29.08.2014 - 29.08.2014 26 °C
Jackson meant nothing to me when I booked the hotel there, it was just a convenient stopping point for when we came out the south end of Yellowstone. It turned out to be delightful, essentially a resort town, so there were lots of shops and galleries selling art, t-shirt shops, some outdoorswear shops selling the kind of outdoorswear that you wear to the pub to show you love the outdoors but would be unsafe to wear outdoors (where the weather might actually get a bit extreme), a hat shop where I could have bought a handmade hat, had I been prepared to stump up a minimum of $650. But it was relaxed and had at least one great cafe (others looked good as we walked around but we didn't check them out) and very close to the mountains - a ski slope actually terminated on the edge of town. Although the official name is Jackson, it had at one point been called Jackson Hole, and despite the less than salubrious resonances, many proudly label their businesses and the like as being in Jackson Hole.
At the bottom of the ski slope, we noticed a tunnel, which went straight into the mountain
We had to see where it went - it curved upwards
and when we got out of the tunnel (it was only a couple of hundred metres), we saw lots of these
The side of the mountain was a pretty exclusive housing development, there are several streets running along the side of hill which have similarly big houses, and yet, apart from the first one, they are invisible
Jackson Square was a nice place to hang out - there was some sort of umbrella thing happening in the square itself and, on one of its bordering streets, an exhibition of performing arts - I only noticed as one act was finishing and another didn't start before it was time to go. There was also a fair amount of street art
The arch is made up of elk antlers - they have some sort of campaign to get people go out and collect them after they drop from natural causes, which somehow works to stop hunting. We left town but didn't get very far - a sign to Teton Village distracted us - I was thinking we'd be able to get a cold drink or the like, and really had no idea of what we would find
Apparently it is one of the best ski resorts in the world - at least one of the guides to such things we consulted put it at # 1. Even I, a complete non-skier, was impressed - massive lodges, several ski lifts as well as a gondola and an aerial tram. We were there in summer, but there were still plenty of people about, some to mountain bike but most, I suspect, to linger.
Our nest stop was about two hours later, to investigate Idaho Falls, We'd been through a couple of places with falls in their name but no actual waterfalls to be seen (hello, Columbus Falls) so I was a bit suspicious, but ended up impressed. The Idaho Falls do not fall very far, but they are right in the centre of town and very wide, generating electricity for more than 100 years.
Three hundred miles of very boring driving then confronted us - we could have taken the Interstate which would have been a wee bit quicker but could find no reason at all to stop, so took US-20 - which offered us the chance of stopping at the Craters of the Moon National Monument - since it was a monument not a park, I thought there's be a wee visitor's centre or the like, but it is actually 620 square miles: a " vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush ... [a] weird and scenic landscape" according to the National Park Service.
There is, of course, also the National Laboratory - a nuclear reactor museum ("Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1 (EBR-I) Atomic Museum") but we had left it a bit late in the day to visit. Eventually, we made it to Boise, where a very helpful chap at the Holiday Inn printed out a list of eating establishments, which led to us having a most excellent dinner at the Bittercreek Ale House.