The dream team is pairing up for this one:
Matt's point of view in black // Clo's point of view in pink
Photo : Clotilde Richalet Szuch
Finally we're back on the road again! It's been about 10 days of sleeping-in-a-big-bed-with-showers-anytime-we-want time in Walla Walla, during which we completed most of the under the hood work for Wilbur and took care of a few personal things. This second circular leg of our trip is the last one before we leave "for good"; we still have a bit of work to complete on Wilbur once the final pieces (drawers) arrive. We headed towards Boise and spent our first night in the parking lot of a WinCo (something of a mix between Costco and Walmart). Besides being woken up by Clo in the middle of the night because of a prowler (which turned out to be the street cleaning machine), it was a relatively good first night.
Hahah yep, the prowler scared me!! It turned around us for at least 10 minutes, the sound + the lights... I was not so sure of what what going on!! First memorable night in a supermarket parking lot!
The next morning I was pretty excited, since we were going to see my uncle and aunt and their family; I hadn’t seen them in over ten years and it was great to catch up and see how my cousins had grown and were doing. We enjoyed a very lengthy and awesome breakfast with them and finally left the Boise area to drive to our next stop, Redfish Lake. It was a fun drive along well maintained curvy mountain roads, which is close to my favorite driving conditions. Wilbur isn’t the most hasty of beasts, but he is quite agile and a very smooth ride.
All the rides in Idaho were beautiful!! For some reason, there are some states you dont suspect to have anything special to offer. Big mistake!! The panorama driving through Idaho was just so picturesque and stunning. This is one of the thing that I am going to love about overloading: taking a lot of small road, discover less know territories, and being able to stop whenever we want to enjoy the view or to spend a few days. And mostly erase some préjugés of my narrowed mind.
Arriving at Redfish Lake, we were very, very pleasantly surprised at the beautiful views of the perfectly clear lake and craggy mountain framing it. At this stage in our journey I am already feel like I’m writing these platitudes too often, but the simple fact is the scenery is really gorgeous. And similar to the way I like to tell Clo she’s beautiful, I will continue telling you, the reader, about the wonderful scenery. It makes me feel peaceful and calm and quite content.
We were also looking forward to the showers at the Redfish Lake area. Contentment is good but not much compares to the feeling of being clean after a nice hot shower. One of the things were focusing on for this leg of the journey was to make it as close as possible to the rhythm and habits of our “on-the-move” life as possible. A big part of this is regular showers, laundry, and time to relax and enjoy ourselves. While the shower facilities here weren’t exactly award winning, the water was (mostly) hot and we felt refreshed and clean afterwards.
After being grumpy for the first few days, I like to think I got better and better day after days!! The rhythm we have to find to feel clean, and warm, and sleep enough are some of the thing you never think about in "real" life! Now basic things take more importance: what time to pee in the morning or how far from a bathroom we are, how much water I drink before I go to bed will change that time!! Some very basic instincts awake and it is pretty fun to observe!!
We enjoyed a short walk around the lake, hung out with the internet access and comfy chairs, and generally prepared for what we’d be doing in the next few days. The next morning we set off for the Craters of the Moon National Monument, which we planned to explore in full (it’s not very large) for the whole day.
It was really fun exploring the Craters of the Moon. It’s a very surreal landscape and something quite unexpected in the middle of Idaho. We wandered through a few caves, walked around lava flows and generally meandered our way through the park. It was a great way to spend the afternoon. It was different than when I first visited here with my family about 20 years ago (gosh, am I really that wise and experienced in life? Guess so!). The area is much larger now (we were last here in the 90's) and as an adult I could choose to go into each and every cave I wanted to go into. Even if Clo didn't choose to follow me into some of them as I scampered about on my hands and knees. At the end of the day we spent our first night in a rest stop and quite enjoyed it. Heated washrooms with power outlets, very clean and with a lounge area detailed with information about the Idaho road network. Quite cool.
Craters of the Moon is definitely a place to see! After being to Yellowstone too, I wish I knew more about geology and all that earth stuff!! As always, Matt reads the signs everywhere we go and then tells me all about like he had known all of those info for ever. I think that he like that he thinks that he is teaching me things. ;-) Beautiful place for sure.
I did a ViewPoint with a series of pics about it: Here
PS: if I didn't go all the way down the caves it is just because I was carrying around my Nikon camera and didn't want to crawl into caves in the dark with it. I have a reason for everything.
The next day we continued towards the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, but stopped on the way to see what the Lava Hot Springs was like. OH. MY. GOODNESS. SAKES. ALIVE. From when I was a baby until I was in teenage years I would use the sauna (built by hand by my Finnish grandfather) on a regular basis. These hot springs reminded me a lot of that sort of experience, and besides being a really neat location and quite relaxed, I loved the hot/cold/hotter/cold/OMG hot/cold/owowow/cold/hot/etc. We spent most of the afternoon and early evening there and had an excellent sleep that night.
It was fun, but... too warm, I mean too cold, I mean too warm humm... yeah this place was confusing to my body!!
We continued the theme of water features the next day with a stop at Soda Springs. Not only is this a very cute little town, it was a very important stop on the Oregon Trail. For those who aren’t aware, the Oregon Trail is a foundational piece of the American West. It was used for nearly a 50 years from the 1830’s to early 1870’s (in 1869 the first transcontinental railroad was completed) by emigrants who were leaving their life on the east coast behind and moving to the unexplored northwest territories. None of the destinations were part of the United States at the time the emigrants on the trail were going towards at the time; they were looking for a better life and a new start. In many ways, it made me think of what is still happening now in many parts of the world. People are always willing to risk their lives if they think they can make things better for themselves and their families. I firmly believe it is people like these who are the reason great things are created and achieved. It’s rare to hear about how something powerful or amazing was achieved by someone focused on maintaining the status quo.
Ooops, that was verging entirely too close to a political statement. Back to the Soda Springs! The Soda Springs weren’t called the Soda Springs just because it was a catchy name, but actually because there was naturally carbonated water coming up from the ground. As you can probably imagine, this is not a common occurrence and besides drawing Clo to it like a moth to a flame, it was also a big deal ~150 years ago when it was discovered. The city tried to turn it into a health resort in 1937 but a complication arose because the springs themselves (which were discovered when drilling for oil) were interfering with the timing of Old Faithful at Yellowstone. The U.S. Minister of the Interior of the time had to officially intervene and compelled the owners of the Soda Spring to artificially control the timing of the geyser eruptions. To this day, the geyser is limited to erupting every hour on the hour in order to not screw up the (much, much) bigger tourist attraction.
Unfortunately the water at the controlled geyser (or “jizzer” as Clo says in her French accent) wasn’t suitable to drink, as it has very high sulfur content. The drinkable water was slightly upstream, so we headed outside of town a little way to find Hooper Park and the supposed spring of naturally carbonated water. A few minutes later we were dipping our hands in the water and sure enough, it was like buying a $3.99 bottle of Evian only it didn’t cost any money and was direct from the ground. Pretty awesome!
This is where the trip become fun, when we realize words we dont use very often have the same root in english and french (even if we all know the root is french/latin and then the british stole all the smart words from us). Geyser and Bison are 2 of those and have been pretty fun to play around with. Play in a figurative way of course. Or if you want to try and imagine us playing with a bison on top of a geyser.. Go ahead! I'll try too now!
During the remainder of the day we headed north towards Jackson, Wyoming and the Grand Teton National Park and mountain range. The large valley along the Salt river that we drove through reminded me greatly of the high valley in the Sawtooth range; beautiful sweeping vistas with horse ranches dotting the wide valley. We decided to stop a few miles south of Alpine, at a small public use area right next to the river. It was peaceful and gorgeous and a perfect stop to prepare for the next part of our trip, the two parks of Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.
Great place, so peaceful and quiet. But no data tho. Our quest for data is a XXI century problem, but for sure it is ours very often!!