 and picked up Bonner County. We dipped into the state of Washington again to pick up Pend Oreille County, where we stopped in Oldtown, Idaho (across the street from the Washington state border) for lunch at Burger King. From here we headed mostly east. But we took a slight turnaround drive on HWY 2 to the north in order to cross into Boundary County – our northern-most point on the trip. At that point it was a straight shot to Missoula. We crossed into Montana on scenic HWY 202. It wasn’t quite as scenic as the previous day’s drive. But it was still pretty cool. For dinner we stopped at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Missoula.
On Wednesday morning we got up and set out for Bozeman. We went south on HWY 93 and entered the city of Lolo – where the street lights are tilted. Shortly after we made it to Ravalli County. We continued south until we crossed back into Idaho (and Lemhi County) for about one minute, before we crossed back into Montana (and Beaverhead County) on HWY 43. When we reached the tiny city of Wisdom, we stopped for lunch (I recommend the fish) at The Crossing Bar at Fetty’s. We were greeted by at least seven dogs who were wandering the street. I was told by a local that these dogs were the “welcoming committee.”
After we left the restaurant we hooked up with I-15, then I-90. Before we got to our hotel (the Homewood Suites in Bozeman) we exited at the city of Cardwell in order to cross the Jefferson River and reach Madison County.
On Thursday we set out for Wyoming. Our destination was Yellowstone National Park. We sort of stuck to the “left side” of the park loops. We saw several elk hanging out in Mammoth Hot Springs. We were also visited by a massive buffalo who walked past our car. Of course we saw Old Faithful, as well as the Grand Prismatic Spring. We had a surprisingly affordable lunch (and a real tasty burger) at the Geyser Grille, located just across from Old Faithful.
Once we left Yellowstone we headed south and entered Grand Teton National Park. Although we have a yearly pass, we were surprised to discover that if you enter the park from the north, there’s no fee! There is no entrance booth. You can simply drive in. So we enjoyed the mountain scenery, and of course stopped for some photos at Jenny Lake.
After we left Grand Teton, we crossed over the mountain and went directly to our hotel, the Home2 Suites in Idaho Falls. Our hotel had a restaurant across the parking lot – Stockman’s. Dinner was a perfect end to a long day.
On Friday we got up and took a solitary drive north on I-15 until we reached Clark County – our last new county of the trip, as well as the last county we needed to complete the state of Idaho. After we got back to our hotel we had breakfast, picked up my parents, and headed south back into Utah. We stopped for Lunch at Arby’s in Layton, before heading into Salt Lake City, where we took the Trolley Adventure trolley tour. On the tour we visited several sites, including the Capitol Building.
Once the tour ended we headed back to Layton, where we headed west onto Antelope Island. While there we saw some views of the Great Salt Lake, as well as more buffalo. When we were done, we stopped at Red Lobster in Murray for dinner. We then spent the night at the Hyatt House in Sandy.
On Saturday we spent the morning relaxing in our hotel. When lunch time rolled around we hit another Arby’s near the airport for our final trip meal. We then got on our plane and flew home – via a brief layover in Las Vegas.
When it was all said and done, we’d entered eight states and had picked up 32 new counties. We also finished the state of Idaho – our 18th completed state. So what’s next? That remains to be seen. There is nothing else currently planned for 2019. However we do have a Hawaiian cruise planned for October, 2020. There may also be an Alaskan cruise as well. So stay tuned!
NEW COUNTIES - 32
TOTAL NEW COUNTIES FOR 2019 - 205
ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 2057