I don’t remember which of us read about Craters of the Moon National Monument, or when exactly we decided to designate it as our first real destination, but an hour and a half into a three hour detour to see it I was doubting that person’s judgment. David had driven that morning until lunch, and I took the afternoon shift. So I was doing the driving--hence the questioning of sanity.
There is a whole lot of nothing between Salt Lake City, Utah and Blackfoot, Idaho, and to be truthful there wasn’t much promising after that. About halfway between Blackfoot and the town of Arco (the closest town to Craters) there is a creepy, X-Files worthy outpost called the Idaho National Laboratory. And something cryptically called the Experimental Breed Reactor-I. There is something to be said for the beaten path when you get into Idaho.
To be sure, the landscape got no less strange when we reached Craters of the Moon. We rounded a curve in the road, squinting in the late afternoon sun, and suddenly there was something like a black scar on the horizon. At first it looked like so much scorched earth we had seen the day before in Colorado, and earlier in the day in Utah and Idaho. Or maybe a patch of land in shadow from a cloud passing over the sun. But then we realized we must be there, as we began to recognize that it wasn’t clouds or ashes but black rock. Large amounts of black stretching off into the distance. But as strange as the landscape is, in its own way it’s quite beautiful. A stretch and a walk around the Visitor’s Center was enough to convince us that it was worth a look, since we came all this way.
white nose syndrome from killing their bats, so they want to make sure no one who goes down in the cave is wearing any items that they might be carrying from an infected cave. The walk out to the various caves is paved; as out of context as a lava field in the middle of Idaho, a paved path through is just that much more odd. When you do step off the path, the sound of the lava rock underfoot is a little like crunching across broken glass—the sound is high-pitched and hollow. I thought about what kind of pedicure you’d get by walking barefoot across it. I think they’d have to call it something like the Super Scrape.