Ok, sorry for the whine-fest earlier today, but hey, it was REALLY freaking cold! It’s miserable to try to sleep in the cold. Geesh!
The shower was hot though, and that nearly makes up for it. Nearly. But what did actually make up for it was meeting four motorcyclists from Colorado Springs while I was typing my whine-fest. They were doing a six-day run to Yellowstone. It was nice to talk to some folks who also ride. And it was nice to be treated as an equal. Though, one fellow said several times that I was a “crazy man.” I guess I can see where he’s coming from a little bit. It probably seems a bit crazy to do this on a little scooter when I could do it on a larger cycle. But there’s just something about a Vespa…
I waited around for it to warm up, leaving the KOA around 9am. I decided to ride to Jackson to see what all the hubbub was about.
I have to say, I really don’t get it. My description in my rant yesterday basically covers it. It’s all that and basically not much else. I rode around a few blocks hoping to see something that would interest me.
One thing that really excited me was a Chinese place called Ocean City. Why it was actually called that, I have no idea. But to me, this place is Ocean City without the ocean.
The ride from Jackson to Teton Summit was pretty amazing. Before reaching the base of the mountain, I was afforded the view of the lower Tetons. Thank you. Tetons is French for Breasts. Sigh. Anyway, I catch a glimpse and they look great.
Just after Wilson, the road climbs higher and higher through several switchbacks and suddenly I’m on the snowy top! I dismounted and took a picture of Jackson from way far away. I was also asked to take a picture of a group of French tourists. I wonder if they got a kick out of Great Tetons. Hm.
Even though the border of Idaho and Wyoming is a straight line and based on absolutely nothing geographical, as soon as I got to the bottom of the mountain, Idaho appeared! Presto! And there I was in Idaho.
I have to admit that I wasn’t really stoked about riding through Idaho. I mean, it’s Idaho. Thanks to my mom, I knew that there was a huge spud on a flat bed truck in front of a drive-in theater near Driggs.
So I saw the spud and it was indeed a bunch of fun! I’m glad someone in Idaho thinks they’re funny.
And I was ready to be bored by Idaho. Bring it on!
Between Driggs and Victor was the valley called Pierre’s Hole. This is where a battle took place between fur trappers and a tribe of natives. As the tribe’s chief extended a peace pipe to the traders, he was shot dead. Oops! Hilarity ensued.
You can read about it here.
I rode back to Victor and took Idaho Route 31 south to Swan Lake where I picked up US 26 again, but heading west this time, instead of east. As expected, there wasn’t much going on.
I did, however, stumble upon a really great view of a canyon, but in order to really see it, I had to enter an oddly closed down rest area to do it. I’m not really sure why the rest area was closed, but it was a nice view.
The next town was Idaho Falls. Glory be.
I kind of forgot that I used to love riding through towns. As I was about ready to pass it by, I thought of it and turned towards the downtown.
This place was beat. Nobody was out, nothing was open. It was sort of like an old town in Jersey or something.
I took some pictures and stumbled upon Happy.
Happy is a Chinese place and it really did live up to its name. The woman who ran it was pretty happy and the food, Ma Po Tofu, was vegan and delicious. It was actually spicy! That never happens! I was pretty excited.
“I’m 70 something, but I used to have one of those when I was 15. We’d zip around North Hollywood and raise some hell.”
She told me that she grew up on North Hollywood and had an old Vespa. I guess you could ride them at any age then. It was great talking to her. I could tell that she wanted to be zipping around on a scooter again. She wasn’t sad and seemed to be pretty content where she was, but who wouldn’t want to zip around on a scooter? Especially since a happy chunk of her childhood was spent “zipping around North Hollywood” on a Vespa.
I hope at 70 that I’m still zipping around.
So, ok. Idaho was boring, but not bad. I met a great gal, had some amazing food and the broken down town of Idaho Falls was actually depressing in a good way. I guess I can say that since I don’t live there.
They’re certainly not Niagara, but they’re pretty and if I lived here, I’d be happy the falls were here too.
Route 26 took a weird detour to Blackfoot while Route 20 went straight west. I took US 20 and i’m glad that I did.
This is where I found Hell’s Half Acre. Now, there are many Hell’s Half Acres. Ohio, Tennessee, Fort Worth, Texas all have them. There’s even a Hal’s Half Acre across the river from Duncannon. ((I saw a sign reading “Hal’s Half Acre” on Route 147 once. It was more than likely put there by Hal.)) But this Hell’s Half Acre is the youngest of the Basaltic Lava Fields in the Snake River Plain.
I rode into the field on a little dirt road. Most of the lava is sort of hard to see. It’s covered by sage grass and random trees. But it’s there. And it’s a pretty huge lava field. 4,000 – 5,000 years ago, the earth cracked open and lava spewed forth over 125 square acres… so a bit more than a half acre. There wasn’t a volcano here, just a vent. I didn’t have time to walk to the vent.
Also, the temperature kept climbing it was in the 90′s now. Crazy.
This lava field and others are part of the Great Rift Zone.
Because there was a whole lot of lava in this area, there weren’t many towns. And because there weren’t many towns, wouldn’t this make an excellent place to build the world’s first nuclear power plant? It sure would be!
Right before Butte City, Routes 20 and 26 rejoined. Idaho wasn’t looking too bad now that I was actually experiencing it. I was seeing a lot and learning a bunch of fun stuff.
But I figured that would be it. Acro, where I stopped for gas, surprised me. They had the top part of a submarine in their park and one of the coolest things I’ve seen on the trip thus far.
What would all these numbers stand for? Well it’s tradition in Arco, since 1920, for the graduating senior class to paint their graduating year on the side of the mountain. I’ve never seen such a thing before. Sure, many towns will paint the first letter of the town name on the side of the closest eminence, but for each class, every year to paint their graduating year… well, I’m impressed. Go Idaho!
As I was riding US 20, I kept seeing signs for Craters of the Moon. I knew it was some park or something, probably nothing to see from the highway, no time to see more and no desire to pay $10 to quickly ride through it to see some hole in the ground or something.
Again, Idaho proves how much it rules.
Just after Arco, I started to see more lava. Ok, Idaho used to be a bit hotter than it was now (nearing 100 degrees, by the way). But as I rode, the formations grew in size until, not too far from the road, they were basically small mountains.
I pulled over and took in the sea of blackened lava surrounding me. As late as 2,100 years ago, lava was erupting from the ground and out of mountains. This was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my entire life.
You can look at my pictures and read about it here, but, like so many things, it’s something to be experienced. It is huge, 714 acres. There’s a small park with a seven-mile trail. I didn’t do it. No time, really. But I promise you, I’m coming back to see this. Amazing.
So I went from basically dreading Idaho to having plans to return. Weird, isn’t it? I certainly wouldn’t want to live here, but this lava field thing is pretty cool in my book.
A bit farther down the road and it’s lush and green, like nothing ever happened.
For pretty much the entire day, I was following an alignment of the Oregon Trail. Specifically Lander Road, at first and then Goodale’s Cutoff through the lava fields. Why he chose this route, I’m not really sure. Looking at a map, it doesn’t seem to save that much time.
And finally, I arrive in Mountain Home. It’s a small town that used to be called Rattlesnake. That was when it was 10 miles northish of here on the Oregon Trail. When the Trail died out and Union Pacific laid their line through, Rattlesnake, now called Mountain Home because Rattlesnake is a dumb name for a town, moved 10 miles and went from being an Oregon Trail stop to being a Union Pacific stop.
It’s also a stop for me! I checked the weather and all seems clear. So I’m getting a campsite and enjoying not freezing to death.
PS- as I started to write this, the wind picked up and a dust storm overtook the campground. This is out of nowhere and pretty well sucks.