The rather famous cartoon canine Scooby Do has a two-word pet reprise he repeats often in his TV and movie roles: "Rock On." Echoes of that doggy ditty rattled 'round my brain over the weekend as Susun, Spudboater and Little Yonni soaked up the splendor and basked in the beauty at City of Rocks.
It was almost precisely two years to the day when we last visited this strange and wonderful granitic garden. Once again on this trip we promised each other we would do an annual Columbus Day weekend trip there every year forever (at least as long as our own "forevers" allow). We sure hope we keep that promise!
The word "enchanting" is often used in rather specious and dubious contexts. What really IS enchanting? Well, we can tell you without doubt that The City of Rocks is clearly enchanting. Use of the word "enchanting" to describe City of Rock is actually somewhat of an understatement. There are really no apt words to portray the look, feel and collective impact of City of Rocks. It is a place practically without peer. Yes, there are many magical and often mystical landmarks and landscapes spread out across our Glorious Globe. Although City of Rocks is but a tiny little gemstone in Earth's glittering crown of such places, it sits alone in the sheer strangeness of its rock spires and skyscrapers.
A visit to City of Rocks offers a renewal of our awe for Earth's power and prowess to daze and dazzle the eyes, hearts and spirits of mere humans. Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Yosemite and other such majestic icons are obviously bigger and more overwhelming in the scope and scape of their own charms. Yet City of Rock's small size becomes somehow more up close and personal while still connecting the visitor with thoughts of time eternal and primal forces beyond our feeble imaginations. City of Rocks is endearing and enjoyable in ways that the larger landscapes lack. This trip brought all of the above thoughts home to heart once again and reminded us of what we love that little place so much. City of Rocks is to Earth's gorgeous geology what a news bulletin is to a breaking story of global interest--a nano-glimpse into the vastness of our world.
Back when America was digging its way out of The Great Depression, the federal government paid legions of writers to prepare a book about each of the 48 states. Idaho's edition was published in 1937. We love an anonymous writer's description of City of Rocks back then: "The whole chaotic, drunkenly fantastic region runs through such a variety of erosive change..." Aye! Chaotic, indeed! Rock ON!
We left Idaho Falls about 8:30 Friday under a heavy, foggy overcast with a light rainy mist in the air. The farther south we drove, the better the weather became. It was easy to see that it had rained hard the night before, sugar beet fields were mud bogs with large pools of standing water everywhere. Soon the overcast began to turn beautifully blue as puffy clouds pranced amid the sunshine.
We drove up to the City of Rocks Visitor Center about 11:30 and within less than 60 seconds, Spudboater drove right in behind us. Our mutual timing was perfect and we three knew right then and there that we had embarked on a perfect weekend outing. We drove up the wet and sometimes muddy road into "The City," as it is called by the locals. The place was surprisingly busy. Rock climbers dangled here and there like earrings on the granite lobes. The main parking lot was nearly full. As we drove higher, we hit the snowline and some snow it was. The first campsite we pulled into sported a picnic table covered with six inches of snow! Brrr....
While Susun held that chilly spot, we drove off in search of the perfect campsite and actually found it--Site #37, about a quarter mile downhill from the Bath Rock parking lot and, fortunately, well below the snowline. Although the ground was saturated, at least it wasn't covered with cold snow. SB proclaimed the camp site the best drive-up car camp site she had ever seen. Susun and I easily agreed. Everything about it was wonderful and it easily provided one of the finest camp site views any of us could remember.
After setting up camp and relaxing for awhile, we went off hiking along the Creekside Towers and then down South Fork Creek to The Stairway. Happy Hour was a delightful occasion. Spudboater brought six boxes of the finest cured camp fire wood and we enjoyed some of the best camp fires we've had in a really long time.
We had a great time setting up Scooby Doo, Wholly Cow, Mickey, Minnie, Nors, Greta Garbo Goat, The Four Potato Heads and Jack and Seren Dippity. Oh, how our mascots frolicked this weekend. The Potato Heads were the stars of the weekend show and behaved admirably as "scene stealers" throughout the trip.
Sunday developed into one of those rare, pristine, absolutely knock-out fall days we all so dearly love. After a lazy morning, we set off on a great 2.5 hour hike simply milling around on the short Disneyland-style trails that honeycomb to and fro amid the granite's grandeur.
Spudboater fixed a tremendous Sunday evening Thai dinner. She fed us most of our food on this trip and really went the Extra Mile to being a smile to our happy meals. We tried to play some extreme croquet but it proved to be extremely extreme and we gave up after one of the balls went over a cliff and dived a couple of hundred feet into oblivion. Perhaps there really is actually a limit to where you can play extreme croquet after all.
Rocking On in The City is not just soaking up the scenery and pondering the pluton, it's all about history, too. You see, City of Rocks is place where you can peek at a pivotal chapter of our Nation's past. Untold tens of thousands of pilgrims plodded past on The California Trail with dreams of golden riches fueling their futures. One can look out across the horizon and see ghostly imaginations of their long and dusty wagon trains.
Susun entertained us at the Sunday campfire with her own version of DWTS--that's "Dancing With The Susun." She used a few of those glow-in-the-dark light wands to put on quite an entertaining show.
After such a fine weekend, we all packed rather slowly on Monday morning and drove back out of The City about 11 am. The trip back to Idaho Falls went quickly. It seemed like in no time at all, we were home and facing our own City Chores here once again. There was stuff to unpack, a lawn to be mowed, errands to run and more. Susun quickly reverted into her Social Butterfly self and flitted off with Shirley G. to attend "The Muslims Are Coming" show at the Colonial Theater with about 250 other eclectic souls.
The rain began falling not long after we mowed the yard. Somehow, we managed to squeeze into two days wonderful at The City between two big storms--one on Friday night and the next one on Monday night. Somehow, we knew it was going to be a perfect weekend when we both arrived within seconds of each other at the Visitor Center Saturday. And, you know what? Somehow it was!
Thanks, Spudboater, for getting us "out there" and Thanks for doing so much in so many ways to make some magical moments in The City.
We will be posting photos--we took hundreds of pictures--sometime soon.
Have a great day & Many Cheers, jp