Our Tuesday morning was quiet and laidback. Lover worked and I hung with the kids, and worked on my book and other book publishing stuff. Once Lover was done with work we headed out to the Craters of the Moon National Monument which is about 1.5hrs from where we’re staying. Four out of the six of us fell asleep on the way there and enjoyed a really nice nap!
Craters of the Moon is a park that highlights the landscape created by a volcanic eruption about 2,000 years ago. It’s a really cool and unique place, unlike anything else we’ve experienced so far! Once we visited, I realized that on our drive up from Utah I had seen another volcanic landscape from the highway – it had caught my eye because it was so unusual.
It was really chilly and windy while we were there, but you can drive through the park and see quite a bit without getting out of the car. We stopped to explore the spatter cones, and Cassandra just buried her head on my chest and “let” me hold her on that trail. The funky weather really lent itself to the mood of the park though – right at the end the sun peeked out from the clouds and we all agreed that the troubled gray skies fit better with all the volcanic rock!
There are these tiny, pale green flowering plants that grow all across the lava gravel landscapes. They’re only a couple of inches tall, but those plants and the lichens are the first steps in nature breaking down the rock and turning it into soil that can sustain other plants and trees. They were really beautiful all dotting the hillsides!
There was a big hill that you could climb that was created by lava falling in what ended up basically being a big clump. Cassandra and I wussed out after making it about halfway up, but everyone else got to the top and enjoyed the views and the freezing cold!
Sadly, what we had read was the coolest part of the park, the lava tube caves, was closed due to snow and ice. We didn’t get to go in that area at all. The last place we stopped was Devil’s Orchard, which was a nice flat trail with lots of tree shelter and the sun came out too. The kids had a lot of fun on this trail exploring and climbing and just generally being kids! The dead trees in the picture were caused by a ranger mistake a few decades ago. They tried to fight an invasive species that they thought was unattractive, and their treatment ended up killing thousands of trees in the park. The tree skeletons do add to the ambiance of the park though!
On our way back home we made a quick stop in Arco, ID. They are the first city to be lit with nuclear power and very proud of it! We read some of the historical placards and talked about how nuclear energy creates electricity. The kids remembered so much of what we talked about from the last time!
On the hillside above the town there are huge numbers painted on the rocks. Turns out it’s from each year’s graduating class, and it’s a tradition that’s been going on for decades! Super fun.