Make some time to enjoy your interests

A jeep parked in front of a building.

Make some time to enjoy your interests

(The start of my trip to Overland Expo PNW 20263)

As I age, I realize the truth in IBN BATTUTA’s Quote: Travel leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. Despite my work addiction, I have been scheduling travel on my calendar, and my recent trip to the Overland Expo Pacific Northwest was no different. 

Each year, I undertake a personal journey that requires a prolonged stay on the highways and byways of our great land. As usual, I made it a point to depart a few days before the official start of my trek so I could spend some valuable time with my dad in the breathtaking state of South Dakota. This time around, instead of being a mere tourist, my dad and I decided to work on a house project together at his house. On Saturday afternoon, when the heat reached scorching temperatures, we loaded up in his truck and made our way to the Rushmore Candy Company. My furry travel buddy, CJ, is always in tow, comfortably exploring the vibrant premises in his G-train Dog Carrier by Kurgo. Upon entering, we were instantly greeted by a radiantly illuminated laser entrance and the overpowering, tantalizing fragrance of confections.

I proceeded to the hot sauce station, where I indulged in purchasing several bottles of Jackass Cajun hot sauce. Afterward, I quickly stopped at the Taffy Troughs to replenish my stock of various flavors in anticipation of my upcoming trip to the OR venue. Furthermore, I always make it a point to explore the Coffee wall and have some beans freshly ground for my travels and at home. The vast range of delightful flavors and items to peruse makes it a highly rewarding stop whenever I am nearby. With CJ inside his G-train, he also draws a crowd of onlookers who ask to give him plenty of love while we are there. 

 After visiting the Candy Company and immersing ourselves in the sweet aroma, we went to several amazing places. One of these places was the Dakota Stones Rock Shop in Hill City. They offer various rocks, including Rose Quartz, Geodes, and heart-shaped rocks. Though I found them fascinating, I decided not to purchase any to take home. After we visited the Rock Shop, we headed to Main Street and stopped by The Farmer’s Daughter. This store had various unique items, including yard art and metal signs. During this trip, I bought a lovely free-standing welcome sign with a sunflower design, one of my favorite flowers. It is now proudly displayed in front of my house, and I plan to move it to a better spot once I finish the front landscape.

After making fond memories with my dad, I eagerly embarked on the remainder of my journey by loading up the Jeep and hitting the, despite being slightly behind schedule. However, the delay was beneficial as I could catch a few extra hours of sleep and spend some last-minute quality time with my dad. So, on Monday, July 3rd, I set out on a trip to Blackfoot, Idaho. Surprisingly, the traffic was lighter than I had anticipated. 

On my travel day, I visited Rawlins, a charming town in Wyoming with a population of approximately 8,000. Despite its small-town vibe reminiscent of Mayberry, my main attraction was the local museum, the WY State Prison Museum. The museum is housed in the original WY State Penitentiary, which boasts impressive stone architecture and an original water tower. Exploring historical sites and discovering unique artifacts is one of my passions. Therefore, visiting this place has been on my list for a while.

Although tours are available that guide you through the center of the penitentiary, CJ and I were unable to participate due to the delayed morning start. We didn’t have enough time to wait for the final tour to begin and complete the hour-long walk-through.  

The display portion of the museum was a filled with artifacts, photos and write-ups but overall it was a bit lackluster.

Upon exiting the museum, my attention was drawn to a brewing storm in the far-off distance. The looming clouds added to the already eerie atmosphere that lingered within me after walking through the rooms that once housed some of the most notorious criminals from 1893 to 1981. The architecture of the building was equally captivating, as I spent time exploring the exterior and admiring the historical location’s decay and overgrowth.

As the wind grew stronger and my phone alerted me of an impending storm, CJ and I got back into the jeep and drove through heavy rainfall to reach Blackfoot, ID. As I was behind the wheel, my mind wandered to my upcoming attraction. I couldn’t help but ponder whether my visit to the Prison Museum was a vision of what was to come at my next stop. I have been anticipating this location for the past year and I was desperately hoping that my expectations wouldn’t be dashed. 

I arrived in Blackfoot during twilight and noticed a few other vehicles in the parking lot. However, they were mostly family RVs, unlike my sturdy off-road setup. After setting up my trailer, I crawled inside to get some rest for the night. 

BundutecUSA is a member of the Boondockers Welcome community and offers our shop as a place for people in transit or our customers to stay overnight. We are located near railroad tracks and it can get noisy when the trains pass by. We always advise visitors to be aware of this when choosing their overnight location. However, during my stay on July 4th, I was surprised by the loud train passing by early in the morning as my overnight location too, was directly adjacent to the tracks!

So, where is this much-anticipated location I wanted to see in Blackfoot, Idaho? It was none other than the Potato Museum!!!

Did you roll your eyes? Don’t worry, I’m not offended. Most people had the same reaction when they found out that I was planning my trip to the show this year around visiting this location. However, I believe this museum is one of the most amazing places you must see.

I toured the museum for over an hour, exploring everything from the antique farm equipment outside to the display of Mr. Potato Heads on the wall. This museum was much more fascinating than the one I visited on Monday.

Inside the museum, you can grab something to eat at the Potato Station Café and then tour the exhibits munching snacks or waiting for your ID baked potato to be ready.

Although the scent of the newly fried potatoes was tempting, it was still a tad too early for me to indulge myself. Instead, I relished in the fragrance as CJ and I roamed around and delved into the rich history of potatoes.

As I was going through the history of potatoes and their impact on the world, I found myself being drawn to a melody that seemed to have a hypnotic effect on my brain, similar to the theme songs of Lamb Chops Play Along or The Elephant Show. It was quite intriguing.

By the time I finished reading the wall of history on the potato and learning that that Mr. Potato Head started as plastic push-pin style body parts designed to be stuck into a real potato and after complaints of rotting potatoes and changes to Government safety regulations, Hasbro had to update the toy to the plastic version we have today. I was singing and dancing to a potato-themed song. I guess you can say I’ve officially become a “spud-tastic” fan! Well, not really… But I did find my way to the video playing and watched the educational portion on how potatoes are harvested as well as catching the song in its entirety. 

While perusing all the exhibits, I discovered that there was once a comic book about potatoes. Additionally, I stumbled upon the dedication for the Guinness Book of World Records’ largest potato “chip”, which is displayed at the museum and essentially resembles the world’s largest Pringle. It was deemed the largest on June 3rd, 1991 in Ohio, measuring 25 x 14 inches and weighing a total of 5.4 ounces.

After spending some time indoors, I visited the gift shop and treated myself to some new souvenirs. I bought my usual shot glass and got a university sweatshirt from the Potato Museum Academy. Before leaving, I made sure to introduce myself and express gratitude to the museum curator for her assistance in including this location in my itinerary. I reached out to her via email in February to inquire about bringing CJ along, and she was incredibly helpful throughout the process.

 With farewell behind us, CJ and I confidently hopped into the jeep and headed towards Farewell Bend State Recreation Area to rendezvous with our esteemed friend Don. He kindly accepted our request to guide us through the western region before the Show commences on July 7th.