Tag Archives: Pocatello

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.

Camping in Fairgrounds — Bannock County, Pocatello, Idaho; August 19, 2015

August 19 we  camped in county fairgrounds in Pocatello, Idaho. Barb had used an app to discover the campground. Cheap, and in very good condition, with water and electricity at each site. A commodious WC with clean showers. Single pumpout. Marvelous facility. But what made the site special were the evening activities. Almost every night there is something going on. Wednesdays, as we soon discovered, is set aside for barrel racing and team roping. An adjacent large parking lot began filling up with a gazillion trucks and horse trailers. By the time we walked over, the team roping was underway in a covered arena and the barrel racing in an outdoor arena. This was a family affair, with moms and dads on horses and kids too. Other families lined the fences as spectators.Perhaps a few words of explanation would be advisable for the benefit of the city slickers among our readers.When a large calf (upon whose head a set of horns have been affixed) is released on one end of the arena, it makes a mad dash toward the gate on the other end. Two mounted riders pursue the calf. One attempts to rope the horns or neck, and the other attempts to rope the rear legs. When this is successful, the calf is immobilized on the two taut ropes stretched between the two riders. Success is rare but timed, with the winner being the team with the least time.In barrel racing, the rider enters the arena at a full gallop and must circle each of three barrels arranged as the apexes of an equilateral triangle, and then dash back out of the arena. Circuits accomplished without knocking over a barrel are timed and the shortest time wins.The contests were undertaken with friendly efficiency, in an atmosphere that reminded me of the evening softball games held in communities all over America. Each contest had a cordial announcer voicing the times over a PA system. What fun!