Gem of the Mountains

Idaho is apparently a fake Shoshone name made up by a mining lobbyist.

I went to sleep last night by the side of a highway in Wyoming imagining the word must have been the original name for the Snake River. It defines the state, and we went almost up to the head of it, looking at some of the most beautiful farmland I’ve ever seen. In the misty rain it was like a soft painting of precision cut fields and rolling green May hills.

I got a late start out of Shoshone, and a nice hot shower. At the town crossroads I bought some ice, and then saw a tall and thin young man with red hair and beard, baseball cap, black metal-band T-shirt, piercings, and wraparound mirrored shades, getting out of his truck. I asked him what people did for a living around there, and he told me he was in construction, and about potato and sugar beet processing, and energy production. He politely took off his shades, and his eyes changed his whole face, mild and droopy at the corners.

We talked about what we’re seeing, and he said he quit watching TV news, and then quit watching conspiracy videos, and said he was going to focus on his own, local area. His passion for gun rights was sincere. He talked about Idaho’s very relaxed laws, how many people carry, even concealed. He said that their governor has said that if President Biden does infringe on their gun rights, Idaho will not comply.

I said that that any group that takes a stand in that way will probably be made an example of, and be sacrificed. He said “Well, I’m willing to do that.”

I drove up the road, through more productive farmland, and came upon The Craters of the Moon National Monument. It’s as silly as I’d imagined. What else are you going to do with that large an area rendered totally useless by mounds of Aa lava?  I’m imagining another slick promoter getting the Feds to do something with a total wasteland.

At Arco, Idaho, we stopped to get gas. There’s a steep hill above the town with lots of white, two-digit numbers scattered over it. An elderly lady came near, and I asked her if she knew what all the numbers were for? She said they are the years of graduating high school classes. We looked at them to see how far back they went, and I noted that some daring classes got their number on some pretty steep cliffs. She said “Arco is well-known for this.”

The Snake curved north and led us into pine covered mountains, and Wyoming. The first gas station outside Jackson had an almost life-sized bronze statue of a Rocky Mountain Elk, in the act of bugling. The grocery store had a whole wine room. The mask-free guys working there told me proudly that in Wyoming I can camp on the side of any public road. It worked for me. I don’t have any reservations here in vacationland, except for those inspired by money and government, pun intended.