We meet up again with some full-time RVing friends again to do some more Idaho adventuring: a real bonafide rodeo and Craters of the Moon National Monument!
Remember the Stampers? We first met them in Virginia, boondocked and worked together in North Carolina, and then met up again in Michigan for the Fourth of July. Our paths crossed yet again in Idaho Falls. RV Park options around Idaho Falls are few and far between, so they ended up joining us at our RV park in Idaho Falls called Snake River RV. It was so awesome to see them again and swap stories of our adventures of the past month!
Our first new adventure all together was a trip to the War Bonnet Rodeo! Tom and I had never been to a real rodeo before, so we got on our boots and cowboy hats and headed for the grand stands.
It was Breast Cancer Awareness Night, hence all the pink!
From the barnyard scramble to the wild horse and bull riding, we were captivated by the experience. Some of the games had us laughing so hard our sides ached, some had us on the edge of our seat, and some had us cheering as loud as we could. It was a different world that neither of us could imagine having the guts and grit to participate in, but it sure was fascinating to watch!
After our last night at Snake River RV, we weren’t quite ready to head our separate ways yet. We and the Stampers headed over to the Idaho Falls Tourist Park for some free boondocking near downtown. From here we biked the Idaho Falls Greenway Trail along the Snake River to see the waterfalls (yes, Idaho Falls DOES have falls!).
The next morning we all piled into our truck (which actually seats 6 with the bench seat in the front) and headed out for a day trip to Craters of the Moon National Monument located about an hour away.
Tom and I had visited Craters of the Moon before…using Google Earth.
That was how we did most of our exploring before this adventure, but also gave us a great list of places we wanted to see in real life. As you may imagine, the Google Earth version pales in comparison to the real thing! It really looked like you were on the Moon.
As we mentioned in our ice cave exploring adventure, Idaho had some serious volcanic activity. Craters of the Moon is a vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush. Between 15,000 and 2000 years ago, lava erupted from the Great Rift, a series of deep cracks that start stretch 52 miles through the monument. During this time the Craters of the Moon lava field grew to cover 618 square miles!
We hiked up ancient volcanoes and looked down into their craters.
We saw gigantic boulders that had been pushed down the volcanoes by the lava as it flowed across the land. Can you imagine the power of the lava ripping these rocks from the cinder cone and rafting them down like icebergs?
We walked on hardened lava that coiled, squeezed, and solidified into the most unreal shapes and textures! This is called pahoehoe (pah-hoy-hoy) from the Hawaiian word for “ropy.”
Craters of the Moon has huge caves formed by lava tubes. To explore these we needed a special permit from the Park Ranger.
They asked us if we had been in any other caves that year. They are trying to prevent the spread of white nose syndrome, a disease that has killed many millions of bats in North America. We had visited Mammoth Caves earlier in the year, which does have the disease. Anything that had been in that cave could have contamination: shoes, phones, cameras, jackets, etc.
We determined that the only thing we had with us that was the same was our cameras. But how could we NOT take pictures? I mean, we are travel bloggers for heaven’s sake! What were we going to do?
The Park Ranger said objects can be decontaminated by cleaning them with Lysol or some similar disinfectant, which we conveniently had in the truck! We got our permit and headed for the caves!
When we returned back to the Tourist Park, we found some more full-time RVers taking advantage of the location too! That was when we met Drivin’ & Vibin’ – Olivia, Kyle, and their dog River. Their mission is to live freely and deliberately while cruising around the country in their little 16-ft 1985 Fiberstream camper!
We totally admire them for this: us in our 33-footer and the Stampers in their 39-footer looked huge and excessive next to theirs! Maybe we don’t live so minimally after all…I guess it’s all about perspective!
We had dinner and shot the breeze into the evening. It isn’t often that we meet up with other full-timers like this, so to have this impromptu gathering was quite fun!
The next morning it was time to say goodbye – Drivin’ & Vibin’ was heading to Montana, we were heading toward Yellowstone again, and the Stampers were hanging out in Idaho to hopefully do some elk hunting. We swapped some boondocking spots and bid our goodbyes, wishing them safe travels and happy hunting.
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