Now I could see the finish line…
Despite growing up in the northeast, I had never sufficiently visited Vermont or Maine and I’d determined they would be the final two states on my quest to visit all of the lower 48 states before I turned 30. Figuring out the times I’d be back in New York to visit family, I was confident I could visit Vermont over Thanksgiving and finish #48 with Maine over Christmas just with day trips via car. That just left one state that was out of reach: Idaho.
Living in Iowa, I had tried to figure out every which way to drive to and from Idaho. It was do-able, but a heck of a drive. Even at a straight shot to the very edge of Idaho, and I was still looking at more than 15 hours EACH WAY. If it was two days before my goal and I had no other option, yes, I would have done it. But I wanted to enjoy the trip fully and that many hours of driving just wears on you. So I determined that flying was the only way to travel. I used Kayak to search for flights and like my trip to Colorado, found the best rate with Frontier Airlines into Salt Lake City as opposed to Boise. Knowing I’d need to rent a car anyway, the hour and a half drive from Salt Lake City into state #46 was no problem.
After a layover in Denver I landed in Salt Lake City and started off. The second I walked off the plane it hit me. I mean as in immediately, as if my mind had some type of sixth sense. It told me, “I think Salt Lake City has In-N-Out Burger.
My fondness for In N Out Burger is difficult to measure. It requires a post of it’s own, maybe several. In short, I absolutely love In N Out Burger. And because the chain deserves it’s own post, I’ll just say I spent more than $20 for lunch. If you know anything about the place, burgers, fries and shakes cost just a couple of bucks. So dropping $20 is actually a major accomplishment.
Well I was pretty satisfied after In-N-Out. Mission accomplished… No wait, I still had to visit Idaho, right I forgot. In short, I didn’t originally come to Idaho with anything in mind. Of course I knew I would try potatoes of some type, and a former co-worker of mine lived near Boise with her husband and two children, so I was excited to get a chance to see her. Other than that, I had no major spots to hit or places to visit, so I took it slow and just drove around.
I ended up taking a route that drove though the Craters of the Moon National Park. The park features old lava fields that help create sand and soil that is basically silk like to the touch. I made it to the park just before it got dark so I was only able to stay for a short time. But scooping up a handful of dirt was pretty surreal. It was like grabbing a handful of baby powder and letting it filter through your fingers.
Unfortunately that was about the only relaxing this I got to do that day. Throughout the day I had been on phone, email and text message in regards to a proverbial fire I had to put out with my job. One of the difficult things about being in a field that involves politics is that you have to deal with some interesting characters sometimes. And even though I’ve always believed in being the bigger person and being the example to follow, sadly often times you’re not met with the same courtesy. Politics doesn’t tend to attract the most upstanding people.
The next day of the trip I met up with a former co-worker and her husband at the “Boise Fry Company.” A burger and fries mix between takeout and sit-down. The running joke is that they specialize in fries, “with burgers on the side.” It rings true as they feature a number of different types of potatoes, (Russet, Gold, Laura, Yam, Sweet and Purple) and different cuts, and about a dozen different seasonings. I went with the classic Idaho staple of Russet potatoes and a Bison burger. Both were good, and the fries definitely stood out. The Boise Fry Company features a “spice bar” of sorts with about a dozen different salt shakers filled with different types of salts, seasonings and combinations. Overall I’d definitely go back to the Boise Fry Company
I was able to stop by my friend’s house before I had to head off and was able to see her two young children and her budding small farm. I’d worked with her a few years prior in Northern Virginia and seen her young daughter when she was just an infant. I said quite seriously that she was probably the best child I’d ever encountered as my co-worker brought her into the office consistently and there was never so much as a sound out of her. (The baby I mean, but my co-worker was laid back too I suppose.) It was really something to see this young girl at about four years old and able to talk with me, when the last time I saw her she could barely stand.
I headed south for Salt Lake City, one more trip to In N Out Burger for dinner that night, and the next morning I was on the plane. I now had 46 down and 2 to go, and gotten one of the harder states crossed off the list. Now my 18 month goal was becoming a reality.