Saturday, June 17, 2017

Prison, Craters, Lab Land, and Bad News

I headed out Burns after a good night's sleep and a shower.  The Silver Spur Motel where I stayed was old fashioned, but very clean and friendly... and inexpensive.  All wonderful things - I'm glad I stopped there, and wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

About 40 miles east of town, I came upon a stretch of 2-lane highway that was under some form of construction... loose gravel on the road, but no other heavy machinery working at the time.  The speed limit was 35 mph, but without any workers present, the batch of vehicles I was in was cruising along nicely at about 50.  Until some jerk in a Mini Cooper cruises past me at well over what we were even doing.  Without leaving ample space for flying gravel, the car cut in front of me, peppering the Jeep in stones.  After barking a barrage of colorful words at him (my dad would be proud), he speeds away... and I notice a crack in my windshield.  So mad... 😡  And who knows what other chips were there that I couldn't see yet.  With lots of ground still to cover to get into Boise, I eventually mellowed out some.

I got into Boise just before lunchtime.  I stopped in for a sandwich and to consult my phone to see if there was anything fun in town that could be done in a short period of time, and without costing too much.  Lo and behold, I find the website for the Old Idaho State Penitentiary!  I've always been into old, abandoned, potentially haunted locations... and this fit the bill!  And with a $6.00 admission, I really couldn't pass it up.  I spent a couple of hours here, taking photos with my big camera (none with the cell phone - I don't know why I didn't think to do that), touring all of the old buildings, learning of their history, and the history of some of the people who were housed here.  It is a little creepy, but so worth doing if you have a few hours to kill while in town.  I'd love to return and tour it again some evening (instead of midday).   Photographers, take note:  they're pretty strict on what photography equipment you can bring in during the daytime tours.  No camera bags, no tripods - only 1 camera body with attached lens.  I carried mine in-hand the whole time I was there, and nothing else.  Be warned.

After getting out of jail, I continued on US 20 east.  Although I hadn't planned to do it, I did revisit the Craters of the Moon National Monument west of Arco, Idaho... just long enough to cruise the park loop.  It's just a surreal little park out in the middle of nowhere - all of it comprised of volcanic rock, cones, and the resulting nature/wildlife that calls it home since the time of the eruption.  Also another really cool place if you ever find yourself in the area.

It was late-afternoon, and I knew this route also had me crossing the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) land again.  I've mentioned this area in past posts when I had crossed it from east to west.  There's technically not much to see (and I keep missing open hours at the nearby museum)... but if you do your homework on this place, it has a lot of significant nuclear history, and some great conspiracy theories that surround it.  Knowing this, seeing the yellow signs (signifying government land - keep out!) dotting both sides of the highway, stopping at the single, lone rest stop that's canvassed with security cameras... I think you'd find it a little eerie also.  Initially, without thinking, I thought I'd stop at that rest area for the evening.  However, after arriving and seeing the security cameras... I was too afraid I might be chased out by the feds.  😯  I did arrive there around sunset, so I wandered around the rest area grounds and got some photos of the changing colors in the skies until it was too dark to do so with a handheld camera.  After reconsidering, I thought maybe it best to drive into Idaho Falls before calling it quits for the evening.

While somewhere in between the rest stop and Idaho Falls, I got a text from my dad telling me that John, my (step) grandfather in Sun City (Phoenix area), Arizona had passed away.  He'd mentioned that my mom had flown to be with my grandmother earlier that evening and was there now.  I had a thought, and I'd quickly looked at my map to see where Idaho Falls was in relation to Phoenix - north, I know... but I wanted to see if I was too far east yet for dramatic course correction.  Idaho Falls is straight north of Phoenix... by just under 13 hours or so.  Seeing that, I asked Dad if he thought it might be a good idea for me to head to Phoenix... if for nothing other than emotional support.  After a quick phone call, he suggested that I send my mom a message the next morning to ask... and we left it at that.

With a suspicion that I might be headed south, I parked for the evening to stealth camp near I-15 in Idaho Falls, and the same highway that might take me a completely different direction the following morning.

A couple of mobile photos of the mountains near Arco, ID.