May 5: Terrace Drive-In Theatre, Caldwell ID

It’s Day 125 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. Idaho turns out to be wider than it looks on a map, which I found out by driving from the east side (Rexburg) to the west. I knew it was going to take five hours either way, so I took the shorter, two-line highway path that went almost due west past Boise instead of dipping south on the interstates. I wonder which way would have burned more gas. At any rate, I found myself in Caldwell on a Friday night at the Terrace Drive-In Theatre.

(This is the part of my recap where I add a photo of the place, but I thought it would be even nicer to include this short interview from last year with the Terrace’s owner. There are a few shots of what the drive-in looks in the video.)

The Terrace opened in 1954, apparently built by Virgil Odell. Its name referred to its parking structure of little terraces, as were sometimes popular in old drive-in designs. The theater was revamped in 1984 with the addition of two more screens, making it the “Terrance Tri” for a while. Within 10 years or so, they stopped showing movies on those extra screens, which have remained inactive ever since.

As shown in the interview above, new owner Ron Herold said he expected to revive those two extra screens. His current Terrace web page lists how much that’s going to cost.

I was so glad to have another active drive-in available after that long drive, and I didn’t really mind seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 again. Even on a second viewing, I still say it makes a fine drive-in film.

Miles Today / Total:  300 / 13822 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 / 57

Nearby Restaurant: After my caffeine close call the day before in Rexburg, I went looking for a coffee shop, and I found one with bonuses in The Bird Stop. Free wifi, a relaxed atmosphere, and all the coffee drinks I wanted were all what I expected. I was pleasantly surprised to find they also serve solid sandwiches and beer from local breweries. The Ballast Point Pumpkin Down spice beer was a most welcome, unexpected pleasure.

Where I Virtually Stayed: The best place in town appeared to be the Best Western Plus Caldwell Inn. My room had a fridge, good wifi, and a coffee maker. The breakfast had a bit of everything, sausage, eggs, biscuits and gravy, even soy milk. I left ready for another day.

Only in Caldwell: Just down the road, Caldwell Boulevard to be exact, in the town of Nampa is The Egg Factory. That breakfast-themed restaurant wouldn’t be so out of the ordinary except that it has a painted 10-foot rooster statue out front.

Next stop: Parma Motor-Vu Drive In, Parma ID.

May 4: Teton Vu Drive In, Rexburg ID

Teton Vu Drive-In marquee and screen

Photo from the Teton Vu Facebook page

It’s Day 124 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I doubled back from Idaho Springs, home of the quiet Motor Vu drive-in, because I saw that the Teton Vu Drive In in Rexburg was going to have a special Thursday night premiere. It was just a half-hour drive up the North Yellowstone Highway.

The Teton Vu first opened some time before 1953. The Teton Dam flood in 1976 severely damaged the drive-in like almost everything else in Rexburg, but it got new projection equipment and reopened. Sometime after the mid-1980s, the Teton Vu closed. It reopened in 1999, then closed after the 2006 season, then reopened again in 2009.

While researching the Teton Vu, I ran across several claims that Rexburg, home of BYU-Idaho, has an unusually high concentration of Mormons. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I did notice that the Teton Vu concession stand offers hot chocolate but not coffee. I was probably better off with bottled water to wash down the lava wings they offered, and some huckleberry ice cream quenched the fires for good.

As I implied earlier, I was hugely grateful that the Teton Vu had a Thursday night premiere showing of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. How is it that Marvel can put out enjoyable superhero movies based on such minor characters while DC keeps struggling even with icons? My theory, in a word, is humor. Throwing in a proper sprinkling engages the viewer and makes characters more relatable. Keeping a story grim just makes it feel artificial. But I digress; the Teton Vu was a great place to see a movie, and GotG2 makes a fine drive-in film.

Miles Today / Total:  29 / 13522 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 / 56

Nearby Restaurant: I don’t drink alcohol every day, but if I skip coffee, the ensuing caffeine headache reminds that the Mormons might be on to something. As I looked around for my fix, I was disappointed that the R-towne Cafe had closed just a couple of months ago, and a promising-sounding place, The Cocoa Bean, sold wonderful hot chocolate but no coffee. I was just desperate enough to have lunch at the Burger King. There’s nothing especially wrong with Burger King, and the prices are very friendly, but the best part of the meal was the BK Joe coffee.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I chose the SpringHill Suites for a comfortable, large room with a fridge and a coffee maker. Wifi kept me connected to the outside world, and the hot breakfast in the morning included eggs and more coffee. I might bring a thermos just in case as I drive through Idaho.

Only in Rexburg: As briefly mentioned above, the Teton Dam Flood was a pretty big deal, killing 11 and causing over $1 billion in property damage. The Rexburg Historical Society opened the Teton Flood Museum n 1983 in the basement of the Rexburg Tabernacle. That’s not the museum’s name now. As Roadside America put it, “In 2016, after receiving complaints that the Teton Flood Museum didn’t have enough Teton Flood exhibits, the Rexburg city council simply changed the museum’s name to the Museum of Rexburg. But the flood exhibits are still in it.”

Next stop: Terrace Drive-In Theatre, Caldwell ID.

May 3: Motor Vu, Idaho Falls

Motor Vu Drive-In marquee

Photo by I.E. Xam from the Carload Flickr pool

It’s Day 123 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I drove a bit over an hour from the Spud Drive In Movie Theater in Driggs ID over to Idaho Falls, home of the Motor Vu drive-in.

Discussions about the Motor Vu tend to include the Sky Vu, another drive-in at the other edge of town, because they’ve been owned as a pair for over 20 years. But it wasn’t always that way. According to its GoFundMe page (more about that later), the Motor Vu “was built in 1947 just after World War II ended. The Motor Vu is potentially one of the first drive ins ever built. The Sky Vu drive in was built sometime around 1951 as a best guess.” The 1959 International Motion Picture Almanac showed the Motor Vu being run by Hugo Jorgensen but the Sky Vu by “Cousins & Prestwich”. The Idaho Falls Post Register wrote that the Leonard family had owned both since 1993.

There have been hiccups. In a 2009 book, Idaho Falls Post Register, William Hathaway wrote, “Idaho Falls went through a summer in 2008 without a drive-in movie. … The owner of both screens decided not to reopen them.”


Tim Leonard launched that GoFundMe page in July 2015. “We plan to keep the drive ins open, running 35mm film for as long as we can,” it said. “The companies have been wonderful to make special 35mm prints for us. There is something special about the actual tangible film. It’s sad to see in go away.” The Sky Vu closed in 2015. The Motor Vu was still operating in August 2016, then it closed for the season.

Of the drive-ins I’ve visited this year, this is the first one that is not only closed for the season but might be closed indefinitely. (There have been so many examples of drive-ins coming back to life for me to call any drive-in closure permanent.) It was sad to lose the Sky Vu on the south side of Idaho Springs. It would be even sadder to lose them both.

Miles Today / Total:  68 / 13493 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 55

Nearby Restaurant: Snow Eagle Brewing and Grill had me at “brewing”. I started with a glass of honey rye wheat. And then it turned out that they served food, too! I had the Blue Shroom burger with blue cheese and mushrooms. After a while, it didn’t bother me so much that the Motor Vu was closed tonight.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I found a Home2 Suites location last month and was really happy there, so I was glad to see one in Idaho Falls too. I had a little kitchen (as if I’d cook!) as part of my large room. Breakfast had everything I needed. I’ll keep on looking for this brand as I continue my odyssey.

Only in Idaho Falls: In the middle of a traffic circle on Utah Street near the Porter Canal is a fountain based around statuary of a giant eagle rock waterfall. This Giant Eagle Waterfall Nest commemorates the town’s first name of Eagle Rock.

Next stop: Teton Vu Drive In, Rexburg ID.