Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Idaho

I grew up in Meridian, Idaho, just outside of Boise, with three brothers and two sisters.  We had two acres and most summers, that meant we had cows in our pasture and chickens in our barn.  We had irrigation rights and every once in a while, we'd flood our pasture then then forget to turn off the flow, flooding our neighbor's pasture as well.  I don't remember what he said to my dad, but I do remember our family modifying a camp song to sing, "Irrigation, super irrigation, irrigation, it's the game we like to play.  First you flood your neighbor's yard, then he really gets so mad. Wring your neck, hurts like heck... oh-oh-oh-oh,"

It was an idyllic childhood.  :)

My parents moved into our home when I was just a few months old and still in my crying-all-the-time phase (sorry mom!).  They lived in that same house in what used to be a rural area (but is now surrounded by Kohl's, Walmart, Toys R Us, and dozens more stores) for thirty-six years.  But with my parents getting older and my dad's health not what it used to be, they decided it was time to downsize the property and get their master bedroom onto a main floor.  So my parents found a neighborhood, modified a house plan to suit their needs, and moved.

My parents in front of their old home

My parents have been in their new home since the spring, and while DH was on the Daddy Trip to California early this month, I decided to take a Mommy trip with Joey and Cami to see the new home.

But first, we decided to see some parts of Idaho we'd never been to before (at least that I remember). Originally, we'd thought about going to see Yellowstone, but we couldn't find lodging for a decent price.  So, we settled for Craters of the Moon, Twin Falls, and Stanley on the way to Boise.  

And since I wrote about our trip in my weekly email, the rest of this post will be quoted from that:

Friday night, we left around 5 and stopped for way too long in Cabela's for Joey to stock up on flies and supplies. Cami enjoyed seeing the fish there.  Then we drove on to Pocatello, where we stayed that night.  Cami didn't sleep a wink and got increasingly goofy and emotional as we drove, but she was still mostly pleasant.  I was really hoping for a good farmland backdrop to take sunset photos at, but as we got closer to sunset, we drove through some uglier places and some parts of the sunset were blocked by rain or mountains.  Luckily, ten minutes before sunset, we pulled off the freeway near the Utah/Idaho border, drove a few tenths of a mile and found a lovely alfalfa field and an even lovelier sunset.  I'm excited about the photos I got and plan to print at least one for my wall.  




Twenty minutes later, we were back on the road.  We stopped at an Artic Circle and gas station to get Joey a shake and some pain medication (he could hardly eat for the pain of his orthodontic appointment earlier that day).  Cami had fun on the playground there.  Then we finally got to the hotel around 10.  Cami took a bath then took until 11 to calm down and sleep.  I'd forgotten our pack-n-play and the hotel was out of them, so she just slept by me.  Though she was pretty calm, she was a bit too wired to sleep, so we watched music videos on my phone of things like "Danny Boy," and "Nearer, My God, to Thee"  (love the Vocal Point arrangements of those). 

Triathlon and Bear World
Saturday morning, we had breakfast in the hotel then drove to Idaho Falls to watch our friend Hailey compete in her first triathlon.  The triathlon's website had very little information about routes or where to cheer on runners, and didn't even bother to mention what time it actually started.  The swim was in the Snake River, and luckily, the route for the biking went right over the freeway exit we took, so we were able to follow the various bikers for several miles until we found Hailey.  Cami was excited to see her -- "My Hailey?  My Hailey!!"  We cheered her on and got some pictures, and then drove on ahead a half mile or so to do it again.  Then we repeated the process.  It was awesome to see how happy she was to see us, and she was having a great time.  When she got close to the running portion, I dropped Joey off below a dam at the Snake River to go fishing for a while, while Cami and I went to cheer on Hailey.  We waited by a small stream for her to pass, then Cami had fun throwing small rocks in the pond while we waited for Hailey to come back around to that spot on her loop back to the finish line.  After Hailey finished, we got some pictures, loaded up her things and her bike, and picked up Joey, who'd had great success with his fishing.  



Since we were driving Hailey home to Rexburg anyway, we decided to stop at Bear World on the way.  It's about five miles from Rexburg and is kind of hokey and kind of cool at the same time.  The owners said they used to love visiting Yellowstone every year and seeing all the bears approach their car but over time and more visitors (and with more regulations about not feeding the bears), that became a more rare experience in Yellowstone, so they decided to recreate it for visitors to their place.  The park is mostly a drive-through experience.  First we went through the outer enclosure, where there were mountain goats, elk, bison, and deer.  Then we passed over an electric fence and into where there were probably 30 bears in a small space.  And yes, they came right up to our car.  Cami sat on Hailey's lap to see better and at one point, a bear four or five feet away started heading our way fast.  It was a bit startling and I pulled forward pretty fast to make sure he didn't make contact.  

After we drove through the park, we stopped and went over to the petting area.  They had baby bears in small enclosures there and we watched some people who had paid extra for the privilege bottle-feed them from huge bottles.  The petting zoo was a lot of fun, though Cami couldn't figure out how to catch and pet a chicken.  Joey was happy to oblige her and catch one for her.  They had ducks and Canadian geese and cute little goats, but the main attraction were some lovely deer, one with fuzzy antlers.  There was grain to feed them and they were pretty aggressive about finding it, even trying to eat my shirt.





After the petting zoo, we went over to where they had small kid rides that were free.  Cami loved them all, from the little train to the tiny roller coaster to the cars and even the sky lift ride that took us up twenty-five feet or so.  

We drove through the enclosures and saw the bears one more time, though the novelty had worn off by then and it wasn't quite as cool the second time through.  Then we headed to Rexburg.  We had a great lunch and pies at Frontier Pies, where Joey ordered soup since he still couldn't chew much.  We dropped Hailey off at her apartment, then headed for Craters of the Moon.

Craters of the Moon
The drive to Craters of the Moon is through a flat, barren, desolate, and dry part of Idaho.  And yeah, probably an ugly part too.  It was a little over two hours from Rexburg, and Cami slept the entire way, even when I stopped for gas.  Joey also slept for a lot of it and I enjoyed the time to just be alone with my thoughts and reflect on my life, and my blessings.

Around 4:00, we got to Craters of the Moon.  We stopped first at the ranger station for suggestions of what to do -- I always find that more helpful than trying to plan in advance online.  Then we drove through the park.  It was an interesting place full of an amazing variety of lava flows.  There were enormous cinder cones made up of gravel-sized lava rock, one of which we climbed up.  Joey went on ahead and since Cami was not happy about the potential for gravel in her shoes, I carried her piggy-back up the steep slope.  The views on top were beautiful.  There were also several splatter cones, with deep holes in the middle of them where the lava had spewed up.  There were also a lot of pahoehoe flows, some of which were so thick and flowey, they resembled dragons sleeping on the ground, down to the right texture and everything.  After walking around the splatter cones, we hiked in another area of pahoehoe flows to several lava tube caves.  Cami was slow and a little hard to motivate on the hike, so after getting to the first cave, we let Joey go on to the next one alone. 










Twin Falls & Scenic Route to Boise
Around 6:00, we finished our tour of the park, which was well worth the trip, and drove another two hours to Twin Falls.  We drove down to the water there and Joey fished for a bit while I drove on a dirt road watching for a good sunset spot for pictures.  I didn't find a fabulous one, but I did get some decent pictures of a waterfall and a few of the gorge and some bridges.




We got shakes and bought some pacifiers and Cami-size socks at Target, then headed to our hotel for the night.  
I was so tired I was sure I'd sleep in and miss sunrise, but I woke up early and couldn't go back to sleep so I drove out to the Twin Falls temple, arriving just as the sky was starting to light with color.  I think next to the Friday sunset photos in the farmfield, my pictures here were my favorite.  The clouds were just right to be ablaze behind the temple and I found the weeds in the empty lot just across from the temple to be very accommodating as foreground.  After the sun was fully up, I drove to the scenic overlook and got a few there before heading back to the hotel, where Joey and Cami were just waking up.







We had breakfast at the hotel, got dressed for Church, and drove over to see Shoshone Falls with the extra time we had before the 9:00 meeting started.  We went to sacrament meeting, then went back to the hotel to change and check out.  



We had decided Saturday night that since the trip to the Sawtooths would involve six hours of driving, we'd rather stay and explore the Snake River area where we were.  First, we went to a lake by Shoshone Falls.  It had a dock around a lovely swimming area, a beach, and a playground.  Cami went down the slide a hundred times, while Joey did a little fishing before we moved on.

We took the scenic 1,000 Springs Byway next.  We stopped at two fish hatcheries.  At the first, in Magic Valley, they hatch Steelhead, which are basically rainbow trout that head to the ocean before coming up the rivers to spawn in Idaho.  Some of them come back after one year and some after two years.  They electronically tag about 10% of the fish so they can track at several dams the return rate.  They have a 70% return through all the big dams.   There was a hatchery employee there that talked fish with Joey forever and it was fascinating to see what they were doing.  There were several trucks there with big 6 inch tubes vacumming up 3-4 inch fish from indoors, pulling them through two trucks and then putting them back.  The guy said the trucks were there marking all the fish as hatchery-bred so fisherman would know they were okay to harvest.  The dock the fin between the middle one and the back (I'm sure it has a technical name Joey could tell you, but I don't remember it).  Anyway, it was surreal to watch all these fish being sucked through a tube and up into a truck.




After Magic Valley, we went to the Hagerman hatchery, which had a bigger variety of fish and some stocked fish ponds.  Joey fished for an hour or so, while we had hoped Cami would sleep and I could read for a bit.  She woke up, though, and entertained herself by throwing rocks in the pond and playing in a small enclosure a tree made near the pond.  She said, "This is my house.  You want to come in my house?"  



We stopped next at the Hagerman Fossil Beds, a tiny place that told you about the fossil beds but couldn't show you them because they didn't really exist in any accessible way anymore.  Back in the 20s, the ranger said, the Smithsonian had sent a huge group out for a dig there and had found all sorts of animals -- camels, horses, enormous beavers, etc.  A lot of replicas were in the museum and there was a short video we watched.

After that, we drove the rest of the way to Boise, arriving at my parent's new house in Meridian a few hours later. 

We stayed in Meridian for the next two days, jumping on the trampoline, fishing (Joey and Grandpa), shopping (me, Grandma, and Cami), swimming in the pool in my parents' new neighborhood, and going to the Discovery Center with my sister and her family.




 Cousin Rachel & Grandpa

It was a great trip!

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