From Bruneau Dunes State Park, we got back on US-20 in Mountain Home and followed it to Craters of the Moon National Park and Preserve. The last time we visited here was with our grandson, Trevor, when he was about nine years old; he is now over 30, so it has been a while.
This National Monument was set aside in 1924 to preserve “vast volumes of lava that issued not from one volcano but from a series of deep fissures known collectively as the Great Rift.” These eruptions took place as long as 15,000 years ago and as recently as 2,000 years ago. We stayed a couple nights in the park’s campground (which was to be closed July 5 through the rest of the season for extensive renovations), and we walked many of the well-signed trails along the Craters of the Moon Loop Road. There we learned more about cinder cones, spatter cones, lava bombs, pahoehoe and ‘a‘ā lava, pressure ridges, squeeze ups, fissures, rifts, and lava tubes. We saw how vegetation and animals survive and thrive in what seems to be a wasteland. We became better informed about how air pollution, even here miles from nowhere, damages the lichens growing on the lava; and how careless human use of the land has damaged limber pines and fragile lava formations.
Continuing east, we found a place to stay in Rexburg, Idaho, over the Fourth of July weekend in order to be sure we had a place to park our home and to avoid some of the holiday traffic. When we asked where to go for a holiday parade and fireworks, we were told, “Lots of people go to Idaho Falls, but if you want a quieter, less congested experience, go to Menan for their celebration. It’s only about ten miles west of Rexburg.” So that’s exactly what we did and enjoyed it immensely.
Menan, Idaho, is a small town of about 280 people that swells by the thousands during their one-day Menan 4th of July Celebration. The parade was just the right length with just enough variety; the vendors provided plenty of different kinds of food to overstuff ourselves – from Indian tacos to strawberries-and-cream funnel cakes; and the fireworks were just spectacular enough. When we put a small donation in the bucket before those fireworks, the volunteer told us they were going to dump all the money they raised out in the middle of the field and set fire to it – that would be the fireworks. They must have raised a heck of a lot of money!