Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Idaho country, cont.

Mixed feelings about the road in Idaho.

Crossing the border with Oregon, we pumped our fists to the air in jubilation. Three states in as many days!

But the first bit of landscape US20 took us through was a bit rough. A mix of what looked like struggling farms, an occasional bizarre new construction subdivision, and lots of lumber/textile/quarry mills dotted our path. We did pass a cool drive-in movie theater in Parma that caught my eye.

As we approached Boise, the farm plots turned into a bizarre stretch of what looked like very recently constructed suburban developments, complete with office parks, manicured landscapes (with fountains!), and even schools.

US20 is folded into a series of other roads for a long stretch around Boise, almost as if its original transcontinetal purpose had been usurped by the tranportation needs of a sprawled mini-metropolitan area.

Boise itself is nice enough. Seems to be quite a lot of construction downtown, but we heard from a guy we met at lunch that everything has come to a grinding halt with the recent housing crisis...and that the boom industries of real estate and construction have been bleeding jobs. But it was really nice to see a well-planned, bicycle-friendly, pedestrian environment. Nice town, from the brief look we had of it.

After Boise, we were stuck on the interstate for a while again. Stopped for a fill-up at a has station along the highway, we noticed an odd sight—a bunch of guys dressed in Arab headress and garb. Turns out that the local airforce base hires locals as extras for military training exercises. Pretty strange!

When US20 finally broke away from the highway, the road became downright magical. As it winds its way up the moutains, there are some spectacular views (and some really fun curves!). The bugs were out again in full force today—as our photos will attest. But we also had to contend with some small swooping birds (sparrows?) that were feeding on said bugs (and diving into our. Not sure who would win in a collision with one of those things but I can't imagine it'd be pretty!

Out windy road eventually took us into harsher terrain, as the landscape changed from farms to jagged volcanic rock (aa! Great scrabble word!). And as we climbed higher, the landscape grew even more moon-like, until (sure enough) we were in Craters of the Moon National Park!

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