Up at 6:00 am. It’s 30 degrees and still dark. We wait until 7:00 for the sun to touch the horizon and bring the temperature to 40 degrees before getting out of the car and walking around while the dogs stayed in the car in their coats and wrapped in blankets. The visitor center opened at 8:00 . It’s the parks 90th birthday and their last day of the season – lucky us. We buy the first tickets and make our way up over the 1,000 plus feet of elevation. The trail is paved, the birds chirping, and the sun lighting the tips of the surrounding peaks.
There is another couple behind us, but by the start time of our tour there will be four couples and a dad with his two sons on the tour with our ranger for a total of 12 people. The tour is an hour-long and goes through three caves with artificial tunnels connecting them. The ranger, Andy, was knowledgeable and didn’t rush me as I snapped many a photo and squeezed through some tight spots. The cave proved amazing as they all seem to do in their own special way – this one was no exception with a room full of helictites.
After the hike down we drive to American Fork for pancakes at IHOP and coffee from Starbucks. The pancakes were filling but the medium roast tasted like a dead cat had been left in the pot – worst $2 refill ever. On to the Golden Spike NHS to see where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads met to connect the west with the other side of the nation. A golden spike was ceremoniously driven in, but only a plaque is left in its place today as the wood was repurposed into furniture and the steel used in WWII.
There was a mile and a half loop that we turned into a three and a half mile walk when we failed to read the numbered trail marker – and the next number in the trail guide. We left the parking lot in a hurry when I noticed mosquitoes and drove to the Rocket Display to see them and cook dinner there. Caleb made mac-n-cheese while I took pictures and then I had apple-pie-chocolate for dessert. It would’ve tasted better with dried apples instead of the brittle filling.
We drive to Idaho Falls before finding a bed and bath for the night. I was thinking we could see a potato museum in the morning but the weather looks dim with 40% chance of rain and we will be gone before the sun let alone before a museum opens. We wouldn’t have made it to Missoula until after midnight and now we should be there in time for lunch tomorrow.