Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fast forward

All night ride last night, bridging the distance from western Washington to eastern Idaho and catching up on schedule. Three unreserved options had no room at the inn for me or for other tent-focused travelers.

My favorite one? An RV park at Historic Echo, Oregon. Lots of signs to make sure tourists know that the town is historic, not just run down. The Oregon state website may advertise RV and tent spaces, a children's playground, and a park, but the reality is a row of four RVs backed off a side street, a grass strip between them and the next residential property, a small community skateboard park, and a small public toilet building -- which was locked.

After a quarter hour of walking around, puzzling over the (also) locked building claiming to be a museum of Oregon Trail artifacts and no sign of the hosts, an exhausted motorbiking couple from Montreal and I decided to move on into the night.

The Lava Field campground at Craters of the Moon National Park is exactly as advertised, sites tucked between piles of spongy basalt ejecta and scrub desert pines. Best site choice? Shade, preferably over a flat space. Any Arizonan knows that.

Interesting display at the visitor center -- the geologic history of Craters of the Moon is linked to the Snake River "smile" of mountain-free and vineyard-blessed terrain that bridges the state and predicts the future of Yellowstone National Park! Discoveries of multiple large calderas in this region of the Pacific tectonic plate have been associated with a focused hot spot in the Earth's mantle.

As the plate slips westward, the section under pressure from the hot spot shifts east.

The hot spot prompts formation of lava domes, followed by sudden explosive collapse into large calderas that fill with basalt ejecta like the piece I am sitting on as I write this post. The earliest identified one occurred 18 million years ago.

So big, it doesn't look like a crater without a wider view

Yes, the hot spot is under Yellowstone now, and is expected to have another identity crisis some day in the next hundred thousand years. A few million years afterward, it may look much like these views of the North Crater.

Tomorrow, on toward Grand Junction, Colorado. Regret late posts -- time and useful Internet service remain a problem.

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