One more FULL day of driving through flat plains and finally some distant mountains. Emmerson spent his day making pillow forts int he back bedroom while Breighton read more books on his Kindle and taking photos at 65MPH.
We arrived at the Craters of the Moon KOA in Arco, Idaho. We set up camp and scurried over to the Craters of the moon Visitors Center. We arrived in time to catch a patio talk about bats and White Nose Syndrome. We got our ranger books, cave permit and maps and took a quick loop through the park to get our bearings for the morning. We hiked a little trail and learned about different lava types, Pahoehoe and ‘A’A. We hit the grocery store and found out they sell soft serve Dole Whip! Some more evening bug hunting and an ice cream social at the campground while mom cleaned off the front window of Luna.
In the morning we were up early and towards the park. We opted to take a Ranger Guided Hike of the Buffalo Caves. We saw lots of yellow grasshoppers all over the trails. We learned about the history of the caves and how they are really just lava tubes. The Ranger was awesome and really gave great information about the geology of the area. We learned that the Yellowstone hot spot was once here and it is what caused a lot of the activity. We learned about shield and splatter cone volcanos. The trees looked weird. We learned it was from a dwarf mistletoe that grew in the trees causing the trees to develop witches broom. We saw different types of lava and the blue dragon. We also got to hold a lava bomb! We learned about lichen and how it is beneficial to the rocks and an indicator of air quality. We saw bread crust lava too. Up next was DOWN into the caves. Quite a difficult wiggle to get through the sharp lava to the caves but worth the effort. Up and out and our hike back to the parking lot. We spotted many wildflowers that amazingly find a way to live here in the cracks of the rocks. The boys took lots of photos for 4-H. These adventures always produce many great photos! The boys earned their Junior Ranger badges and took another oath to protect the parks.
Dad had to go back at the campground and work after the hike so we all took our own paths. Mom, B and E opted for another guided hike and more cave exploring. Breighton was selected to be a SEED in the rocks (a special treat to walk off trail a little as well) during the program. Ranger Maura was funny and informative. He is working at the parks as part of the Mosaics in Science program to bring more diversity to the parks. He safely led us to the caves and educated everyone about the caves. The boys had all the answers! We hiked down into the caves and then took the long hard way out over all the rock scree. The boys loved that! Emmerson’s shoelace was grabbed by a piece of A’A’ and he went crashing tot he ground, thankfully just a few minor scratches easily bandaged up on the trail. We then transverse the top of the lava tubes and followed pole to pole to get back to the main path. SUCCESS! Of course we had to go into every cave we were allowed to enter. Mom wasn’t thrilled but grinned and made it through.
Back at the campground the boys went swimming while mom worked on laundry.
The next day we tackled the snow cone to see the snow still inside! Then joined a junior ranger hike to earn the kids their park patches.
After lunch we headed to the EBR-1 reactor. Arco was the first town ever powered by atomic power! We learned about the SCRAM button and how it would shut down the reactor. The boys had a lot of fun playing with the mock control panel.
We aren’t sure if radiation or hantavirus is more scary?
Back at the campground the boys rented banana bikes and had a blast until a tire popped on Breighton’s. On the road again in the morning towards Diamond Lake near Crater Lake, Oregon! We leave you with this cute baby bird that Emmerson found.