States visited: 49!

visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800

Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Craters of the Moon NM: Thursday, June 17th

Today is our last official day of school before Summer School begins, aren’t we lovely?! I’d really like the kids to continue journaling every week, simply because I love to read their perspective of what was important to them from the previous week and also because I truly believe they’ll love to read through it later on. They generally don’t share that belief or my enthusiasm, regardless, the plan is that journaling will continue, along with some math; it’s too easily forgotten and I hate for all their hard work to go to waste.

They were eager to get outside after the rain of yesterday and were spurred into action after Ciera came knocking on the door before they’d started school (the World Cup is getting in the way of our usual early starts – too many games beginning at 8am!).

After hours of playing outside, we headed back to Craters of the Moon, this time, Ciera joined us, she was disappointed we were going to take the kids away so it was just as easy to have her come along – the truck’s big enough, what’s one more?!

We bypassed the Visitor Centre and drove out to the tree molds area. It was a windy one-mile hike along the fine lava beds to reach the tree molds but more than worth it. Initially, we saw a couple of deep trunk-shaped holes that once housed large trees. Cooling lava formed around the trees but was still hot enough to burn them down, so nothing remains of the actual tree. Evidently the lava was cool enough that it held its shape as the tree must slowly have burned – fascinating.

As we continued a little way along, we were able to see molds in the ground, much more typical of what we were anticipating seeing. These really looked just like a huge version of imprinting tree bark in playdoh! We had to keep on touching them to make sure they were in fact rock solid, it seemed as though we should have been able to squish them, such a bizarre sight.

From here, we passed the Lava Fields (the waves of lava are evident, you can just imagine them slowly coming to a halt as they cooled, really an awesome sight and so different from anything else) and drove towards the caves area. With flash lights in tow, we walked towards the various caves you are able to go into. Unlike at Lava Beds, it’s a bit of a trek over a very sloping pathway. We stopped at the first little cave: Dewdrop Cave and went in. It didn’t go very far back and was quite wet, but still gave a good picture of how the lava had formed this ‘tube’.

We were most excited to visit Boy Scout Cave, a little further along. We had heard that this was quite a challenge to get into but once in, you were rewarded by ice formations. We had heard correctly. Ciera and Caitlin decided against coming much further in than the entrance, it was quite dark, and they spent their time above ground! The rest of us scrambled over the slippery rocks, being extremely careful to watch our heads, I do think it would’ve been a good idea for the Rangers to have recommended helmets for this one; it was quite tricky. Once further in, the temperature really dropped and we could see many icicles, stalactites and ‘lavaites’ hanging from the ceiling, it was very cool (double entendre intended!).

The brochure gave a good description of Tube Formation:

The formation of tubes is a complex process dependent on eruption rate, topography, and the chemical and physical properties of the lava. Often, rather than flowing as a broad sheet, lava becomes restricted in channels. Lava channels usually form in the fastest moving part of a flow, along older lava channels, tubes, stream beds, or other depressions.

Once a channel stabilizes, a roof can form in a variety of ways. Congealing lava can fuse to the channel sides and accumulate until it bridges the channel. This crust thickens through overflows onto its surface and accretion of cooled lava on its underside. Or surface crusts may form on the lava, tear loose, and drift along until they reach a constriction, fuse, and bridge over the channel. In turbulent lava flows, splashing and overflow along the channel form levees which may arch over the channel and join.

Everyone was eager to get back to the campground for something to eat and to continue their plans for the day. For Dave and I, game 7 of the NBA Finals was starting and promised to be a nail-biter, for the kids, they were awaiting big-screen movie time at 8:30pm. The KOA offered the ice cream social every evening at 8pm, often followed by a movie, as it was quite late, we’d resisted the movie until today so they were excited to be able to watch. They showed Robots, which they’d seen before but were more than happy to watch again. It was great for us too as we were able to sit, undisturbed and watch the game. The Lakers ended up taking it from the Celtics in a ‘scream at the telly’ 4th quarter. I can’t believe how many sports are going on at the moment and Wimbledon starts on Monday!

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