Saturday, June 20, 2015

Chapter 14 - Jackson to Idaho Falls, Idaho

Friday, June 19th:
We mentioned in our chapter yesterday that Kathy and I decided not to try crossing the Teton Pass as the road up to the summit was too long and steep and we were worried that we might damage our car's transmission.  Our alternate route roughly follows the Snake River down to the south of Jackson and then turns northwest and flows on to Idaho Falls, Idaho. This alternate route was only around 20 miles longer and as it turned out it may very well have been a much more scenic route. Furthermore, since we were basically driving in the same direction as the flow of the river, much of our drive was downhill and as we later determined the elevation of Idaho Falls at 4,700 feet, was approximately 1,500 feet below Jackson. I remember an old Donald Duck cartoon wherein Donald set out to roller skate to Florida because according to his map, Florida was downhill from his home. We may have followed the Snake River as it flowed downhill, but there sure were a lot of sections of our highway that went steeply uphill so if nothing else, this again proves that Donald's theory was false. Unfortunately picture taking along much of the Snake River was difficult because we were on a two lane road and what few pulls off there were did not offer good photo opportunities. This photo of Kathy and Cabo was taken at a section of the river that was dammed thereby creating the very popular Palisades Reservoir.

The Snake River is very important in American history once again because it played a major role in the Oregon Trail. Settlers left the North Platte River just south of Casper, Wyoming and then followed the Sweetwater River west until they reached the river's source near the Continental Divide. The settlers then crossed through the South Pass at an elevation of 7,411 feet and continued on into southeast Idaho where they connected with the Snake River about 40 miles south of our campsite here in Idaho Falls.  Our campsite bears the name Snake River RV Park although it is not actually directly on the river.  The Oregon Trail then followed the Snake River westward until at some point they left the Snake and continued on up to the Columbia River in northeast Oregon. It is our plan over the next week or so to follow the Snake River pretty much on the route of the wagon trains back in the mid-19th century. The above map clearly shows that the source of the Snake River was in the mountains north of Jackson. The route of the river as it flows westward from Jackson to Idaho Falls pretty much mirrors our drive today to Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Saturday, June 20th:
The weather here in Idaho Falls continues to be near perfect with temperatures last night dropping to around 50 degrees and today the sun is shining and we expect the temperature to rise to a high of only 84 degrees. The humidity is projected to be only around 30% which is quite a departure from what we would be experiencing had we spent the summer in Florida.  Yesterday afternoon we drove to downtown Idaho Falls to look around although a stop at Walmart was our major activity.  This morning however, our plan is to visit the "famous" Idaho Falls' Farmer's Market which is held every Saturday morning during the warmer months, and then spend time walking along the banks of the Snake River as it makes it way through Idaho Falls. There is a wonderful park along both sides of the river that the city has named the "Greenbelt".

A walk through the farmers market was a delightful way to spend a Saturday morning even for yours truly.  I was especially pleased when Kathy suggested that we purchase a few of my favorite things like Idaho potatoes, fresh bread, mushrooms, fresh spinach, and of course a huge chocolate chip cookie. Incidentally, the potatoes were so fresh that they were still covered with fresh Idaho mud.

Besides the surprise of finding an open farmers market during our short visit to Idaho Falls, an even more wonderful surprise was to find and walk the Greenbelt along the Snake River and of course viewing the "Idaho Falls." One of the local residents admitted that their falls was no Niagara Falls, but as you can see in the photo to the left, the water rushing through the rocks was a pleasant sight especially for the old fellow in the red shirt who took the opportunity to rest on a rock after the long walk along the river's edge.

On our drive to Idaho Falls yesterday we had the good fortune to see a wild moose along side the highway but we were unable to photograph it since both the moose and our car were moving to fast in opposite directions. We did however, come across a moose in the Greenbelt that was very stationary so I took this opportunity to photograph the moose with Kathy and Cabo. Cabo did appear to be showing some interest in the moose as you can see in the photo although, perhaps he can just smell the scent of the moose since we know that his eyesight does seem to be failing him.

Another wonderful scene that we saw while walking along the river bank, were these Canada geese. The geese seemed almost tame although perhaps they were so used to getting their photos taken, that they have learned to just ignore the photographer. Incidentally, the tall structure on the other side of the Snake River is actually a large operating temple of The Church of the Latter-Day Saints. This kind of surprised us at first until we remembered that Salt Lake City is only 200 miles due south of Idaho Falls.

Our final photograph of this chapter shows Kathy and Cabo reading (actually Cabo shows no interest in reading) a sign that describes the small hydroelectric power plant that was built at the upper end of the falls. This photo also shows another view of the Mormon temple across the river.

By early afternoon we were all tired of being tourists so we returned to our RV park determined to rest up for our drive tomorrow over to Twin Falls, Idaho.  We are definitely excited, although perhaps "mildly interested" is a better choice of words, to learn whether the Twin Falls is larger than the Idaho Falls. We will send you photos to share with you our findings. Anyway, Twin Falls is shown on the map above and as you can see it too is located on the historical Snake River.


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