Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lava and Falls, Thursday, May 23, 2013

This morning after packing lunch we were on our way traveling 80 plus miles to the Craters of the Moon National Monument.  Driving from Twin Falls in a northeasterly direction we passed through areas of crop farming with irrigation in high gear and then areas of dry ground with a scrub brush growing among lava rocks.  As we neared the Park’s entrance lava fields were present.  The Visitor’s Center was at the entrance to the Park and we stopped there.  A film presentation about volcanoes was shown and a small display area.  After being question about being in caves since 2005 with the appropriate answers we were given a permit that would allow us to go into the caves (wild caves).  Then going through the entrance gate we were free to see the Park.  As it was past noon we found a picnic area to eat lunch- it was good that we brought lunch with us as there was no food in the Park and the nearest town was probably 20 or more miles away.  It was chilly with temperatures in the 50’s but we were dressed warm enough to eat outside.  Lava is everywhere but as time goes by there is more and more vegetation growing among the rocks and on the lava cones.  At this time many of the flowers were in bloom.  We walked a trail to the caves, Boy Scout cave and Beauty cave.  Boy Scout cave appeared to have a small opening so we passed on entering that one- we didn’t feel up to crawling into a cave.  Beauty cave had a nice opening so we cautiously climbed over rocks to get down into the cave.  Once inside the floor, near the opening, was covered in ice but as we walked a little further into the cave the floor was drier without ice.  We didn’t venture too far as we only had our cell phone flashlights and it was very dark with not the best of surface to walk on.   The Inferno Cone is a large volcanic cone that had a trail 0.2 mile (600 plus feet) upward to the top that we walked up.  It was quite breezy on that cone but a great place to see over the Park.  The Splatter cones had nice easy walking walkways up to them as they were not nearly as tall as the Inferno Cone. The volcanic activity in this area occurred about 2000 years ago which is relatively recent.

As we were returning back to Twin Falls we saw a Ring-neck pheasant along the roadside.  We have not seen pheasants anywhere for years.  This was every bit as exciting as seeing the coyote that ran across the road yesterday in front of the motorhome or the marmot that ran across the road today.

  We wanted to go to Shoshone Falls but were having trouble finding  just where along the Snake River Gorge to go as there was no signs directing us toward them.    And yet we had read that they were “The Niagara of the West”.   Trying the GPS, we were successful in finding the park, a Twin Falls city park.  There is a $3.00 per vehicle fee but our senior National Park pass got us in free.  And we were not disappointed in the falls.  They were just beautiful and something that we are glad we were able to locate and see.  At this time the flow over the falls was considered medium but within a few weeks the flow will really decrease.  The water will be used for irrigation of the farm lands during the summer months prior to it reaching the falls.   It was downstream from the falls that Evel Knevel had his failed attempt at jumping the Snake River Gorge years ago.

Before returning to the campground we stopped at Shari’s restaurant.  We have seen these restaurants in several locations  in this northwest region.  We ordered dinner with the addition of dinner salads.  Our dinners came and we did not have our salads.  After the waitress apologized for the mistake and we declining having salads at that point, the manager came by to say we would be given a piece of pie on the house.   Apparently, this restaurant is noted for its pies.  We got our pieces of pie to go as it was past 7pm and we were ready to get back to the motorhome. 

Tom, feeling overly ambitious and being able to do so, washed the motorhome and car.  Not too many campgrounds allow washing of vehicles but on this trip we have encountered this several times.  After that was completed we had our coffee with the pie from the restaurant.  Good berry pies- I had Marionberry pie and Tom had a 3 berry (blueberry, raspberry and blackberry)pie.  Tomorrow we will be moving further east into Wyoming.