04-Mar-2001 -- I'm on vacation in Eastern Idaho visiting a friend and taking
photographs. I woke up this morning just in time to see the sun rising
over the majestic Grand Teton Mountains. What a way to start the day.
After deciding where I wanted to go today, I hit the road heading west
across the desert. My first stop was the Craters of the Moon near Arco,
Idaho - - about 2 hours away.
A volcanic explosion that left a moon-like landscape formed the
Craters. The lava is black and I thought there would be some good
photographs with snow on it. I just didn't count on there being so much
snow covering the lava. There's a 7-mile drive-through loop around the
area, but it was closed due to the snow. I got out and walked about half
a mile and snapped off a few photos. I got back in the car and drove
back into Arco. There's a historic sign in Arco that reads:" ATOMS
FOR PEACE - An important page in atomic history was written here on July
17, 1955 when the lights of Arco were successfully powered from atomic
energy. Chosen by the Atomic Energy Commission as an experiment in the
peaceful use of atomic power, Arco, Idaho became the first town in the
free world to be served by electrical energy developed from the atom.
The energy for this experiment was produced at the National Reactor
Testing Station in the Arco desert southeast of here."
Giant numbers are painted on the mountainside above Arco. Graduating
high school classes go up there each year and paint their numbers on the
mountain. It looks like they've been doing this since the 20's and
they're running out of room. I was getting hungry and I stopped to eat
at Pickle's Place - Home of the Atomic Burger. With a name like that, I
had to stop there. I figured it would be a sin if I didn't eat the
Atomic Burger, so I did. Let me tell you - that was a powerful
I left Arco and headed northwest toward the confluence about an hour
and a half away. I was overwhelmed by the beautiful landscape.
Everywhere was snow covered fields and mountains. The sky was blue and
the clouds were just the right amount to make the landscapes picture
perfect. I stopped numerous times to take photos. Even though I'm
shooting all black and whites with my film camera, I found myself
smiling a lot at how pretty I know they're going to be if I even halfway
captured what I was seeing. I was completely blown away by it all.
As I approached the confluence, the driving got a little treacherous
due to snowdrifts across the roads. But I took it easy and made it
within 1/3 of a mile and parked. I had to hike through desert scrub with
about 8 inches of snow on the ground. That wasn't too hard. Then came
THE HILL. I don't know how high THE HILL was, but suffice it to say that
I had to stop several times to catch my breath. When I got to the top I
was hit by a hard, chilling wind, but I only noticed that briefly
because the view up there was spectacular. I was completely surrounded
by mountains with rough, jagged peaks. It was unlike anything I could
have imagined and there was no sign of civilization - - until I noticed
There were footprints (human and dog) heading straight towards the
confluence. Looks like I wasn't the first one to visit this point. When
I checked the website last night it hadn't been visited yet and I didn't
see it on the pending list. I proceeded to the spot and took the photos.
The footprints went on past the point. Maybe it was just someone out
hiking, although I doubt it because this place is so remote. Either way,
I don't mind. It was worth the effort just to experience nature's beauty
and magnificence. That's what I like about doing this. It takes you
places you would never go otherwise.