Along the way up the mountain, we saw several hitchhikers looking for rides, and if we had room, we would have certainly stopped to help one of them out. In the West, at least in these temperatures, every hitchhiker looks like a ski bum, and therefore picking them up seems safer than the scraggily roadside degenerates to which we're accustomed in Florida.
Of course, it's entirely possible that once the hitchhiker got in the car he (they were all men) might pull of his toboggan and look like Sideshow Bob:
But this is beside the point.
The point is that over the course of the day I learned that I have been wrong-headed about Idaho for all my life, relegating it to that class of states that are known only for their association to vegetables.
(Yes, I'm talking to you Indiana...)
This is totally inaccurate, though, and Idaho is actually quite beautiful, as shown by this view coming down the mountain into Boise:
It also has one of the strangest places I have ever been to, the Craters of the Moon National Monument, which was formed by lava flows back in the day:
I tried taking pictures of the area, but none of them were really able to capture how truly bizarre this place is. The rocks have waves in them, and there are tiny wildflowers growing out of this alien landscape that appears to be completely and utterly barren.
There are also caves:
me, halfway through Indian Tunnel Cave
which were populated by bats, pigeons, and one fake owl:
the birds pay no mind
The exit also lent itself to nifty camera tricks:
After leaving we decided to take another scenic route, this time heading north to the Sun Valley area so I could see Ketchum, where Ernest Hemingway killed himself in 1961. Sadly, the town is now nothing more than a posh ski resort without even a roadside historical marker (which are all over Idaho and Montana) to mark Papa's former presence:
I suppose suicides are frowned upon by the Chamber of Commerce...
From Ketchum we made our way up to the Galena Summit:
and then doubled back on the other side of the mountain range into Boise. As soon as we got to town, I asked a quirksome gas station attendant where to get the best fries in town. (Remember what I said about associating states with vegetables?) He directed us to place called Rocky's Diner:
not our picture
My yin and I arrived (starving) to see three girls rollerskating around the dining area and an emcee announcing that someone was taking "the challenge." One server had a giant plate of unidentifiable brown slop (the emcee said it was a chili cheeseburger), an identifiable giant plate of cheese fries, and a comparatively modest-sized chocolate milkshake (with whipped cream). We decided this probably wasn't the place for us and whispered a prayer for the man's colon as we exited the restaurant.
We ended up instead at Boise Fry Company, which was much lower key than Rocky's and had a in-house veggie burger option made from a quinoa and black bean base. This is my favorite dining spot thus far because not only did they promote local foodstuffs, they also had a half dozen species of potatoes to choose from and made absurdly gourmet ketchups like curry pear, sour thai, and blueberry. All this for less than ten bucks per person:
The next day we left Boise around sunrise and headed for Oregon, which was populated by all sorts of kitshy signs from a pre-interstate era:
I have no idea if the actual trail followed US-20
Bates Motel? really?
Who doesn't want steak and pancakes?
This one was actually in Idaho, but the same principle applies.
In fact, eastern Oregon looks much like Idaho:
and this trip (among other things) has helped to remind me that the distinctions between states are often based on arbitrary factors (historical, accidental, or otherwise) rather than actual cultural or geographic differences. In my mind, at least prior to this week, all of Oregon looked like the Twin Peaks opening credits:
This wasn't the case, however, until we reached Bend:
and entered into the Cascade Mountains proper. We made the long climb up the mountains with a piece of fresh-picked sage tucked into the air vent:
it smelled amazing
before finally making the long descent down the McKenzie highway into Eugene:
cinematography by my yin
to be continued...