We were leaving the bright sun and high heat to head towards Potato Country. For hours we were driving and the scenery didn't seem to change much. I expected this, though. I had very little knowledge on this northern state, and I honestly didn't know too much other than the whole potato ordeal and that it was somewhat desolate. Having this minimal understanding, I wasn't too surprised to see little - until something caught my eye.
The bus was cruising along when I had to suddenly stop. It wasn't a cow or anything standing in the road, but a car. This car wasn't parked, it wasn't another bus, it was sitting in the middle of a small pond. At one point, it may have been a demo years back, because all that was left of this thing was the frame. What it was doing here, I have no clue. I doubt it was placed there for scenic purposes, but even if it was just stranded there, whoever was driving it must have had some fun. The abandoned car was far from the road, and literally just sitting in a shallow pond. Weird. After glaring at some Idaho wonders, we made our way to another one: Craters of the Moon.
When we're driving, Kim is navigating and the one who sees the pictures of the park before we get there. I have to use my imagination most of the time to what something may look like. When I heard, "Craters of the Moon" I was thinking lots of holes and possibly Nickelodeon Moon Shoes for sale in the gift shop. I wasn't right on either (unfortunately, Fink would've looked good in those) but I was shocked by what we saw.
This park was really a giant lava bed. From the large jagged rocks to the smooth, once flowing lava, what we saw did not seem to fit in Idaho. The first time that Kim talked about this park, I just assumed that this place couldn't be too huge or too crazy because, "it's Idaho." Idaho's stock was going up in my book. With the initial shock of the dramatically different views, we explored the place a bit.
Soon this park took another turn I didn't expect: caves. Most of the time at parks, you need a guide or have to sign something. Anything goes in Idaho, apparently. We walked up to one of the caves, and the only sign near the entrance read, "cave here." What I liked even more was that there wasn't a paved path that you were supposed to take, or numbered signs that pointed out useless facts. The cave was just wide open, left untamed for you to explore how you choose. Sweet. The park was not anything like I anticipated, but I loved it. We saw something I didn't expect at all in Idaho, but we eventually did see something that I thought I would.
Spending $3 to get into the Idaho Potato Museum could be the best money I spent so far. For some reason, seeing tons of different potatoes and explanations on how they differ was extremely amusing to me. From the Spudbob Starchpants t-shirts to the hundreds of displayed potato mashers, I was entertained tenfold. While I explored different Potato Machinery from past to present, Kim watched an educational video dealing with how the potato has influenced the state of Idaho. Needless to say, this was my favorite museum (maybe rivaling the weather museum in Punxsutawney, PA). After seeing the magic created by potatoes, we had to keep heading East towards home.
The best part about heading east at this point meant that we got to re-visit some of our favorite sights: Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Our first stop would be Grand Teton. This time around, it wasn't nearly as snowy or frigid out, and more roads were open. Seeing grass and open roads made the park look completely different. Last time we could drive on just part of one road, which only had a few pull-offs to view the mountains. Now most roads were open, and people were driving boats around and fishing as if this place had been active all year. This only meant new and great scenery.
We were able to walk up to crystal clear water in which I couldn't control my urge to not skip stones. Once my arm began to fizzle out like Jamie Moyer, we just wandered the park in awe of how different everything was. The snow was only visible on the peaks of mountains, but Westy and Fink didn't seem to notice. Most of the time their top priorities are eating and bothering us while we're trying to find out where we are. After we saw the 'new' Grand Teton National Park, we made out way to our favorite park: Yellowstone.