July 22, 2018 Sleep sucked, so up very early. Packed up, then navigated to the breakfast room; a makeshift, regular room with dirty carpet and barefoot, pajama-clad patrons with exposed butt-cracks. WTF?! Grabbed coffee and a couple yogurts to go, then stopped at front desk for my receipt. After everything, it was mildly amusing I still wasn’t shown assigned to room 303. Seriously, thumbs and every other appendage down for Boise Motel 8. Gassed up at Shell ($3.07/gal) and hit 84W, fast.
Less than an hour later, around Nampa, I drove into the North Side Rec Area of Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge. Beautiful! I walked around for at least half an hour, along the water and through the wildflowers. It was a calming fix needed after shitty place. Talked with a father and son who were prepping their sailboat in the boat launch lot. They were attaching a contraption the dad built to simplify the process to raise and lower main sail. Very cool – enjoyed the chat immensely! As Willie sang, “On the road again.”
GPS sent me on a ‘no-clue-where-the-fuck-you-are’ route that surprisingly landed me in the middle of awesome Idaho wine country and agriculture. Definitely a love-hate relationship with GPS! So, this is fruit country, although I passed lots of cows on the way. Street names, like Chicken Dinner Road and Tattletale Lane, cracked me up!
Hit 55, again, and stopped at a market in the teeny-tiny town of Sunnyslope where I got several very ripe avocados for pennies. WIN! The restaurant next door looked cool with grapevines. I’d love to have an arbor at my next humble abode!
Off 55, in Marsing, I noticed a white cross at the top of a cool looking rock formation, u-turned and parked at the gate. Although hot as hell, curiosity drove me. There wasn’t a ‘no trespassing’ sign, so climbed over the gate and up the trail. It didn’t look that steep from ground-level, but shit! I was huffing and puffing on the way up, stopping here and there to look cool as I gasped for air. Hung out a while at the top, on volcanic rock next to sage. The view rocked and the breeze felt f*ing amazing!
With some research, determined I was on Lizard Butte, about 350′ high, with incredible views of the town, Snake River and Owyhee Mountains. According to College of Western Idaho Geology Professor, Ander Sundell, this butte is basically a small volcano on top of lake sediments, formed about 1.5 million years ago.
From a distance, this ‘rock’ looks like a large, full-length lizard sunbathing. Sucks I didn’t see it at the time, but there are cool pics online. The cross that tops the lizard’s head, is made of railroad ties and concrete. It was the replacement decades ago for the original that burned. Down the hill I went, much more elegantly than up.
Driving the Snake River Canyon Scenic Byway was incredible. There aren’t many pull-off areas for pictures or to get out, and toilets for a long stretch (ugh). Swung in to a turn-around point to stretch and snap pics along the river. Yes, I also peed there!
Drove through the town of Nyssa near the OR border. It was Sunday and most shops were closed, so continued on 20/26 to Riley. Stopped for gas, snacks and toilet again, just in case. Didn’t realize I was in Oregon until the cashier told me she’d pump gas after the next customer. Initially I was like ‘what?’ but then the light dawned!
It was great to have this rest area stop off 395S. The high-desert area is covered in sagebrush and juniper. So awesome! I laughed when others complained about vault toilets; I was so damn grateful for them.
Swung off to take photos of the incredible Lake Abert and the Abert Rim. From Wikipedia I learned the lake covers approximately 57 square miles with an average depth of 7 feet. The water is alkali, so no fish live in it, but brine shrimp thrive and shorebirds love them. The Rim is one of the highest fault scarps in the US and it’s the longest (30+ miles) exposed fault scarp in Northern America. The top of the rim reminded me of legos for some reason. Gotta love my brain!
Drove into Lakeview and through several camp areas off 395, but didn’t get the ‘warm fuzzy’ until I hit 140W and saw the sign for Juniper’s Reservoir. When I was young, mom played Donovan’s record with ‘Jennifer Juniper’ and I was hooked; played it all the time. I knew this place was just for me. Yea!
I followed the dirt entry road about a mile or so, past lots of cows, a pond, farm buildings, a house and across rocky road, to the campground. Paid $25.45 and yep, the tent area was all mine. The grounds were gorgeous and the couple hosting couldn’t have been friendlier. This is where I fell in love with an old … tree. Fantastic!
Had an avocado and corn tortilla with pepperoni and jalapeños for dinner, followed by strawberries. Took a hot shower, chatted with other campers in the laundry/TV/book room, then watched the spectacular sky show of lights and fast-moving clouds from the comfort of my bungee chair. Thought for a bit from the rumbles it might rain, but nope. Saw a few deer hanging out fairly close before I zipped up for the night.