Bear River and Cache Valley trip

On Thursday June 10 we got up early (my alarm is normally set for 6:15. When I say early, I mean substantially earlier than that. In this case, I mean 3:15 AM) to get on a 6:30 flight to Salt Lake City on our way to Pocatello. Although the pilot (“Hi folks. I wanted to let you know that if you ever wake up in the wee hours of the morning with a desire to find yourself seven miles above the surface of the earth, jetting around at 500 miles per hour in an aluminum tube, we at Delta will be happy to accommodate you”) warned us that there would be turbulence ahead when he detoured around some thunderheads that were extending to 55000 feet and producing hail two inches in diameter, it was a pleasant flight. We got in 20 minutes early, by 10 AM Mountain time. I took the Legacy parkway, a road that Utah seems to have built to take some of the traffic off I-215 and I-15 around the northwest side of the SLC metro area; it was a excellent alternate route, fast enough and with no trucks allowed.

We stopped at the Bear River wildlife refuge visitor center. The little marshy area in front of the visitor center had a cinnamon teal, a marsh wren, and excellent views of yellow-headed blackbirds — in fact, one blackbird was sitting on the bridge railing and didn’t mind having human beings six feet away from it. The refuge’s logo features an avocet, which we haven’t seen many of; but the people at the information desk told us that if we drove a mile to where the road was closed we might be able to see some avocets in the adjoining field. We did — I mean, we did drive there, and we did see several avocets right there, as well as western kingbirds. We took a side road they recommended along the Bear River to the next freeway entrance north and saw western grebes and a pelican in the river and glossy ibises flying.

We stopped for lunch in Tremonton at our favorite cafe in Utah, JC’s Country Diner, and stayed off the freeway for most of the rest of the way. I have always wanted to take the slower route north from there, through Logan UT and Preston ID, what’s called the Cache Valley, just to see what’s over there. Preston is where the movie Napoleon Dynamite was filmed; it’s maybe 60 or 80 miles southeast of Pocatello. There’s nothing really remarkable on that route, but it’s nice to get off the freeway and see the downtowns of the small cities and tiny towns in that part of the country and to see the farms and ranches from closer up.

If this were fiction, the hailstorm that the pilot avoided would be a foreshadowing of more of our trip. There was precipitation on the road between Tremonton and Logan that made too much noise on the windshield to be plain rain. It sure sounded like hail to me, sort of like being behind a dump truck that was dripping some of its load of fine gravel on your windshield. After a couple of minutes of that we were driving on a road that looked as though a truck had spilled a load of mothballs. It didn’t ever get much bigger than pea size, I don’t think; certainly not bigger than marble size; and didn’t last long.

It was a beautiful ride. There has been a lot of rain this spring, and everything was very green. There were snowfields near the tops of the mountains all around the valley.

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