Heading southward — Idaho & Utah, August 19-23, 2016

After returning to our RV, we caught up with Bill & Colleen at the Murdock Camp Ground near Sun Valley/Ketchum.  We spent August 20 being tourists in Ketchum/Sun Valley, including a ride up a ski lift to the top of one of the famous runs on Bald Mountain.  We also sought out the grave of Ernest Hemingway in the Ketchum Cemetery.  We had lunch at Gretchen’s in the Sun Valley Lodge, named in honor of Gretchen Kunigk Fraser, the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in skiing.   She later made Sun Valley her home.

On August 21 we stopped at the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, a U.S. National Monument and national preserve in the Snake River Plain in central Idaho. It lies between the small towns of Arco and Carey, at an average elevation of 5,900 feet above sea level. The protected area’s features are volcanic and represent one of the best-preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States.

The Monument and Preserve encompass three major lava fields and about 400 square miles  of sagebrush steppe grasslands to cover a total area of 1,117 square miles. All three lava fields lie along the Great Rift of Idaho, with some of the best examples of open rift cracks in the world, including the deepest known on Earth at 800 feet (240 m). There are excellent examples of almost every variety of basaltic lava, as well as tree molds (cavities left by lava-incinerated trees), lava tubes (a type of cave), and many other volcanic features. The 60 distinct solidified lava flows that form the Craters of the Moon Lava Field range in age from 15,000 to just 2,000 years. [Description adapted from Wikipedia.]

Our visit included a Ranger-guided walk through a lava tube, created when a mass of flowing lava congealed on the outside but continued to flow on the inside until the inside was evacuated.

We spent the night in the Arco RV Campground.

On August 22 we stopped at the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I, the worlds first nuclear power plant.

Experimental Breeder Reactor I (EBR-I) is a decommissioned research reactor and U.S. National Historic Landmark located in the desert about 18 miles southeast of Arco, Idaho. At 1:50 pm on December 20, 1951, it became the world’s first electricity-generating nuclear power plant when it produced sufficient electricity to illuminate four 200-watt light bulbs.  It subsequently generated sufficient electricity to power its building, and continued to be used for experimental purposes until it was decommissioned in 1964. Besides generating the world’s first electricity from atomic energy, EBR-I was also the world’s first breeder reactor and the first to use plutonium fuel to generate electricity. EBR-1’s initial purpose was to prove Enrico Fermi’s fuel breeding principle, a principle that showed a nuclear reactor producing more fuel atoms than consumed. Along with generating electricity, EBR-1 would also prove this principle.  [Wikipedia]

Outside the plant were two enormous experimental nuclear “engines”  constructed to explore the possibility of powering a plane with nuclear energy.  The intended plane still exists, but is stored elsewhere.  As you might suppose from the size of the engines, the experiment was not a success.

We also stopped briefly in the town of Blackfoot, where we visited the Idaho Potato Museum.  Boy do we know how to have fun!

After the museum we continued on to Pocatello, where we camped in a County Fairgrounds.  The place looked familiar.  Here is why.

On August 23 we continued onward, stopping to overnight in a “dispersed” (and free) campground near Nephi, Utah.  That night, as on most nights, the four of us played Spades.  That night, as on most nights, the mighty men prevailed.

Our next stop was in Capitol Reef National Park.  But that marvelous destination deserves its own post.  Stay tuned.

One thought on “Heading southward — Idaho & Utah, August 19-23, 2016

  1. Curtiss

    I look forward to your post on Capitol Reef NP, having gone that way several times. Also, recommend highway 12, which goes from Bryce towards Torrey, Utah. Very low elevation to high mountain birch forests. First time I drove it they had just made it into a gravel road. Nice campgrounds up high. Chilly nights.

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