Thursday, August 7, 2014

Practicing For Our Moon Landing

The final stop on our road trip was Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. It's a 618 square mile lava field on the Great Rift, which is where two plates are pulling apart. It erupts about every 2,000 years, and guess what? It's been about 2,000 years since the last eruption. I always joke about apocalypses but it's only funny until something actually happens!

some dumbass in the early 1900s brought his dog for a hike here, and the
poor doggy got his feet all cut up, and had to be carried.

looks sort of like wood, huh?

In 1969, astronauts actually trained in this lava field, to prepare for a trip to the moon. So if you're interested in being the best moon walker when we all finally get to go, better take a trip to Craters of the Moon.

a giant mound of lava sand. those are people in the middle of picture!
we skipped this hike because we didn't bring sunscreen and it looked brutal.

We climbed a couple of spatter cones, which are basically mini-volcanoes, formed by the lava exploding out of the ground and spitting up all over itself. It builds and builds on top of the previous explosions until it makes a little mountain (with a big hole in the middle).

they paved the route up to the top of the spatter cone, so it's pretty easily accessible.

it was SO windy that I could hardly walk!

looking down into the spatter cone. I can see China!

Aside from cool volcano mountains to climb, there are also several caves to explore! Just like our previous lava tube experience, these are also caves formed by lava, and found when part of the roof collapsed in. New caves are being discovered all the time.

This first cave was called the Indian Tunnel and had a few "skylights" in it, thanks to the roof caving in. It was beautiful. It's been speculated that the Native Americans used the tunnel for ceremonial purposes, and it's easy to see why.

Imagine viewing the night sky through that hole!

The floor of the cave. Not for those with bad balance.

a close up of what the ceiling looks like (this piece fell down).

We checked out the Dew Drop cave next, and it was eerie and stinky, due to the condensation that forms inside (because it's so cold and underground). This cave was a lot darker and harder to climb through. The Native Americans would use this and other "wet" caves to collect water, so they could cross the lava field. I guess the water's drinkable, but I'm sure glad I didn't have to try it.

just be glad you're not smelling anything through the computer screen.

Stinky, wet cold air or baking in the lava field? It's a toss up.

After the stinky cave, we decided we'd had enough and hopped back into Big Willy to get home to our pets! All in all, it was a great roadtrip that we would totally do again, probably a little slower and with more time in Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Maybe next time we can drag a few friends along for the ride and do a van caravan! Who's interested?

Van selfie!