Sunday, September 13, 2015

NW Day Thirteen: On the Moon

In keeping with the theme for the day, we started out our morning with a photo shoot of Marvin the Martian.

Then we headed out on our drive to Craters of the Moon National Monument.
It turns out that most of our off-the-interstate driving today followed the Goodale Cutoff of the Oregon Trail.  

We stopped at several historical markers. At one of them I had company.

We came around one of the many bends in the upwardly winding route, and suddenly found ourselves nearly surrounded by this…

It was surreal in how other worldly and abrupt it was.

We continued driving and went into the park entrance. The very friendly ranger in the gift shop of the visitor center told me, when I asked, that we were at an altitude of 5,885 ft. She also, when I described the birds I’d been seeing in like three different states, let me know that my mystery birds were probably magpies. And she asked if the kids were homeschooled and complimented us on how polite they were.
Craters of the Moon was *really* cool. 

When will we ever get to walk on lava flows again? 

The “other worldliness” of it practically begged for trope space captain poses.
 I also really liked the exposed wood forms. This one is from a tree called "limper pine". They grow bent and twisted because of the wind.
Boybot would ask, "Why are you taking a picture of that tree? It's *dead*."
And the Jedi would answer, "Yes, but it died *expressively*."
But I was the one with the camera, so.... (Actually, I'm usually the one with the camera because the Jedi gets tired of hearing, "Ooo...take a picture of that tree. Look at the contrast between it's bleached wood and the dark igneous rock. No, wait, don't get it from that angle, you need this other rock to help the composition....")

We hiked up, and I do mean up, to the top of Inferno Cone. (This photo, by the way, does not show the top of the trail. That's just to the first little crest in the trail. It was a tease.)
And this photo was not taken from the top of the trail. It was just a little more than halfway up the trail. It was totally taken for some perspective, and not because I was starting to suck air climbing uphill at 5885 ft and needed a short pause.
But being on top of the cone was really cool.

The view was nearly infinite.

And we got to walk up inside a splatter cone. 

Here’s Boybot, sticking his head where heads probably shouldn’t go.

It was a really great park to explore for a few hours. If we had all day, and you know, more space in the van, it would have been cool to have brought lantern hard hats to explore some of the caves there. But we skipped that part for both time and lack of proper headgear. 

To my surprise, there were lots of really cute little chipmunks darting across the rocks of the lava flow. I really wanted to hold one. It would have fit perfectly in my hand. Boybot said no, I would just get bitten and then get rabies. Sweelting found me a cute little chipmunk finger puppet in the gift shop. Boybot named him Charlie. He’s going to be Chester’s little brother. He even has his own little spot in the van. 
 Speaking of travel companions, check out the friend that often hangs out by my right shoulder during long drive stretches.
From Craters of the Moon, we drove through Arco, Idaho.

One of the cool surprises in this town was the mountainside above the town where members of each senior class had carved their graduation year.
The world’s first nuclear power plant is located not far outside Arco, but sadly we were driving through the day after their last day of being open for public tours for the summer. 

So we drove straight through to dinner in Idaho Falls, where we stopped at Tandori Oven for some yummy food of way too generous proportions. We should have split two or maybe at the most three dinner plates among the four of us and eaten family style. Especially with the large basket of naan bread and the lassis that we ordered with our dinner.

Sadly, the Jedi was left with driving the last bit of the trip in the dark, through the mountains, again. This time it wasn’t raining BUT it was some really steep, really narrow two lane roads around bends on the side of the mountain. We were in the outside lane, and we kept getting blinded by the headlights of the oncoming traffic. The last stretch of the road down into Jackson, Wyoming had a 10% grade.

The good news, in my opinion, was that we got to see a bear! He ran across the road in front of the van and then ran in a little circle in the other lane before lumbering off into the woods. The Jedi was not as excited or has happy about this sighting as I was.

In Jackson, we parked near the square, each corner of which was festooned with an enormous antler arch, and we walked to Maggie Moo’s Gormet Ice Cream. The ice cream was super creamy, but the individual flavors didn’t come through as much. Still it was good, and a nice little treat.

At the hotel, it was laundry night. The good part about that was that it is the last time I have to do laundry on our trip. All our bins should be packed up for the rest of the trip. The bad news is that the Jedi, Sweetling, and I were up till 2 a.m. because the hotel coin operated dryer just did NOT dry clothes very well.

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