Friday, June 27, 2014

A Fabulous Time for a Moon Walk

We didn’t really visit the moon. The campgrounds there don’t offer cable TV. But we did visit Craters of the Moon National Monument in southern Idaho, which is almost as good.


In 1923 Geologist Harold T. Stearns described the place as “the surface of the moon seen through a telescope”, thus the name. It’s really a large lava flow created by magma coming to the surface of the earth through fissures. There is no big volcano here. The most  recent “eruption” here was about 2000 years ago.


All of the rocks here are volcanic in origin and very similar to what can be seen around Kilauea on the big island of Hawaii. The big difference is that Kilauea is still erupting and this place has been quiet long enough for plant life to begin to make a comeback.

DSC_0381 Although lava itself is sterile and hard as, well, as a rock, the soil and nutrients needed to support plant life actually blow in from the surrounding countryside, and eventually plants can take root.


If you’ve ever been to the Big Island you’ve probably seen lava formations like this. Walking through this park reminded me that at the time of the Apollo moon landing my grandfather insisted the pictures of the landing weren’t real, but were taken in a studio or someplace else.  Personally, I believe the moon landings were real, but I think I saw a lunar rover behind a cinder cone among the craters. I could be mistaken.

The campground we’re staying in is in the town of Arco, ID. This town of 900 souls’ claim to fame is that in 1955 it became the first city in the world to be powered by nuclear energy as an experiment by the nearby National Laboratory. In 1961 the reactor became the site of the first meltdown in the world, killing 3 people. I wish we had brought a Geiger counter with us.


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