After a restful (but short) night’s sleep and a North American Breakfast (Cheerios and a donut), Sharla and I hit the road at about 10 this morning. We decided that a stop at Craters of the Moon National Monument might be interesting.
Craters of the Moon is about 12 miles west of Arco, Idaho. It is a vast lava field that covers nearly 54,000 acres, and is spectacular. Sharla and I took 3 hikes, one around a loop that showed us the various kinds of lava that are in the monument (pahoehoe, aa, blue dragon, breadcrust bombs, spiral bombs, and cowpie bombs), as well as lots of the indiginous plant life (stuff that can live in the cracks between the lava boulders) and some of the local wildlife (they have HUGE grasshoppers in three decorator colors: Gray, that blends in with the gray lava; black that blends in with the black lava; and chartreuse, that doesn’t blend with anything)
. Our second hike was to the top of two spatter cones, jagged cones of thick lava that spatters out of a lava tube and forms a cone shaped hill. (Think poking a hole in a can of whipped cream.) The third hike was into the “Cave Area” where we saw several caves formed from lava tubes and actually went through one called the Indian Tunnel. It was a pretty good adventure! It required climbing down a 20 foot ladder, then down another 20 feet of rubble. In the cave itself, the floor was made of rough lava flow that was very uneven and treacherous. (Thank goodness for our hiking boots!) We walked all through the tunnel, and finally climbed up a 40 foot wall of rubble to get to the exit. We then had to hike out along the top of the lava flows, along sheer drop offs and fissures.
The trip to West Yellowstone was uneventful, although driving the narrow road in the dark at 65 (Idaho) or 70 (Montana) miles an hour was a little stressful for me. I was worried about a buffalo deciding to cross the road right in front of us. (Don’t laugh; it could happen!) But we arrived safely, and we are now warmly ensconced in a VERY small motel room (our suitcase barely fits in the room along with us!) at Hadley’s Motel.
Our plan tomorrow is to see about 80% of Yellowstone Park, finish up at the north entrance, and spend the night just outside in Gardener, Montana. We will see the other 20% of the park on Thursday on our way to Graybull, Wyoming.
Good night and God bless!