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Road Trip day 3






Day 3; Pocatello to Smiley Creek

Shortly into our trip today, we came upon a flock of birds. Probably forty of them, they swept to the right, then wheeled into our path. Surely the birds will elevate and evade, right? No. Two smacked the windshield with a ‘ffft’ (birds are mighty light!) and one hit the Little Woman’s face shield. Nice to wear full coverage helmets and have a windshield. I looked back to see two resting in peace on the pavement, but certainly a few more struggled on and succumbed to injuries.
“You okay?”
“Yes, I just didn’t duck in time.”
I knew her reason. It happened so fast, I couldn’t imagine we would hit them. A mile or so later she asked to stop. Didn’t want to watch the landscape through bird guts. So we cleaned up her helmet and the windshield.
Today we cursed our luck, as we should have done Twin falls and turned north to Sun Valley. Instead we headed east, and were another day looking at farmland. However, being flexible, Sherri said, “Turn left. The sign said, ‘EBR-1 free tour.’”
That sounded good. Especially the ‘free' part.
We were treated to a tour of the world’s first nuclear power plant. This was a breeder reactor, which we learned means it not only generated power, but ‘breeded’ plutonium, another source for power. Seven times they explained to us about atoms, nuclei, isotopes, stainless steel rods, and such. We nodded, and felt stupider every time. Was this understandable? Oh, and NaK. It’s a metal that is liquid at room temperature, and is pumped with magnetometers, with no moving parts, as it is so corrosive.
The tour was absolutely amazing. A group of scientists, in the fifties, just after television is invented, doing miraculous things to generate energy. And the way they did it! No blueprints. The boss would write what we wanted on a piece of paper and say, ‘how long will it take you to do this?’ One scientist needed jacks to lift the heavy lead blankets, so he want to an auto parts store and used them. They kept them for the entire life of the project.
After that treat, we were off again. We stopped for lunch and ate along the bank of the Salmon River. Las Vegas people get pretty excited about water that isn’t pumped into life in front of a casino. A local redneck drove up and locked in his hubs, drove into the river, and had a picnic. He took ‘a picnic on the river’ to a new level.
Off again, and we’re into the mountains at last. We saw more rivers today than we’ve seen in years. And trees! I believe they are natural, as I see no sprinklers around them. Truly amazing to us desert rats.
At last we stopped at Smiley Creek campground, and got a cabin. No bathroom or water. No problem, we are adventurers. Right, Sherri? She nodded but with limited enthusiasm. The cabin is wood, the chairs, tables, lodge, bar, floors, wood wood wood. Beautiful. Even the outdoor chess set, made by a chainsaw craftsman, is wood. The restaurant theme is antique skis and saws. How appropriate.
It’s beginning to feel like we’re slowing a bit. Start a little late, stop at every roadside historical marker, take a leisurely lunch, and stop a little early, before riding so long it is not enjoyable. It takes time, and practice.

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