Making Miles

I don’t usually like putting lots of miles behind me all at once. I prefer to roll slowly and explore the areas I visit. But I’m already running late to Colorado. (I blame Honey Badger, and that is in no way a complaint). I don’t work on the weekends, so that’s a good opportunity for me to get some extra driving in if I need to. I needed to, so I did.

Before long, I was driving up the “shore” of “Lake” Abert. You can see how vast it used to be but today there’s just a tiny sliver of water in the middle. I suspect that’ll be gone, too, in the next several years.

A while later, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, I got stuck at a red light — for a good 15 minutes or so. In the middle of a hot Saturday afternoon, they were doing road construction and shut it down to one lane. I suppose there isn’t a lot of traffic out here to inconvenience. Finally, it was our turn to follow the pilot car through. It’s the first time I’ve ever done 50 mph through a construction zone. That’s the pace the pilot car set, so it must’ve been okay. Normally the limit on this road is 65, which I have trouble maintaining in the van towing a trailer.

In an effort to help me, Honey Badger had suggested this overnight stop she found on iOverlander. The entry said it was wide, gravel, and big enough for a trailer. I’d been driving all day and was still in the middle of nowhere, Oregon, so I decided to investigate.

The entry wasn’t wrong. There was enough room to park my trailer. Turning around, however, was nearly impossible. I managed to make it happen, though. There was no cell service, and a giant cliff right behind me to the north blocked any hope of using Starlink. I could’ve spent the night, but I decided I wanted to get online that night, so I pressed on regardless.

My fallback plan was the Cracker Barrel in Nampa, Idaho — a new state for me. This worked perfectly. I arrived and treated myself to a nice meal inside because I was too tired to cook for myself. It’s always polite to patronize the business in whose parking lot you’re spending the night, anyway.

The next day I pressed on toward the east. Lister was cranky at the end of Saturday and started yowling while we drove Sunday morning. He wanted to go outside. He’s been spoiled, getting lots and lots of outside time while I haven’t been driving much. Now it seems he demands it.

I found a nice park to take him to, hoping a walk, some grass, and some shade would put him in a better mood. He enjoyed it while we were there. A few kids asked to pet him, and of course, I let them. As noon rolled around, the parking lot filled up fast. I felt guilty taking up so much space with my van and trailer, so I packed Lister up and left. He started yowling again. Clearly, no good deed goes unpunished.

I stopped for gas, thrilled to be allowed to pump my own for the first time in a while (Oregon doesn’t allow it). I was also thrilled to see gas priced under $5/gallon for the first time in months. But then I saw one way they did it. Regular, which is normally 87 octane, was 85 here. Plus was 87, which is what is recommended for my van. The price was still under $5/gallon, so I still called it a win. Later some friends told me that lower octane gas is perfectly normal and works fine at higher altitudes. I decided to still run on 87, though.

My next stop was Twin Falls. In 1974, Evel Knievel was here to try jumping a rocketcycle across the Snake River Canyon. The attempt failed, but the ramp is still here today. I thought about trying to jump across it myself on my KLR, but the bike decided it didn’t like the wind direction, so we didn’t do it.

On the way out of town, I stopped at a pulloff just after the bridge to check out the overlook. The view is amazing. Pictures don’t do the place justice. The colors really are that bright. And the canyon looks much bigger than it does here. It’s probably just as well I didn’t try to jump across it myself.

Then it was even more driving. It’s a lot of work to push my van and trailer up to 60 mph on roads like these. With a limit of 65, I try to ride a fine line between going fast enough to not get mowed down by idiot drivers, but not so fast that I’m pushing the van too hard, either. It’s tiring. Add Lister yowling (at least he went to sleep for a while) and today really did a job on me.

But finally, I made camp for the night, on BLM land just two miles from the entrance to Craters of the Moon. As a space nut, I’d heard of some Apollo astronauts training here in preparation for the missions to the moon, and it’s stuck in my head ever since. Now that I was nearby, I wanted to check it out.

The first campsite, which I found on iOverlander, was taken. But as I continued down the road, I found a nice pulloff that was plenty big for the van and trailer. No turning around shenanigans this time. It was late in the day, and I was tired, so I didn’t venture into the park on Sunday. It would still be there in the morning.

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