Our own private Idaho
We left Redwood National Park and went straight to Boise, Idaho (this took two days, actually). Then we holed up at the Super 8 motel to get through various exciting pieces of light relief, including haircuts, well-deserved oil change and windscreen repair for Beluga the Ford Bronco, a couple of visits to the movies, and a few hours in a local hostelry.
The haircuts were certainly economic - twelve bucks a head. At no extra charge was plenty of local colour. First our hairdresser explained her views on the Hispanic community (forthright) and then launched into a number of diatribes, mainly directed at a pantheon of loser Boise men. My favourite was a chap of around 25, who'd just emerged from 3 years in the slammer. Our informant couldn't quite remember what our hero had done, perhaps something to do with drugs? Anyway, shortly after coming out, he'd fallen in with and eventually married a 17 year old high school student, with said student's mother's permission. Three days later the student had run back to her old boyfriend and divorce had ensued... Bets are being taken on how long this chap will be out, apparently he hasn't yet stopped hollering at every passing vehicle.
For those who care, the US car is so far proving a better investment than most we've tried, performing faultlessly for nearly 4,000 miles of terrain including huge climbs and a number of ugly dirt roads. The oil change was uneventful. The windscreen repair was Jan's chance to encounter a little more local colour. An hour of a young Californian who had an alcoholic, white supremacist mother (are these two characteristics linked?), a step mother who robbed him of all his belongings, and a paternal grandmother who was a native American and taught him to live off the land . We presume that his mother was not a white supremacist when she married his father. Our boy also had several accidents which nearly caused his knee to be fused (he was about to be a pro mountain bike racer) and in-laws who will shoot him if he leaves his wife! I had to lie down after all this!
The movies: 'Wild, Wild West' (crap) and 'An Ideal Husband' (v. good). The latter features a perfectly cast Rupert Everett, lots of bon mots curtesy of Oscar Wilde, and a strong supporting cast for lots of laughs. The former features not much.
On from Boise for our first ever go at white water rafting. Lots of fun, plenty of rapids, although sadly no-one fell in. Probably more fun to do than read about so moving swiftly on to...
From Boise we headed north west and overnighted in a town called Stanley in the heart of the Sawtooth mountain range. We had a quick pizza and then sat in our motel's garden, gazing across the fast flowing river to where the sun was setting spectacularly behind the steep razor edges of the mountains. This is really beautiful country, and pleasantly lacking in major commercialisation. Mind you, it's clear that the more unspoilt tracts of Idaho are rapidly being bought up by wealthy Californians looking for a new wilderness. There's a definite mixture of old backwoods local houses occupied year round and palatial vacation homes occupied for about four weeks a year.
We passed through Sun Valley, the first downhill ski resort developed in the US which was full of very well dressed golfers and mountain bikers. The mountains looked beautiful of course, and it was odd to see all the ski runs covered in grass between the trees rather than covered in snow. The lifts are still in use taking the bikers up.
Back in the car and on to the Craters of the Moon National Monument. This is a place where, regular as clockwork, there's a lava flow every two thousand years. The whole place looks like a car park that was abandoned a couple of millenia ago" all chunks of tarmac broken into crazy patterns. Various kinds of lava lurk on all sides: curiously most of the lava varieties rejoice in names borrowed from Hawaiian. The entertainment included some very large caves, derived from lava tubes. Lava flows along a gully: the top goes solid first as it is cooled by the atmosphere, whereas below lava continues to flow until there is no more lava, leaving an empty tube in its wake.
From there more driving through beautiful country took us on into Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park.
(click thumbnails for a larger picture) |
White water rafting
Tourist in lava shock
Craters of the moon
Craters of the moon