Natalie is going to chime in on the blog this week. Nat, what color do you want to be?
NAT: I want to be pink.
Great, and I’ll just be plain black. So, we started our week with a short trip from West Wendover, NV to Tooele, UT, so we could stay at an inexpensive fairgrounds campsite for the week. Along the way, we marveled at the snow-white salt that went on for miles.
NAT: I liked driving the RV on the salt! I was kinda nervous and it was a little scary.
On Tuesday afternoon, the girls and I went to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The library is an effort of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to preserve genealogical records from all over the world. As soon as we walked through the front door, we were greeted and given special “first time guest” name badges, watched an introductory video, then assigned a missionary who got us started with our family research. We never had to stand around wondering about what to do or where to go.
NAT: It was fun looking up our family. I did not get a computer but Carrie and I shared one. Carrie and I thought it was hard finding family members, so when we did find one we were really excited. The lady that helped us was really nice and printed copies for us, but only mom wanted copies.
Yes, you girls worked well together. We set out with a few family “mysteries” we were trying to solve. We didn’t get to finish our research but found some interesting facts and a new-found interest in family history!
Then on Wednesday, Emily and I went to the Salt Lake City International Airport for some plane spotting. She had been scoping out good places to view planes and had high hopes that it would be a good spotting airport. It turned out to be just ok. Here is a shot she took from the parking garage:
This airport also had a bike trail that ran through the property. The friendly policeman that stopped to question us recommended it as a better spotting site. As we walked the trail, a Boeing 757 came in for a landing. That was the most exciting part of our day!
NAT: Sometimes I wish I liked plane spotting, but it’s not my thing!
This county-run complex turned out to be a great parking spot for the week; full hookups, good internet and cheap! We even had the whole place to ourselves (until Thursday when a softball tournament started).
There were several sports fields, BMX and motorcross tracks and…
…a waterpark! What luck for a heatwave week!
NAT: But I got a bad sun burn on my face, and now have flaky stuff on my face. And moisturizer does not work.
On Friday, we moved to Antelope Island State Park, a large island on the Great Salt Lake. The island is home to its namesake antelope, but it was the large herd of bison that was brought here in the late 1800′s that got Natalie’s interest.
NAT: That was my favorite thing of course! There were a lot of babies too!
Very few animals can survive in water with such a high concentration of salt. However, these brine flies were flourishing! They form a blanket near the edge of the water and move in waves as you walk toward them. The tiny creatures proved to be a formidable barrier for our girls’ nerves, except for Natalie.
NAT: The flies weren’t that bad, truly. I watched someone else walk through the flies first and so I did it too.
Natalie was brave, not only to walk through the flies first, but she was the only one in our family who tried to swim and float in the salty water.
NAT: You didn’t really have to try hard to float, it was really fun. Just a drop of the water was really, really salty. I got some in my mouth and could taste it for five whole minutes!
Eventually, we all tip-toed through the flies and trudged through the murky waters with a clay-like bottom that squished through our toes. We wanted to say that we had been in the Great Salt Lake.
NAT: The campsite was really nice and a short walk to the lake.
We found these interesting tracks too. Who made those, Nat?
Later that night, Jon was outside working on a stubborn plumbing repair problem by this bright moonlight.
NAT: Dad called us outside (mom was already asleep and I was almost asleep) to see the bright moonlight. I never thought the moon could be so bright!
What is this?!
NAT: This is a mouse. They were everywhere. Dad said that he could hear this one scurrying around him while taking our picture by the moon. He is a cute little critter.
We started our Saturday by searching for an RV plumbing parts store and got stuck in this 4th of July parade route.
After several hours of searching, Jon found a part that would work and we were finally on our way north to the Golden Spike National Historic Site. The girls and I have been reading a book about the Transcontinental Railroad, so we were glad this stop was not far off our route. They have two replica steam engines to “transport” you back to the 1860′s.
NAT: Golden Spike was cool and it was fun to watch the historical train run. Since we have been reading the book, I understood this site better. I remembered the two teams that were racing to finish the railroad. Libby (the book’s main character) remembered the teams like this: the Union Pacific started with a “U” for “us” since she lived on that side and the Central Pacific was from California and many of the workers were from China, all C’s.
While the original golden spike resides in a museum at Stanford, the last tie laid was still there to commemorate this important place in history. It was remarkable to see just how hard these “teams” worked to build this important transportation link. They weren’t allowed to build the rails any steeper than a 2% grade, so this meant the Central Pacific team had to blast and dig through the Sierra Nevadas, progressing at a rate of only 8 inches a day!
Then we drove on to Idaho!
NAT: The state of famous potatoes!
We stopped at a small town on the Snake River, which had a very nice, clean RV park next to their city park. We got there in time for the sunset.
The cold river felt really good on tired toes.
We drove a little further north on Sunday morning to the Minidoka National Historic Site, the largest Japanese Internment Camp during WWII. We were on a roll, getting to see another place we had recently read about. This book from the Dear America series was a favorite for us girls.
NAT: The book was sad, but a good book. This was an interesting site to go to, but I thought it was upsetting. But at least the Japanese made the best of it. They had girl scouts, a post office, a hospital, a school and lots of other things too. I thought this site was a good spot to go see.
This was all that was left of the 420 barracks that once occupied this dry Idaho dessert and housed more than 7,000 people with Japanese ancestry. Each family, no matter the size, was given one room. It was disturbing to think that even American citizens were forced from their homes, leaving behind belongings and businesses, and forced to live here for nearly four years.
About an hour and a half up the road, the landscape made another dramatic change. This is Craters of the Moon National Monument:
This park is made up of lava flows that are just over 2,000 years old; “yesterday” in geological terms. We arrived just in time for a Ranger-led hike into the lava tubes…what luck! Our hike was led by a former kindergarten teacher who pointed out many interesting facts and features around the park, like these ferns growing in a hot and dry climate.
NAT: There was a Limber Pine growing there and the park ranger explained the difference between a Colorado Blue Spruce and a Limber Pine. A spruce would fall at craters of the moon (she used Em & me for the example, I was a limber pine & Em was a blue spruce) and a Limber Pine would be fine here.
We learned about the three types of lava flows that are found at Craters of the Moon. This amazing creation is an example of pahoehoe (p -hoi hoi), a hawaiian word meaning “smooth, unbroken lava”.
NAT: My favorite was the ‘A’a (ah-ah) lava and the ‘A’a dance. If you walk on this type of lava you will say “ah-ah” because it is very sharp.
The ranger led us into this large lava tube called Indian Tunnel. It was a cool and refreshing part of our hike compared to the heat that was radiating off the dark lava beds on the surface.
NAT: There were lots of different colors in the cave. My favorite was the orange colored lava, which was made from rain.
We walked and scrambled through the 800 ft. tube and climbed out the back door.
The landscape surrounding this large lava field was beautiful too:
We ended the day with a climb up Inferno Cone:
It was very windy at the top:
And fun to run down:
The cone was covered with these spectacularly beautiful cinders. They were clay-like with many hollows on the inside but iridescent and colorful on the outside.
Jon is proving just how much spinach he has been eating lately:
We stopped just a few more miles up the road in Arco, ID. It will be another quick stop, as we are headed to the big park next week…Yellowstone.