Out West: Day 6

So we started out our day again driving through Yellowstone south towards Grand Teton NP. Of course on the way we stopped by a few more hot springs, and of course crossed the continental divide! We were definitely headed west now with the water flow!

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See how cute? we are swimming.... cause it's the continental divide... get it?

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When we came to Grand Teton of course there was a line waiting to take pictures in front of the sign, till now Lee and I were lucky in having our dance sessions private, but now we had an audience. When it was our turn we put on quite a show and I think this was the best gif made on the trip!


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The Grand Tetons I think are the most perfect looking mountains. They are perfectly shaped, always have some snow, have glistening reflecting lakes at the base... they are picture perfect mountains, and you can never take a bad photo. We drove through Jackson on the way out but didn't stop. I've been to Jackson Hole many times and it's interesting to see how much it's changed since skiing became huge there, there are many companies, and people trying to push for more of the Teton range to be open for skiing. Which would be environmentally terrible for the mountains... Let's just hope capitalism doesn't win against preservation.

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The Snake River was beautiful driving by it but soon we were in the Snake River Plain, which is on the Great Idaho Rift and is a desert. Everything got really weird. Here we were, the only ones on a two lane road, and soon there were signs warning to not leave the road, the rest stop had weird noises being made by the wind sounding like an eerie music, and other signs about things being "nuclear" and "atomic"... little did we realize to get to Craters of the Moon you drive thru the INL, the Idaho National Laboratory which tests and creates nuclear reactors for power plants. It has built 50 one of a kind reactors all but three that are now shut down. It also was the home of the only US casualties by nuclear meltdown, 3 workers were killed and had to be buried in lead coffins.... yeah... Lee and I did not like this part of the journey and of course the INL is a massive facility, which is mainly underground, and its land expands for miles and miles. It of course now is a research facility for new bio-energy testing, nuclear energy, nuclear waste, and whatnot, but the feeling around the place and the cities, namely Arco, were just creepy going through. The photo with all the numbers on the mountain is in Arco (first city ever to be electrified by nuclear power), Lee and I freaked out a bit when we saw that... we thought it was something to do with atomic/nuclear stuff but in actuality it's jut a tradition for the graduating class to paint their year on the mountain... Still it looks creepy... and the town has a population of under 1000.... so small and so run down 50's looking.

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As we were driving thru the brush desert being somewhat creeped out, from no where Craters of the Moon National Preserve appeared. This was the first stop that I've never been to, so I had no clue what was in store. It was very strange, out of the brush the land became completely barren and pitch black. The black was a matte color and didn't reflect the sunlight, it was just void of light... and there were rocks everywhere.... and it was massive, I had no clue of the span of the park. You can even see it from space, a black mark on the earth. Very creepy, very cool.

Craters of the Moon was started 15 million years ago when the Yellowstone hotspot was under the location but the hotspot slowly "moved" 10-11 million years ago as the north american plate moved over the spot. This is part of the great rift fissure in the Snake River Plain, which is a line of weakness created by basin and range rifting, creating this and many calderas including Yellowstone and the deepest rift (800ft) on Earth. Geologists believe it is still somewhat active since some of the newest lava flows are only 2,000 years old. They believe this great fissure created fluid lava shooting 1000ft into the air along a mile long rifts. The park is massive, it's over 600 sq miles (thanks to Clinton for the expansion of the park over 13fold!), and has 25 volcanic cones and 60 distinct lava flows ranging in 15,000 to 2,000 years old. One thing we didn't see that I'd love to go back are tree molds, cavities created when lava incinerated trees. It was beautiful to explore at sunset, and it seemed we were the only ones in the park. The campground was awesome looking nestled in between the ghosts of what was once cataclysmic eruptions. The photos are hard to do any justice, the ground was absorbing the light and hard to show the magnitude of what was in front of us... But it was truly incredible and I can't wait to go back again.

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We came upon this large mound called Inferno Cone and thought, oh let's go to the top... we thought we were at the top but it kept going! It in the end was worth it, the views were spectacular and the rocks it was made of were so weird! They were matte black on one side and shiny silver on the other, also were very porous and light weight... It was weird walking on them!

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These formations were from spewing magma called spatter cones, these are some of the best examples of them in the world. You could walk to the top and look down into it... It was sweet! The entire drive Lee and I were just in wonder of the look of the place. I have never or will probably ever see something like this again. It was mind boggling.

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So all in all this day was the most extreme of scenery.... One side you have beautiful mountains with pristine lakes at the base, then you have a desert with creepy nuclear plants and cataclysmic volcanic flows and eruptions... Man the Earth is mighty interesting, and we are very lucky to have this diversity of nature protected and able to enjoy for generations!

Only two more days to share!!! Hahah and this trip was now almost a month ago! The next couple days don't nearly have as many pictures to share, I think this was my most heavy photo post! Sorry about the delays, just been trying to get comfy here in Oakland and make myself a schedule.

Till the next day!

Huggles,
Lauren

photos by me and lee

3 comments:

Amber Blue Bird | October 5, 2011 at 10:58 AM

your gifs are awesome. Looks like your trip was a success.

Bethany Kellen of bunnypicnic | October 5, 2011 at 3:00 PM

this drive looks amazing. i'm so jealous that you go to do that. so exciting. these photos are spectacular.

Victoria / Justice Pirate | October 6, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Spatter cones look really pretty and the history of them is so odd but awesome.

I love all your animated gifs of you two doing odd dances hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Loved reading through this. Your photos are so dreamy.