May 1: Idan-Ha Drive In Theatre, Soda Springs ID

photo by arbyreed, from the Carload Flickr pool

It’s Day 121 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey, what you might consider the start of the middle third of the year. My drive was a very fast straight two-hour shot up the interstates from the Motor Vu Drive-In Theatre in Riverdale UT to the Idan-Ha Drive In Theatre in Soda Springs ID.

When did the Idan-Ha open? A 2013 article in the Idaho State Business Journal claimed it “has been a part of Soda Springs for nearly 60 years,” but that raises a couple of questions.

Some time around 1953, the Dawn-a-Vu Drive-In opened for business, built by Donald M. Mendenhall and named for his daughter, Elnora Dawn. Its capacity was about 300 cars. In my copies of the International Motion Picture Almanac, the only drive-in in Soda Springs from 1959 through 1976 is the Dawn-a-Vu. In the 1982 IMPA, the Dawn-a-Vu is gone but the Idan-Ha is listed, with a capacity of 200. There’s now a car dealership that extends into what could have been back rows of the drive-in. I can’t find any confirmation anywhere, but I’m guessing it just changed names around 1980. Update: A note from the current Idan-Ha crew said, “I am uncertain when the name changed but I thought that it happened when Owen owned it in the 80’s.” Bingo!

Back to that article, Idan-Ha head Jeff Bowen was afraid the drive-in would have to close after the 2013 season because it didn’t have a digital projector yet. “Bowen runs the drive-in mostly as a hobby and said he is ready to retire, but he already has someone lined up to take over the venture if it doesn’t close,” it said. Something worked; the Idan-Ha’s Facebook page listed movies from its first post in September 2014 through the 2016 season.

The Idan-Ha typically runs a short season; in 2016, it was from mid-May to the end of August. It’s also unusual in showing just a single movie every night, but that’s typically all I need before hitting the sack. On the first day of May, I was able to hit the sack early.

Miles Today / Total:  138 / 13298 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 55

Nearby Restaurant: The Arctic Circle is a restaurant chain, but only a regional chain mostly in Utah and Idaho. As the name implies, it’s partly an ice cream shop, but it also dishes up some fine burgers at very reasonable prices. Its French fries come with a unique fry sauce that beats the heck out of ketchup, and I loved my made-to-order chocolate malt.

Where I Virtually Stayed: There’s no elevator, but there’s plenty of history at Enders Hotel & Museum, which was built 100 years ago. The bed in my room was comfy, and the old hissing radiator reminded me of an apartment where I used to live. It came with a voucher for breakfast at the Geyser View Restaurant, so I could stay wrapped in the past while I watched a geyser that actually wasn’t there when the hotel was built. (See below.)

Only in Soda Springs: Soda Springs has a geyser that’s even more faithful than Old Faithful. According to Wikipedia, on November 30, 1937, a well drilling operation was surprised when it unintentionally released Soda Springs’s famous captive geyser, which shot 100 feet into the air. It has been capped and a timer activates it every hour on the hour. There is now a park and a visitor center at the site.

Next stop: Spud Drive In Movie Theater, Driggs ID.

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