Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Day 29: Idaho Falls ID - Grangeville ID

It was the gal on reception I felt sorry for.  She probably knocked off at midnight, so it must count as Cruel and Unusual to have her deal with a busload of Japanese tourists at 23:30.  Still, she had already proved capable of dealing with a stroppy punter who thought he'd been overcharged last week - "Do I look like I manage anything?" - before I charmed her with Englishness.  Unlike the bloke here tonight, who is the latest addition to the long list of USAnian twerps thinking I hail from the Antipodes.  Anyway, the Shilo in Idaho Falls backs onto the Porter Canal, and thus has Ducks.  The Japanese tourists were so taken with the Ducks that their guide was getting increasingly miffed at his failed attempts to get his charges back on the bus and off to Yellowstone, or wherever.

"Got any bread?"
Or they could have been going here:

It is a measure of how acclimatised I am to the language of USAnia that I didn't laugh at this.  At first.  It is unclear from the sign which of the three nearby buttes is Big Butte, fnarr fnarr, but it's probably this one:

Not far up the road - US-20 - is the Idaho National Laboratory, home of civilian Nuclear Stuffs; if it was military it'd be in the big bit of Nevada with no roads and dudes with lots of guns.  I'll still probably end up in Gitmo if I post this photo:

And now you've seen it, so will you.  Eventually US-20 morphs into US-93, which has come up from Twin Falls and, before that, Nevada and Arizona, and heads north up an extension of the Snake River Plain thinly disguised as a valley.  In Mackay there was a BEAR bunrab:

Normal size, unlike the Giant Bunrabs of Calgary chiz.  The geography of Idaho is a bit confusing, because all the rivers ultimately end up in the Snake River, and thus the Columbia and ultimately the Pacific, but because:

  • the Snake makes a gert big loop around southern Idaho, and
  • the large mountains stopping the rivers from flowing in a logical direction

it's easy to believe there are, for example, two completely different Salmon Rivers.  Which there aren't.  I turned west up the valley of the Salmon River v1.0 near Challis.  It is this: stunning.

At Stanley, the valley flattens out into a mini-plain and ID-21 takes off up a side valley, over the top and down into that of the Payette River's south fork.  Which is just as stunning, only downhill.  Subsequent consultation of the memory-branes reveals that I'd driven over this bit before, probably in 2005, but on that occasion I didn't turn off at Lowman to follow the river down the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway to Banks and its confluence with the North Fork.

Also at Banks is ID-55, which heads straight northwards and is busy with berks who are incapable of keeping to a constant speed.  Doesn't every motor-car in this country have cruise control?  At McCall, where I spent a night in 2015, Emily sends me down a back road to avoid the busy town centre, but it makes little odds as they're still resurfacing the road to the east of town.  Single lane traffic.  Bah!

Confluence of the various bits of the Payette River, Banks ID
At New Meadows I continued the northwards business by turning left onto US-95.  Where ID-55 was Berk Central, this was devoid of berks and, indeed most other traffic too.  It was actually possible to maintain ["the speed limit" - Ed.] all the way here, including up Seven Mile Hill.  The whole section of the 95 between New Meadows and Grangeville has been done two or three times before, in both directions, so nothing new to see.  Though the last time I went up Seven Mile Hill, where the road abandons the valley and climbs 800 metres to the plateau atop which Grangeville sits, it was so foggy I could barely see the end of the bonnet.  Actually I couldn't see it today either, but only because That Shitbox Dodge's example is short and stubby.

For no fathomable reason, northern Idaho is in the Pacific time zone, while the rest of it is in the Mountain one.  So I gained an hour here:

Salmon River v2.0
which I'll have to give back again tomorrow, but tomorrow is a shortish day so it doesn't really matter.  This bridge crosses the Salmon River, which is the same one as this morning after it went west, north and east in a big loop through the mountainoidal and canyonated wilderness, only now I was going down the valley instead of up it.

The motel in Grangeville has declined to accept both my credit and debit cards.  Since the former happily purchased sixty dollars-worth of motor-spirit this morning I am not unduly bothered, but if it doesn't do for a similar purchase tomorrow morning, Horsey Bank plc will be on the receiving end of Harsh Words.  I have $64 in crispy banknotes left and don't want to have to get any more out of a machine at ruinous expense.


  1. Figuring out how to make comments (again)...and this is more for you, Dave, than anyone else. I don't know who Crinkly Lion is for whom you post the bridge photos, but as a bridge engineer, I'm appreciative. If you choose to edit or not approve publishing, I'm okay with that.
    That's the Goff Bridge, , aka the "Time Zone Bridge," completed in 1999. I saw a cool presentation about it many years ago (pre-internet). There's a "slow" landslide at the south end of the bridge that governed the design of that abutment. The tied-arch bridge replaced a narrow, 62-year-old bridge that they slid 65' transversely (sideways) to serve as a detour road during construction of the new bridge. There was a 550-mile detour (through Oregon and WA to do a trip between Lewiston and Boise). The Contractor was allowed 72 hours of road closure with a penalty of $625 per 15 minutes if exceeded. I don't think there were cost incentives for early re-opening, but the highway was closed for only 36 hours.