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The Croatian Flag flying on the battlements The mini-adventure on the Montenegro ferry was fun, so the following day we took another fer...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

On the Road Again

A couple of days ago, after very nearly, almost extensive planning, or entire lack thereof, my teenhood buddy Joann and I headed off on vacation. Bright and early-ish I picked up Joann at the Sacto airport, and we were off to the little known exotic local (I'm lying here) to Winnemucca, Nevada. Once there, the big event - after finding rooming for the night - was din-din. We dined at a genuine Basque family style restaurant, the Martin Hotel. I must say, the food was awesome. I had the yummy lamb chops but the side dishes alone would have sufficed for a tasty, filling meal which included a lovely house red wine. By the way, Family style meant we were seated with other patrons of the Hotel. The couple we sat with were on their way to a dog show with their Norwegian Elkhound - oh joy! Right. I found, as did Joann, plenty to talk about with our table mates.
The following morning we were up very-nearly-early, driving until we spotted the sign that let us know we were on the right track. See below.
Land of Russets
Yes, lovely, largely unoccupied Idaho! Home of russets and... well, I'll get back to that. Anyway, we got a room for the night in Twin Falls. For entertainment we visited the very Twin Falls that the place is named after - but we were more impressed with the fancier Shoshone Falls. Not a lively enough photo? Try this video. Not much happens but it does give you the entire feel of the place.

Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Canyon
The following morning we were off to the Northeast, for a visit to the Hawaiian look-alike spot of the lower 48, Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Craters of the Moon is an easily overlooked 'kissin' cousin' of Yellowstone - a fascinating fact I just made up. You see, both parks are volcanic, with Craters of the Moon actually being the older, having slide over the area the Yellowstone caldera sits atop, perhaps some b'jillion years ago. Is that clear? No? well, tough calderas to you. On to scenery!
See the round face like figure in the center of the lava mound above? If only I'd video-taped it, I could pass it off as an evil demon on one of the many popular ghosty reality shows. Right. It's not a spirit, its a lump of lava, but there you go.

Argh... Beware! There be bats here!
Spooky Face Mound
An ancient ropey lava flow
The picture below appears to be yet another tiny mound of lava, but it is in fact a HUMONGOUS lava cone. You can see a walkway on the right side of it, a bit that puts it more into perspective.


Aha! The first Yellow-bellied Marmot of our trip.
 Craters of the Moon has a stark landscape, but is far cheaper and easier to get to than Hawaii. And note, it has many caves for exploring. No we did not explore any caves, but the signage around the park makes one a tad shy of entering the park caves, as gigantic white bats, the size of eagles are apt to fly up in your face. Really. Check out the sign below.
Still, even if you are too lazy cautious to enter a cave, there are plenty of walkways and scenic areas to explore.
Lava and Sage

After a couple of hours exploring Craters of the Moon, we headed off Northeastwards, towards our next stop, Yellowstone. Just along the road a bit, we found a nice little spot - Goodale's Cutoff. There I enjoyed myself, due to ample birdage (I invented a new word!) and wildflowers. If you look in the photo below on the far right you can spot Joann enjoying the scenery.


Hairy Skullcap: creepy name for a petite and beautiful wildflower
After a couple of hours exploring Craters of the Moon, we headed off Northeastwards, towards our next stop, Yellowstone. Just along the road a bit, we found a nice little spot I enjoyed, due to ample birdage (I invented a new word!) and wildflowers. If you look in the photo below on the far right you can spot Joann enjoying the scenery.
Mural in the tiny town of Arco
Post Goodale's we drove past this pretty little mural in Arco, Idaho - that's a wee town, of the 'blink & you'll miss it' sort.

Oooo... only a few hours later, we spotted this sign, meaning we were darn near at our goal for the day - Yellowstone! The oldest and the best.

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