Not Just Potatoes (But Mainly Potatoes): Idaho

Idaho? You-da-ho!

I know, makes you long for the days when I thought “Colourado” was funny.

Church and CloudsI’m approaching Idaho from the south, heading along good road with some suspicious looking weather (as above). I’ve driven on a lot of roads here and across America I have become very familiar with one part of the American wildlife, to be found in the freezing north, the humid south, the flat in-between and everywhere else. This ubiquitous creature is the humble blown out tyre. It resembles… well, a blown out tyre. But it is only now, approaching Idaho, my 35th state, that I come across one of these elegant creatures in action. Not quite in action, but rather, freshly exploded. I finally found a truck pulled over at the side of the road, one of its massive wheels gone. You do get piece of blown tyres elsewhere in the world, but I’ve never seen such concentration of them anywhere but the US, presumably given their vast, vast numbers of transport trucks. I’m not trying to delay my post about Idaho by talking about this aside, incidentally. No, indeed, I’m excited for Idaho. It contains perhaps the most personally relevant cultural celebration:

The Potato MuseumOh yes.

Now, America, I don’t mean to criticise. Obviously, I’m deeply impressed at this landmark museum, but I do have to register a slight complaint. When I entered the Potato Museum of Potatoes, I was given Hash Browns. Delicious, you might think. Except no, these were the Hash Browns I was given:

"Hash Browns"

Now, I was willing to make my peace with you guys doing hash browns as shredded up instead of the obviously superior patty form that we do, I was fine with that, really I was. But look at that. Look at it. It has microwave instructions on the side. Microwave. Have some pride, America. You’d never catch us doing something so vile.

Smash Ahem.

Anyway, that minor difficulty, though leaving a sour, microwaved shredded potato taste in my mouth, will not put me off this excellent Potato Museum of Potatodom. For instance, I learned all about the Potato God, namely, that there was a potato god:

Potato God

The stories of the Potato God sounded strangely appropriate, given Northern Ireland’s own slightly fraught tribal relations, no wonder we adopted the spud as our currency:

Potato God's StoryThe Potato Museum of Po-po-po-po-potato Face doesn’t just detail the ancient history of this humble addition to every meal, but also the many modern interpretations of the potato, from cultural icon:

Mr Potato HeadTo sawdust imitations:

World's Largest PringleYes, that is indeed, the world’s largest Pringle. I didn’t have the heart to tell anyone that it had broken. Or that I ate it.

Elsewhere in the Potato Museum of Po-Tay-Toes we move away from the raw beauty of the spud and into the realm of how they were cultivated and harvested. Unfortunately, this only proves that other people – other people who rely on their wit to make a living – other people can be as dumb as Ross:

SpudnikBut learning about spuds isn’t all fun and games here in the Potato Museum of PotatOS, we also learn about the serious history of this godly goodie. For instance, Frederick the Great of Prussia found the flowers of the potato plant beautiful, growing them in his flower garden. He was so convinced of the potatoes’ value that he threatened to cut off his subjects’ ears if they refused to grow them. Meanwhile Marie Antoinette wore potato blossoms in her hair. Apparently. Also on the apparently pile is that the potato was a fond Atlantic-hopper and that the spuds eventually popularised by English colonists were probably brought over from Ireland. And Thomas Jefferson served French fries at the White House, but he always hated freedom.

Yes, truly, a visit to Idaho or America – or indeed, Life – is not complete without seeing the Potato Museum of Did You Know There Was a Potato God?

The Potato MuseumStill, I can’t spend all day here, as much as I obviously want to. I reluctantly set forth for the Craters of the Moon. Knowing that to get to the Moon, NASA had to travel to Idaho has given me a renewed respect for those brave men and women. En route, having previously discovered God’s Scrabble tiles and Othello board, I come across God’s bingo card:

God's Bingo CardFurther on, I discover that sadly the Craters of the Moon are only open to skiers and people whose idea of suitable attire isn’t using a t-shirt to turn me into Shredder. So here’s this instead:

Craters of the Moon (ish)Complete with evaporation on the nearby hill:

Hill EvaporationAt this point, I’m given the option to continue trekking up into the northern wedge of Idaho to see what – possibly potato related – majesty it has for me. I can’t be arsed though, so south we go towards Nevada. I’m heading along mainly flat and pleasant ground when suddenly:

Twin Falls, IDThe canyon that marks the edge of Twin Falls really does seem to come out of nowhere, or maybe I was too busy eating some crisps, or chips, or hash browns, or mash, or fried spuds to notice it.

Twin Falls Bridge

When I was driving this originally I continued on from here, reaching a ghost town in Nevada by sunset and crossing hundreds of miles of road with ominous warnings about how far away I was from assistance and if I broke down I was screwed. But I know you guys will have worn yourselves out on the excellent potato symposium, so I’ll just save that for next time.

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