Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How I Spent My Spring--Travelogue: Part IV Memorial Day

My new skull shirt
For Memorial Day, we went to the Moreland, Idaho cemetery to visit my Dad.  When he was still living, Dad used to say things like, "When I kick off..." and other things that were slightly irreverent about death.  Because of that, I wore my new skull shirt to the cemetery.  In my own odd way I was paying tribute to my Dad.  Of course, some of my family members objected and thought it was slightly inappropriate, but I didn't care.  My nephews thought it was cool.  That was enough.

Moreland, Idaho is a very small town.  It seems to be shrinking, too.  When I was a kid we'd go visit and there were stores and gas stations.  They're all boarded up now and it seems that the population is less.  The best thing about Moreland, though is that it's where my family comes from and many of them still live there.

With a town that small, it is funny and ironic that both my wife and my son-in-law have people buried there.  Chimene is from Seattle and Nick is from Baltimore.  Chimene's grandmother grew up in Moreland and was friends with my grandmother.  I got to know her for a few years before she died.  We go and visit her grave every year as well.

Dad and Mother's stone
My kids were scandalized when they put the stone over Dad's grave.  They were wierded out that their grandma's name was on it when she was still living.  Imagine their consternation when they saw the back and my name was on it.

The backside

My grandparents' stone

Chimene's grandparents

Nick's family members

The extended family at the cemetery

After the cemetery we drove on into Pocatello where a Viet Nam veteran has for the last 8 years set up a memorial to the casulties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This memorial has grown in size and scope over the last eight years.  Part of why it has grown is the number of casulties has gone up every year.  The organizers of the event said they hoped it didn't get any bigger, and I knew exactly what they meant by that.

I had intended to show up, take a few pictures, explain the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to my sons and be done.  When we got there, however I realized just how important this thing really was.  Seeing over 6000 crosses and realizing that each one represents a deceased American serviceman was sobering.  Just seeing it on television or on the internet does not give one the full impact of seeing it for real.  It was heartwrenching.  We stayed for almost two hours.  It was a sacred experience.

There was a section for the soldiers killed in Afghanistan, one for the soldiers killed in Iraq and another section for the Idaho soldiers killed in both conflicts.  There was also a small section reminding us that there are still eight Idaho soldiers who are still unaccounted for from the Viet Nam War.  I grieve for the families and friends of these soldiers.

Idaho's Field of Heroes

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Operation Enduring Freedom

Idaho's MIA from Viet Nam

Idaho's casualties from Afghanistan and Iraq

Field of crosses

Nick and Cynthia and their children were with us all day, and on the way back to Rexburg, we decided to walk the interpretive trail at the rest stop at Hell's Half Acre.  I have always liked Hell's Half Acre.  I have always wondered why filmmakers haven't used it as a location.  It is some of the most rugged terrain I have ever seen.  Hell's Half Acre is a 4100 year old lava flow along the Snake River Plain.  Interstate 15 runs through the southern arm of the flow and there is a rest area there.  At the rest area there is an interpretive trail through the flow.  Both sides of the highway have trails and I have walked both of them.  In my opinion, the trail on the southbound side is more scientific but both sides are very cool.  It's called Hell's Half Acre, but in reality, the flow covers about 150 square miles.  The trails at the rest areas are paved and not too long. 

The family at the trailhead

Pahoehoe flow


Small fern that grows here

Juniper berries

Moss on the rocks

Lichen on the rocks, the first step in soil building

Connor and Haydn on the path

Jonathan, Garrett, Chimene, Hunter and Rhys

Holden, my youngest grandson

Nick and the boys exploring a cave

The boys on the lava

Nick and Cynthia and a whole bunch of boys on the trail

I never get tired of Idaho.  I'm glad we moved here.  There's alot to like about this place.  Most of all, though I love my family.  I was thankful to spend the day with them.

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