About Me

Tired of the mundane and craving an adventure, on Saturday, May 22nd, 2010, I embarked on the ultimate American road trip through all fifty states. After nearly a year and a half on the road, on a budget of less than 50 bucks a day, this is my story...

Idaho - Gem of the Mountains

"It’s been said if you flatten all the mountains in Idaho, the state would be the size of Texas. Idaho covers two time zones, runs from Canada to Nevada, and encompasses the western side of the continental divide of the Rocky Mountains. Rivers, mountains and farmland dominate the state’s landscape. The panhandle has emerald green hillsides, timbered mountains and pristine lakes. Central Idaho is covered with jagged peaks. The Snake River Plain, with its wide open vistas, irrigated farm lands and vibrant cities forms the character of Southern Idaho.  Idaho's nickname is the Gem State because nearly every known gem has been found here."

Friday, October 29th
Birk let me sleep in, and let myself out after he went to work this morning.  I've met the most generous, easy-going, trusting people through couch-surfing.  It amazes me, and I can't wait to return the favor when I'm settled somewhere.  I drove the 4 hours or so that it took to get to my destination in Idaho, chuckling at the semi truck ahead of me displaying the number 69.  I'm a dork.

"The strangest 75 square miles on the North American continent" is how one traveler judged the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, and President Calvin Coolidge described it as "a weird and scenic landscape peculiar to itself" when he established it in 1924, distinguishing it as perhaps the only officially "weird" park in the National Park System.  "The Devil's Vomit" is how one Oregon- bound pioneer described his encounter with it.  Hundreds of pioneers traveled through the area on the Goodale's Cutoff section of the Oregon trail in the 1850's and 1860's." 

I arrived at about 2pm, grabbed a map from the Visitor Center, and was on my way around the 7-mile loop road to explore.  The park is "a showcase of volcanic features and the largest lava field of its type in the contiguous U.S.  But don't expect to find a typical volcano cone. The extensive lava flows at Craters of the Moon, which cover around 60,000 acres of the 750,000-acre preserve (roughly the size of Rhode Island!), are the result of a fissure in the earth's crust,which is exceptionally thin in this section of the Snake River Plain.  When conditions have allowed, the molten magma, a mere 35 miles below the surface, has flowed up through underground faults, ultimately oozing out from enormous fissures called rifts.  The monument's Great Rift Zone began erupting about 15,000 years ago and ceased only 2,000 years ago (the rifts are considered volcanically dormant - for the moment)."  I drove the 7-mile loop, which showcases a variety of volcanic features, such as lava tubes, bombs, cinder and spatter cones, and various types of lava flows.  

As I walked through the sea of cinder the place looked desolate, but in fact is home to "a rich diversity of life including more than 660 types of plants and over 280 animal species, from cactus to pine trees, mule deer to marmots."  My favorite part was throwing on my headlamp and spelunking the caves - some massive and naturally lit, others only big enough for a few people and so dark you can't see your hand in front of your face!  I carefully crawled over loose rock and under the low-ceiling of the entrance to Boy Scout Cave, which is pitch black inside and retains ice year-round.  The floor of the cave was a sheet of ice covered by water, and was pretty slick.  It was interesting viewing the juxtaposition of the stalactites and icicles.  Next I explored Indian Tunnel, which is big!  The size of the tube is 30' high, 50' wide, and 800' long.  Collapses in the ceiling allow sunlight to enter, so a headlamp isn't necessary for this one.  I was able to scramble up a large rock pile and climb through a small opening, so I could exit the cave at the far end.  I followed the rock cairns across the lava to return to the paved hiking trail.  What a trip! 

Tyler and I first met at a Chuck E Cheeses, lol, when I lived in Los Angeles.  Being a complete dork-wad like me, we became instant friends.  Our favorite place was John's Incredible Pizza.  A pizza buffet with unusual ingredients (macaroni and cheese, peanut butter...), 5 different themed dining rooms, and an arcade?  Heck YES, put us down for seconds!  Years passed and he moved to Boise and I moved to Minneapolis, but we kept in contact, and seeing him again was certainly a highlight of my trip.

Arriving at his place in Boise was a bit awkward, lol.  Only Tyler's roommate was home, and he had no idea who I was, and no clue that I would be visiting from out of town!  Luckily, his roommate was easygoing and let me wait for Tyler.  When Tyler got home it was clear that he was under a bit of stress, and had forgotten to tell his roommate!  It was all sorted out in no time, and before long we were sitting around a table at a restaurant with his friends, picking up right where we had left off, as if we had seen each other only yesterday :) 

Saturday, October 30th 
Today Tyler and I hit up the thrift store to find Halloween costumes.  Tyler decided on Wolverine, and I went with Dr. Evil - with my bald head and Dr. Evil impressions, it was the obvious choice!  We went back to his place to get it all thrown together, and an hour or so later we were hamming it up in full costume at a friends' Halloween party. 

Sunday, October 31st 
Tyler and I had lunch at Flying Pie Pizza - an award-winning, quirky, hippie-ish pizzeria, which in 2010 was named Best Pizza in Idaho by USA Today.  Let me tell ya, it was GOOD.  After being lifted out by crane, lol, we stopped at Tyler's grandparents' house, and I met lots of his relatives, including his nephew, proudly dressed in his superhero costume.  Then we went to his friend's house to watch cheesy scary movies (Sorority Row) and gorge ourselves on the nacho bar we helped prepare.  Afterward, we hit up a bar with a Halloween contest.  It was here that we decided it would be funny for me to speak in a British accent the ENTIRE night - and indeed I did, mate!  Apparently an older chap really fancied my accent, and he gave me his number, invited me up to his home in the ski resort town of Sun Valley, then  repeatedly hit on me the rest of the night.  *Sigh* 

Monday, November 1st 
This morning Tyler and I road-tripped caravan-style up to his parents' place in Coeur d'Alene.  Our eight-hour journey offered beautiful scenery along Hwy 55 & 95, as we paralleled the Payette River part of the way, and passed through majestic mountains, dense national forests, shimmering lakes, and the 30-minute construction delay offered a chance for us to get out and stretch.  By the end, my car began overheating, which was an aberration, because I've never had any problems with my car.

Barbara Walters called Coeur d'Alene "a little slice of Heaven," including it in her list of most fascinating places to visit.  The honeymoon capital of the Northwest boasts beautiful resorts, abundant outdoor activities, the pine forest-enshrouded gem known as Lake Coeur d'Alene, and a Christmas lighting ceremony whose display is among the largest in the country.  We arrived at at his parents' after dark, and they were warm and welcoming and so happy to see their son.  It was his first time seeing them in years, and they had a new house, and they had so much to talk about.  I enjoyed his mother's spaghetti as the three of them got reacquainted.  I felt a bit awkward being a part of such a sentimental reunion, but it meant a lot that Tyler felt comfortable bringing me up with him. 

Tuesday, November 2nd
Today Tyler showed me around town, his childhood home, the new library, "The World's Longest Floating Boardwalk" (over 3,300 feet) and hotel with its own art gallery at Coeur d'Alene Resort, the park, and the swimming and gym facilities at the youth center.  It was the perfect day with my good friend :) 

Wednesday, November 3rd
Today the four of us ran errands, and we picked up my car from Honda (the overheating problem).  Picking my car up proved quite a chore.  We waited about 45 minutes as they repeatedly told us my car would "be ready in 5 minutes."  They had no organization, and I paid over $250 for something they didn't even really fix (as I found out later).  It wasn't exactly the ideal way to end the visit with my friend, lol, but I had a wonderful time and I said my goodbyes before heading to Washington.

1 comment:

  1. I love you more; thanks for so many wonderful memories and years of friendship!

    PS: I just happened to update this post and saw your comment; stupid blogger never notified me! :/


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