Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Hell's Canyon & The Craters of the Moon

Along the Snake River
East Oregon and South Idaho

We did the 200 mile Hell's Canyon scenic loop yesterday. We saw miles of fertile farmland and winding US Forest Service roads.

Hell's Canyon is the deepest gorge in America at 1.5 miles deep. It was formed as part of an arc of undersea volcanic mountains in the South Pacific about 300 million years ago. Limestone rocks formed over the igneous rock on the sea bottom.The chunk of tectonic plate floated 2,000 miles north and collided with America. A vast uplifting and new igneous rock intrusions then took place amid considerable volcanism. During the ice ages, vast lakes in Montana repeatedly broke though glaciers and formed rivers with 1,000 times the volume of all the present day rivers in the least so say the geologists. A strange and twisted history...geologic time runs on a different scale than human time.

Lewis and Clark crossed the Rockies and made their was down the Clearwater River to the Snake and then on to the Columbia.
I was a little surprised to see the Snake flowing north, but the Columbia is that way so it makes a certain sense. Lewis and Clark passed by here in the summer of 1804. The dams and locks make the rivers much easier to navigate for the most part.

These wild blackberries along the riverbank were very good.

Today was a fantastic driving day. Mrs. Phred did most of it. I discovered my old box of compilation CDs that I made while drinking Wild Turkey, late at night, back when I had to work. We turn it up and listen to Pink Floyd, Alvin Lee, The Stones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Credence Clearwater, Hot Tuna, Santana, The Talking Heads, Violent Femmes, The Platters, Randy Newman, Jimmi Hendrix, ZZ Top, etc. and watch the mountains, rivers and Idaho farmland roll by. For a change we hit the road at 6AM and make 450 miles by 3PM. The drive to the Grand Tetons tomorrow will only be a few hours more.

Suddenly we run into a blizzard of yellow grasshoppers in Idaho. Smack! Smack! All over the windshield. Just past that we drive through the the hundreds of square miles of The Craters of the Moon National Monument. Strangely, I'd been trying to remember the name of this place and where it was located for several days....there it was.
Blasted, torn, jagged black lava as far as the eye can see. Totally worthless desolate wasteland. What genius it was to turn it into a National Monument. I love it.

Our RV park is just down the road from Atomic City, the home of the first nuclear reactor in 1951. They have a couple of nuclear aircraft engines on display and Atomic's a must see in the morning.

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