BEAM ME DOWN, SCOTTY

This week's random co-ordinates chosen by the computer are: 44 05' N 112 38' W
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The Independent Travel
FIRST REACTION

I'll jus' git me that there buffalo for my dinner. It seems to be a bit short of local diners around here...

COUNTRY AND REGION

This is Idaho, in the great American Mid-West.

NATURE OF THE TERRAIN

You have actually landed in the northern part of something called the Snake River Plain, an endlessly dull stretch of scrubby prairie and mud flats, though the foothills of the Beaverhead Mountains rise just a few kilometres to the north.

ALTITUDE

About 4,500 feet.

POSSIBLE HAZARDS

You are standing only about 20km from the edge of a so-called "US Atomic Energy Commission Reserve". That could be as scary as it sounds; I wouldn't step inside there if I were you, pardner. The other major hazard is the perishing cold wind which howls over the mountains and plains straight from central Canada.

USEFUL LANGUAGES

In some quarters it is known as English, although it might not be instantly recognisable as such.

TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER

Whether the kid from Arkansas has any influence on these rednecks is open to question.

LIKELY WEATHER CONDITIONS

Snow and a serious wind chill factor.

REASONS FOR HANGING AROUND

Only 100km away to the west are the bears, buffaloes, geysers and weird rock formations of Yellowstone National Park. Not that you'll see much of this in the middle of winter, of course. Heading in the opposite direction it's about 1,200km to the sybaritic delights of San Francisco.

GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE

Very fortunately for you, you have landed right on a road. You merely have to hitchhike westwards towards the small town of Dubois, where the main highway heads south to Idaho Falls. The traffic on the road won't be particularly heavy at this time of year - you'll have time to get familiar with the, er, scenery - but most people who might come along will be kind and give you a welcome lift in this far-flung wilderness. Including, one should be warned, any local serial killers who just happen to be passing by, who will seem just as kind as anyone else.

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