We had to pay a visit to the Terwiligers at the southern end of the Bitterroot Valley near Sula. We hung around to chat long enough that it started to get dark. Mr. T said, “Be careful on that road. The deer come out around 4.” We drove slowly up the pass and let the racing pickups pass by when we got a chance. Indeed saw a couple deer near the shoulder of the road but no close calls like just last week in Stevensville. After Salmon, except for a little starlight, it was near pitch black on the lonesome highway. I noticed the temperature outside had dropped to the low 20s and thought, “Hmm. Hope we don’t have a breakdown out here in no-reception zone.” No deer encounters but we saw splatter at least three times. Remember the far side cartoon where the deer are deciding when to cross the road and one says, “wait…wait…OK, Go!” just as the headlights of the speeding car are close enough for a certain fatal collision; that’s pretty accurate.
Found a nice, family-owned motel in Idaho Falls. For dinner- back to road trip eats; the old two-taco special at Jack in the Box! It was only a buck for two in California; up here in Idaho it’s a buck sixty! (or has the inevitable hyper-inflation already begun?) Owen and I love those greasy gut bombs; Allen said that was enough for this trip thank you very much.
Idaho Falls has a wonderful downtown greenbelt. They engineered the water flow so that the Snake River comes over the same fall hundreds of yards long. Allen took most of these pics in IF.
We’re smiling because we’re talking to a happy couple on the path and it’s the familiar cliche story- Californians who’ve sold their property and moved to calmer pastures in not-yet-gridlocked mountain state locations. The Bitterroot was chock full of ’em. This guy and his wife had left Ventura to escape the tax burden. They were meeting some friends at an upscale brewpub ‘n sushi bar in an all red-brick complex across the street. I guess you can bring California along with you! There were no dented F150s in the parking lot.
I like to give Allen the camera and let him come up with a nice shot.
I made the boys read each sign along the interpretive path in this high-desert landscape. Allen is great at spotting wildlife. He saw three rabbits and I saw none!
We had dinner at a crusty little Mexican joint next to a gas station. Proper Mexican/American! with all the good stuff like Steak Fajitas (Owen) and Pollo a la crema (Allen). Owen’s image of Mexican food is my old restaurant, El Techo, in Hamamatsu, and Jack in the Box two-for-a-buck tacos. “Wow, this is really good!” enthused O.
Elena brought my bottle of beer. Pointing to the beer list I said,
“Gracias. Me gusta la Negra Modelo pero donde esta mi favorita?”
-Cual es tu favorita?
-Que es eso?
-Bohemia?! Es una cerveza riquisima de Monterrey!
When your Mexican waitress knows not of Mexico’s best beer. For crying out loud!
We took a short drive through the Idaho State campus, then got back on 15 and headed to Salt Lake City.
After six+ months in the Bitterroot, and even less populated parts of Montana, it was a bit of a shock to hit the Salt Lake sprawl and see endless miles of suburbs and satellite cities from the freeway. It wasn’t the worst driving experience and we came in just after rush hour, but the breakneck speed, crazy lane changes, tailgating and such made me wonder how people manage to remain sane in our crowded metropolises across the country.
In Salt Lake City we had our first whiff of smog in half a year. Oh, Montana- how fortunate you are. I took the boys on a drive through downtown, past the temple, up to the Capitol. Owen enjoyed the big buildings, busy streets and illumination, and wished we could have a city visit with downtown hotel, restaurant and walks, but Allen and I were happy to get out of there and back on the road. The sprawl continued for many miles to the south. It wasn’t until well south of Provo that the stars came out again and the blackness surrounded us. I made a sigh of relief but Owen, who loves the city and the crowded neighborhoods with all the Christmas lights let out a sigh of sadness.
Next. South to Bryce Canyon