It’s Sunday lunchtime, and I am sitting outside Starbucks at 17th & State in Boise. A pleasant little neighbourhood, with leafy suburban houses on one side, and a small plaza, of which SBs is part, on the other. I’d told Siri to find me a Starbucks in Downtown Boise, and this is where he brought me. (“He”, because I’m still using the British English version – which makes pronunciation of some of the directions comical – for example “us one hundred and one” instead of “U. S. One oh One”). By-the-by.
The ride down Idaho Rt 55 was another spectacular drive…
A few lines about the day so far…
The complimentary breakfast provided by America’s Best Value Inn & Suites (it’ll never trip off the tongue) was surprisingly adequate. I kickstarted the day with some toast and OJ, followed by coffee, of course.
Back at the room, before checking out, I managed to catch up with Kay on FaceTime. We had a long chat about this-and-that, which made me appreciate how lucky I am, not only to be out here in the first place, but to have such an understanding and accommodating (not to mention beautiful!) woman thinking of me back home. The weeks and weeks I’ve been away have been hard on her, undoubtedly. Time zones and patchy internet connections have made keeping in touch intermittent at best, though as I head slowly east, the time difference is improving.
This all came about from the use of the phrase “glorious solitude”. That’s an interesting term. There is no doubt that a combination of being away from Kay, and the much enjoyed time with friends and family being behind me now, I’m starting to feel a bit lonely. I’ve not got to the point where I answer myself when I say something out loud (which itself is a rarity, usually born of astonishment of some kind). Barely a minute goes by when I don’t wish I had Kay in the passenger seat with me though — we’d have such a bloody good time.
I wanted to blog early today to get that off my chest. Plus, as I suggested last night, I’m having a slow day today. I didn’t hit the road until 10:15 and set off southwards toward Boise. The journey took some time to get going in as much as the first 20 miles or so is through fairly uninteresting farming countryside. That is until the appropriately named Cascade, where the road started climbing through a ridge and joined the Payette River.
For the next fifty miles or so, the road and the river are intertwined though successive narrow rocky gorges and open basins. The river alternates between angry rapids and placid meandering meadow. As an uninitiated tourist it becomes frustrating in that just when you think you’ve found the most spectacular vista and stop to take photos, an even more beautiful and longer aspect opens up around the next corner. Even when time is no issue, there are only so many times it’s possible to pull over! I wouldn’t be so crass as to say I got tired of the continuing spectacle, but maybe I started to get a bit punch drunk by it all.
I had another closer encounter with nature than I’d have liked. Driving down one particular twisty gorge (camera in hand, as luck would have it!) an eagle or some such huge bird took off from the rocks to my right and straight in front of me. I felt I had to jam on the brakes, though I suspect the bird knew exactly what it was doing and was never in peril. I was able to snap a quick shot and think I did quite well. Any ornithologists able to identify it from this angle?
The final interesting part of the drive to Boise took me over a high and quite pronounced ridge just south of the town of Horsehoe Bend. The climb is quite severe and a crawler lane is provided. Whilst there were no big trucks about today, being Sunday, there were an awful lot of RVs of various types and sizes. The most common is the articulated variety, attached to the bed of a huge pick-up. I even saw one of these towing a car behind (very common) and a boat on a trailer behind that – three trailers!? Try reversing it. Anyway, the point of mentioning it here is that it became a point of pride for the drivers of these monsters not to drop below the 65mph limit going up (and down!) this hill. “I’ve got a twenty litre Cummins in this Son’bitch and I’m sure gonna use it…”
It was quite a relief to get to Boise.
My plan for the rest of today is to explore more of Boise, then head off down the Interstate to Twin Falls, 130 miles or so to the south east. My logic being that will put me in a good position to explore the Craters of the Moon national monument and Idaho Falls tomorrow. Monday and Tuesday nights are still flexible, but I’m working on the idea that Wednesday night in Boulder will position me nicely to get the car back in Denver on Thursday morning.
One last River Wild picture to leave you with for now…
Update, still later…
I had a drive around the centre of Boise, failing but — in truth — only half-heartedly looking, to find a parking space. There seemed to be a fair bit going on, with pavement diners enjoying brunch and plenty of other activities making the city centre seem lively. Following the tactic used in LA, I looked up the nearest Apple Store and soon found myself at the Boise Towne Square Mall. My sojourn there was fairly brief, long enough to browse the Apple Store and confirm that this was, indeed, a smart enough mall. The walk from the car to the air conditioned mall confirmed what I’d suspected from the confines of my air-conditioned car; it was bloody hot out there — 83 degrees. (The forecast for later in the forthcoming week is for 100s).
From there it was onto I84 for the 110 mile blast to Twin Falls. Once out of the Boise Metro Area (I exaggerate only slightly — it is quite a big place) the Interstate drops to two lanes in each direction. The speed limit is 75 for cars and 65 for trucks (there were a few about). As everyone drives on cruise control, woe-betide the unwary driver who sits at 74 or less. As speedos here seem to be pretty accurate (if anything, GPS suggests mine under-reads by 1mph) it is fairly standard to have the same vehicle in front and behind for mile upon mile. In my case I had a pickup with a trailer both in front of me and and behind me, the gap between us remaining pretty constant for about 50 miles! The Idaho State Troopers obviously do a good job of keeping order, indeed I saw one having pulled over a car, and another “hiding” on the central reservation in a dip in the middle of nowhere.
Other than a briefly hilly and half-decent looking area around Glenns Ferry, where the route has its first brush with the Snake River, the scenery was particularly bland – especially compared with what I’d seen in the last few days. All the more reason to blast this section.
Arriving at Twin Falls, the fuel gauge had sunk dramatically, using a third of a tank. Let that be a lesson. Approaching the town I saw a sign for “scenic overlook” and could see what looked like a bridge ahead, so puled over. Bearing in mind the countryside for miles around was flat, bland cattle scrub; what an overlook and what a bridge…
Incidentally, I’ve just noticed on Google Maps that just around the bend in the third photo is marked “Evel Knievel Snake River Canyon Jump Site“.
Another Wow moment, not just the view, but the heat – up to 89 degrees around here. Phew.
I jumped back in the car, conscious of not having much fuel left and headed into town. I became a victim of radio advertising; an ad for Shillo Inns had been playing repeatedly during the course of the day, and so seeing said establishment, I made that my first choice. It turned out to be a relatively expensive choice at $99 plus tax, but I have to say it is a really good room, or rather ‘suite’ as it has a separate living room area. Free WiFi, and breakfast in the morning, so I’ll make sure I’ll get the use out of both. I pottered around the room a little and even had a little snooze (this is ‘Lazy Sunday’ after all). Mainly though to let the heat outside dial down a bit.
Around 19:00 I decided to ‘brave it’ outside and set off to explore the business strip of Twin Falls. Every chain and brand you can think of, and more, has a presence here. I went to Fred Meyer for room supplies, Wendys for a chicken grill supper, and Chevron for gas. As my UK credit card doesn’t work in the pay-at-the-pump (it needs a zip code and won’t accept the fall back of 00000), I had to go in and explain to the young girl serving behind the counter. My explanation totally blew her mind. In the end, I had to guess how much I’d be putting in and pre-pay it. Quite incredibly in the circumstances, my guess of $60 (a shade under 16 gallons) was spot on, resulting in a brimmed tank ready for tomorrow.
Back to the room to enjoy a pint bottle of Fire Station 5 (Olympia, Washington) Steam Pumper IPA 6.5%. The weather forecast for tomorrow suggests some heavy rain about — though not as bad as Calgary, thank goodness. I have a rather ambitious 426 miles in mind for tomorrow (with Plans B & C if that doesn’t work — plenty of flexibility), and I’m hoping for an early start.
[I’m on the ground floor and there’s an elephant upstairs again].