There is a lonely stretch of highway running from mm99 in Montana to mm99 in Idaho along the I-15. To the blind eye it looks like nothing is going on through that stretch, only two “cities” to speak of – Dillon and Idaho Falls – neither of which jump off the map and scream “Happening place here” (although I beg to differ). The rest of the road is desolate and isolated – or one would think.
I can spend all day running that stretch of highway and have plenty to do. Let’s start on the north end. MM99 is the Moose Creek exit, one of my favorite stretches to drive on I-15 in Montana, it ranks right up there with the Grasshopper Creek section. The state didn’t quite get the turns banked right through both of those, so as you are flying along the Montana freeway on cruise control – both will take you back just a little bit. Words of advice – take if off cruise and slow down just a little, you won’t quite get the roller coaster feel in the pit of your stomach, but you’ll stay on your wheels.
Melrose is the next stop – main street is a bit short, but their claim to fame is the Moscow Mule – ginger beer and vodka served in a copper mug. My friend, Sean, claims it’s special cuz it makes your paws tingle. It’s important to have it served in a copper mug., just not the same otherwise. The local bar charges you a deposit on the mug, because so many were getting swiped.
My next favorite spot is Yesterday’s Calf-a in Dell. We’ve been known to plan our launch time based on when we will get to Dell so we can have a meal. The Calf-a is an old one room school house with community tables. We’ve met some great people there and the food is homemade. My favorite is the roast beef or pork roast, smothered in homemade gravy and served with the best rolls. I have a particular fondness for rolls of all kinds, so I know from what I speak when I say they are delicious.
Lima is next in line down this stretch of road, I smile every time I drive by. The mascot in Lima is the Bears, but the way their football stadium is painted it could easily be mis-read. I intentionally mis-read it every time. My brain shouts “Go Lima Beans!”
Crossing in to Idaho will bring you past my long time favorite railroad bridge. On the east side of I-15, it is set across a canyon and will take you back a century when you notice it.
The Opal capital of Idaho follows along the path in Spencer. Idaho opals are different than Australian opals, they are more blue. But in Spencer, you can mine them yourself or stop off at any of four stores (all the stores in town) to purchase those that have been mined for you.
One more stop to make, but plan to be hungry again. Roberts,Idaho is home to BJ’s Bayou and the VooDoo Lounge. BJ and Cheril hail from New Orleans by way of family connections and serve up the only Cajun and Creole grub you can find in Idaho. The special occasions are my favorite up there, they bring in gypsies or Zydeco for the pleasure of those of us living here. Etoufee and jambalaya are on the menu together with alligator. If it’s a live alligator you’re looking for, they’ve got that too.
The final stop on our tour is a favorite of every man I know. The Army Surplus Warehouse. An entire store devoted to things you have never needed. It’ll take you hours to figure that out though. Personally, I want an artic ghillie suit – I just can’t figure out where I’m going to wear it.