Craters

Day 37. Saturday 24 September.

It’s always good to have a plan. Our plan today was to have a relaxed start (that’s not so unusual), then visit the Museum of Clean and the Idaho Museum of Natural History, then retrace our steps to Blackfoot (home of the Potato Museum) in order to take the scenic route to Twin Falls.

The first part of the plan worked well: the leisurely start. After a breakfast of leftover potato mash on toast (yes, for both) we were on our way.

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The GPS worked well, getting us to within two blocks of our first destination, but failed to warn us of the Homecoming Parade that blocked our route, which at that stage was one way.

 

 

 

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T hopped out to take some photographs and to find out what was going on.It was an annual event, celebrating the coming game of football involving the local side. T chatted to a woman sipping a bloody Mary and asked dumb tourist questions, including “So is this just all about a football game?” Well, yes, but it’s a community event and all the businesses put together floats and “we just LOVE A PARADE”.

T also found out that it would be at least another hour, so with some careful reversing we changed our plan to remove museum visits from the list. The GPS refused to give up, however, and although we changed our destination it was determined to take us through the parade – twice. In the end we ignored her and once clear of the city she gave up and behaved.

So, in the amended plan we would find a coffee in Blackfoot to recover. Easy. Downtown Blackfoot was not only pretty much deserted (maybe they were all at the parade in Pocatello?) but there was no evidence of any place that would provide coffee and T wouldn’t countenance another visit to the Potato Museum. Next plan – visit the Walmart Mall as they were sure to have a coffee shop and we needed some fresh supplies anyway. We got the supplies, but no coffee. As we prepared to leave Blackfoot we noticed a little café called XII Stones and sure enough it served espresso – D’s good, T’s just so.

img_5016Now we were back on the original plan. Out on the plains of the Snake River there was a lot of “high-security-looking” infrastructure within a landscape of sagebrush. A short stop at an atomic development and research site, although not much to actually see. There had been a lot of US Navy work done there on the development of the nuclear submarine capability (why was that in Idaho, so far from the sea?) as well as other munitions testing. We could have been in SA.

Under a glorious sky, and with snow-caps on the horizon, we passed through a few small towns (populations of 94, or a few hundred) and turned into the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. What a find! A vast landscape of black lava formations from only 2000 years ago (could have been yesterday). Spent the rest of the afternoon doing the Crater circuit by car and on foot….lava tubes, caves, craters….black/blue, with outcrops of vegetation showing just how resilient plant life is.

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Dwarf Buckwheat

A strong wind made the drive to Twin Falls a challenge – the speed limit was 65 mph, we travelled at 55 mph and the big trucks and other rigs wanted to get a move on! Our GPS, which so far had been reasonably reliable, wanted us to go past our destination and do a U turn – over two lanes of 65 mph highway traffic. In trying to work out just what we were supposed to do, we missed the RV park, so turned onto the Freeway back to Pocatello – with no chance of turning back for 15 km! 30 km later we arrived at the destination, with the GPS turned off in disgrace.

It has taken 4 weeks to figure out how the car radio works. Now when T surfs the bands, the only obvious choice is the local country music channel. When that becomes drear, it’s time to plug in the Bluetooth and go from Baroque to folk from our home list.

Dinner tonight is a chicken curry with potatoes. Potatoes twice in one day (voluntarily) for T: must be the Idaho air!

Stop Press.

The origin of the term ‘spud’ was a fib. Thanks to Wikipaedia for the following true explanation (we can trust this source, can’t we?)

The name spud for a small potato comes from the digging of soil (or a hole) prior to the planting of potatoes. The word has an unknown origin and was originally (c. 1440) used as a term for a short knife or dagger, probably related to Dutch spyd or the Latin “spad-” a word root meaning “sword”; cf. Spanish “espada”, English “spade” and “spadroon”. The word spud traces back to the 16th century. It subsequently transferred over to a variety of digging tools. Around 1845, the name transferred to the tuber itself. The origin of the word “spud” has erroneously been attributed to a 19th-century activist group dedicated to keeping the potato out of Britain, calling itself The Society for the Prevention of an Unwholesome Diet (S.P.U.D.). It was Mario Pei’s 1949 The Story of Language that can be blamed for the word’s false origin. Pei writes, “the potato, for its part, was in disrepute some centuries ago. Some Englishmen who did not fancy potatoes formed a Society for the Prevention of Unwholesome Diet. The initials of the main words in this title gave rise to spud.” Like most other pre-20th century acronymic origins, this is false.

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