Hot and Wet in Idaho

fossilization map

fossilization map

The alarm goes off at 5:30 am. Fifteen minutes later I’m standing in a burning hot-only shower waiting for Caleb to get back with the keys to room 7. I tried splashing water on me using the dog bowl as a coolant, but it soon felt like it was going to melt in my hand. I ran next door covered in two towels and was done in seconds. The room was a lot cleaner – except for the mold growing in the window.

Back at the office we learn that the place is being remodeled and we got put into an old room when there was vacancy in a newer one – thanks. Lampliter Motel in Burley, Idaho gets the worst review ever and the dirtiest crack motel award. I make a note to check our credit card statement when we get home to make sure we weren’t charged more than once for what we deemed the scroungiest room we’ve stayed in.

Hagerman Fossil Beds

Hagerman Fossil Beds – by Caleb

We are 40 minutes from our first internment camp – Minidoka National Historic Site – where Japanese Americans were sent during World War II because their loyalty was questioned. The 97% that answered yes to joining the armed forces and swearing allegiance to the U.S. were offered jobs in East Coast companies experiencing war-time labor shortages, or they joined the war in Hawaii, France, Italy, and Asia.

An ornamental garden was built by internees to express strength and patriotism versus the symbol of the gate that stood for confinement and injustice. The rocks in the garden were quarried from miles away and some plants were donated by local communities. The 3% that answered no to questions 27 and 28 on the questionnaire were branded disloyal and were moved to the Tule Lake Segregation Center in California.

A few of the structures are still standing today and it’s hard to imagine the suffrage of these people in a beautiful landscape, but it differed greatly from the Pacific Northwest that they called home. A soothing factor was the North Side Canal that offered flowing water to listen and watch, and a place to fish. The clouds seem darker over this park. As we drive a seventh of the way across the bottom of Idaho to Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument the sky lightens up.

stone head in Idaho

stone head in Idaho

They claim inside to have found 4 amphibians, 9 reptiles, 18 fish, 27 birds, and 50 mammals, along with a variety of plant life. I like seeing the different bone structures between a snake and horse body and the size of a mastodon head. Outside is windy, but I endure it to learn more about the three ancient lakes and the Snake River that helped develop this area in land formation and fossilization 3-5 million years ago. Even now the river supplies life to birds in the winter with a constant flow of 58 degree water from the Thousand Springs area.

We get to drive over a one-lane bridge and stop to go in the caged-in walkway that takes visitors over the Snake River. It would’ve been nice had the fence had a larger viewing hole so that I could’ve taken more pictures without wire in the way. We were the only car in the parking lot upon our arrival to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Many a wagon got broken trying this same route in the 1900s when emigrants were moving west.

Craters of the Moon - by Caleb

Craters of the Moon – by Caleb

In the visitor center the ozone monitoring system tells us it’s 35 degrees Fahrenheit outside with winds blowing at 13 mph. This is good news. We don’t have to worry about the dogs overheating in the car and this will give us plenty of time to explore some caves – the ones where helmets aren’t recommended. I like the first trail sign we see. It tells us the grade, cross slope, tread width, and trail surface material along with regulations and length as usual.

The park may seem rough and desolate from a distance, but the cracks, craters, and caves provide a place for plants to grow and animals to live. Lava flows rapidly, but forms in so many ways depending on the air, trees, rocks, or water that it encounters during the cooling process. This leaves us with mounds, spirals, and waves of igneous rock to explore. We see some chipmunks on Devil’s Orchard Nature Trail and then it begins to snow. This cold white stuff that drops from the sky might deter some people, but I find it romantic.

From the top of Inferno Cone, at 6,181 feet, we get a great panorama of the park and the feel of cinder underfoot and wind in our face – making happy memories. The Spatter Cones Trail, one of the shortest ever, leads us 274 feet up an 11% grade to look at magma that has exploded from a vent like taffy and folded back on itself. The snow is falling harder by the time we reach the Caves Trail – one that leads to four developed caves for recreational spelunking.

me holding map of caves

me holding map of caves – by Caleb

We are coming out of Dewdrop Cave when a couple walks by. The man says, “Look! Cave dwellers! That wasn’t on the program.” Caleb replied that we were a new exhibit. The man asked if we could see after such a long time in the dark depths of the cave. I told him that we were following his voice. Some persistence pays off and by the time we are doing caving, the snow is done falling.

Back at the visitor center as I’m waiting for Caleb a man asks if I’m airborne – referring to the t-shirt I’m wearing that I got from my mom. Then he notices my Merrill hiking boots. I tell him he can get them at REI or Dicks and warm them, in their comfy car attire, about the tight, wet caves. The wife is determined to change out of her flip-flops. They didn’t come too prepared, but thought it would be an interesting stop – they were right.

On the way to Arco Caleb plays me a voicemail from my dad letting me know that my parents are worried about my lack of updating them about our travels. I call my mom and let her know where I am. She tells me about her recent bicycle ride. I call my dad and he offers me a GoPro Hero, tells me to put an emergency contact number in my wallet, and lets me know Adobe CS6 will be out in May. He’s excited about our trip and mentions two places that we missed by under ten miles.

road sign in Montana

road sign in Montana

In Arco there are lots of years painted on the Lost River Range Mountains – a local school tradition that started in 1920. From here we will head to Big Hole National Battlefield. The 230 miles are strewn with curvy roads, fluffy animals, rushing water, and high mountains. We take our time traversing this beautiful scenery. We expect the park to be closed, arriving after 6:00 pm and two hours before dusk, but this spot is one of many included in the history of the people who this park preserves.

With no maps available until 10:00 am tomorrow we decide to drive to Missoula, Montana where we will visit with Caleb’s sister, Jessi, and her family. We were going to drive to his dad’s, but he’s not allowed to have dogs in his apartment. We starting hitting small towns 60 miles away and the speed limit is 65 at night. I notice the 45 sign, and then the 25. I’m doing 28 when I see police lights in front of me. I had missed the 35 mph zone.

The cop takes my license to write my information down for a speed warning and gives me a heads up that most small towns here make you slam on your brakes. Then he tells me that our license plate isn’t visible enough, but that it’s ok since we’re just visiting. Well, we will be getting Montana plates soon, so he lets us know that there are magnets available to attach to our bikes. As soon as I pull back into the lane I see a 35 mph sign. This is the second time I’ve gotten pulled over heading towards Robert’s. We get to Jessi’s after 10:00 pm and the girls are already in bed, so it makes it easy to chat for a while, set up the air mattress in the living room, and then go to sleep.

This entry was posted in Animals, Events, Family, Government, History, People, Photography, Places, Plants, Things, Travel, Water and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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