Mountain home a.f.b.
and surrounding area
For those of you (un)lucky (opinions vary!) enough never to have visited Mountain Home AFB, here are a few words and pictures about the place. The first thing to remember is that when people say "Oh, Idaho - I've seen pictures of Idaho, it's beautiful!" that they are NOT talking about Mountain Home. Now I've nothing in particular against MH myself, I liked it, but I wouldn't describe it as 'beautiful' :)
This picture was taken from an airliner on the way to Las Vegas from Boise. The flight path took us right over the base, which was a bit of a bonus. This is just before overflying the base and shows a feature known as "Crater Rings". (I-84 can be seen crossing in the upper part of the picture from left to right) Did you know they were there? No? Neither did we (and this was our second time at MH) until we flew over them! Anyhow, the main point of this picture is to show how dry and relatively featureless the area is - especially if you're expecting the mountains, crystal-clear lakes and huge tracts of pine trees that your relations told you about :)
[PS: Crater Rings are pit craters - the remnants of liquid lava lakes way back before you were born. They're about 300ft deep, and can't be seen from the main roads in the area.... hence the surprise at seeing them from the air!]
Here's the general area of the base (the gate is down the road to the left, the vehicle shown is leaving the base). Another view of the flat and featureless plain - just perfect for an airbase! The mountains on the horizon are the Owhyee Mountains, and usually look their best in winter when covered in snow.
And speaking of airbase, here is "Airbase Road" which I'm sure you will be astonished to discover leads from the town to the base (and, even more astonishingly, from the base to the town!). The mountains in this direction are the Danskins and are much smaller than the Owhyees (it's a perspective thing dontcha know) but also look their best in winter. Take some time to admire the lovely straight road - just what you need for an emergency runway for your WWII bomber base. Plus there's that other thing about "the shortest way between two points" :)
Another straight road, this one part of I-84 between Mountain Home and Boise. After living in the UK I now have new appreciation for these lovely wide, straight, verged roads ;)
About 15 miles out of Boise is a wonderful place called the Boise Stage Stop. OK, so I like truck stops! They are always full of the most delightful stereotypes such as older waitresses who call you Darlin' and keep refilling your coffee without being asked. Love them! Anyhow, at one point they also had this - the Truckers Chapel. Another of those "Only in America" experiences :)
Back to the base. Here are a few pictures of the Heritage Park aircraft. Apparently there is now (mid 2005) a new addition - an F-15C. For you anoraks, no, I don't know the serial number - sorry :)
There are many sights to see on base, and many of the local residents are..... well...... if not friendly, then at least visible:
Yes, that's a coyote trotting along between the base hospital and a section of housing. I'm not sure what they eat - the base has plenty of rabbits, whistle-pigs, and people's small furry pets! There is something rather special about a dead still night and the sound of coyotes, though.
More local residents - tumbleweeds! Believe it or not, in the first picture practically all of the variation in topography is due to a MASSIVE pile of tumbleweeds. They build up against the wire fence that runs alongside Airbase Road and the pile just grows and grows. Sooner or later - as here - the pile is completely unmanageable. Then the council comes out and sets fire to the lot, which is extremely spectacular (tumbleweeds don't burn so much as they explosively combust). The second picture shows how the streets in base housing end up after a tumbleweed 'migration' :)
In winter (after tumbleweed season) there is the occasional fall of snow. This wouldn't be so bad if Mountain Home knew how to plough, but apparently they don't.......at least not until after it's stopped snowing for a few hours. So if you want to drive somewhere 3 hours into snowfall and it shows no sign of stopping, you're out of luck! The second picture is a particularly fine example of Christmas Illuminatus Amiercanus. Enough said ;)
Despite what some people say (Mountain Home AFB seems to have large groups of both passionate fans and sworn enemies), there is plenty to see and do in the local area. As long as you like geology. I do (as you could probably tell from the Crater Rings fuss). Here's a lovely bit of geology:
Nice, eh? :) Despite liking geology, I actually know very little about it - but I'd guess this is probably a basalt lava flow across either an older, more eroded flow, or a non-volcanic bit of rock. Plausible? Interesting anyhow :)
From the same site as the bit of geology above, here's the Snake River. You can clearly see how far vertically into the basalt plains it has channeled.
More geology :) This is Shoshone Falls which is on the Snake River near the town of Twin Falls (east of Mountain Home). Apparently it's really spectacular when in full flow *cough* If you don't believe me, look it up! It must be true, as it has been a hydroelectric plant since 1907. Currently capable of producing 12,500 kW :) (just not at the time this photo was taken).
The picture above is of the Snake River and one example of waterfalls that are part of the "Thousand Springs" area. The water comes from the Snake River Plains aquifer, which covers up to 10,800 square miles. In the upper 500ft of the basalt that conducts the water there is estimated to be 300 million acre feet - which, so they say, is about the same as Lake Erie. And I know THAT is big :) The whole plains area (including around Mountain Home) slopes ever so gently in the direction of the river. The rain and snow percolates down through the basalt and gradually works it's way down until it reaches the river as seen above. The aquifer is also how Mountain Home AFB gets it's water - wells. Well, well well! (three holes in the ground) See, I did remember SOME proper geology (and an old joke, too) :) So next time someone tells you MH is dry as the proverbial, you can tell them they're wrong......the water just isn't on the top ;)
North of the Mountain Home is the more mountainous region of Idaho that gets all the good press. Just a short drive away are the Pine and Featherville areas, which is where these two pictures were taken. Pretty! Apparently the beavers don't think so, and would rather the place was a swamp. Damn beavers. Bah. Further North will take you into the resort area of Sun Valley, where a lot of the rich, famous, or rich AND famous people have their "little cabins".
To the West of Mountain Home is Boise, which offers some civilisation - such as rugby! Yes, there is hope yet for Idaho :) Here's a couple of pictures from a Snake River Rugby Club game http://www.snakeriverrugby.com/
Ah, and that is Lance
Storm's rear view - one of the best bits of scenery I've seen in Boise :)
Another interesting thing to see in Boise is the Idaho Military History Museum. It has lots of fascinating stuff (a lot of it from the Idaho National Guard's history, but also plenty of other military-related material) and the staff are very friendly and helpful. One particularly handsome member of staff is Hum. Hum shows that (a) sidestick controllers are perfect for those with tails, and (b) F-16 pilots are pussies!
And that's about it for my summary of Mountain Home AFB and the area. For more try:
www.mountainhome.af.mil (for the Base)
http://www.ci.mountain-home.id.us/ (for the town)
http://inghro.state.id.us/museum/ (for the House of Hum)
As these websites can do a lot better job than I can on telling you important things about these places :)
Go back if you want to see anything else :)