Thursday, September 24, 2009

Idaho Falls

This is the view just steps from where my work meeting was held. It's a nice metaphor for the whole state, I think: beautiful country; crazy religion (that's a Mormon Temple in the background).

If you're not familiar with the origin of the Mormons, let me just condense it down for you: in 1893, a white salamander told a dude named Joseph Smith where he could find a set of golden plates (or tablets) which were buried in a hill in Manchester, New York. These plates had previously been guarded by an angel named "Moroni". Yes, Moroni. Our friend Mr. Smith then spent the next few years dictating his translation of what was supposedly written on the plates in a language called "reformed Egyptian" to his wife. Smith also channeled the "voice of God" during this time, producing a whole new set of commandments. THEN, Smith returned the plates to Moroni, who was still apparently hanging around on that same hill in New York all this time (five plus years).

All of these writings form the basis for the Book of Mormon. Conveniently for Joseph Smith and all his apostles (yes he had apostles just like somebody else we know and...oh! Several of them saw the tablets before they got dropped back off with Moroni), the Mormon Deity was completely down with these guys having more than one wife. This all changed after they settled Utah, and the US government absolutely refused to admit them as a state unless they cut that shit out. Then, well, they reconsulted God and God was all like, yah, you should totally cut that out. And...presto! Statehood!

I know there are factions of Mormons who still practice polygamy and after questioning people in the city here about it (inquiring minds and all that) I'm told the pluralist Mormons live more in the southwest, like, in Arizona. The Mormons that rule Idaho and Nevada and Utah are just your regular garden variety salamander-believing one-wife, no-caffeine Mormons. Or at least that's what I was told today during my scientific investigation that consisted of me talking to the retired teacher at the antique store. So, obviously, as with all my research, you can totally take that shit to the bank.

Why they call it Idaho Falls: this here very long waterfall that runs through the center of town. You can still see the same Church of of the Latter Day Salamander in the far background. I snapped this from the walking trail portion of the bridge that crosses the falls. [Note to my now traumatized Mother: Yes, I was on a walking trail in broad daylight where the serial killers obviously lurk. Luckily, I've learned to recognize and deter serial killers primarily by singing "At Last" in my worst, most nasally and obnoxious Chicago Girl voice. Not even the sickest of serial killers wants to knock me over the head and drag me off to their windowless panel van after that. Trust me.]

And, really, though beautiful, that's obviously not a natural waterfall. It's a diversion dam built to generate hydroelectric power. The original dam was built in the early 1900's and the dam as it is today was updated in the early 1980's. This dam, along with three others like it, produce 50% of all the electricity required to keep Idaho Falls up and running. Without all this diversion and some fancy irrigating, Idaho Falls would be one dry-assed city, situated as it is, in the high Idaho dessert. Sort of like Las Vegas only not as hot and with fewer casinos. (Also, more Mormons I'm guessing.)

Wisely, Idaho Falls constructed a beautiful walking trail that circles the picturesque dam so out-of-towners like myself can risk life and limb snapping photos and enjoying the beautiful scenery during a stroll from the hotel to the downtown. I'm not going to lie to you, shopping Idaho Falls is not exactly like shopping Jackson Hole. Not by a long shot. But still. No complaints here. It was a lovely, lovely day. Even if it was pretty much all kitch (sp?).

My lunch at the Snake Bite Cafe: a Snake Bite Burger and house salad. If you look closely, you can sorta see the hot sauce leaking out the bottom. Like most of the western food I've eaten, it was perfectly fine. I have not, however, had any delicious food on this trip that would challenge my basic theory that the closer one is to New Orleans, the better food tastes. And that the southern United States produces, on average, the best tasting food in the whole country. This excludes the metropolitan areas which obviously attract top chefs at upscale restaurants who cook disproportionately delicious dishes. I'm talking here about just your regular food and the luck you might have at a highway diner. You're much better off in the south in that situation, in my opinion. And in New Orleans? There is no bad food. At least I've never had any.

So! That's it then. I know you'd love to listen to all my half-baked theories all night but, people, I have to pack! And return to the homeland bright and early tomorrow morning. I have yet to edit my photos from the remainder of Yellowstone, the Tetons, and Jackson Hole. I'd say I'll do that real soon, but you know how that's been going lately. It's a wonder I've posted anything.

See you on the other side.


Real Pretty Thangs and Crap said...

Where did you get the salamander thing? I've never heard that version before. Honestly, I would like to know. Did you just make that up for interests sake, or did you hear it from someone?

Malissa said...

I live in Idaho Falls. I am NOT Mormon. But I do know there are quite a few polygamist families on the down low in the area and surrounding rural areas.

Mantis said...

I used to live in Idaho falls and now live in Miami, where yes there is real food and shopping shut up every brand name known on earth! Unfortunately my poor parents are stuck in Idaho. I heard probably from the same antique dealer that Mormons will come to the antique store to look for very old books of Mormon, buy them and unceremoniously (sp) burn them in the parking lot! Hmmm....

piter thomas said...

Welcome to the Best Western Driftwood Inn. This well-equipped Idaho Falls hotel features all the amenities you need for a great stay on your next visit!