Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Honeymoon - Day 3

Day 3 – Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another early wake-up call – up at 5am and out the door of Motel 6 by 6am. From Boise we headed into the snow-packed Sawtooth Range on State Route 21. For a time we thought we had missed a time change, because it stayed dark, and I mean pitch-black dark, until almost 8am.

I must take a moment here to add a side note. I am not a snow person. The inch or two of snow I’ve experienced in the mountains of San Diego pales drastically in comparison to the several feet of snow we’ve encountered on our trip. I am not afraid to admit that I was scared. That white-knuckle-death-grip-on-the-door-handle and the ache-deep-in-the-belly kind of scared. Heavy snow and pitch black conditions do not make for a fun time. With every curve and even on the straight-a-ways, I thought we were going to die. My fear finally abated when it grew light enough that I could see the surrounding forest. It was absolutely beautiful.

However, my fear returned when we drove through a section marked “avalanche area”. I would have preferred not to have seen the snow covered hills towering over the road. Every couple of minutes I cautioned Robert to slow down, but if he were to slow down any further we would have come to a stop.

We stopped briefly in Stanley – elevation 6319-feet, population 100 – for beef jerky and soda. Side note: Since Ely I have been addicted to beef jerky. My favorite is buffalo jerky and with every stop I pick up a bag or two. It’s gotten quite expensive at anywhere from $5 to $7 a bag. Anyway, my fear of dying a snowy death had now dissipated enough for me to enjoy the passing scenery, but somewhere north of Ketchum on Highway 75 it returned.

I didn’t even know what was happening. I simply heard Robert say, “Hang on” and I did. The next thing I know we were fish-tailing around a curve and slip-sliding across the icy road. Thankfully there was no on-coming traffic and Robert was able to aim the car towards some granite rocks. The alternative was to hit the guard rail and hope it kept us from plummeting down a cliff. About five-feet from the boulders we hit a snow bank. It wasn’t a gentle stop, but it was better than actually hitting the rocks.

The car wasn’t damaged, but stuck pretty good. We had no shovel, except for a little U-Dig-It tool we use for digging scat holes when camping. Luckily for Robert a man stopped to help, otherwise we would probably still be there trying to dig out the car. The man, who worked at the Redfish Lodge in Stanely, had some tow straps and was able to pull us in a matter of minutes.

Back on the road again our adrenaline was pumping! At least mine was. And it started pumping even more when I saw the most beautiful red fox running alongside the road. I think I leaped from the car before it came to a complete stop and started running up the road with my camera over my shoulder. By now the fox had crossed the road and was heading away from us. Robert flipped a quick, but legal, u-turn, picked me up, and drove down a snow covered side road. The fox was aware of us and kept it’s distant, but didn’t run away. I took a couple dozen photos, before it finally wandered too far away for my big zoom lens. However, after looking at my shots I was even more excited. I got a picture of the fox leaping into the air pouncing on whatever it was hunting. For me seeing the fox was one of the biggest highlights of our trip.

Finally we left the Sawtooth Range and headed east on Highway 20 towards Idaho Falls. We stopped at the Craters of the Moon National Monument visitor’s center, but the road through the park was closed. Unfortunately we would come across a lot of closures during our trip. After traveling a day’s total of 350 miles we stopped for the night in Rexburg, about 30-miles north of Idaho Falls. Tomorrow we’re heading to Yellowstone!

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