Since the last post, we were just leaving Donna and Jeff’s place. We got a late start out of there b/c we had to fix a torn CV boot. We had the boot already, so all we had to go was take it off and replace it, and we also repacked the grease since the grease inside was all nasty from the dusty gravel roads. Well, we continued driving that night until we reached Missoula, Montana. It was getting dark out fast, and we weren’t going to reach any national forest roads before it got dark out for sure, but we did pass a 24-hr. Wal-Mart! Well, good thing, because we felt welcome to park and camp out in Wal-Mart’s parking lot for the night. When we pulled in, there were at least 5 other full-size RVs camping out, our neighbors even had their lawn chairs out and were drinking in the parking lot! Hahahaha!
Bannack Ghost Town
Donna and Jeff suggested that we take the road through Bannack on the way to Craters of the Moon National Monument. So we did, and we ended up reaching Bannack, Montana around lunch time the next day after camping in Wal-Mart. Bannack used to be the capitol of the territory of Montana, before it became a state. It was an old gold miner’s town. There was a long “main street” lined with many old buildings such as a school house, hotel, saloon, and other ghost town buildings. You could walk into most of them, and it felt like you were walking into the last century! The buildings were all from the mid-1800s. I guess some people still lived there up to the 1940s, but it was already largely abandoned by then.
Craters of the Moon National Monument
By the end of the day, we reached Craters of the Moon, in Idaho. We slept on a “scenic pulloff” just past the entrance to the park, but still inside the park territory. The night sky was so clear and there was no light pollution, so we saw all the stars! We even saw the Milky Way stretch across the whole sky! I wish I could’ve been able to take a picture. When we woke up, pretty early, a trucker joined us at the pulloff, and I guess he fell asleep with his head flat on the steering wheel, and we also noticed two empty bottles of beer next to his cab on the ground. Hehehehe. Craters of the Moon is an ancient volcano caldera, like Yellowstone is, but it has volcanic lava flows all over the place. The park is covered in aa lava and pahoihoi lava flows. There are many volcanic cones scatter along the place, which are the areas where the lava flowed out and that hole built up after the lava dried and flowed over it again. We took a little hike around one of the lava flows, and then took another hike to some lava tube caves! I never thought Idaho would have lava tube caves, but they were like the ones on Hawai’i. We went into one of them with our flashlight (the caves are wild and you can explore them on your own), but our flashlight sucked, so we went into the Indian Tunnel cave, which was caved-in at some spots, slowing light to pass through, so you didn’t need a flashlight. It was only 800 feet long, but it was pretty cool! Then we walked across the lava flow field back to the car, and continued on driving for the day.
Oregon and Crater Lake National Park
We came into Oregon in the afternoon, the same day we left Craters of the Moon. Oregon, in the east, is very dry and desert-like, much like southern Idaho is. Our next destination was Crater Lake National Park. But we didn’t reach it before sun down that day, so we camped about 50 miles away in some state park near the Oregon volcanic monument, an area of the Cascade Mountains that kinda resembled Craters of the Moon, with all the cones and old lava flows. For the first time, we hooked up the water hose to the bus, and we used the sink inside to wash dishes! It was so convenient. The next morning, we drove to Crater Lake NP. The lake is at the top of the now-collapsed Mt. Mazama, an ancient volcano. The caldera collapsed about 7,700 years ago in a huge eruption, and a lake formed fed by only snow and rainfall. We drove around it on the Rim Road. We stayed for a couple hours, and now we're off for the PACIFIC COAST!!!