Friday, September 13, 2002

400-plus miles left between us and the airport. That's what we get for spending an extra day at Glacier, but it was worth it. It's a shame we didn't have time to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument, a half-million acres of lava fields a short distance to the east, but at least we had a chance to stop on the side of the highway north of Shoshone and examine some weird lava there.

Tom explores a lava field

At 1,500 feet in length, the Perrine Memorial Bridge spans the Snake River Canyon 486 feet above the Snake River. This bridge on the outskirts of Twin Falls, Idaho, is one of the few places in the world where BASE jumping is legal every day of the year. Jumpers come from around the globe to hurl themselves off the bridge at 70 miles per hour and release their parachutes seconds before certain death. Do their mothers know that they're doing this?

Perrine Memorial Bridge - Notice the BASE jumper

Landing in the Snake River

The waterfalls of Twin Falls used to consist of a pair of waterfalls, which is how the city got its name, but the second of the pair has permanently stopped flowing because of a dam. Maybe they should change the name of the city to Dam Falls. The remaining waterfall was just a 125-foot trickle when we visited.

Twin Falls? Hardly.

Shoshone Falls, "The Niagra of the West," is four miles east of the City of Twin Falls. At 220 feet in height, it is 50 feet taller than Niagra Falls. In non-drought times the trickle of water in the photo below spans the entire expanse of rock shown and has a greater volume than Niagra. Most of the Snake River is dammed and diverted here for agricultural use, and only in a heavy rain and snow year will there be enough water to allow Shoshone Falls to flow in all its glory. We'll have to come back sometime in a wet year!

Shoshone Falls

We crossed the northeast corner of Nevada and entered Utah at Wendover, where land speed records are regularly challenged on the Bonneville Salt Flats a/k/a the Bonneville Raceway. Each winter a shallow pool of water floods the salt flats. Then in the spring, the water slowly evaporates, while wind smoothes the surface into an almost perfectly flat plain. People have been racing here since 1914.

Bonneville Salt Flats

Our trip ends with a 419-mile day, Subway sandwiches, and a room at a Motel 6 five miles from the Salt Lake City Airport. We'll be back in Knoxville by 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

The sun sets over Salt Lake

2,748 total driving miles for this trip - The West is big!



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