In a world where we had unlimited time, I think S and I both would have liked to push on to Craters of the Moon National Monument, which is one of Idaho’s highlights. For that matter, I would also have liked to go opal mining in Spencer, Idaho, and visit the incredibly cute Little Library in Coeur d’Alene. So much to do, so many, many miles to go.

But by Thursday morning, I was starting to get both really tired of driving and a little worried about the long, long drive back to Arcata. And unlimited time was a luxury we didn’t have. Instead of pushing on and adding more miles to the trip, we decided to take it easy and enjoy where we were by exploring the Snake River Birds of Prey conservation area.

The area is huge and we touched only the tip of the iceberg by driving a couple hours to Celebration Park, a county park that felt like a good starting place to figure out where to go and what to look at in the conservation area. In fact, it was both a good starting place and a good ending place, because the park allowed camping in their parking lot, with a river view and even better, a view of a nest of golden eagles. The eagles weren’t visible when we got there (around noon), but were likely to appear in late afternoon. There were also petroglyphs, a historic bridge, and a boat ramp where the dogs could splash into the water.

And did I mention that I was tired of driving? After visiting the visitor center at the park, we drove gingerly down an incredibly bumpy dirt road to start our exploring, then said, “You know, that was a really nice parking lot.” Instead of continuing on, we went back to the parking lot and enjoyed a quiet afternoon.

There was a little wandering around the vicinity — S checked out the petroglyphs; and some sitting at the picnic tables watching birds and reading; and also some very pleasant quiet time hanging out inside Serenity. The day was windy and dry, but sunny, with temperatures that sort of hovered in the “no matter what you wear, you’re not going to be quite comfortable” range. I tried out all my different layers, searching for the one that would be not too hot, not too cold, and feeling much like Goldilocks unable to find the Little Bear’s jacket. But we did get to see the golden eagle swooping in around 4PM, which was very satisfying, and lots of other birds, too. My favorite was a magpie — they have such great tails. I’m definitely hoping for a chance to get a picture of one before we move on.

The Snake River, seen through trees
The view from the picnic table with the best view. We didn’t actually spend much time there, though, because it was so close to the water that it was very muddy. In my camping equation, a great view is not worth letting a white dog play in the mud.