Family Vacation 2011-Part 10

This is the final post for our vacation. Hooray! I’m so happy finally have it complete.

Thursday the 21st, we headed off to Craters of the Moon National Monument. It was a good halfway point between Hungry Horse and Ely. Even though Andrea and Brien weren’t going to be in town, we decided we still wanted to go to Great Basin.

We got to Craters in time for setting up and making dinner. It was a beautiful clear night so we slept with the rain fly off and were able to watch shooting stars from our tent. It turned out to be a mild night, and much warmer than our stay at Yellowstone. (Much warmer in that I wasn’t fitting the urge to stay in my sleeping bag because it was so cold.) We took down camp, got info on the junior ranger badge and headed out on some hikes.

We first hiked Inferno Cone, then headed towards the caves. The plan was to just walk through Indian Tunnel, but we decided to visit every cave. Craters of the Moon is a lave feed, so all the caves and tunnels are accessed because the lave tubes have broken and then we are able to access the caves which were formed from the lava tubes. (The top layer hardens as the lava flows, and then hot lava continues to flow underneath and creates tunnels.) Most of Craters is a lava field of lava tubes and pretty awesome to see.

We first stopped at Dew Cave, which is pretty small, then hiked Indian Tunnel, which is a large tunnel, that is very open because of many fallen holes in the ceiling of the cave. Once out of Indian Tunnel we decided to navigate across the lava field, they had helpful markers, and even though there have not been any collapses of lava tubes since 1924, it was still a little scary to not know if the ground beneath you would decide to fall.

After the tunnel the girls and Jon decided to investigate Boy Scout Cave. I opted to stay and wait at the surface. I’m not one for tight spaces and crawling. The girls loved it and Lilah loved that there was ice on the floor of the cave. We then headed towards Beauty Cave. I thought I’d join them because this cave is large and open, around 30 feet high and 200-300 deep. The girls had our headlamps, Jon carried his red light flashlight and I held Eden’s hand to stay close to someone with a light. I was fine as we entered the cave, but once it became super dark, and only our lights were guiding us, I started to feel claustrophobic and had to leave. I was able to turn back and find my way because I was going towards the entrance of the cave. The girls and Jon continued to explore and enjoyed their time in the dark.

Then we headed back to the visitor’s center, and got their junior ranger badges. Then onto the road once more, Highway 93 to be exact, the highway we drove for nearly the entire drive from Hungry Horse till we got home to Vegas.

We stayed in a hotel in Ely, NV on Friday night, then traveled to Great Basin National Park on Saturday. The girls and Jon got the packet for the Junior Rangers badges, and we bought tickets for the longer cave tour for Leeman’s Cave. We had visited the smaller tour in 2009, and decided to take the longer one this time. We enjoyed our time in the cave and they had fun filling out the packets. We enjoyed our traditional ice cream cone, and hit the road for our final stretch of highway home that afternoon.

It was a really fun trip but we were all happy to be home and in our own beds that night.

To see the pictures that go with this post visit: Family Vacation 2011- Part 10.

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