August 2, 2015 – Sunny, 100 degrees
Miles Today: 60
Miles to Date: 4,993
States to Date: 20
Sunday in the summertime and the living is easy. I got up to the smell of good coffee and enjoyed a breakfast of homemade oatmeal with all sorts of mix-ins on the patio with my warmshowers hosts. I reluctantly took leave after eight, knowing that I wanted to ride in the cool morning rather than the hot afternoon.
Pocatello is a railroad town; the bridges over the tracks are more spectacular than the roads that span the concrete-lined Portneuf River. I wove north and east to Hiline Road, a great route out of town through big pastures. Hiline connected back to US 91 at Fort Hall, the Shoshone-Bannock Indian Reservation where preparations were underway for their annual festival next week. The road is poker straight past the Indian casino into Blackfoot, one of the poorest towns I have traversed.
Beyond Blackfoot the Snake River Valley is a wide flat plain crisscrossed by an elaborate canal system. Monster irrigation systems snake across green fields, tall rows of trees shelter houses from the wind. Where the sprinklers came near the road, an underdraft of cool air broke the mounting heat. By ten it was near eighty degrees, by eleven it was over ninety. A few feet beyond the sprinklers reach the grass is tawny and dry. The heavy rains of Colorado are long past; the fire monitor gauges all read ‘Danger Very High’, and it’s easy to see how one match would enflame these brittle fields.
I stopped in Firth for a liquid lunch: two yogurts and a Little Debbie cake chased down with a quart of chocolate milk; the perfect protein-infused refresher to push me into Idaho Falls before 2:00 p.m. After a writing break I visited the falls, which as more elaborate than I anticipated. The Snake River is a broad stretch of water, until it tumbles over rocks for several blocks near downtown. My host for this evening Sam, is more a couch surfer than a warmshowers guy. He gave me great tips to connect with folks that way on the road. He headed out to his favorite burger joint, but much is closed in Mormon-centric Idaho Falls on a Sunday night. So we wound up at a roadside diner. The food was adequate; the coconut cream pie dessert was extraordinary.