Friday, September 24, 2010

To the Moon: Sept 20

Leaving Gros Ventre, we head south toward Jackson Hole, the uber-cool ski town at the southern tip of the park. Just a harrowing mountain pass west and we're in Idaho, heading toward a wi-fi spot to uplink trip updates, email Camille we're heading her way, and return some work to Dr E.

They're scooping up piles of rockfall off the road.

Soon we're moving again, having identified a campground for tonight in Craters of the Moon National Monument, which sounds a little bleak but who knows.
This part of Idaho is a high plain with glimpses of the Snake River.

We locate a coffee shop in Idaho Falls and hit the wi-fi. Then, gas.

I find Clamato for 40 cents a can at the gas station and discover to my dismay it contains high fructose corn syrup. Who knew?

Back on the road, I note we'll be traveling close to Atomic City and driving right through the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Lab, a vast expanse of open land which seems like a Fermilab place. Who knows what they're up to here.

It all feels very Large Haldron Collider to me...

The majestic Lemhi, Sawtooth, and Lost River ranges loom to the north.

And then, we arrive as possibly the strangest campsite ever. Here's the nice ranger guy checking Art's senior pass--have I told you about this? Purchased for $10 by any US citizen 62 or older, it permits free entry to any national park or historic site...for life.

Tonight's stay costs just $5 (half off the normal $10 with Art's pass).


This is one wild place. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge established Craters of the Moon National Monument to preserve what he called "a weird and scenic landscape, peculiar to itself."

We find a site and wedge our way in between the lava piles.

Get the replanted salad SIP out for some sun amidst the light-as-feather rocks.

Nice picnic table.

How beautifully this campsite and the park as a whole has been designed, with black cement to compliment the color scheme.

Time for a short walk in the gale-force winds. This is one bizarre place--all 750,000 acres of it.

Cribbing from the brochure: the vast volumes of lava issued not from one volcano, but from long fissures across the Snake River plain that are known collectively as the Great Rift. About 15,000 years ago lava welled up from the Great Rift to produce this vast ocean of rock.

A more recent eruption occurred 2,000 years ago and the brochure says "geologists believe that future events are likely."

We can only hope not tonight.

Rooftop tomatoes and tomatillos with red onion and steamed beets. Vegetable soup. Tomorrow we'll drive up to the lava caves.

Oh--and nice bathrooms here.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like an interesting campground - a little like Lava Beds Nat. Monument down near Tulelake, CA. On my way through Idaho last spring, I stopped at a rest area called Hell's Half Acre or some such thing. It must be part of the same formation. On the same trip, I camped at City of Rocks National Reserve -- not too far from there, relatively speaking. It was easter weekend and I seemed to be the only one in the park that night - and it snowed. Kind of fun.
    Enjoying reading about your travels!