Wednesday, July 16, 2014

to Craters of the Moon

July 7

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19: 1-4a

The sky at our boondock is crystal clear at night.  There is no light pollution to obfuscate the stars and I wake at 3 am to take advantage of this and sharpen my night photography skills.  Sitting alone in complete black and complete silence gives me the chance to look up and watch the show above.  Satellites reflecting the light of the sun move overhead and shooting stars streak brightly only to fade and die moments later.  

I climb back into bed an hour and a half later, trying not to disturb Hubs and pugs.  All I can think about are the wonders of the night sky.

Last week, while driving the five miles back to camp from the Snake River, a rock was kicked up by a passing car and left a chip with legs in our windshield.  Rats.

Our auto insurance pays for windshield chips to be repaired, so I made an appointment for 8:30 am in Jackson.  

With our appointment being the only thing keeping us from leaving, this means today we move on from our surreal boondock site overlooking the Tetons.  

With the chip fixed the best they could, we begin the drive over the southern foothills of the Tetons which include miles of 10% grades both up and down, hairpin turns, and road construction.  Both of us are on edge and stressed about mountain driving.

Otis chooses this moment to barf all over the inside of the tube.  

There isn't really a good place to pull off so he just has to sit there and look ashamed for a few more miles.  

Murray looks pretty grossed out too.

Otis is fine, he just has the doggie version of acid reflux and must always have something in his stomach or else he will leave a trail of yellow foam all over.  

With a clean dog tube (I can't tell you how many times that thing has saved our car!) and a fed Otis, we continue through piney hills, crop fields, and finally scrub brush.  

We locate a free dump station in the city of Idaho Falls, get a quick lunch at Panda Express, and make for Craters of the Moon National Monument.  

We pass a dust devil and a mountain with numbers all over it.

It is warmer than any of us would like today, topping out at 85.  

After what seems like a year of driving, we arrive at CotM NM and pick out a level pull-through.  A wiry man strides over to us after we are all parked and informs us in a very curt tone that this is his spot, even though none of his things are here, there is no tag on the post, and he has not paid for it yet.  

So we try again and find a different, less hostile spot on the other side of the grounds.  All of the sites are surrounded by black volcanic rock that sounds like glass when clinked together.  

Otis and Murray pant and lay on their cooling mat while the humans unhitch and tend to trailer chores.  

We spend the evening on short walks around the surrounding lava fields, then a drive through the park loop.  A large cinder cone provides a view of the desolation around us and an education in tenacity.

This lone evergreen grows at the top, leaning downhill with roots clinging to sharp, crumbly volcanic pebbles; the only tree for miles and miles around.

Surprisingly, there is vegetation even in this forbidding landscape.  Small whitish clumps of Sulfur Buckwheat sprout long stalks with comical flowers blooming at the ends.  

Some are yellow, others pink or white. 

The rocky dirt underneath hardly seems able to sustain life.  To shuffle over one of these plants would dislodge it from the ground entirely.  The gravel is so fine, it is almost like quicksand to walk on and I sink up to my ankles with every step, getting jagged bits in my shoes, necessitating frequent de-shodding. 

There is no shade to shield us from the scorching sun other than what the Airstream provides.  Dinner requires the oven so we all hide outside, the humans in camp chairs and the pugs on their cooling mat, until well after the sun goes down.  

What a different world from just this morning!

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