The 90 miles of back road between Heyburn ID and Snowville UT had only one town on it, Malta Idaho, population 191. To me Malta appeared to be 6 blocks long and 4 blocks deep but per the locals it’s about 60 miles long by 40 miles deep and it’s the education hub of the region. Last year’s senior class had 27.
Across from the Malta Fuel Depot (gas station) is Bake Central, a market/pizza parlor consisting of 3 isles and 3 tables. We spent a delightful couple of hours visiting with the owners and two of their five children, Derek 9 and Melissa 7. The children were articulate, self-confident and very funny. Derek entertained us with his honest assessments of his baseball team, “our team stunk” and his football success, “our team is undefeated – but we’ve only played 3 games and the next team we play is REALLY good”.
His little sister Melissa was constantly smiling and laughing while she wiggled and draped herself across the table where Sue and I were rehydrating. Upon finishing my half gallon of milk I leaned backwards and took a deep breath. Melissa giggled then poked my belly three times like it was a jello mold and started laughing. Sue thought it was very funny also.
The woman at the next table, Joyce, asked us about our trip and what we did before we retired. When Sue told her she was a rehab doctor the conversation shifted to Joyce’s recent knee replacement. Since she lives on a ranch sixty five miles away from the nearest rehab facility she has had to do all her rehabilitation on her own. Not surprisingly her range of motion isn’t where it should be despite her doing her best. Sue mentioned some treatment options and encouraged her to speak with her doctor in Salt Lake about them.
As Joyce was leaving she said, “you can tuck in at the park. You’ll be safe their. No one will bother you.” The park was in the middle of town but unlike most parks in the middle of the towns I’ve lived in, I felt perfectly safe in Malta’s. The only noises we heard during the night were the neighbors horses and a band of coyotes in the distance.
After a pleasant nights sleep we pedaled the three blocks to the edge of town to have coffee at the Malta Fuel Depot. The home coming game is Friday so the students were painting the windows in preparation for the big event.
Malta may not offer much to the typical car tourist but for us passing through on bicycles it offered an opportunity to see a town up close and to have a chance to visit with some of its residents. That’s what makes traveling fun and interesting to me no matter what size town I’m passing through.