We just got back from being lost . . . in another world. Really. Well, kinda.
We were returning from a quick trip to visit some friends and as we passed through Idaho, we saw a sign for “City of Rocks”. My husband had heard of it, and getting a wild hair, we took a family vote. Do we go – which would add several hours to our trip – or do we head straight home? The kids voted to go.
We turned at the sign. The civilized world gradually disappeared and we hoped we were going the right way. Our GPS wasn’t helping. It kept rebooting and didn’t recognize the road we were on.
Wind spread a thin veil of smoke from a distant forest fire, leaving everything hazy. Which was very cool, considering what we were looking at. There were rolling hills covered with scrubby cedar trees and sagebrush. We passed more than one ancient collapsing log home. It was like going back in time to the west – before it was wild.
It took forever, but finally, finally, there it was, the turnoff for the City of Rocks National Reserve. We held onto our dental fillings as we jittered down the dirt road with enough ripples to make a washboard jealous.
Funny shaped hills rose up, looking for all the world like the famous karst mountains of Guilin, China.
We reached this awesome crumbing house. There was no roof, only some walls, and the wind whistled through it like a bad 70’s western movie. Wow! (Click on the picture to make it bigger.)
We drove on and soon saw shadowy forms protruding from the distance.
Formations materialized. Lumpy rocks appeared. The western look was gone. Now I saw the way nature sculped, with a haphazard genius that leaves the onlooker to decide. This one seemed to be something off Easter Island, a comical face with an overly large nose:
Hm. Sentinels at a gateway?
A field of either hobbit houses (girls’ choice) or dinosaur droppings (boys’ choice):
A castle wall with spires:
This was better than cloud-watching and there were millions of natural exhibits, all carefully placed like the hall of a museum.
We came to another field littered with huge lonely rocks. The sun rotated through patchy clouds, casting weak spotlights over an alien landscape.
We pulled over and the kids emerged from the car to stretch. We were next to a huge rock pile – at least that’s what it looked like to us. To the kids, it was a jungle gym, a maze, a climbing wall. It didn’t take long for them to scramble off.
My husband and I went too, finding little passageways through the rocks, similar to the slot canyons of Utah or Arizona. We explored, slid, took off our shoes (it was easier to climb the stones that way) and quickly got stickers in our feet. What the heck are stickers doing way up on bald rocks? Oh well. All part of life’s odyssey.
After a half hour, the kids wandered back to the car. All but a daughter. My husband and I circled the pile one more time. And there she was on a stone that balanced like a monster egg on top a peanut. It was a Pebbles Flintstone moment.
We took off again, the kids happily chattering about which part they liked best.
Most of the wildlife stayed hidden, except for hawks. We probably passed ten while we were there in the reserve. But then we neared a huge bird sitting on the fence. We slowed and inched forward. It took off.
I’m not sure, but I think it was an eagle – not a bald one, a golden eagle. It was so huge, it couldn’t have been a hawk. I see why the forefathers picked the eagle as our national bird. In flight, it’s breathtaking.
It circled and soared, and to our surprise, didn’t leave, not even after five minutes. It came ever closer, framed by rock and sky.
My sharp-eyed husband noticed a fresh rabbit kill. We were disturbing dinner.
Reluctantly, we pulled out to make our way back through time, back to the real world. Sigh.
We hadn’t even planned this trip, or brought a road map, because originally, we knew exactly where we were going. Now we weren’t quite sure where we were.
We could backtrack an hour to the freeway . . . or trust our GPS, which to be honest, hadn’t been very specific the last little bit. To be fair, we hadn’t updated the GPS since we bought it four or five years ago.
Still, casting our lot to the fates, we plugged in our address and chose to follow our little black box.
It REALLY took us out into the boonies. We drove down more dirt roads of even more antiquated quality, and didn’t see a single car the whole time. The one road sign we saw gave a different name than the one the GPS showed.
The time came when the GPS told us to take a right (imagine a breathy female voice) “in point 1 miles” – and there was no road. At all. Just a field. We could see another dirt road far on the other side. Hm.
My hubby and I looked at each other. Do we dare? We looked at the field, our eyes finding a fence. Nope.
We continued down our wrong-named dirt road, while the GPS calmly said, “Recalculating.” (Don’t you love it when it does this?) This time it DID take us to an actual road that DID take us to the actual freeway.
We were really glad the GPS was only messing with us and knew where we were the whole time.
I sighed and felt the stress fall away one layer at a time.
At least we got to ride off into the sunset . . . going 75 miles per hour . . . on a freeway I was familiar with . . . in an air-conditioned vehicle . . . munching on grapes.
What's the best time you've ever been lost?