“Holy crap! Pull over!”
Potatoes and onions aren’t the only interesting things in Idaho. Idaho also has ‘the moon.’
Recently, we haven’t been traveling with ‘firm’ plans. We’ve just been driving. East. So, when we drove into Craters of the Moon National Monument, we were pretty surprised. We had no idea that Idaho had a large swath of land impersonating the moon. We’re glad it does; the novelty of this place makes it pretty awesome.
In full disclosure, Idaho’s ‘moon’ doesn’t have anything to do with the ‘real’ moon. Craters of the Moon was created by volcanic fissure eruptions. You can read more about it here– but honestly, you should probably just hop in your car or RV or jump on your horse or bike or lube up your inner thighs and start running towards it. Get out to Idaho to check it out for yourself. You can eat the potatoes and onions that line the roads to save on food costs during your trip.
After visiting Idaho’s moon, we drove a few more hours, arriving at a campground in Rexburg, Idaho. While I guided Dyna through lunar landscape, Jake found a campground that offered a ‘deal’. We’re suckers for a ‘deal’. We popped our $15/5nights fee into the payment box and settled in a for an undetermined amount of time. Unknowingly, we parked in a space that a local moose family was using to access a nearby water source (Snake River). I felt a little bad, but mostly just felt lucky. We’ve only seen a moose once during our travels (Colorado); we’re always on the lookout. And here, at this clearance priced campground, we had a family of 3 walking through our site to hydrate themselves. Awesome!
Rexburg, Idaho didn’t just have moose. It was also conveniently located in the midst of several attractions. These included, but weren’t limited to: a hill for hiking, back road running loops, and Rigby Idaho’s Pioneer & TV museum. The TV museum was definitely a highlight; we’ve never seen anything quite like it. A part of me hopes we don’t see anything like it again- but another part, well, another part hopes we do. I’ll *attempt* to sum it up: we looked at common objects displayed in an interesting manner, while listening to a couple of elders discuss their feelings on others being Jewish. I can’t say we’d recommend going out of your way to see this museum, but if you’re in town, there isn’t much else to do anyway.
A few more miles down the road in either direction put us in either Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, Yellowstone National Park, the Tetons, or Jackson Hole.
Idaho Falls is a well kept city with a beautiful river walk. It’s lined with unique benches, a beautiful Mormon Temple, and gardens. While there aren’t too many local shops in the downtown area, the Idahoan Mashed Potato company headquarters are here (big surprise). We checked out the ‘Museum of Idaho’, but were disappointed; it was mostly just filled with a ‘limited time’ civil war exhibit. The museum did have a small section dedicated to the nearby Atomic Museum (Arco), which was closed for the season. So that was cool. Also, Idaho Falls has a really nice woman who works at the AutoZone who re-charged our dead engine battery when we arrived 15 minutes before closing time.
Blackfoot is home to the Idaho Potato Museum and the world’s largest potato. It’s pretty big. There is also a giant Pringle potato chip inside. And if looking at a ton of potato paraphernalia gets your stomach grumbling, there is a delicious greasy spoon right down the street. You can eat a stuff covered potato. I recommend that.
Soda Springs touts the world’s largest ‘man tamed’ geyser. Some dude was digging a swimming pool and popped into a geyser, so he tamed it. We couldn’t miss that. Soda Springs’ other claim to fame is Monsanto. Everyone loves visiting an evil lair. So, we checked out Monsanto. We watched huge trucks dump molten slag- a byproduct of their phosphate processing plant- down giant piles of formerly (but now dried up) slag. Bet you couldn’t guess they need phosphate to produce RoundUp. Anyways, it was a very romantic night, sitting in our car, watching heaps of molten material being dumped over a bigger heap of already hardened material. A security guard inquired as to our intents, but was nice enough when we let him know we were just curious to see the ‘lava’.
Yellowstone. Good lord- Yellowstone. We loved Yellowstone. And look forward to a return trip. It’s a pretty dramatic place. Hot springs and geysers and buffalo and elk and mountains and prairies and rivers and color. So much color. That about sums up what I can put into words about Yellowstone. But I don’t think it’s a place that can be contained by words. We loved Yellowstone.
The Grand Tetons. We met the Tetons on our way out of Yellowstone. They are a mountain range that clearly don’t want to be outdone by Yellowstone. And they are not. Which is pretty amazing, because Yellowstone is radical. It’s not really fair that this area of the country is hogging up so much awesome, but hey, we can’t fight it. So just go with it. And by that, I mean go THERE. Go experience the Tetons. And Yellowstone.
Jackson Hole is home to what appears to be many many wealthy folk; and it’s also beautiful. Because clearly, having Yellowstone and the Tetons only miles to the North isn’t lovely enough. Jackson Hole seems to cater to the wealthy and to tourists who want to pretend to be wealthy for a bit. To pnotch eateries, fur and leather shops, and plenty of tchotchkes to blow your dollars on. These are the ties I’m glad we have no room for trinkets; it’s a good excuse not to be tempted by small shiny things.
Rexburg, ID provided a solid location for adventuring throughout the Eastern Idaho/Western Wyoming areas. And there is a lot of adventuring to be done out here. But for now, we’re putting the tires back on the gravel and East. And also South. Wyoming, here we come!