Salmon with a side of potatoes, barbecued at Craters of the Moon

From touring the potato capital to braving the heat at Craters of the Moon, the most interesting fish in the world hit the road last weekend to tour some of Idaho’s most interesting landmarks.

Lonesome Larry visits Malad Gorge in Hagerman Valley.

Lonesome Larry began his trip with a visit to Malad Gorge, a narrow, 250-foot-deep canyon formed by the Malad River in the Hagerman Valley. This natural wonder serves as habitat to rock pigeons, red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, and yellow-bellied marmots. A section of the Oregon Trail is visible from the hiking and picknicking area, just off of interstate 84.

Since he’s already visited the fiddling and whitewater capitals of the world, Larry thought it only fitting to pop into the potato museum in the potato capital of the world: Blackfoot, Idaho. Although potatoes were first grown and eaten in South America, the ones grown in Idaho were developed in North America by Luther Burbank in 1872. The burbank-russet potato (commonly called the russet) is perfectly suited to the rich, volcanic soil and warm, dry climate that persists in most of the region, making Idaho the number one potato-producing state in the nation.

Annie Morrison is to Lonesome Larry what Clark Kent is to Superman. She explores Indian Tunnel at Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Lonesome Larry wrapped up his road trip with a visit to the Craters of the Moon National Monument near Arco, Idaho. This strange, lava-swept landscape once rested over what is now known as the Yellowstone hot-spot. It’s cinder-cones, caves and craters served as a training ground for astronauts prior to the first journey to the moon. In the summer, it can get incredibly hot. With temperatures in the mid-nineties on Sunday, Larry fish-flopped his interesting self to a drinking fountain and left cave exploration to his buddies, Annie and Joe.

Larry traveled to these places to share his own story and to share in others. At first glance, the very different areas that Larry visits may seem to have little to do with each other, but they are connected in that each region holds a treasure that makes Idaho unique. From the whitewater of north central Idaho to the hot, dry craters of east Idaho, the Gem State holds a combination of wonders that is truly unforgettable.

A fishy Fourth: Hailey welcomes Lonesome Larry

Lonesome Larry dances down Main street in Hailey's Fourth of July Parade.

Cheering competitors in Hailey's Fourth of July criterium bike race.

There was something fishy in Hailey, Idaho on the Fourth of July. Swimming down main street through an impromptu entourage of youthful bikers, Lonesome Larry appeared in the town’s annual Fourth of July parade.

Hailey, a town of about 8,000  in the Wood River Valley, bursts with festivities each Fourth of July. From a pancake breakfast to an old-West-style rodeo, Hailey’s is a memorable Independence Day celebration.

Larry (aka IRU summer intern Annie Morrison) said she enjoyed Hailey’s welcoming atmosphere and the opportunity to share Larry’s story on such an important American holiday.

“Odd though it may seem to see a giant fish waving the country’s flag, Independence Day is close to Lonesome Larry’s heart,” Morrison said. “The country’s birthday is a perfect time to remember the things we love about our land and the things that helped our civilization grow. Wild salmon were once an abundant and healthy source of food that provided sustenance and economic opportunity for many American settlers. Also, as a keystone species, salmon are vital to the health of other symbols that Americans cherish, from bald eagles to towering forests. It could be said that salmon are the most patriotic fish of all.”

Lonesome Larry moves to the grooves of his own theme song

Lonesome Larry dancing to his own song.

Lonesome Larry dances to the rhythms and harmonies of his new debut single.

Music is his mantra, salsa his middle name. When he’s not running races, visiting Idaho’s breweries or letting his fans fawn over him at community parades, The Most Interesting Fish in the World writes songs.

Check out his most recent debut.

 

And big thanks to those who helped Larry write and organize his music:

  • Lyrics and arrangement, Steve Benner.
  • Music, traditional.
  • Vocals: Steve Benner, Scot Oliver, Tucker Wardwell.
  • Instruments: Steve Benner, guitar; Scot Oliver, guitar; Scott Hopkins, bass.
  • Produced and recorded by Randy McKellip.

The world’s most interesting fish reels in a crowd

The Most Interesting Fish in the World joins a beach volleyball team at Payette Lake in McCall.

From spiking the volleyball on a scenic beach to dodging fish hooks in the whitewater capital of Idaho, Lonesome Larry is spreading his fishy tale throughout the Gem State on the 20th anniversary of his lonesome return to Redfish Lake.

On Sunday, June 17, Lonesome Larry visited McCall, a resort town located on the edge of Payette Lake. Originally a logging town, McCall is now an all-season tourist destination for those who love biking, boating, skiing, fishing and other outdoor recreation. As the most handsome, athletic fish in the world, Larry couldn’t resist joining a game of beach volleyball with some fun and fabulous people.

On Monday, Larry splashed into Riggins, also known as Idaho’s whitewater capital.

Larry watches anglers cast lines for salmon into the Little Salmon River near Riggins. Fully restored fishing seasons would bring millions to Idaho's rural riverside communities.

Riggins is the starting point for many whitewater enthusiasts who wish to brave the unforgettable rapids of the Salmon River. The small town is also popular among anglers, and there are hundreds of fishermen lined up on the river’s shore this summer, hoping to land a giant chinook. The fishermen barbed in jest that they were going to hook Larry and fry him up for dinner.

Larry also visited the 45th parallel (halfway between the Equator and the North Pole) and then headed to Midvale to nap on a hay bale at Dixie Creek Ranch, one of several small cattle ranches located next to the Weiser River. He was last seen on a four-wheeler, riding into the sunset, but don’t despair–the most interesting fish in the world promised to reappear soon.

Stay thirsty, Idahoans.

 

 

A Small Town with a Big Tradition: The Weiser Fiddle Festival

Larry with Betty and Ozark Mountain Music

Larry buys a LemonadeLast week, Lonesome Larry grabbed the bull by the horns and rode into the Fiddling Capital of the World–otherwise known as Weiser, Idaho–for the 60th annual Weiser Fiddle Festival and the National Old Time Fiddler’s Contest.

Fiddling first came to Weiser in 1863, when emigrants crossing the country in covered wagons would stop at the area’s way station for rest and recreation. The town’s first fiddle contest was held in 1914, but the present-day annual contest was started by former Weiser Chamber of Commerce Secretary Blaine Stubblefield in 1953.

 

Stubblefield, a fiddler and folk music collector who grew up in Oregon’s Wallowa Valley, spent several years researching fiddle music for the Library of Congress. In 1853, he asked Weiser’s chamber of commerce for $175 to finance a fiddle contest during the intermission of the town’s annual Square Dance Festival. The contest, then called the Northwest Mountain Fiddler’s Contest, became the annual event that is still celebrated each year.
Larry rides the bull
Today, the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest boasts close to 3 50 contestants and eight divisions. More than 1,100 volunteers come together annually to support this spectacular, nationally recognized event, which is accompanied by a week-long festival including vendors, a parade, a carnival, and free daytime shows in the town’s parks.
Lonesome Larry quenched his thirst with lemonade, took a ride on a mechanical bull, and caught a show by Betty and Ozark Mountain Music.

 

Places like Weiser–a small town with a big tradition–are a huge part of what makes Idaho special. Like the iconic salmon that make their way up Idaho’s rivers and streams each year, fiddling has been included in the region’s identity for as long as anyone can remember. Right up there with rodeos and huckleberry pie, it is one of the many symbols that captures our hearts and makes natives–like Larry–proud to be Idahoans.

Larry flops down Main Street in Mascot Scamper

Lonesome Larry flopped across the finish line in the Mascot Scamper at the Main Street Mile on Friday, June 22 in downtown Boise. Other competing mascots included a giraffe from Boise City Zoo, Bonnie Blueberry from Ihop, the Stinker Station Skunk, and the National Fire Protection Association’s Sparky the Firedog.

The Main Street Mile is an annual event that aims to eradicate prostate cancer as a life-threatening disease by advancing awareness, education, and screenings. The series of races included children and adults of all ages. Click here to see this year’s results!

Re-Appearing Act: Lonesome Larry Visits a Restored Indian Creek

Larry checks out the farmer's market at Indian Creek

The most interesting fish in the world flopped into one of Caldwell, Idaho’s most interesting features: Indian Creek, a humble little stream that once pulled a several-decades disappearing act.

A summer oasis in the heat of downtown Caldwell, Indian Creek bustles with activity. It is the site of a newly developed half-mile of green space where people walk, relax and swim. The Caldwell’s Farmers’ Market meets there every Wednesday (Lonesome Larry enjoyed a fresh-squeezed lemonade as he chatted with vendors), and a branch of Treasure Valley Community College is located nearby. Until 2002, however, none of this existed. The creek ran unseen below the city’s paved surface.

In the 1800s, Indian Creek was the center of life for settlers, who used its water for washing, bathing, cooking and drinking. Railroad tracks were built along the creek in the 1880s, and it became part of the New York Canal irrigation route in 1882.

As the area’s population and industry grew, Indian Creek became increasingly polluted by residential garbage dumping and from agricultural and industrial runoff. To cover its foul look and smell, the creek was paved over as the city developed. It flowed beneath shops, restaurants and roads, disappearing from sight and mind for many years.

After the passage of the Clean Water Act and other regulations in the 1970s, the state of Indian Creek’s water was much improved. In 2002, volunteers, business leaders, and city leaders embarked upon a plan to “daylight” the creek and create six acres of new green space. Using both public and private funds, the city has invested millions of dollars in the uncovering, rerouting, and landscaping of Indian Creek and the downtown area.

Over the past decade, the creek has become an appealing environment in which to live, work and play, and the project continues. In November, the city received a $500 thousand grant from the federal government to continue making improvements.

This is the kind of environmental restoration project Lonesome Larry likes best. Like Larry himself, Indian Creek was a treasured resource taken for granted. It was community awareness, community action and collaborative problem solving that made Indian Creek the success story it is today. When people get together to focus on collaborative solutions for Idaho’s sockeye and chinook salmon, as well as steelhead, a similar widespread success story will follow.

A fishy afternoon in The City of Trees

Lonesome Larry making new friends in Boise.

Lonesome Larry makes a new friend in the City of Trees.

Lonesome Larry at Boise City Hall.

The Most Interesting Fish in the World visits Boise City Hall.

There was something fishy going on in downtown Boise today. The Most Interesting Fish in the World made new friends at Boise City Hall, caught a matinee at the historic Egypitan Theatre and spared a few minutes to work on his tan.

As his celebrity bubbles to the surface, Lonesome Larry will begin unveiling more of his most interesting tricks. The Most Interesting Fish in the World can be in two places at once. Look for him this weekend at the Old Time Fiddle Festival in Weiser and at the Idaho Green Expo in Boise!

Stay thirsty Idahoans.

Making Friends: Larry Visits Grove Plaza in Boise

The most interesting fish in the world was seen playing in the fountain in downtown Boise’s Grove Plaza on Monday, June 11. Lonesome Larry arrived in hopes of making new friends and spreading the word about the plight of his species. He also invited everyone he met to visit his home in the Sawtooth Valley for the annual Sawtooth Salmon Festival on August 25 in Stanley.

“Larry is always showboating and meeting new people, ” said Joe Pickett, a close friend of Larry’s. “If you see him around, chat him up and take his picture. He’s a total ham in front of a camera.”

If you missed Larry this time, don’t despair–he will frequent Boise and the rest of Idaho throughout the summer. You may even catch him in the plaza again for an Alive After Five concert!

Story Story Night: an Idaho epic unfolds

The last Monday of every month in Boise is story time. And for the May installment of Story Story Night, Lonesome Larry couldn’t resist the evening’s theme: LEGENDS: Stories of Heroes and Epics.

“Lonesome Larry is the epic Idaho tale,” said Jessica Holmes, Story Story’s MC and creative driving force. “He hatched into a brave new world of dams and dangers where few survive. But he did. He was the only sockeye salmon to make it back to Redfish Lake in 1992, and that story is both tragic and heroic–a wonderful fit for this month’s theme. We were honored to have Larry make an appearance.”

For more information on this dashing salmon from the Sawtooths, read his story. And tune back in to see where he makes his next public appearance.

Stay thirsty, Idahoans.