Tuesday, July 5, 2005

We are at the Wal-Mart in Ontario, Oregon (map). We had intended to be in a more rustic setting tonight, perhaps at one of the parks along the Snake river, but we took yet another rock to the windshield today, resulting in a small star that we want to have repaired ASAP. Since today is a holiday, it will have to wait until morning, and we decided to spend the night in a major town with a glass repair shop.

The dirty little secret, though, is that we are indeed parked right along the Snake, as you will notice if you zoom in on the map. This store borders the river, and the river is particularly close to the rear parking lot where the loading dock is located. At this particular store, the front and rear lots are not interconnected. We originally parked at the very front, in the RV "ghetto," but moved back here when we realized that it was right by the water, and no one else would likely come back here. Well, except for the trucks -- there have been two deliveries already tonight, even though it is a holiday. In any case, we can walk right to the river from our spot, although the bank is a bit overgrown here. I am hoping Louise will get a photo in the daylight tomorrow.

I set up the deck and we were able to see the city fireworks from here, along with hordes of private ones. Of course, we had to drug the dog -- she hates fireworks. The city's display was at the fairgrounds, perhaps a mile away, and they went on for nearly an hour. Many fireworks, and some quite impressive, but the whole thing seemed to lack organization and timing. It's hard to complain, though, about a free show that we could see from our own deck.

We had a great drive today, more or less following the Snake the entire way. US 30 did become co-linear with I-84 for a couple dozen miles, but we bailed off onto Idaho 78 which was very rural and much more to our liking. US30 west of Twin Falls happens to the the "1000 Springs Scenic Byway," and, in the fullness of time, we came upon the 1000 springs. We had no idea they would be so spectacular -- an interesting quirk of geology has hundreds of springs gushing forth from the canyon walls of the Snake River gorge, and they are easily viewed from the byway, which is across the river. Spectacular waterfalls, but oddly originating mid-cliff. We were thankful that a roadside marker explained their origin and geology.

Not much further down the road, we stopped in at the visitor center for the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. We had previously read that the fossil beds themselves were closed to the public, so we expected only to see a few exhibits and move along. Surprisingly, this turned out to also be the temporary visitor center for the Minidoka Internment National Monument, and the handful of exhibits on this particularly shameful chapter of American history were extremely moving. I am sorry we did not have time to drive out to the actual site north of Twin Falls. We also learned at the center that there are actually ranger-led visits to the fossil beds on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The rock that got us hit somewhere on US30, I think in Twin Falls, but the star did not appear until we were on 78, in the middle of nowhere. I also found a smaller chip from yesterday. We hope to get these patched up first thing in the morning, and we will head west out of town on US26.

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