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.

Project Drive-In roundup 2, The Sequel


In my last post, I began the task of listing every local media report of every local drive-in that’s participating in Honda’s Project Drive-In. Foolishly, I thought that I might gather up all of them in one sitting. When I hit 20 theaters, each with a similar tale of tenuous finance and this lottery-ticket hope for survival, my eyes had glazed over, and I barely had the strength to finish off the post and click Publish.

Two days later, I’m ready again to see how many more drive-in reports I can list. Again, they’re alphabetized by state. And again, if you click through and find a particularly cool detail we should all know about, please leave a comment.

More of your candidates:

Whew again! That’s 20 more drive-ins with local coverage of their Project Drive-In eligibility. I don’t know whether there are 20 more that I haven’t mentioned, but if I spot enough new ones, there may be a third episode of this franchise.

The Spud keeps on rolling

I Love the Spud T-shirtThe Jackson Hole (WY) News & Guide published an article about the continuing fundraising efforts of The Spud Drive-In, across the border in Driggs ID. The first four paragraphs provide a great glimpse of what it’s like to visit a drive-in with your friends when it’s cold outside. And there are two exceptionally nice photos above the fold; one shows a grid of LP records on the ceiling of the snack bar, and the other shows the projector shooting its beam through falling snow. This is one you really need to go read!

If you’ve got a long memory or have exhausted the posts here, you might recognize The Spud as one of the first subjects of the Carload blog. The News & Guide article updates its status. T-shirt sales have raised about $15,000 toward the cost of digital projection, and now Tyler Hammond, one of the operators of The Spud, is hoping to sell enough advertising on its corrugated tin privacy fence to make up the difference.

The News & Guide is very encouraging. “Spud supporters are plentiful in Teton Valley. Residents use it as a landmark when giving directions, as in, ‘If you pass the Spud you’ve gone too far.’ It’s a spot for first dates, family bonding and birthday celebrations. For most of the past 60 years it was the only movie theater for miles. The Spud is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and the Idaho State Historic Registry.” Let’s all hope for the best!