Saturday, October 8, 2011

How I Spent My Autumn--Travelogue: Part II Craters of the Moon

A couple of months ago, my brother Bruce called me to ask if I wanted to present to a group of high school speech and drama teachers at a conference in Sun Valley.  I told him I would, and today was the day.  The conference was held in Ketchum, Idaho and we stayed at the lodge in Sun Valley.  Chimene went with me and we had a grand time.

We drove over yesterday, Thursday, October 6th and for a goodly portion of the drive we were in blizzard conditions.  Blizzard conditions in October!  That was alarming because on Saturday we are supposed to have the 2nd Annual, Rexburg, Idaho Zombie Apocalypse.  The weather report says it will be sunny and 55 degrees at the time of our march, so I think it will be okay.

To get to Sun Valley from Rexburg you have to pass through the town of Arco, Idaho and the INL which was recently called the INEEL, and before that it was called the INEL.  Us locals just call it "The Site".  Arco is famous for being the first city in the free world to receive it's electricity from nuclear power.  Another interesting feature of this area is the Navy base in the middle of the Idaho desert.  According to a friend who is a security guard at the site, there have been as many as three nuclear subs buried in the desert for training purposes.  My guess is that they are sub simulators, but for all intents and purposes they are submarines buried in the Idaho desert.  I find that kind of cool.

The town of Arco has the tower of the decommisioned USS Hawkbill in a small city park to commemorate the fact that there is a navy base there.

Tower of the USS Hawkbill, SSN 666

The road to Sun Valley passes through the edge of Craters of the Moon National Monument.  I have spent very little time in the monument and I have always regretted that I haven't explored there more often.  I have committed to do more of it.  Nick, my son-in-law has inspired me to do so.  He has hiked all over the monument and I wish to see it as well.

When we drove through yesterday, though, as I said it was blizzarding.  I took a few photos on the way over.  Even with the snow, it was breathtaking and awe inspiring.

Snow covered cinder at Craters of the Moon
Snow beginning to collect on the National Monument


A kipuka is a portion of an older lava flow that is surrounded by a younger lava flow.  The flow that once destroyed the steppe vegetation now preserves it.  Scientists from all over the world study the pristine kipukas that have not been altered by grazing domestic livestock or invasive plant species.  These are left as God created them.

We arrived at Sun Valley around 5 PM and checked into our room.  The lodge is a swanky place that has hosted just about every celebrity from the 1920's to the present.  Sun Valley was founded by W. Averell Harriman, the son of the great railroad baron, E H Harriman.  He was looking for a destination for the railroad and found an ideal location at Sun Valley.  Today there is much to do there, hiking, skiing, ice skating year round, shopping, swimming etc...

They have a magnificent swimming pool that is circular and cone shaped.  The staff keeps it heated to 95 degrees during the summer and 105 during late fall and winter.  Guess where I spent some quality time...

Brass door handles at entrance to the lodge

The pool

I spent about two hours in the pool on Thursday night.  The weather alternated between raining on me and snowing on me in the pool.  It was amazing.  I didn't mind a bit.  It was neat to lay on my back in the water during the snowstorm and watch the snow fall.  I got out, and headed for the sauna.  That wasn't my favorite thing to do, and I don't know if I could get used to it or not.  After my swim and sauna, I slept pretty well.

This morning, I arose at about 7:30 and headed to the pool again.  This time it was a little warmer outside and no precipitation.  I spent about an hour in the pool this time, mostly alone.  What a peaceful place.  Of course the best part was that I didn't have to pay for it!

There is a pond in front of the lodge that is host to a pair of swans.  They were swimming around this morning so I was able to get a few shots of them.

Swan at the lodge

After Chimene and I checked out we ate breakfast and explored the town of Ketchum til it was time for me to present.  There was an art gallery there that we spent some quality time in and there was a watercolor of a raven that I really liked and someday wish to have hanging up in my home.

My presentation to the drama teachers was titled "Theatre Props--Imagination on a Shoestring".  I showed how you can take something that cost almost nothing and turn it into a first class prop.  I showed several photographs and brought a bunch of props that I had made on the cheap.  I brought things like the hacked Big Mouth Billy Bass, the Mephistopholes cane from the opera Faust, a couple of the Oedipus Metopes, several Holy Grails and a couple of my modified books.  When I showed the props to them, I talked them through the process and showed them how none of it cost very much money at all.  I hope they found it informative.  I know I had a great time doing it.

Then it was time to depart.  On the way home, it wasn't storming so bad and we stopped at Craters of the Moon and I hiked around the flow in the drizzle for a few minutes.  I feel truly blessed to live in this part of the country where we have so much beauty.  I wish to come back in the spring and hike the whole park.  Chimene didn't get out with me, but she was gracious enough to let me walk around and view the park.  I really enjoyed it even though it was raining.

Terraces cut into the hillside by the Civil Conservation Corps
Monoliths in the a-a flow at Craters of the Moon

Alternating pahoehoe and a-a flows

Amazing pahoehoe flow

Framents of an earlier crater that were broken and deposited to this spot by the younger flow

As a geology groupie, I couldn't get enough of Craters of the Moon.  I will be back.  I love this part of the world and can't wait to explore it more fully.