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The Snake River drains part of Yellowstone National Park, runs along the east side of the Tetons, forms a big “smile” through south central Idaho, drops into Hell’s Canyon, and flows on to the Columbia River. If not for the Snake for irrigation, there would be virtually no productive agriculture in southern Idaho. With irrigation, it creates a beautiful landscape.  Land where irrigation pipes don’t reach is pretty desolate, but even more beautiful at different levels.

Just a few years back in geologic time the earth cracked open to create a string of low volcanoes and extensive lava flows. Part of the area is Craters of the Moon National Monument. I was inspecting some of the huge lava boulders when I heard a cheerful voice:

“You want me to take your picture?”

We who travel solo always make that offer with reciprocity in mind.

“Sure,” I said to Shelby, “and I will take yours.

CC9 Snake River Composite

Shelby was a 20s something high school history and psychology teacher from back east. She escorted a student group out west and was heading back part way, alone, via rented car. We exchanged stories and ended with me giving advice on the merits and limitations of a PhD and a research career. Nice gal; fellow road travelers have an easy time being friendly.

On the way out of the Craters Visitor Center I waved to a couple of BMW riders—-total strangers: “See you guys at the rally,”I shouted. One of them, Ken, a Hoosier from Fort Wayne, I found out later, caught up with me on the road across Idaho. We are now riding buddies.