Get Out and Go For a Drive…

Get Out and Go For a Drive

Sometimes, you just have to get out and go shopping, luckily I actually needed to pick up some cleaning supplies for my computer I ordered from http://www.1stcompucare.co.uk/pc-cleaning

Today was one of those days. The sky was blue, the air was crisp and cold, and while I had work I wanted to do, I felt like I just couldn’t think clearly anymore. After months of limited internet access, I was spending entirely too much time on Facebook. Too much time online. It was time to get in the car and go.

Originally, I had wanted to go to Crater of the Moon. Thanks to the Government Shutdown, the park is closed. I asked at my hotel if there was anything to see outside of the park. The manager said yes, but it just isn’t the same. You don’t get the sense of being on a huge lava flow from outside of the park gates.

Stumped for where I should go, I knew I didn’t want to return to the room. Not yet. My head was whirling with ideas, things I want to build, and I needed to step back and think about it, letting the dust storm settle in my mind. I asked the receptionist if there was anything in Idaho Falls that I really must see, and she said that I should head to the Swan Valley.

Damn, she was so right.

Wild Chokecherries

On the way to Swan Valley you reach a scenic viewpoint with a rest area included with this nice Valet Parking Service. I stopped to take photographs, and after watching the man gathering something from the bushes at the edge of the sidewalk. I went over to ask him what he was gathering — and it was chokecherries. He showed me what the ripe ones look like, and what they look like when they have passed the point of being ripe. Then we talked about different places to see in the area, roads off the main road I should take for great views, and our love of the mountains.

Bald Eagle in Flight - Idaho

While we were talking, I saw my first pair of bald eagles in flight! We also saw what we thought was a raven at first, but as he left the parking lot he stopped to tell me he was pretty sure it was a young eagle. Did you know their head is not white until they reach sexual maturity?

Young Eagle in Tree - Snake River, Idaho

Over and over, I’m reminded just how good people truly are. He was so delightful to talk to, and I learned so much!

Fall Color in Idaho

I drove on to Swan Valley, and then on to the Idaho / Wyoming state line, at the edge of Teton Pass to Jackson. I didn’t cross over the pass, I turned around at the border. As I was driving back I kept stopping to take photos, including these fields just outside of Victor, Idaho. That black cow was very curious about why I had stopped on the side of the road!

Cows in a Field outside Victor, Idaho

Idaho Barn outside Victor, Idaho

I stopped at a closed campground on the Targhee National Forest. Damn the man! You can’t keep me out of the campgrounds! (Well, you can, because there was no way in HELL that I was going to camp there alone at night, in the mountains, with bears, in the snow. I was still in the campground though!)

Targhee National Forest Campground

This was the treat awaiting me by the time I got back to Swan Valley. I was so overwhelmed with the amazing beauty of nature that I suddenly found myself in tears.

Mountain View in Swan Valley, Idaho

I stayed in the area to watch the sunset reflecting on the mountains, seen in the photo at the top of this post. After I soaked it all in, I headed back to Idaho Falls. Refreshed, I am now plowing through work. That drive was exactly what I needed.

Customer Service As It Should Be…

Off the beaten path in Oregon

Yesterday, in the middle of nowhere Oregon, I mapped everything out and decided I could make it as far as Boise, Idaho for the night. I need to be in Denver by Monday night for my flight to BlogHer on Tuesday, so I am trying to evenly space out the driving time over the three days. Once I picked Boise, I researched parks between where I was and where I wanted to be for camping, and when I came up with nothing in the right area, I went on to Hotwire to book a hotel room.

I did a search, selected a room in Boise, made it part way through the booking process, hit confirm … and … loading … loading … loading … nothing. Error page. I tried to look through my account on the site, and didn’t see a confirmation. I checked my email. I waited and checked my email again. Nothing.

I needed to get back on the road, so I started the process over, and booked a room in Meridian, Idaho. Everything worked, I set the address in my GPS, and I was off.

This morning, before leaving the hotel, I decided I should check my email and clear out my inbox — where I had TWO Hotwire confirmations for two different hotels. The one I stayed at in Meridian, Idaho, and the one that I thought didn’t go through for Boise.

CRAP.

I called Hotwire. Explained what happened. Braced myself to have to beg and plead for a refund – but I didn’t have to do it. The rep immediately offered up that she would refund the unused room in Boise. She completely understood. (I’m sure it helped that the room I booked was in Meridian, just a few miles away.) She was delightful and chipper. Easy to understand. We talked about my road trip, and I said that driving through Oregon was GORGEOUS. She then revealed that they were in Oregon as well, so she was familiar with the Columbia River Gorge.

No automated system. No “Press 1″ menu with a million options. Just straight through to a knowledgeable customer service agent, who was happy to help me.

I’m still a little blown away. WAY TO GO, HOTWIRE!!! You got it right. I’ve been a loyal user for at least 9 years, and I will continue to be one from here on out! I’m sure I’ll be using you again on this road trip adventure of mine.

Photo above taken with the GoPro, off the main road as I took a little detour off of I-84 just to see what else was out there. Fields, farmers, and Mt. Hood off in the distance to one direction, wind farms off to the other, I saw this beautiful farm where I was able to get a diy chicken coop idea, I think I’ll give it a try. Breathtaking around every curve of the road.