From the March 2017 issue
Last month I drove our Honda Pilot to a resort in Ashton, Idaho, to fish on the Henry’s Fork. The route led me through the Idaho National Laboratory, home of the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I, not to mention Mud Lake and Atomic City. I am still glowing.
I wound up shelling out about $100 for every trout I caught, although a 22-inch brownie—“six kinds of awesome,” said the guide—induced a kind of fiscal amnesia. But then it began snowing, so I opted to drive home via the quickest route. The Honda’s nav system suggested U.S. 20 north, then west on Idaho’s Fort Henry Historic Byway. The byway, marked as “scenic,” would lead to the village of Spencer and the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, both on I-15. I estimated that the byway was perhaps 25 miles long.
The road started out fine, paved and everything, with maybe three inches of snow and exactly no human beings. I knew when the pavement ended because the Pilot leapt six inches skyward after fording what I later learned had been a small stream. After that, there was just mud, interrupted by gravel swales and potholes the size of kiddie pools. In some places, the snow eradicated the road altogether. I can’t remember exceeding 12 mph. An ugly front rolled in, with purple clouds rear-ending each other on the Centennial Mountains a couple miles north. The Pilot’s altimeter indicated I was never below 5500 feet. The GPS showed a little icon resembling a dung beetle spinning in circles on a blank brown field of, well, excrement, it seemed to me.