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Day Three - May 18, 1999

Time to Spare

Boise ID - Idaho Falls ID

4:10 riding time - 261 miles - 60+ degrees

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A perfect riding day

Whee!  Today's going to be much better.  I woke up at about 6:30, looked out the window and the sky has patches of blue!  Yes!  By taking the interstates we succeeded in getting ahead of the weather, and it will pay off in great riding today.

Last night we went into downtown Boise for dinner.  The downtown area was quite nice, very walkable, with picturesque views of the mountains.  People were sitting at sidewalk cafes and enjoying the warm spring evening.  It was very pleasant.

On the way back from dinner, Mark noticed that my right turn signal was not working.  Now this is going to sound strange, but I was excited.  On the 1997 JerkQuest, we carried enough tools to do engine overhauls along the side of the road.   Seriously, we carried enough hardware to deal with any kinds of problems that may have arisen.  But no problems arose.  The most serious problem I had was a sticky throttle lock, which was taken care of with a squirt of WD-40. So the very idea that I had now had to do some road maintenance - whoa.

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Bad bulb!

I carefully unrolled the tool pack, selected the phillips-head screwdriver, and removed the two screws holding the lens cover in place.  I peered inside the cavity holding the bulb, and found the culprit - a cracked bulb.  What a detective.  We zipped off to a Schucks and purchased a replacement, which was promptly installed and tested.  To you, this may seem ordinary, unworthy of reporting.  But to me, this was a small, but significant victory.  The presence of the tools had been justified.  Now for those of you who believe that Harleys are inherently unreliable (What do dogs and Harleys have in common?  They both like to ride in the back of pickup trucks!) can take comfort in the fact that I have actually had a problem on the road,  AND I FIXED IT.

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Mark's tidy bags

Mark has been giving me grief because he has fit all of his stuff in two teeny bags, one on top of his tank, the other strapped to the seat behind him.  Mark strives to be like Bronson (remember Then Came Bronson?) who appeared to have nothing more than a sleeping bag and maybe a toothbrush on his cross-country pursuits.  Somehow, Mark has managed to stuff an impressive amount in those two bags.  I, on the other hand, saddled with the responsibilities of documenting the trip, am carrying more stuff.   Important stuff.  Computers.  Power supplies.  The necessary tools to repair failed turn signal lights.  Not that I feel any shame or embarrassment - in fact, I feel kind of proud, because when we pass people on the road, they KNOW that I am on a major road trip, whereas Mark might just be a local on his way to work at the plant.

We hit the road at 8:30, take a quick jaunt down I-84 to get to the day's objective, Highway 20, which wraps up into the Sawtooth Mountains.  The temperature is about 60 degrees, the skies have scattered clouds, and we are very happy.  This is the kind of riding we came for.  There is a stretch of desolation from Mountain Home to Fairfield that is filled with fabulous panoramas and great riding roads. 

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This is why we're here

Nothing between

Gotta love it

Continuing on highway 20, we pass through the Craters of the Moon National Monument.  As we approach this area, the rocks along the side of the road and for as far as we can see turn black, as if they have been burned.  This area has the most recent flow of lava in North America, and the name of the area says it all - it looks like moon craters.  We stop for some photos and a brief rest to enjoy the scenery.

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Lava as far as the eye can see

Lava close-up, taken from about 12"

We head on into Arco, whose claim to fame is "The first city in the free world to be powered by nuclear-generated electricity".  It appears that the right place to eat in Arco would be 'Pickles Place, Home of the Atomic Burger'.   Gosh, how can we pass that up?  Inside, we notice something that all of the cafes and greasy spoons in this area have in common - smokers are the default, and thus command the nicer areas of the restaurant. 

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We are banished to the back room, which is decorated with "art clocks", such as the handsome airbrushed portrait of a smiling Elvis just above us, with a functional clock just to the right of his pompadour.  And just below Elvis is a strange appliance that neither of us recognize.  Imagine something that looks like a wall heater with neon lights in it.  I ask the waitress what it is, and she confirms my worst fears.  "It's a fly-killer.  The light draws 'em in, and the wahrs zap 'em.  They get memorized by lights and then they cain't get out."   I look at her for a moment and I say, "Mesmerized?."  She gives me a cold stare and says, "That's what I SAID, they get memorized."  I pay the bill, satisfied that we have absorbed all the local culture we need for the day.

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A dominant feature of the area

We head on east, passing through Butte City (that's pronounced "byoot", kids), an area that is dominated by several striking buttes.  In fact, there are some roadside signs that explain the historical significance of these buttes.  See for yourself.  I would never stoop to humor this low, so quit snickering.  Big buttes are a dominant feature of southeastern Idaho.  Really.  


And finally, I have to pass comment on the new Star Wars flick, the Phantom Menace.  We assumed that we would somehow be able to avoid the hype, but as we arrived in Idaho Falls we passed the local theater that will be showing the movie starting at midnight tonight.  I stopped and talked to a couple of the (mostly) kids in line, many of whom have been camping out since yesterday to secure their place in line.   Check out the spelling on the marquee.

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"I slept on the sidewalk for this?"


Until tomorrow,

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A gratuitous final image