|Sunset at the Craters|
In determining our route west, we noticed Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. Intrigued by the name of the park, we decided to divert our trip a little and make the Craters our next stop. Beginning 15,000 years ago, and as recently as 2000 years ago, the 52-miles long fissure called the Great Rift erupted with molten lava. The seven-mile loop road within the park gives visitors access to a number of short trails that lead out to various lava formations created by the eruptions. For the more adventurous, a special permit can be obtained to explore the lava tube caves.
Plants growing in the volcanic cinders endure heat of up to 150
degrees in the black
rock in the summer and below freezing temperatures in the winter, so only the most
resilient of plants can survive the adversity.
The bizarre, and seemingly barren, environment does support a limited
variety of small animals, birds, wildflowers and hardy limber pines.
|Dwarf Buckwheat in the cinder gardens|
|Replicas of wagons used on the Trail|
Moving into eastern Oregon, we targeted the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center outside of Baker City. Fascinated by the pioneer spirit that drove hundreds of thousands of individuals and families out west, we wanted to learn a little more about the trek they made.
An estimated 300 to 500 thousand made the trip from Missouri to Oregon between 1840 and 1869. Poor economic conditions, stories of verdant valleys, rich soil and political issues, including the idea of Manifest Destiny, all factored into the decision to go west. The 2000-mile trip was fraught with dangers; roughly 1 in 10 of the travelers died on the trail.
The Interpretive Center provides a presentation by a “fur trapper”, a
numerous historical displays. However,
the most interesting part of the center is the use of various scenes
constructed, in conjunction with the use of short films, and quotes from books
or journals written about or on the trip, to create a mini Oregon Trail
experience as you walk through the display. A portion of the old trail runs near the
Center and wagon ruts are still visible 150 years later!
|Oregon Trail still visible, with the landscape little changed|
|A unique campground|
|Lava as far as the eye can see|
|Along the Deschutes River-near one campsite|
|Stellar Jay at campsite|