This entry in the daily recounting of the American Odyssey will be one of the dryest yet but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy these two days of travel. It's just that I feel vastly underqualified to write about them. You see, in this leg of the journey, through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and even Colorado, the sites and spots to visit become much fewer and farther between. I don't know if the area is lacking in the sort of entrepreneurial showmanship that inspired South Carolina's South of the Border, Florida's Tragedy in U.S. History Museum, Seattle's Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe or Pennsylvania's Land of Little Horses or not but I found, in doing my homework on these states that I drew, in my now-rather-tattered-atlas, very few of the little circles that I use to signify goofball tourist attractions. Often, too, those I did draw were on the other side of the state from where I was traveling and in this part of the country, that makes for some detour.
I have often wondered, having enjoyed the reading of a good novel or magazine, where the author gained his knowledge of flora and, especially, fauna. I can't identify more than two varieties of trees and possibly three or four different flowers. I know for certain what mimosa trees look like; my grandmother used to have one in her yard and the distinctive fuzzy, pink blooms of these trees make them easy to peg. Also, my mother has long had a fondness for magnolias, trying, with mixed success over the years, to keep one thriving in our yard. That's it, the full extent of my knowledge of trees. The only further delineation I can make is between evergreen trees and...um... well...regular trees. As for flowers, a rose is a rose is a rose and I know a daffodil when I see it and a bird of paradise and a carnation. Oh, and an iris. But I often fret when I read some thing like The peonies were in bloom on this warm spring day as Debbie left the house. Today was the day her divorce became final and... or The gunman had sought shelter in a grove of elm trees just beyond the glen and...
I don't know for certain what elm trees look like; I know I've seen them but which ones were they? And peonies, schmeonies - I don't have a clue. In fact, though I'm ashamed to admit it, I couldn't swear in court that I know just what a glen is. Clearly, my education is lacking, but what class did I miss? I simply can't remember ever coming across a class in an enrollment bulletin entitled Plants, Trees, and Geographical Formations I.
Now, please don't misunderstand; this deficiency in my training doesn't torment me day and night. In fact, I seldom give it a thought (ignorance really is bliss, it seems) but I regret that I can't describe for you more of the scenery I'm seeing here in the West. It's just that if I can't, with some certainty, call an oak an oak, a forget-me-not a forget-me-not and a mesa a mesa (or is it a butte?), I don't, in the interest of journalistic integrity, wish to fake it.
That said, I left Anaconda to the south, through Idaho Falls and into Arco, Idaho. From here, I visited the Craters of the Moon National Park, a weird landscape created by volcanic eruptions. Quite a place.
South then into Utah, a state which, somewhat inexplicably, has several drive-in theatres still alive and kicking. I spent the night in Ogden and attended a double bill at the Davis Drive-in, south of town: Mo' Money and Boomerang. I can't really recommend either of them to you, although Boomerang was the nearer miss. A huge electrical storm passed just to the north while I was watching the films, giving me occasion to thank God for rubber tires.
By the way, the scenery during the long two days' drive from Anaconda to Ogden was spectacular but you'll have to go see it for yourself.
Continue on the American Odyssey.
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