IDAVATION: Southeast Special pt. 1 (Pocatello)

Since our family is on a very tight budget this year, our summer vacation consisted of a 10-day trip to southeast Idaho to accompany Eric to a chemistry conference at Idaho State University in Pocatello. Also, since his parents live in Idaho Falls, we decided to make a vacation of it. Typically I'm more of a researcher and planner before vacations, but decided to fly by the seat of my pants on this one. The only thing I knew was that lots of swimming would be involved. Part One of this "Southeast Special" (I know this sounds more like a dish you might order at a Chinese restaurant) Idavation is dedicated to fun we had in the Pocatello area.

Lucky for us, Eric's conference hotel was paid for at a lovely new Hilton Hotel on a hill overlooking the city. It had a great pool and a stellar complimentary breakfast buffet that we not only ate at each morning, but also snagged some snacks like apples and bagels for treats later in the day. It also came with this beautiful view of foothills that truly rival the ones in Boise, especially at sunset.

Earlier in the summer we purchased a family zoo pass at Zoo Boise, which comes with complimentary admission to other zoos around the intermountain west, including the Pocatello Zoo. The tiny zoo features native Idaho wildlife and this lifesize replica of a teepee, which the girls loved.

We happened to make it there just in time for the Tuesday morning Zoo Tales storytime. The children's librarian from Portneuf District Library comes to read animal stories to the kids under this rustic little canvas structure. At the end they get to do a craft and this morning they made cute little lion hand puppets.

The next day we headed to Lava Hot Springs, a quaint little town about 30 minutes outside of Pocatello. Once land occupied by the Shoshone-Bannock people, the hot springs were "purchased" by the US government in a treaty agreement in the late 1800s and began being operated as a state park in 1902. We bought passes for the whole family to explore the various pools throughout the town all day long for a little over $30.

The hot pools are further into the city on the Portneuf River and are really well kept. The numerous pools have pebble bottoms and holy hell are THEY HOT. We had to take several breaks and were thrilled to find out that they sold all sorts of ice cream bars at the admissions desk to cool us down.
As we wandered downtown to grab a bite to eat, we saw slews of people making their way with bright colored tubes and rafts to float the rapids of the Portneuf River. It looked like loads of fun, and we are excited to go back when the girls are older to give it a try.

We spent the majority of our time at the olympic sized pool, where a bridge to two really long, steep waterslides acts as a welcoming archway into the city proper. The pool is also noted for their three levels of high platforms to dive off of, but, again, with tiny girls we spent our time on the smaller waterslides (of which there are four) and playing on the gigantic plastic water snake toy that bobs in the center of the pool.

It is always important to us to not only expose our girls in a fun way to history, but also cultural diversity when we travel. Especially, since at this point in her short life, Lucy's main knowledge of Native Americans comes from Disney's Pocahontas. We were thrilled to find out that we were going to be in the area on the weekend of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes annual Sho-Ban Festival at the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.

The festival site features several permanent structures, including a large covered arena, rodeo stadium and wooden booths for selling food and wares. The morning we went featured the princess contest and the Miss Sho-Ban dancing events. We were all impressed with the pride and beauty with which these young women wore their amazingly handcrafted costumes and expressed their native cultural traditions.

Of course, we ordered some warm fry bread with honey butter and wandered over to watch the native music being performed live for the dancers. It was both mesmerizing and memorable and something I hope our young ones remember for a long time to come. Stay tuned for Part Two of our Southeast Special Idavation - Blackfoot and Idaho Falls!