Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Family Reunion - Part 7

On their last day in Idaho, Lisa and Mick were scheduled to get on a bus in Idaho Falls at 10:30 that evening.
Lisa spent a short while that morning doing laundry and organizing their three suitcases.
I smiled inwardly as I watched her as she knelt in front of three crammed cases, frustrated and wondering why they were all so full already, and where they were going to put whatever else they would buy throughout the rest of their epic vacation.
I heard a saying once about vacations - bring half the clothes and twice the money that you think you'll need.
That always seemed like good advice to me.
Regardless, my sister spent some more time tweaking and then re-tweaking the suitcases, trying to fit it all in.
And what the hell do you need FIVE pairs of shoes for??  I asked in bemusement.
 A pair for walking around the cruise ship.  A dressy pair for dinners on board.  The pair of hiking boots she had gotten from me.  
I looked at her and smiled.  That was three.
She smiled back.  Yeah, she knew that.
I let it go.
Somehow, with persistence and creativity, my undeterred sister eventually found a way to get all three suitcases closed..................

With that function completed Mick eagerly asked about the mining remnants that I had told him about, that were located in back of Mackay.
We'd have to make it quick, but we had some time.
Enough to make a quick trip to the mines, the mining museum, and then back for rest and dinner before heading to Idaho Falls.......................

I had not even thought about Arco as we headed towards the Lost River Valley, but as we hit the outskirts of town I impulsively turned into the small parking area close to the submarine tower, that stands majestically and surprisingly in this dying, dusty, small desert town.
it was interesting and I thought I would make a quick stop so my visitors could check out the sub tower, and snap a couple of quick pictures of Number Hill.
In truth (although I have found out enough about Arco to be glad we did not end up buying a house there), I love the tower and love Number Hill...................
As it had been for the past few days, the early afternoon was cool, damp, overcast and colorless.
We had not had sunshine since Mud Lake........................
Over a year ago I became aware of a very small building close to the sub tower.
Outside the building was a sign announcing that it was a museum.
And each and every time I stopped there the building was locked.
While Lisa and Mick were taking pictures of the hill and the tower I walked over to the small structure and pulled (without much hope) on the door handle.
The door was locked.  As it always is.
As I turned back towards my sister and brother-in-law I was surprised to find myself face-to-face with an elderly man wearing a veterans ball cap.
He lived just up the road.  He had seen us wandering around the small submarine park.  He thought he would come down and open up the building if we were interested.
YES!  Eagerly I thanked him, and I saw Micks' eyes light up as he approached.
For such a small building, it was packed full of interesting pieces of information and paraphernalia related to Arco and INL....................
A brief stop in Arco and we were back on the road to Mackay...................
One quick stop to take one quick picture, and we drove to the back of town and immediately began to climb...................
I love this little town.
As Mick and Lisa wandered the grounds snapping pictures and checking out interesting rocks they found laying on the ground, I stood on this high perch looking out over both the river and the mountains.
The Mountains Are Calling And...........
Part of me would truly love to live in this tiny town that is surrounded by mountains, and that is only 50 miles from where we live now.
Another part of me knows that below Mackay over-irrigation and an over-abundance of well digging has dried up the Lost River.
The Lost River is truly lost, and it has been a major contributing factor in the decimation of Arco.
So far there is enough water in Mackay but will that continue??
I don't know.  Neither does anyone else.
Beyond Challis (an hour up the road) is the Salmon River.
Another hour north beyond Challis is the town of Salmon.
The Salmon River splits in Challis and also heads west towards the tiny community of Clayton and then the bigger town of Stanley.
Stanley will always be too expensive for us.
For Clayton, Challis and Salmon may be doable in the future.
Regardless, the Salmon River is here to stay.
But in these few moments I looked out over the Lost River Range and was again, as always, enamored with some of the tallest mountains in the state.....................
Climbing higher into the mountains we found more mining remnants...............
And higher still.
We stopped here and walked a short ways.
The road continued even higher, and as Lisa, Mick and I wandered (enjoying the trip but aware of the passage of time) I resolved to truly explore this place in earnest with LC and Kory this summer...................
It was a whirlwind trip, but as we drove home I was pleased that my family had had the chance to see some of the mountains that LC and I talked about so often during their visit.....................

After final packing, rest and dinner, we left the house with plenty of time to spare that evening.
Mick wanted to go to Walmart one more time.  
To take pictures of guns for sale.
It's funny - we take certain things for granted here in the US.
Guns that can be purchased at department stores.
Big trucks.  
Mick took many pictures of random trucks during his stay with us. 
Lisa must have spent 30 minutes reading the labels of a hundred different coffee choices at the store earlier in the week.
Neither LC nor I had ever been to the bus station in Idaho Falls before and by the time we arrived it was 9:30.
Both of us had expected a full-on bus terminal, but instead it was a small addition to a gas station, and when we arrived there were already some questionable looking people milling around.
Mick had told us beforehand that he did not expect us to stay until the bus arrived, but we had already decided that we WOULD stay until they were both safely loaded onto the bus.
Of course.
Seeing the part of town where the bus terminal was located, and looking at the weirdos hanging out, only served to confirm that our decision to stay was well founded. 
With more time to kill we all wandered into the gas station, found a number of food and drink options, and then found stools and a counter top where we could talk in this last hour before my sister and her husband were to continue on with their adventure.
LC and I were both concerned about their safety and we talked some more about that.
I hoped that we did not overdo, but the US was not Australia.
Some of the cities they were going to stop in were not Millaa Millaa, Queensland.
I smile when I think about it now.
All through their visit I kept calling Millaa Milla, Walla Walla.
At first it was just a brain fart on my part.
And then it just became a running joke.
Lisa gave me a bumper sticker while she was here that says "Where the #$%^& is Millaa Millaa?"
I'm going to try and get a bumper sticker made for her that says "Where the #$%^& is Atomic City?"...............

And then it was time to go.
Instead of a handshake I gave Mick a hug.
I liked this man very much.................

Instead of giving my sister a hug that said "Welcome Sister - it's good to see you and I hope this goes well"  I gave her a different kind of hug.
Goodbye Sister.   
It was very good to see you.   
I didn't know if I would like you, but I do.  
Like you.  
I don't know if I will ever see you again, but I was glad to see you now.  
And I miss you already.........................

Safe travels you two.................

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