I don’t think it was "meal time" when we drove through the small town of Emmett, Idaho (traveling from a night’s rest in a cabin near Lowman and headed for the Old Time Fiddlers’ Contest in Weiser, Idaho). But when I saw "Biscuits & Gravy $2.50" in the window of a small town cafe & bakery, I made a quick U-turn.
First an aside: If you know how to make "from scratch baking powder biscuits, topped generously with butter" and can smother the hot out of the oven biscuits with white gravy made with sausage bits"….I AM YOURS! Like a Labrador Retriever puppy, I will follow you anywhere. I think you get the idea. Biscuits and gravy (white gravy), is my favorite meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
So biscuits and gravy for me and the possibility of a bakery selling cherry turnovers, snagged my wife. There was no way to pass the Rumor Mill.
What a highlight this short stop at a small town cafe/bakery turned out to be. I opened the door for an older woman and my wife as we entered the Rumor Mill. Six local men sitting around at one end of the cafe having coffee were indeed engaged in a lively discussion and it was clear that something serious was going on in Emmett, Idaho.
I heard the phrase "Well perhaps we ought to just dissolve the association", and "You know with any organization it seems to me that 2% of the members do 98% of the work". Sound familiar? Pareto’s Law with a small town twist.
The nice older lady I had opened the door for sat close by my wife and me, and my wife and her were soon emerged in a conversation.
I was so impressed with the way the owner had set up the Rumor Mill. A flowered patio outside had outside seating and a mother and daughter were seated outside enjoying some bakery goods.
But what really impressed me was that the wall were covered with photos, of the many wonderful service men and women from the area who had served in our nation’s military.
Every branch of the service was represented and every war and peace time era was as well. What a wonderful tribute and great idea.
I asked the owner permission to go get my camera and take some photos of the inside of the Rumor Mill, which she gladly acceded to.
Then when I was taking some photos of the front counter service photos, the lady visiting with my wife, said "See that plaque right above your head. That’s my husband".
There was a photo of her husband in U.S. Navy uniform and a photo of the battleship the U.S.S. Idaho. I smiled and told her that when I got back home I would look up the story that went with the U.S.S. Idaho …. I did.
It was commissioned in 1917 and decommissioned in 1946. It saw a lot of important action during World War II.
Mike Ushman was the name of the sailor on the plaque. I didn’t ask if he was still alive or not.
The cherry turnover was so good that my wife asked me to get another one "to go". When we left the Rumor Mill in Emmett, we felt like we knew some of the nice people that live there, and we did.
June 23 -25, 2010 My wife and I decided to attend the annual fiddlers’ contest in Weiser, Idaho. In the spirit of the “journey” can many times be as enjoyable or more than the “destination”, we decided to take a looping “road trip” to and from the Weiser fiddler’s festival.
Day one we traveled “back roads” to Wendover campground along the Lochsa River on Lolo Pass (the Idaho side). We camped in the back of our pickup truck and really enjoyed our stay. A nice camp host (Bill from Lewiston, Idaho), dropped by and donated a few dry white pine firewood logs to our camp. We returned the nice gesture by dropping some “camp” raspberry and chocolate muffins by for them. Nice people.
Day two we left camp early and backtracked a bit to the trailhead for some nice hot springs. We arrived early and crossed the Lochsa on the pack trail bridge and took the quiet lovely hike up Warm Springs Creek to two large hot springs pool (1.5 mile hike).
We passed the hotter lower pool and settled into the upper “bath warm” clear, sandy bottom hot springs pool. A couple of deer, visiting the area for the minerals in the soil in the area, were our only company.
After our relaxing hot springs soak we hiked out, drove over Lolo Pass. We drove the Salmon, Challis, Stanley, Lowman route and finished the day by getting a cabin for the night.
Day three we drove down the Payette River drainage and over to Weiser, Idaho. We really had a lot of fun at the fiddlers’ festival. We walked, watched blue grass, country singers, and then out to the Weiser High School gym to watch the Grand National Round 2 competition. We got to see 18 of some of the best fiddlers you would ever want to hear play. One of the best, who has won the event several times and I had seen perform on a PBS television show, was a finalist as was his sister.
We watched all 18 compete and my wife enjoyed a bowl of strawberries they were selling at the concession stand at the high school. I LOVE fiddle music and this was the first time I had attended the Weiser competition. I didn’t know quite what to expect, but it was very “audience friendly”. The judges sit in a different room so they don’t see the fiddlers they are judging, nor do they know the name of the fiddler.
After the round 2 competition we watched some of the “young adult” competition, and then we returned to the city center fiddlers’ village venue, to eat a “light” dinner (I went for a BBQ pork sandwich and baked beans).
We left Weiser and crossed below the Brownlee dam, intending to drive up Forest Service road 59 and camp on the upper Imnaha River and drive home via Joseph, Oregon the next day. Driving up Pine Creek in the direction of Halfway, Oregon we could see the evidence of a massive flash flood in the area, so when we arrived FR 59 and saw the “road closed” sign, we weren’t completely shocked.
When we stopped for a short while in Halfway, Oregon a lady showed me aerial photos of the six or so major road washouts caused by the flooding in the area this year. It might take them awhile to open the road again.
Accepting the “change in plans” we drove to Baker City, got on the interstate and headed on home. Fun times…once again.
Tagged: , Emmett Idaho , Rumor Mill Cafe & Bakery , Biscuits and gravy , White gravy and biscuits , small town bakery , road trip , small town fun , cafe honors servicemen and women , bakery , cafe , small western towns