Friday, August 31, 2007

The Idaho "Imperial Valley"

We are a carbon-based planet as far as life is considered, but carbon or not, it can't happen without water. Vast deserts are seen in our southwest, with occasional artificial aberrations that can be sustained only in small areas, and sometimes for only a limited time.

For several miles I-84 parallels the Snake river, and the river provides irrigation water to a strip of land on either side. The normal desert is transfigured into an agricultural paradise in these areas. We saw many thousands of acres under irrigation as we traveled through this area. It seemed that there was unlimited water, and it was being used freely on virtually every farm in sight; mostly with articulated sprinkling systems.

This is the same phenomena one sees in the Imperial Valley when driving across I-8 across California towards San Diego. Both areas are incredibly productive, though a lot of the water is used inefficiently insofar as it irrigates alfalfa and other animal feeds, rather than the more efficient use of crops destined for direct human consumption.
I don't know if global warming is caused by our cars and coal plants or not, but our weather is certainly changing (and probably always has been). I think our ability to adapt, which has allowed humans to proliferate in recent milinea, is going to be severly challenged in the relatively near future.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A different Snake than I knew before

We are spending 2 nights near Twin Falls, Idaho, and took the last two days visiting some local sights: City of Rocks National Preserve and Shoshone Falls State Park.

City of Rocks is a very nice cluster of rock formations; worth a trip if close by (reachable only via unpaved roads). However Shoshone Falls is on the Snake River, just off I-84 and well worth a visit. I have always considered the Snake River to be the classical, easy fishable trout river I know from Jackson and the Tetons. I just expanded that concept.

The Snake was one of the main conduits for the
Cataclysmic Bonneville Flood , which produced many of the geologic features of the Snake in this region.

The falls are really spectacular and beautiful and are 50 ft higher than Niagra falls. The Perrine Bridge, 567 ft above the river, is 3-4 miles downstream from the falls.

The video takes a moment to buffer after you click the "play" button. . . be patient.

While we were there, 3 young men were preparing their para-gliding parachutes for their jump from the bridge. It is legal for BASE jumpers to use this bridge, so most nice days see jumpers apparently.

There have been lots of interesting, fun, and new sights and experencies already; many more than can be seen on this blog, and we're just into the first days of the trip. This is a pretty nice country we live in, and We're looking forward to seeing more of it.

Big Sky Time

Although taking out time, this part of our journey is simply working our way to Oregon. Wyoming is truly the "Big Sky Country". Mentally traveling with the early settlers, we travel a short distance (2-300 miles), setup in time for cocktails and dinner. Last night was Omaha Beef steaks with all the side dishes, an excellent red wine, and talk. In the morning we headed across the northwest corner of Utah to southern Idaho.

I was told that Utah was the "Beehive" state, and this sign should prove it!
Every time Utah comes up in the conversation, I have to remember "The Mountain Meadow Massacre" which took place in southwest Utah around 1857. The mormons execucted everyone in a large wagon train over the age of 6. It was unsuccessfully covered up, but 20 years later a trial uncovered the facts, and there was one execution as a result.

I have a particular interest in this event, because I had relatives on that train. Plesant Tackett, a minister and children were headed to California with this train, and only their two small sons were allowed to live. This is long-standing family history, verified in books and documents (I am related to the Tacketts through my mother; they were migrating from Arkansas to California). Just last Friday the movie "September Dawn" opened in theaters. It follows the events quite factually, with a love story thrown in for dramatization. Perhaps it will not be voted the best picture of the year, but it is a good one, and it holds to the historical facts quite closely.

Will continue to post as the chance arises.

Following the settlers

We spent the 1st night in North Platte, in the middle of the "Great Platte River Basin". I have always considered the drive on I-80 across NE one of the great boreing road trips of our time. However, I have to remind myself of the historical significance of this region. Originally hunting grounds for the Pawnee and other tribes, it was used in the early 19th century for fur trappers in the Rockies. The US Government officially explored the area in 1820 and again in 1840. By 1850, >90% of the settlers going to California and Oregon were following the Platte across this region. The Pony Express, the telegraph lines, and the trans-continental railroad followed soon thereafter.
We caught up with B&D at a truck stop west of Laramie, and joined up for the night at an RV park in Rawlins, WY. The picture is of our rigs. (It's hard to circle just 2 wagons!)
It requires a special relationship to spend weeks living with another person in less than 400 sq ft almost 24 hrs/day, and enjoy it. There are more than a million people doing so for months or years at a time. Most of these are not for economic reasons; many of them spent a million or more dollars on their rigs. Instead, it is a chance to live a different life, close to the country, and meeting other people who share the desire for exploration, learning, and interacting with people from every background imaginable.
By the way, today is our anniversery! Not a bad way to celebrate it.

We're on our way!

This is the first post of our RV trip to Oregon this fall. We planned to be on the road at 0800, but actually left closer to 1000 . . . pretty typical for us. This photo is of our first major landmark; the Missouri Valley from the Loess Hills on I-680 north of Council Bluffs.
Even though the rain in the Midwest had cleared, it was still warm and a bit muggy. The temperature was in the mid-90s for most of our way across Nebraska. Pip was a little uncomfortable since the dash air did not fully cool the rig. I could have turned on the generator and the house air, but never reached that point. We are at the Holiday RV park in NE tonight. This was the second place we ever stayed in our first RV, so it's a bit sentimental. So far no major mechanicals or other disasters. . . hope that holds for a few more weeks. Tomorrow nigwe will travel to Rawlins, WY, where we will meet up with B & D, and start our caravan to the west coast, loosely following the footsteps of Lewis and Clark (of course the only death on that trip was one Sgt. FLOYD, but that happened back in the Council Bluffs area, so we're well past that now!)

Who are you and why are you here?

If you don't know me already, then this is not particularly important to you (and even if you do, it may still not be all that important.) As time permits, I will be posting bits of information ("Blips in the Cosmos") about my readings, travels, and experiences. When I want to share something with friends or family, I will let you know with an email. I don't expect anything all that exciting to be happening here such that you would need to check on sans notification.