The Great American Road Trip II - 16 - Boy Oh Boise
We left La Grande at 10:38, in 53 degrees with lots of clouds, though it thankfully was not raining. The rolling hills around us were mostly filled with cattle peacefully grazing on ranches. We saw mountains - some snowcapped - all around, but we drove for a good ways in the vast, flat valley before getting to them. The snowcapped peaks were mainly to our left and were part of the Blue Mountain range.
A little bit after 11:00 we crossed the 45th parallel for the fourth and last time on the trip. Now closer to the equator than the north pole, we passed by Baker City as we began to climb the mountains in earnest. The hilly, arid landscape is highly reminiscent of Nevada, but also a bit Badlands-like. Also present in the area are cement plants, of which we saw a few.
As we entered the last Oregonian county before the Idaho border, the time zone changed back to Mountain Time and we lost an hour, completely skipping noon. (My dad said that this was okay because he "wasn't hungry anyway.")
Curvy parts of the road could be seen from the crests of hills, with three miles of highway condensed into perhaps a little over a mile as the crow flies. We skirted around these hills of epic proportion, given scale by tiny-looking three-trailer-long trucks traveling the other way.
It was not raining constantly, which had been one of the defining themes of our trip so far. Instead we saw rows upon rows of clouds that looked to us like they were stacked on top of each other. Within short order we entered Ontario, Oregon, the last city before the border, where we saw an Ore-Ida plant. It was there that it occurred to me that the name of the company came from the first three letters of Oregon and Idaho.
My blind was mown.
After re-assembling the bits of my cerebral cortex we found splattered over the interior of the car, we entered Idaho. We stopped at their welcome center which offered a grand vista of the Idahoan plains. With the 75 MPH speed limit, we made good time through the fairly metropolitan stretch of highway bound for Boise. We stopped for a much-needed gas-up a few miles before hitting the stadium of the Boise Hawks, a short-season minor-league team in the same league as Vancouver and Everett.
We encountered someone that I assume was a sales guy, who gave us two free magnets as he ran off somewhere into the front office to see about the pennant situation. We got a pennant as well as a really cool hat, which we were led into a hidden shed to get. (As well as getting the aforementioned magnets, we snagged a discount on the pennant and hat as well.)
As we were heading out of the stadium, my grandmother called on the car's built-in phone, which scared the living daylights out of us. Despite this, we successfully navigated out of Boise towards Mountain Home, which is about as far from Boise as Boise is from the border. This trip was relatively uneventful, save for old tractors used decoratively along the side of the road as well as a wide-load modern tractor being towed by a truck cab going 80 MPH. We made it to Mountain Home, where we visited the visitor's center before heading to our hotel.
(Side note: Idahoans are very friendly folks, but none of them ever seem to have visited any of the parks in their state - which is strange considering that Craters of the Moon is rather famous for its geological weirdness, the fact that it's not very far to drive, and the fact that everyone we asked should have known more about it considering they worked in various visitor's centers.)
We checked in at our hotel where we received a great number of recommendations for various restaurants in the area by the incredibly bubbly girl behind the front desk. We ate at a local pizza place, where mom and dad got personal pizzas and I got a gigantic burger with bleu cheese on top. (I like bleu cheese now; bleu cheese is cool.)
Tomorrow: Craters of the Moon National Monument, as well as probably some ice caves, en route to Idaho Falls.