A wonderfully weird place revisited

Published 6:22 pm Friday, July 15, 2022

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Ordinarily, the header, “4 Space-inspired Travel Stops,” would not have caused me pause. However, the email was directed to those looking for out-of-the-world fun. “If you want a vacation destination that feels like another planet entirely, look no further than Idaho. Specifically, the Craters of the Moon Monument and National Preserve.”

At that very moment, I was transported back in time. Back to this “wonderfully weird terrain that you’ll never forget.”

After all these years, I haven’t forgotten.

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As employees of Yellowstone National Park, our travels were limited to just how far our feet could carry us, how many rides we could thumb and the number of park employees who had an ol’ piece-of-a-car to ride.

The most popular employee at the entire national park worked with me at a place called Fishing Bridge. He was from Montana, the place where I was born. We were kindred spirits. He had a van that was no more than a rattletrap but, in today’s world, it would be a costly “vintage vehicle.”

On days off, a bunch of us would pile in the rattletrap and be off to Adventure Land!

Never mind that it was summer; we all wanted to visit world renowned ski resort, Sun Valley. So, we hopped into to the bon voyage van, with sleeping bags in tow, and headed for Idaho. It was late when we left the park but that was of no concern. Night comes late in the Wild West.

But, after a late roadside “supper” and, with dark clouds ahead and darkness coming, we decided to look for a good place to camp. A flash of lightning revealed a parking lot. Another flash, a small area of “Grass!”

In the next flash, everyone was out and zipped in bags, ready for rain.

Just as dawn was trying to break through the dark rainclouds, a voice whispered loudly “Oh, my gosh! Where are we?!!!

I dared to unzip my bag. There, before me was a sight I will never forget. “Are we on the moon?”

There could never have been a more desolate sight. No one spoke or even moved so as not to awaken the creatures that lurked among the eerie formations and the twisted trees. It seemed that even the sun was hiding its face from what was before us.

Dawn brought new light to the Craters of the Moon Monument and National Preserve – 53,500 acres of volcanic formations and lava flows on the northern rim of the Snake River Plain. Another planet entirely and just as the tag read, “a wonderfully weird terrain that you’ll never forget –, can never, ever forget.”