Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Road Tripping in a Special Slice of Big Empty

This is the 'lead in' to Salmon. My return started with a drive from Idaho Falls. Heading northwest, half is uphill to the crest at Gilmore Summit and then it's coasting all the way down the Lemhi river valley into Salmon. By the way, the Lemhi river is one of the few that flow north, the Middle Fork of the Salmon is another.
     Gilmore Summit is over 7,000 feet, why it's not a 'pass' I don't know, but if you're into big wide open spaces, it ranks well up there. I think the road image up top sums it up pretty well. I drove it midday, midweek, in late August - admittedly a quiet time, but still, once I left Idaho Falls and hit Hwy. 28, I think three cars passed me going the other way in over 100 miles. That's one of my indicators for being in big empty. I even bought a case of bottled water along with the last tank of gas in Terreton, the last town before things empty out. Just in case.
     Like most other road trips through remote places, there's history along the way, the land for the most part, has already been lived in once or twice. Also like almost all other empty space, by definition, there are few, if any, people living in these places. Hwy. 28 followed this rule pretty well too. There were a few gravel roads that could have led to ranches I suppose, but I did not see any occupied houses, only shells of houses. Long empty, appealing in the sense of wondering who lived there and why would they choose such a desolate spot. These houses always seem to have the window casings removed, assuming they ever had windows with frames. Maybe that's another requirement for 'big empty', remaining houses must be scavenged for reuse elsewhere.
     Anyway, I made it to Salmon, with Highway 28 turning out to be a wonderful prelude to small town places in the heart of flyover country. The reality of this place and space fits well with the feel I want the description of this road to have in River and Ranch.

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