At long last, the moment you've all been waiting for - details of my super-exciting summer vacation to Idaho!!
Okay, so maybe nobody was actually waiting for details. Well nobody, that is, except for Dan, but that's just because he doesn't have anything better to do. Regardless, here they are...
My parents live in a tiny little town called Bloomington. One of the many, many, many tourist attractions of Bloomington is the Minnetonka Cave.
I could tell you how many steps we had to climb inside the cave, what the names of the various formations inside the cave were, how goofy our cave guide was, or how the cave temperature is constant year round, but I don't remember the details anymore so I won't. Maybe next time.
We went for a drive up Bloomington Canyon (yep, that's right - the town of Bloomington has a canyon by the same name right behind it, as do the nearby towns of Paris and St/ Charles, Idaho). There's a lake at the top that I've never seen that is supposed to be really, really deep and ice cold year round (there are all kinds of stories of people drowning in the lake...spooky!). The drive to the top of the canyon seemed to go on for miles and miles up a twisty, often pretty steep, dirt road, but we did finally reach the end of the road. And that's when we remembered being told that the lake was only accessible by hiking up a steep trail at the end of the road. And I was wearing thongs (flip-flops, to you youngsters). So we didn't see the lake. But the drive to the top was pretty scenic (somebody's gonna kill me if she finds out I put photos of her on the interwebs). We even saw at least one wild animal...and a whole bunch of cows.
And speaking of Paris (what? I kinda mentioned it in the last paragraph), we went to the Fourth of July parade in scenic downtown Paris, Idaho. Parades in small towns are so much more fun for kids than parades in cities. Every float tosses out handfuls of candy. And nobody is worried about needles or razor blades or anthrax being hidden inside. Good times. And...well, if you don't laugh at the small-townness of every float, you've lived in a small town too long.
I also made it back to the town I spent my formative years growing up in: the bustling metropolis of Soda Springs. I hadn't been back to visit since sometime around 2004 and didn't really expect to see that much had changed, but surprisingly, quite a few things were different. Unfortunately, I don't remember what most of them were since I didn't bother to write about any of this until today.
No visit to Soda Springs is complete without visiting the town's namesake: Hooper Springs (it's a spring of carbonated water - get it? Soda Springs)). It didn't look a whole lot different either. They might have updated the area right around the spring, but it was pretty much the same old thing I remember.
On the way to the drugstore downtown (to visit the soda fountain I remember so fondly), I swung by the elementary school that I attended from third to sixth grade, Hooper Elementary, and was shocked to see that all the swings, slide, monkeybars, and other playground stuff was long gone. And the school was now called "Hooper Commercial Plaza". They didn't do much more than change the sign - it still looks an awful lot like an elementary school. I found out later from Jessica Jo what happened:
Hooper School was closed about two years ago [which would have been around 2007, I guess] due to money. Of course it's money, we are one of the richest countries and we can't even educate our children. Never mind, I will get off my soapbox now [FYI: Jessica is a teacher]. Half the students were moved to Thirkill [the Kindergarten to second grade school when I was there] and the others went to the Jr. High. My friend worked at Hooper and she still hasn't got over the fact that it is closed. I get sad when I drive by there and think about the slide we earned from soup labels [it was a super-sweet twisty slide]. No teachers were let go, they just moved them to other schools.
Speaking of the Junior High School, I was also surprised to see that it had been pretty thoroughly updated. I didn't make it to the other elementary school on the other side of town, Thirkill, so I don't know how much modernization went on over there.
Right across the street from good ol' Hooper Elementary was a grocery store that my dad owned briefly in the late seventies/early eighties, Stoor's Grocery (the Stoors were an old couple who probably built the place and lived in the apartment above the store when my parents owned it). It's now the location of CHAT-tv, a Non-profit Community Access Television Station. Weird.
After wiping away my tears, we continued on to the drugstore in bustling downtown Soda Springs. I've had many a root beer float in that fine establishment. Sadly, they partly-shuttered the soda-counter by the time we got there and only offered a limited menu. I think I had an Ironport (a weird drink I've only ever seen in Soda Springs). Wikipedia actually lists the drug store in Soda Springs as one of the few places you can still get it.
We also checked out the Geyser (I think it's supposed to be the only man-made geyser in the world) and I noticed that they had added new walkways and viewing areas since the last time I had visited.
The kids played on the battleship gun outside the town's library (which looked exactly the same as it did when I was their ages) and then we went to see Ice Age 2 at the good ol' Idan-ha theater (which we only saw about 30 minutes of due to weak intestinal fortitude after a day spent eating nothing but junk food).
That about sums up the Adventures in Idaho. There are plenty of other exciting summer vacation stories to amaze and enthrall you, but that's all I feel like telling about tonight. I might even blather on about comic books and other stuff if I get around to it. We'll see.