I have two lists I use when packing for TourAlongs:
- The Drumming TourAlongs List.
- The Vacation TourAlongs List.
TourAlong lists make packing easy.
Imagine my flummoxification as I prepared for a Climbing TourAlong.
I hadn't packed for a trip like this in years!
- Fluffy pillows? HEY! WE'RE NOT
- Suit cases, climbing gear tote,
road trip tote, towels, pots, cups, camp stove, dish soap, kitchen sink,
and two coolers?
Holy Household, Batman! That's one crammed Subaru!
But there Natalie and I were: Thursday morning, 10:00 a.m., Jackie and Jack Kerouac hittin' the road and not stoppin' for anything.
Until it was time to eat...
Join me at the TourAlong's
picnic table for bite-sized picture-caption morsels!
Anticipation of camp cooking "as the
sun sets slowly in the west" is a romantic thought, but as we
passed through Burley, Idaho, civilization's last outpost before the City
of Rocks, our stomachs gnawed for road trip food.
Shunning Subway and
Burger King, we found authenticity at Taco
Bandido! The Bandido's parking lot was full; a sure sign of quality
any experienced traveler knows to look for. And, as we entered the Bandido, we
noted the senorita running the show was authentic as well.
Two thumbs up! This was going to be mucho awesome…
And WOW did the Bandido deliver the goods! Look at this culinary
wonder. Finely ground beef, delicately shredded iceberg lettuce, a hint of
cheese, all wrapped in a shimmering tortilla. And not a molecule of spice to
needlessly distract from the bland flavors for which our neighbors to the south
Bravo! Or should I say, "Bien Hecho!"
We were SO glad we each ordered TWO of the Bandido's taco logs.
I kid you not: The
bathroom sign at Taco Bandido. Something tells me this is the universal sign
for, "Stand back amigos, something's about to blow!"
At 10,399 ft., Cache Peak dominates the
skyline. In winter, the Cache Peak massif generates its own weather. In fact,
the Pomerelle Mountain Resort on its north slope boasts 500 inches of annual snowfall.
On Cache Peak's southern slope, at
6,000 ft., the City of Rocks rests in classic Idaho high mountain desert
composed of sage brush, aspen, juniper, pinyon pine, and cactus. Drive two
miles south of the City and you hit the Book of Mormon Belt, aka Utah,
where drinking a beer on a Sunday is met with a frown. Hike 50 miles west
and you hit the jackpot in Jackpot, Nevada, where you can gamble, drink,
and—as of this July—smoke pot.
I'm going to incorporate a new town, named Toddleton,
smack dab on the trifecta border of Idaho, Utah, and Nevada just to see
Gun shootin' Mormon
bookin' Pot smokin' YEHAW! That's Toddleton!
While much of the City's granite
is part of the 28 million year old Almo Pluton, there are portions comprised of
the Green Creek Complex's 2.5 billion year old
Fast forward 2.5 billion years and the City was home to the Shoshone
and Bannock tribes, whose lifestyle was disrupted by European immigrants in the
16th century, and was eventually decimated by throngs heading west during the
California gold rush. In 1852, an estimated 52,000 gold seekers passed through
the City via the California Trail. Today, the City is frequented by smelly
climbers... and campers (not quite as smelly).
Why it's a REUNION! Ray Brooks (two
thumbs up) has organized a climbing gathering at the City for years. At this
year's event (my first) a notable number of former Moscow, Idaho, residents
were in attendance. From left to right: Scott Spiker, MOI, Ray, Gary Clark,
Mark Jonas, Dave Savage, and Chris Savage.
1. Gary Clark was my 8th grade math teacher and climbing mentor. One way or
another, Gary's positive nature and love of the outdoors and adventure
influenced everyone pictured; he's still climbing and adventuring at a high
2. Ray Brooks gave me my first real job, working first as a janitor, and then
as a sales person at the shop he owned in Moscow—Northwestern Mountain
Wait a minute! My FIRST real job was delivering newspapers! And here's a photo
to prove it!
|Yep! The Daily Idahonian's Junior Dealer for 1971 shaking hands with Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus! This handshake catapulted Andrus to become a two-term governor for the State of Idaho and serve as Secretary of the Interior in the Carter Administration. You're welcome, Mr. Secretary.|
Mark Jonas in the awkward and difficult
crack, Bloody Fingers. If you're new to this, climbing routes have
fun names, kind of like rock bands. Some you can say on the radio; others maybe
The fog around Mark's waist is gymnastic chalk dust from the bag in which his
right hand is reaching. Chalk's used to keep fingers and hands dry.
Mark makes climbs look easy; I fell twice on this one.
|Gary Clark (lower left) on Built for Comfort at the Upper Bread Loaves. The climber to the upper
right is on Love Handles. Climbs at the
City are often in close proximity to one another. Believe it or not, there are
five established climbs in this photo.|
|Lynn Clark mastering a granite
slab at Castle Rocks, a sister climbing area of the City proper and every bit
as good. Slab climbing never looks steep... until you're the one looking down.|
Suzie and her daughter, Bradi, run Rock City Mercantile in Almo.
filled with juxtapositions. It's down-home rural Idaho and Mormon; it's
often overrun with rock climbers and campers; and it manages to maintain a
sleepy feel. There's not much in Almo, yet it has exactly what you need.
Suzie and Bradi run a tight ship at Rock City—in their unique way. Every
table, inside or out, starts with a "Reserved" sign. That's because you
have to check-in with Suzie and order your pizza. THEN you can sit down at a "reserved" table.
What do you want to drink? Go to the cooler and grab your beer, wine, water, or
pop. Drink it! Just keep the empties on your table so they can be tallied up
when you check out. It's a super easy, efficient system.
And then there's the pizza. Four small, modern ovens crank out the best thin
crust pizza I've had this side of Corsica. They are really, really good.
Suzie, Bradi, and everyone at Rock City are cool.
You should eat pizza and shop there.
Gary past the crux of Zinger at
Here's a fun fact: When I was a kid, I watched the University of Idaho's
marching band practice; they practiced every afternoon on a grass field
between our house and campus. The drum line was inspiring. And the drum
major was exceptional. Wearing a white uniform, a crazy-tall hat, and
wielding a baton, this guy could fly down the field with
commitment and style.
Many year's later, I learned that drum major was Gary.
studied our climbing while simultaneously snapping a few photos and keeping squirrels and lizards at bay
and away from our rucksacks. She thinks she caught the climbing bug. We'll
see... There might be new magic shoes in her stocking next Christmas.|
Side view of Zinger with
Gary profiled at the lower right. Lynn and I are at the second belay point
at the upper left. There was no true ledge at the any of the three belay points
on the climb, just tiny footholds to squirm around on while hanging on the anchors. Photo courtesy of Natalie.
Getting up early and climbing in the shade and away from the heat paid off. We
beat the other climbers and were on having lunch in Almo by noon.
And THAT'S how
Mark Jonas and I have known each other
since 7th grade.
Believe it or not, we spent a month the summer of 1974 driving and climbing in Grand Teton National Park. We had a great time. We climbed a bunch, ate lots of mac-n-cheese, and survived.
Today, parents would be charged
with child neglect. And that's a problem.
At the northern foot of Cache Peak rests Albion, Idaho. Did you know "Albion" is the archaic name for Great Britain? It IS! And, from 1893 to 1951, the Albion Normal School awarded 6,460 teaching degrees, including one to Terrance Bell, who served as Secretary of Education in President Reagan's original cabinet. And get this: The school's athletic teams were known as the "Teachers" until 1935.
The haunted mansion was not open the Sunday we passed through on our way home, but come on!... Haunted Mansions of Albion, a SCHOOL of CHAOS... how cool is that! Complete with crowned skulls no less!
Packing list or not, we had exactly what we needed at the City and, thanks to Suzie and Bradi at Rock City Mercantile, we never had to warm up the cans of beef stew as the sun set slowly in the west. Nope! We had pizza, salad, and beer.
For a weekend, all was well in the world.
From Jack and Jackie Kerouac, Rock On!
Stay tuned... More from TourAlongWithTodd is coming soon...
Until then... Ciao!
On the path to Castle Rocks. Some of the best Idaho has to offer.
Very Nice Todd. Especially cool to finally see the retro group pix. I may borrow and repost as I never got a copy. Wow is Gary talented, drum major?!?! Never knew.....ReplyDelete
Borrow and repost far and wide, Scott!Delete
Perhaps your best blog yet, Todd. Of course, one must consider the competition :-) <- (little sideways smiley face to show that I'm not really serious). The highlight of the trip might just have been the reunion with all the Moscow ex-pats. I'm glad to see that they all grew up to be hugely successful adults, due ENTIRELY to their instruction in mathematics when they were 14.ReplyDelete
I had no idea the reunion would include such a cast of characters!Delete
And you're correct about the correlation between life success and mathematic instruction at age 14. For instance, consider the Bacon Principle formula:
Bacon + bacon + bacon + fire = :O = :)
OR, as you taught us, and is etched in our hearts:
It is also interesting that you included a photo and a note about Albion Normal School. Among the dignitaries who earned their teaching certificates there was my father. According to Chaos Theory, it is highly likely that I would have never existed had this school not been founded. There are those who think that wouldn't have necessarily been a bad thing. :-(ReplyDelete
OK, that's too weird and super cool at the same time!Delete