Bowl of pancake batter in hand, I peeked into the kitchen at the Almo Outpost Steakhouse to ask if they'd mind cooking our pancakes on their stovetop, since our kitchenette next door only had a microwave. Almo Idaho, population 140, is in the middle of nowhere, so we didn't have many other options.
"I'm too busy to cook your pancakes, but you can come back here and cook them yourself!" the 50-ish lady told me as she placed a heavy cast iron pan on the stove. She reached for one of the 20 plastic bottles of melted butter she kept above the stove, squeezed a generous amount of butter into the pan, handed me a spatula, and suddenly I was having my first experience as a short order cook.
I enjoyed visiting with the lady as we cooked. She was good at multi-tasking, and fast, even using a pair of scissors to cut the toast, explaining that it was faster than cutting with a knife. She lives about 15 miles south of Almo, just over the Utah border.
My friends Dori, Brittney, and Melissa loved the pancakes; they were the best I'd ever cooked. (The butter helped, I'm sure!) The four of us were staying in Almo because of its location at the entrance to the City of Rocks National Reserve. Actually, to be precise, only Dori and I were staying at the comfortable and beautifully decorated Almo Inn, which looked all cute and quaint, like this:
Brittney and Melissa preferred to camp inside City of Rocks, rather than stay at the Inn. Here we are setting up their tent:
Who needs tools when you've got rocks?
Within a few yards of their campsite were all sorts of amazing things, like this ledge:
And a spot for meditation:
And holes big enough for three people to fit within:
City of Rocks is a mecca for technical rock climbers. I'm too chicken to be a rock climber, but wanted visit there because it's mentioned in the US & Canada version of the "1000 Places to See Before You Die" book. When Brittney mentioned her rock climbing class while she, her mom Dori, and I were walking in our neighborhood a few months ago, I was excited to see if they wanted to plan a trip together. Brittney brought along her wonderful friend Melissa, who has taken several climbing classes too.
Here we are in front of Dori's pickup truck, ready to leave Salt Lake City. Since none of the roads at City of Rocks are paved, we were happy to have a truck:
Here's a photo of us "bouldering", or climbing on rocks without gear.
Melissa is especially good at it, reaching the top of this place called Elephant Rock.
Here's Melissa with rubber rock climbing shoes in her right hand, with their pointed toes so she can hang onto narrow cracks in the rock with them:
Here she is with more of her climbing gear:
Here she is, climbing:
Here's Brittney climbing:
Here's Melissa, squeezing through a little cave:
Here we are, studying the best route up the "swiss cheese" climb.
Dori and I didn't climb, but enjoyed hiking through the area. We saw cool trees growing out of rocks, like this one:
And rocks precariously balanced, like this one:
And cool wavy rocks, like this one:
And arches, like this one:
Here I am taking a photo of water cascading down rocks:
We saw lots of amazing technical rock climbers:
We had a great time saying "Breaker Breaker" and any other radio lingo we could think of over our walkie talkies:
And showing each other our talents. Here's a little video of Dori making bird sounds:
And Brittney making a throat sound:
And me showing my talent for smiling cheesy smiles:
It was a fun place to spend Memorial Day with friends!