Idaho (Idaho Falls)
During the last weekend of July, we spent 4 nights in Idaho Falls, ID. We arrived in the afternoon of Thursday July 28th after a connecting flight from Salt Lake City. The Idaho Falls airport is small and just about 2 1/2 miles outside of town. Once we picked up our rental car, we drove to our apartment rental to drop off our luggage before hitting the town. Our first stop was Uncle Benny's Pizza where we each had our own 7" personal pizza. I chose the "Idahoan" which of course was topped with potatoes in a white garlic sauce.
Across the street from Uncle Benny's is the Snake River and the Falls. There is a great river walkway on both sides of the river where you can exercise or just sit in the various parks and benches. There are also a few overlooks for viewing and picture opportunities.
That evening there was to be a new moon, so we decided to drive to the Craters of the Moon National Monumnet & Preserve in Arco, ID. Craters of the Moon is a certified Dark Sky Park so we knew we would have a great opportunity for stargazing and pictures. It was about an hour and forty-five-minute drive west on US-20 with only one turn as you enter the town of Arco. Arco is a tiny town known as "the first city in the world to be lit by atomic power". As we drove through town we passed "Number Hill". It was such an odd sight that we just had to stop and see why there were numbers painted in white on the side of this hill. It was a little scary and reminded me of something out of the movie "The Hills Have Eyes" but when we actually stopped to see what it was all about, we realized that it was kind of a cool idea. The tradition started in 1920 when the local graduating high school class decided to paint their graduating year on the side of the hill. Every class after that has followed in tradition resulting in 102 different years documented so far.
We arrived at Craters of the Moon approximately 2 hours before sunset. That gave us some time to explore before it got dark.
When we arrived, the visitor's center was already closed so we by bypassed that and did our own tour. It is not a large park but there are many hiking trails to venture off on. We drove along the 7 mile "scenic loop road" and stopped at the various sites to do some short hikes. Some of my favorites were: Devil's Orchard Trail, Inferno Cone Trail and The Spatter Cones. All were less than a half mile each. We decided that Devil's Orchard was the best place for watching the sunset and taking the star pictures. Dave has an app on his phone that shows where the Milky Way is, and we were in luck that it was just appearing over the horizon while we were there.
The next day we visited the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, ID about 25 minutes away. It cost $6 to get in and took about 45 minutes to tour. It was there that I learned how the potato changed the world and that the average American eats approximately 110lbs of potatoes a year. There was a virtual reality area where you can see how it is to ride a tractor in a potato field. We even got a free bag of instant potatoes as we left the museum.
From there we drove to the EBR-1 Atomic Museum. In December 1951 it became the world's first electricity generating nuclear power plant. They offered free tours, and we were lucky enough to arrive just as one was starting. Our tour guide's name was Sam, and he was very informative about the history and purpose of EBR-1. The tour lasted one hour, and it was very interactive as we were able to touch all of the buttons and displays.
Saturday morning, we participated in the Idaho Falls Half Marathon, our 48th half marathon in 47 states. After completing it we went back to the apartment stretched and showered and then hit the town. We had just missed the farmer's market but were able to visit some of the local shops. Although the downtown was small there were many opportunities to shop and eat. Two of my favorites were Poppy and Pout Boutique and Handmade Idaho. Poppy and Pout was featured in Oprah's Favorite Things 2021 for their eco-friendly lip balm. Their small warehouse is located adjacent to their store. Everything in the Handmade Idaho store is made from local Idahoans. We were able to find some nice gifts in there as well as our customary Christmas tree ornament. Of course, we visited the local breweries: Idaho Brewing Company and Snow Eagle Brewing and Grill before finishing the evening at the Russ Freeman Park with the Idaho Falls Summer Jazz and Blues Festival.
While sitting at the bar at the Snow Eagle Brewing, we made friends with the owner. We told him that we were planning on driving to Yellowstone in the morning and he recommended that we make a small detour on the way to visit Mesa Falls. The next morning, we woke up early and took his advice. It only took about an hour and a half to get to Mesa Falls and we decided to stop for breakfast in Ashton first. We visited both the Upper and Lower Falls. While at the Upper Falls we saw a sign that cautioned to beware of bears, so we decided to take the 2-mile hike in search of some. It was a beautiful hike but there were no bear sightings.
Next, it was on to Yellowstone. We took the East Yellowstone entrance in Montana and immediately upon entering the park you enter Wyoming. It was very hot, in the 90's, so most of the animals were not out in the open. We spent about 6 hours in the park and stopped at Norris Geyser Basin and Midway Geyser Basin. We packed our lunch and had a picnic midway through our drive. We also stopped at Mammoth Springs where we were able to see an elk family.
We had an afternoon flight the next day which gave us time to do some more exploring on our final day in Idaho. After waking up we had breakfast at Abracadabra's, packed up our car and then headed to Reed's Dairy for some of the best chocolate milk ever. Reed's is a small dairy farm that also has an extensive ice-cream menu. Unfortunately, we were still too full from breakfast to enjoy any ice-cream. We did some last minute shopping downtown and then walked along the greenbelt where we took some pictures of the Morman temple and spent some time in the Japanese garden. We finished up at a local pub where we enjoyed some cocktails before leaving for the airport.
It was a great time to visit Idaho Falls and a nice change of pace for us. Even though our itinerary was full, Dave and I were still able to relax and take in the sight