Sunday, March 17, 2013

Big Lost River Valley, Idaho - Part 1

Last weekend LC, Jamie and I took one more whirlwind trip, and this time headed to central Idaho.
Even though the clocks have now sprung forward and the days are getting longer, we still left Cody early enough that the sun was just beginning to rise.
It was going to be a fast, long and tiring weekend but as we headed towards Meeteetse and stopped briefly in this still hibernating tiny town for Jamie to do Jamie things, the cold day promised to be exceptionally beautiful.
We quickly clicked off endless miles of barren and desolate and beautiful BLM land and blew threw one more small town called Thermopolis.
Thermop (as it is known locally) is a tiny high-desert town that LC told me about a lifetime ago when we were still living in Tennessee.
Before we went to Alaska.  Before we spent time in Wyoming.  Before so many things. 
At the time, Thermopolis sounded so exotic and far away.  A world away. 
My retired cop had known another Eastern Tennessee cop who had relocated to Thermopolis Wyoming and he had loved it there, and as we looked at the atlas and LC found Thermopolis in the middle of the huge cowboy state of Wyoming and pointed it out to me, I had to laugh.
Thermop's main claim to fame is its hot springs, but whenever I hear the name I think of Superman.
A few miles after passing through Metrop.........uh.......Thermop.......we found ourselves in the most stunning of places.
It is called the Wind River Canyon.
An appropriate name for a ruggedly beautiful and mountainous place, where the wind blows ridiculously hard and where the winding two-lane highway follows the winding river.
We stopped very briefly for the sake of a woman who wanted to take pictures, and for a whining dog who still needed to get the early excitement of an impending trip out of her system.............
Beyond the guard rails was a steep bank that dropped down to the very fast moving and freezing cold river.
On the opposite side of the river the bank climbed steeply back up to road level.
Railroad tracks also paralleled the highway and river, and butted up tightly to the steep rock face across from us.
I snapped this picture as we headed for the tunnels on the highway that had been blasted through the mountain in front of us, and as we headed towards the tunnel that had been blasted through the mountain for the trains.............
There is almost no transition.
Within minutes of passing through the last tunnel, we found ourselves instantly in almost completely flat desert land.
I remember getting on a ferry on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and riding a motorcycle with my husband all the way across country to Saint John, New Brunswick many many years ago.
After hitting the mainland of BC, we spent the better part of two days riding through the Rockies in freezing cold weather in the middle of June.
It was beautiful but it was cold.
Not far across the border into Alberta the mountains simply.........ended, and untold miles of straight and flat land lay before us.
I still clearly remember turning around stunned and looking at the last mountain behind me, and then turning again to look at forever laid out in complete and unending flat desert and straight-line highway in front of us.
The abruptness of the terrain change was startling then. 
It is also startling after coming out of Wind River Canyon...............
Passing through one little town and then another, continuing to move towards Idaho............
After a brief stop in Dubois to gas up (beautiful little rustic Wyoming town) we began to climb.  And climb.  And climb some more.
Wonderfully, beautifully, outstandingly we left the beige and the desert behind us and headed into pine trees, mountains and snow.
We had been told at the gas station that there were many snow mobilers up through the pass on this beautiful, late winter day.
And soon we found them.............
LC pulled the truck into the icy parking area and as I stiffly climbed out of the truck I could hear them.
We were in serious mountain country, the weather was absolutely clear and cold, and I could hear the rev of many snowmobiles cutting their way through the miles of snow covered pastures.
Neither LC nor I had ever traveled this way before, and we were both enamored at the beauty.
It was going to be a tough and long and too-fast weekend, but for at least a few moments we took the time to walk and wander and enjoy our surroundings.
We were in a beautiful, winter wonderland of a place.............
Jamie happily danced around in the snow, more enthralled with the scent of a snowball on the ground than the beautiful place she was walking in......................
I found this sign (almost buried in snow) across the road from the parking area...............
We could hear snow mobiles everywhere around us, and could see their tracks in the snow, but actually saw very few machines.
They were traveling through the trees in the distance.
It had been years since I had ridden a snow mobile.
When the boys were very little and when we lived in New Brunswick - a place that received so much snow that we often had to climb out of our front windows so that we could shovel snow away from the front door of the house.............................
The day was so bright that I shot most of these pictures blindly...............
Back on the road again we continued driving through the wide open mountain pass.
As I looked up ahead of us I saw the first of the Grand Tetons..............

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