Day 18 - Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID
|Thursday, May 20, 2021: Good morning, Idaho! We were up and on the road well before 7 AM.
|We were following the Snake River again, ...
|... and passed Frank Lloyd Wright's Archie Teater Studio. Unfortunately, the only thing that was visible from the road was the FLW-style letters on the gate identifying it as the Teater Studio. Even more unfortunately, we didn't get a non-blurry photo of it. This one will have to do.
|We passed several of these things along the same road. They looked like fish hatcheries.
|We were on the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway, ...
|... on our way to Thousand Springs, obviously. When we encountered this extremely bumpy dirt road, we turned around. The Ocho can handle this type of road, but we really hate hearing everything we own bouncing around in the back so we will only do dirt roads if we truly have to.
|We passed a huge pen of cattle all being fed.
|Our next destination was Twin Falls, which is also on the Snake River.
|We stopped at the visitor center and took a better look at the river.
|There's the bridge we had just crossed.
|Nearby was a monument to Evel Knievel and his attempted jump of the Snake River in 1972. Debbie didn't think much of it but Tom was shaking with excitement. The sign told us that ...
|... the large dirt ramp used as his takeoff ramp is visible approximately two miles east of this point on the south ridge of the canyon, so we walked under the bridge to see it. Sure enough, there it was way off in the distance.
|So we zoomed waaaaaay in with our camera. Hey, six-year-old Tom, you're finally here!
|Next, we drove a little bit west and parked along the side of the road, ...
|... to take the short climb down to see Perrine Coulee Falls.
|It was great fun (and just a little bit wet) walking behind the waterfall.
|We headed to Shoshone Falls next. We could tell immediately that we were going to get wet since the parking lot was covered with spray.
|We had no idea how gorgeous Shoshone Falls would be. The bright sunshine helped by providing a double rainbow in the spray.
|Look at the falls. So pretty. So difficult to photograph without getting water spots on your lens.
|This was the first Travellers Autobarn camper van we had ever seen but it wouldn't be the last.
|Heading out of town, we spotted something "temple-y" - the Twin Falls Idaho Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
|We stopped in the town of Shoshone at the Shoshone Snack Bar.
|Tom went inside to order burgers and tater tots for us.
|Debbie's burger, which was ordered as hold the pickles and mustard (and was even noted on the paper wrapper that way) came with pickles, mustard, AND pickle relish. So gross.
|More pretty scenery.
|We were on the Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway.
|As we got closer to the middle of the state, we noticed farms backed up to lava fields. No amount of cultivating is going to turn a lava field into farmland.
|Soon enough, we were pretty much surrounded by lava fields.
|We arrived at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve around 11:30 AM.
|Our first highlight was seeing Big Cinder Butte from a distance.
|We drove past the Visitor Center but didn't go there until later. With our America the Beautiful National Park Pass, we didn't need to pay the $15 entrance fee.
|The campground was first-come, first-serve, which is why we had started our day so early with the goal of being here before noon. We drove through the campsite looking for the perfect spot for us, and were amused by this very colorful group tent area.
|Having found our spot, we went back to the automatic reservation kiosk, printed out our receipt, ...
|... then went to our chosen site exactly at noon. It was tiny but absolutely perfect for us, with a view over the lava field that we'll show you later.
|We went out to do the Craters Loop Drive next.
|The sign by this viewpoint described this as a cinder garden. Small flowering plants dotted the volcanic rock fields as far as the eye could see.
|Inferno Cone Overlook was our next stop.
|It looked like a fun, easy walk to the top. While it was fun and relatively easy, what you're seeing here is not the top; it levels off slightly and then keeps going further up, but you can't see that until you crest the first part of the hill.
|The views at the top were fantastic. To the left (west-ish) were some spatter cones we'd be visiting next.
|To the north were some pretty mountains and the parking lot visible in the distance at the base of the black field of volcanic rock we were on.
|Here's Tom and the view toward the east.
|We headed to the spatter cones next.
|An easy path took us to the first one.
|On the side of the cone, we saw lava tubes and bubbles frozen in time forever. This one was large enough to put a hand in.
|We looked down at the huge hole in the middle of the cone.
|Here it is. We couldn't see the bottom as it appeared to continue down a narrow hole.
|Next, we went to the other spatter cone across the way. A trail led from that cone toward the north to places unknown, most likely, the campground.
|This spatter cone had lower walls, ...
|... but looked nearly as deep. Unmelted snow still remained in the cone.
|The second Eurovision semi-finals were starting and there was some discussion about whether we'd watch them here (with one-two bars of service depending on our location in the loop) or back in camp (with one bar of service if we were lucky). We decided to take our chances in camp later. Next up: Lava Cascades, ...
|... which was a huge field of lava flows and tubes.
|We got out to hike the half-mile Devil's Orchard Trail.
|It's a nice, easy walk along a path containing informational signs every hundred yards or so, every one of which was designed to make you feel bad about visiting the park because of the horrible things that people, past and present, have done to it.
|But it was too late - we were already here, so we tried to enjoy the sights of the trail instead. We photographed all of the different tiny wildflowers we saw, like this one, ...
|... and this one, ...
|... and this one, ...
|... and this one, ...
|... and this one.
|Getting close to the end of the loop; still feeling bad about being there.
|Part of the trail had animal prints embedded in the concrete. At first, this seemed like a happy accident that had happened when the concrete was poured, but when we saw this in both Grand Tetons and Yellowstone two days later, we began to suspect that these are staged.
|There were some picnic tables around the parking lot, so we got a good photo to show the clever design. . See how perfectly a wheelchair will roll right up to it? Every picnic table in both the park and the campground looked like this one and it warmed our hearts.
|We went to the visitor center next, where this aerial view showed the miles and miles of lava that spewed out over the land from multiple fissures in the ground, collectively known as the Great Rift.
|Inside the gift shop, were were excited to see a Rite in the Rain product. Debbie's cousin Karl is CEO of Rite in the Rain, so we are always happy to run across their great stuff in stores.
|Back at the campground, we fired up the Winegard antenna to get a signal strong enough to watch the Eurovision second semi-final. Here's Iceland's entry, which was good but not as good as last year's entry which definitely would have won if the contest hadn't been cancelled.
|We ate dinner outside at our cool picnic table.
|Dinner was a package of smoked Seabear salmon crumbled into bowls of spiral pasta. After a mostly cloudy day, sun was peeking through the clouds. We had a great view of lava fields all around us.
|One of the great things about #VanLife is having a different view out of our side picture window every day.
|Here's the view from the back of our rig. There was lots of space between campsites so it felt very private.
|An Escape campervan drove past us several times looking for a good campsite, so we took a picture to add to our collection. Every van has a different design on it.
|We used our new Kijaro Kubies as blankets in the van at times. Most of the time, they were zipped up into a pillow shape so we could use them as body pillows at night.
|It's not much of a sunset but it was nice anyway.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy