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Travelogue -- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July  18. We drove to the moon! Okay, not the actual moon, but the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, which is as close to the moon as I ever need to get. I don't know if you can tell in this picture, but behind the Big Rolling Crate are a lot black rocks. Those are lava rocks. This area once was a great flow of lava and now what's left behind kind of looks like the moon. Of course, as the kid at the picnic table next to ours pointed out at lunch, there are no plants on the moon, but still, it does have an other-worldly look about it.

Let me tell you, we are learning a lot of geology on this adventure. Everywhere we stop seems to be some unique geological wonder. The Badlands. Rocky Mountain National Park. Split Rock. The Tetons. Hell's Half Acre (more lava rocks we saw earlier today). 

But I have to say, this is by far the ugliest of them. It's just a bunch of black rocks and black cinder heaps called cones, and once again, I can't go anywhere, and why would I want to anyway?

We ate lunch at picnic tables in some rare pockets of shade in a grassy patch where there was a big sign that said:

"No pets on grass. You can walk your pet along the edge of the parking lot or road." 

And Todd jokes, "Why don't they add, 'And shoot it for all we care,'" because that's the general national park/national monument attitude towards pets. I sat quietly under the table in the grass and shade, and nobody seemed the mind, despite the sign. It would've been too hot in the Big Rolling Crate and no way were Diane and Todd going to pace up and down the hot road under the relentless sun.

Actually, Diane and I have written our last three blog posts from a nice shady picnic table while Todd is off exploring caves. The wind here is incessant and strong, so it's like we're at the beach except instead of waves there's just a sea of black rocks that was once a sea of lava. This place might not be worth the stop unless you really love lava rocks and caves.

Here's a dead tree on some lava rocks.

And here are some lava rocks up close.

And this is a cinder cone that Todd walked up. Why? Who knows. Diane went about half way, decided it wasn't worth the effort, and came back down.

We aren't really sure where we'll go next, but it does seem the plan to get to the pacific, which had previously been abandoned, is now a possibility again. We shall see. We have a little less than a week until we need to turn around.

We are getting very good at camping. Tonight will be our 7th consecutive night in the Big Rolling Crate, our longest stretch without a hotel. 

PS. Todd says the caves were the coolest part of Craters of the Moon. 

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