In this case “early,” meant “before 10,” and we were ready. Mostly. We had decided to trade up from the Prius to a rental van, even though the thought that a grizzly could easily pick up that little thing, toss it around and gulp it down like a Twinkie was something I found a particularly exciting option for our Yellowstone trip, I wasn’t sure I would survive three kids in the back of our little car for the better part of a dozen hours.
We decided to take the scenic route from our house to Jackson, Wyoming, which would be our launching pad to Yellowstone and other destinations, and which meant a side trip through Craters of the Moon National Monument was possible.
Craters was beautiful. We skirted it on our route to Jackson, and almost didn’t enter until I insisted we spring for the $8 per vehicle fee. I really wanted to see the caves. Mike hesitated. He’s not big into spelunking and reminded me that two women got lost somewhere in the park this time last year and were never found, or something like that. That thought, was as exciting as the thought of a grizzly bear mistaking our Prius for a Twinkie, which is pretty much why you never want to take me on a road trip. Except I pack good snacks, so people make exceptions.
We stopped at the Inferno Cone, from which we could see a great deal of the park. I was terribly impressed by the scraggly trees that shouldn’t have been able to grow from a field of lava rock, but somehow did, and looked somewhat less than happy for having made the effort.
Colin is in a state of mind to avoid any and all photography, although I didn’t realize at first that meant “all, including candid-not-posing-for-the-camera” photos. So, unlike previous trips, you might not see as much of him as before, but I’ll try.
We had a picnic lunch at the Cone then continued en route to the caves. I didn’t know what to expect. One was called Boy Scout Cave. Was that because that’s who it hid? Did troop after troop of Boy Scouts descend into the cave never to return?
We were never able to find out much about the caves. As we parked, low clouds rolled in, and when we got to the trailhead, overlooking knee-high lava rock, thunder rolled and crashed overhead. The trail was a little less than a mile to the cave, with the highest point in the landscape being me, or potentially one of my kids. I didn’t relish ending up looking like one of the trees we’d seen.
It was like God was on Mike’s side saying: “head on into Jackson, people.” Forget the caves. So that’s what we did.
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