Potato Farms & Sand Dunes in Idaho

Potato Farms & Sand Dunes in Idaho

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Destination: Island Park, Idaho
Date: October 2012
Getting ready to go four-wheeling with these cuties
Island Park, Idaho
October 2012
Idaho doesn’t sound like a vacation destination but I was pleasantly surprised at what a great time I had communing with nature.  When we were invited by my sister and her husband to stay at a cabin they had access to, I was excited to hear the details.  Located in Island Park Idaho (west Yellowstone area) I knew it would be a beautiful location but what exactly would we do?  Since this trip was also scheduled during the school year we had to do a process of elimination to see which of our children could miss a week of school.  After it was all said and done our two oldest would have to stay behind and we grabbed our four elementary school aged kids, Clay,10, Lexi,7, Leah,7, and Bella,5, and headed for the mountains.  
The beautiful trees not far to the east of Island Park
October 2012
Idaho in early October is a beautiful place to visit.  The turning of the leaves, wildlife roaming the open land with a perfect climate of brisk mornings bundled in sweatshirts and Uggs, to warm afternoons shedding to flip flops and shorts.  I can’t describe how beautiful this area really is, because I don’t really consider myself a very adept writer. I’m not sure I have the ability to give an accurate description of the picturesque landscapes, bordered with rolling hills, and majestic mountains, all within driving distance of this beautiful location.  
Lexi, Bella & Leah are ready to get this party started
October 2012
Though most people would be happy laying around in a cabin with a good book, fishing off the nearby boat dock, or hikes, as any parent knows there has to be some sort of activity planned to keep the littles busy.  The day trip my sister planned with ATVs, Razor vehicles, and sand dunes was one of the most exciting day trips my kids have ever encountered.  We started the day off with ATV rides on nearby ATV tracks around the location of the cabin.  It was a great way to give us all a “skills” test to see if we were ready for the main event…the sand dunes.  
Our little group that got to vacation together in the cabin
West Yellowstone, October 2012

The kids loved taking rides with Trent and I and their other aunts and uncles that were on the trip.  Once we got warmed up we loaded up the ATV’s and headed south to Rexburg Idaho to meet up with some friends that had Razor Vehicles, (little six passenger Gator type vehicles) which we could go out with onto the sand dunes.  The best part about this adventure is that all the ATV vehicles didn’t cost us anything so it was a free day of fun.

Trent and Clay pose by our six-seater Razor vehicle
October 2012

Since one of our friends had been raised on an actual Idaho potato farm she was gracious enough to first take us by her parents farm “Crapo Farms” to see the operation of a real working potato harvest.  Yes, we were lucky to be there for the fall harvest when even the local schools let out to give children the opportunity to help.  The house was a beautiful home straight out of a book.  When my friend “M” took us in to meet her mother, she and “M’s” sister were making maple squares for the harvesters as a little treat at the end of the day.  Once we had a sample of this deliciousness the tour of the farm began. 


The potato pit where all the harvested potatoes are stored for the winter
October 2012

We headed out to the potato pit where four or five trucks were parked out front to unload their bounty into the potato pit.  When the truck backs up into the pit it unloads the potato’s on a long conveyor belt in which the children and hands pull out the bad potatoes and weeds as they shuffle past on the belt.  
Leah posing with a potato in the potato pit
October 2012

Then up, up, up, they ride on the conveyor that stacks the potatoes in the pit for their two weeks of “sweating” with fans blowing and getting the potatoes ready to be stored for the winter, and then ready to sell at the right time when the market prices are right.  Since this was the last step to the potato harvest we then loaded up onto our ATVs to head out the fields so we could show the kids close up how the process begins.

Trent and the kids working the conveyor belt looking for rotten potatoes
October 2012
One of the harvesters in action
October 2012
Trent with the kids exploring the inside of the tractor
October 2012

Out in the field the huge tractors that pull the harvesting equipment was running on a GPS system to go straight down the rows to pick up the potatoes.  On the combine equipment the potatoes go on to a series of chains that let the dirt fall out to the bottom, the potato vines shoot out the back, and the potatoes climb up a conveyor belt and get spit onto the waiting truck that will then take then back to the pit.  

Lexi was so proud for finding such a big tatter
Crapo Farms, October 2012

My kids were amazed to watch this whole process, not on a DVD shown in school, but up close in real life with the dust and dirt blowing in their faces.  I had no regret for taking my kids out of school for the week.  We were officially on an educational field trip that I think every mother would agree is better than anything they could learn in school. 

My niece, Summer, and me getting up and close and personal with the tractor
October 2012

 It was a fascinating experience to see first hand how a potato is harvested.  Even more rewarding for my kids was to learn that Crapo Farms sells a majority of their potatoes, on their 55,000 acre farm, to Five Guys Hamburgers.  Since FIve Guys is a family favorite, it was great for the kids to realize where their french fries were coming from.

Clay showing us some farm fresh potatoes
October 2012
After this educational experience we headed out to the dunes for the thriller side of our “day of fun.”  We loaded up into three Razor ATV’s, 2 four-wheelers, and two dirt bikes and road to the middle of the sand.  Located just about a mile or two from Crapo Farms we didn’t have far to go.  When we arrived to the middle of a sand dune we set up some chairs and took turns riding the ATV’s around a circuit that the experienced drivers had showed us.  The kids loved riding up and down the dunes, sliding and drifting on the sand and even when it wasn’t their turn they enjoyed rolling down the dunes close to where we set up camp.  When the sun started to set we built a small fire to roast hot dogs and marshmallows, and enjoyed the last few rides before the sun went down.  
Our little makeshift campsite in the middle of the sand dunes
October 2012
Of course what is an ATV adventure without a little bit of a mishap? So before I write about this, rest assured all those involved are fine and it really was just a little mishap.  I was driving one last time with Leah and Clay around the small track up and down the dunes that the “dune masters” had shown me.  Trent decided not to go one last time with me and that is why it was just two of the kids and myself.  We went around seventy-five percent of the track with no problem but then with the end in sight, the Razor I was driving began to drift out to the side sliding across the sand.  We were all hoopin’ and hollarin’, and without any error that I could see, our Razor tipped over on its side and began to slide across the sand.  As a mom my first concern were the kids.  Luckily we had taken precautionary measures and had them in seat belts with helmets on.  

The sand dunes just outside Rexburg Idaho
October 2012
After what felt like five minutes of sliding on our side the Razor finally stopped and I began checking with the kids if they were alright.  Fortunately they were in seat belts their legs were dangling down by my face, since I was the closest to the ground.  I tried to get up to help them but my foot was lodged between the Razor and the sand.  Then it was that crazy moment when I asked myself “Is your foot crushed?” “Can you feel your toes?”  It was surreal but what brought me back to the situation was that Leah began to take control.  It was interesting to see her be so calm and access the situation.  She kept saying “Mom get up, that would really help if you got out of the way and unbuckle our seat belts.”  I tried again to move my foot but was unable, so I started to feel with my hand to try and get the seat belts unbuckled.  
Bella and I earlier in the day sporting our helmets
October 2012
My level-headed Leah smiling before our tumble “accident”
October 2012
Because I was wearing a helmet as well it was hard to move my head to see the seat belts.  Once Leah was unbuckled she moved out of the cart and I reached for Clay who was dangling even higher since he was in the far passenger seat.  I kept reaching for him but it was a stretch.  I knew our rescue team would be arriving any second, if they had in fact noticed we had tipped over.  Once Clay was out of his belt, he moved out of the Razor, and our rescue team arrived.  They quickly picked up the Razor off of my foot and I was free.  
My sandy face after the accident  I was all smiles but inside my heart was racing
October 2012
When I finally crawled out of the wreckage I noticed how all of the Razors contents were strewn all over the sand around us, bottles of water, chains for towing, some rope, a child’s jacket,  but all that mattered is that we were all safe and didn’t sustain any real harm.  Beside a massive jolt of adrenaline, we were okay.  Trent soon took my picture as I pulled off my helmet and sunglasses to see that it looked like I had taken a face plant in the sand.  It wasn’t my prettiest moment but I was grateful no real damage to person or property had been done.  We were defiantly blessed with a day of fun and safety as we survived another “day of fun” on this wild Kimball adventure.
Bella, enjoying the wheel of the tractor
at the potato harvest
October 2012
Stay safe and happy travels!!

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