Ever since we first started traveling in the early 1970’s, we’ve used maps and tour books from AAA to help plan th itinerary. Although the internet provides a great deal more information, AAA still lays a good foundation. Idaho is mostly mountainous, but there is a flat area that sweeps through the bottom part of the state like a smile. Above the smile, far from anywhere any previous routes have taken us, lies Craters of the Moon National Monument. In the AAA tour books, sights that are especially worth seeing are marked with a diamond symbol. Most states have many diamond rated sights; Idaho only has four. Craters is one of the four and has always intrigued me for this rating as well as the fact that it has been a national monument since 1924.
Today we got about as close as we are ever going to get and we spent too much time in the car going to see the craters. We've seen a lot of interesting geology on this trip. Usually when you see lava that means a volcano blew its top somewhere along the line. At Craters the lava seeped up from cracks in the ground. The same hot spot that pushed the lava up here is also creating the thermal areas in Yellowstone hundreds of miles away. Another example of continental drift in action. The park is huge and only a small part is developed for car touring. Even the hiking trails are few and not very long. Creating the campground there was also a real effort. The lava boulders had to be crushed and smoothed out to create little platforms for people to pitch their tents or park their RV's.
We are camped near the expressway in yet another Indian run casino. This one actually charges campers to stay here and is fully developed offering all the utilities we normally expect. However, when we arrived the power was off and even the casino was running with generator power. The gamblers inside barely seemed to notice. The lighting was dim, the A/C was off and the none of the ATM machines worked, but people were pushing those buttons on what used to be the one armed bandits, oblivious to it all.