Lazy J Corral to Mountain Home, ID
Thursday, August 31, 2006 … 334 Camper Miles – Total 6,635
Very chilly, 38 deg, but sunny, mid 80s by mid-afternoon
We were on the road about 7:20 and headed back to Jackson for breakfast at Bubbas BarBeQue … an unlikely sounding breakfast restaurant name to be sure. But, the place was very busy and, as we’d been told, they make a mean omelet!
We were headed toward Mountain Home, ID, to visit Sandy’s nephew, Dustin. The road we took, WY-22 over Teton Pass, is quite a drive. With a 10% grade for 3 miles on each side of the pass, the Lexus thought it was quite a drive, too! On the other side we saw beautiful, irrigated fields with mountains in the background for miles & miles. This was one of the longest drives we’ve done in a day. Though it was mostly pretty easy, we did have to put up with about 20 miles of road construction where we drove on gravel. We also made a couple of stops along the way.
The first was at ERB-I, the first nuclear power plant, located in the middle of The Idaho Test Facility, a huge, federal nuclear testing and development facility that flanks US-20 for many miles between Idaho City and Butte City. It was here that electrical power was first generated from a nuclear reaction. It was also the first breeder reactor where it was demonstrated that a reactor could create it’s own fuel. We took the self-guided tour through the decommissioned plant and got to play with the manipulator arms that were used to assemble fuel rod assemblies.
In the middle of the construction/gravel part of our drive was Craters of the Moon National Monument. This is a bizarre place where recent volcanic activity has left miles and miles of raw volcanic cinders and lava that have not yet eroded significantly or been covered with vegetation. Duh … it’s, like the MOON, man! We took the drive through the park, climbed to the top edge of a cinder cone, a couple of splatter cones and clambered through a lava tube. It is definitely a strange scene and well worth a stop if you’re in the area.
We finally arrived at Dustin’s place in the early evening. We set up camp in his driveway. After hellos and a tour of the house, Dustin fired up his grill to make some chicken for Sandy while he and I shared a delicious Irish stew he’d brewed, complete with Guinness and burgundy. We spent the evening catching up.
Friday, September 1, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 6,635
Cool morning but sunny and mid 80s by afternoon
We all slept in after a late evening. After breakfast we boarded Dustin’s pickup truck and headed out to Silver City. Idaho has lots of dirt roads and that’s what you take for the last 20-plus miles to get there. As usual, it seemed, haze from distant forest fire smoke marred what would normally be a spectacular drive.
Silver City is one of many small, once-prosperous, silver-mining towns in the area. Now, many of the old homes are being reclaimed and used for weekend retreats. Folks come in by truck and drive their ATVs around the many dirt tracks and trails, fishing and panning for gold. We walked the town, followed the stream up to the graveyard, still maintained by local Masons, and climbed the hill to the remains of the Silver City Mine. Only a series of pits, a small tunnel and a tip remain of the mine, one of many in nearby hills.
We drove past the town along a lovely creek for a few miles, looking for the black sand that signals the possible presence of gold. We stopped at one hopeful area and Dustin tried his hand with no success.
Back at Dustin’s place we fired up the wok and made delicious beef fajitas for dinner. Dustin then dug into his formidable array of DVDs and we all watched the movie, “Sum of All Fears”.
Saturday, September 2, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 6,635
Sunny, high 90s, hot
We piled into Dustin’s truck, again, this time armed with sandwiches for lunch and headed back out to the dirt roads. We first headed to an overlook above Bruneau River Canyon. The view is great. We wondered if the stream, below, is used for float trips? Then we followed another long dirt road to Hot Springs, also along the Bruneau River. Here, hot springs bubble to the surface close to the river’s edge. While the first of the springs was pretty well trashed by kids, the others were in nice shape. We came across a couple who were in one of the springs that folks had ponded up right by the river’s edge. We followed the river for a way and ate our lunch under a small cottonwood next to one of the hot springs.
Then it was off to nearby Bruneau Dunes State Park. This is a really nice spot. There are two small, modern campgrounds, complete with hookups and showers. The small lake is warm and shallow with sandy beaches. There were lots of folks playing in the water. The park even had a small observatory, complete with a research-grade telescope and other, smaller scopes set up to observe the sun and a solar flare. Of course there were the dunes, themselves. They were huge and people were into carrying tubes and body-boards to the tops in attempts to slide down the hills.
Returning to the house, we cleaned up and headed to nearby Boise. This is a vital, modern city with lots of recent construction. It is clean and attractive … you’ll enjoy a day here. We walked around the downtown area for a while. There are lots of restaurants spilling out onto the sidewalks, people on foot and on bicycles. We settled on having our dinner at the Bitter Creek Red Feather Lounge. The food and drink were excellent and moderately priced.
Back home Dustin and Bill settled in to watched a couple of movies while Sandy headed off to bed.
Sunday, September 3, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 6,635
Sunny, high of 101
We all needed some down time so we lounged around all morning. In the afternoon Dustin took us for a tour of Mountain Home AFB where he works on F-16 fighter planes on their avionics systems. We’ve seen lots of museum planes on display, before, and Mountain Home AFB has its share. However, we’d never gotten a detailed description of their combat roles and designs like Dustin gave us. Cool stuff, nothing classified, of course, but Dustin managed to make each “plane on a stick” talk to us. We stopped at the Base Exchange for a bit of shopping and a bite to eat and then headed back to the house. There, Sandy started our laundry while Bill did some writing and preparation of photos for our web site.
For dinner Bill made our patented pan-seared shrimp over a cannelloni bean salad for dinner. Sandy’s contribution was a gluten-free spice cake for desert.
Monday, September 4, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 6,635
Sunny, hot, high 90s, threat of thunderstorms
Bill posted the updates to our web site first thing in the morning while Sandy and Dustin visited a local winery and did some grocery shopping. Sandy did the rest of our laundry, cleaned and reorganized the camper and reloaded stuff we’d taken into Dustin’s house. Since Dustin had to work on Tuesday, he got his uniforms ready for the week. Sandy was fascinated at how he made his beat-up boots shine with polish, fire and water. (Gee, would Bill please do that to Sandy’s hiking boots?)
Dinner was a chicken stir-fry followed by yet another movie.