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The Bruneau Sand Dunes

Sand Dunes We Visited in Bolivia

The Bruneau Dunes are perhaps the most bizarre natural phenomenon in the state. Trapped in a low-laying basin just south of Mountain Home, they’re thought to have originated during the Ice Age, in the aftermath of the Bonneville Flood. Unlike most sand dunes, those at Bruneau don’t shift dramatically with the wind. They’re trapped in the basin, and the highest peak stays at about 470 feet year-round.

Bruneau-Sand-Dunes

We parked our car near the foot of the dunes at a small lake and, after walking through a wetland forest, began our ascent. 470 feet sounds manageable, but we started having trouble well before reaching the top. Sand is never easy to walk on, and Bruneau has particularly loose sand which can gobble a leg up to the knee. It took about thirty minutes of tiresome crawling before we made it to the top.

Our shoes, clothes and mouths were filled with sand, and our thighs and calves were burning from the exertion, but I felt only glee upon cresting the summit. Yes, the view was remarkable, but most importantly: we were standing on top of North America’s biggest sand dune, and were about to run down. The softness of the sand, so troublesome on the way up, now beckoned to me: “Jump! I am so very soft!” And jump, I did. Jumping, rolling, sprinting, leaping through the wonderfully soft sand, it took about 20 seconds to reach the bottom.

Location on our Idaho Map

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Dune Tree
Idaho Lake
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Sandscapes
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Sand Landslide
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Dune Punk
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January 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm Comment (1)

Craters of the Moon

Volcanoes Of The World

Comprising 618 square miles of other-worldly lava-formed landscape, the Craters of the Moon National Monument is one of the strangest geographic areas in the entire country. Harsh, dry and largely barren, this craggily beautiful region has remained largely untouched by a humanity that never figured out a use for it. We visited one morning in late October, after a light layer of snow had covered the ground.

Moon-Hole

Instead of bursting out the top of mountain-sized volcanoes, the lava of Craters of the Moon seeped out of fissures and low-lying spatter cones. The volcanic activity only ceased around 2000 years ago, so the landscape is still rather young, and the fissures aren’t dead but merely dormant. Scientists expect them to become active again in the next 1000 years. Possibly even within the next hundred.

Although it’s open to the public, the vast majority of the Craters of the Moon is virtually inaccessible — settlers and Indians alike looped around this unforgiving land, and no roads transverse the black terrain. So if you want to get into the center, you’re looking at a long and difficult multi-day hike. Luckily, there’s a corner of the park which has been developed for touristic purposes, with a driving loop, and a number of short walks that introduce some of the lava fields’ best features.

After stopping by the visitor’s center and grabbing a map, we started our day with a two-mile walk to the Lava Tree Molds: a cluster of trees which had been incinerated by a boiling hot river of lava. As the lava cooled around the trunks, hollowed-out molds were formed, like the inverse of a tree. Snow had recently blanketed the ground, and the only other tracks on the trail were of deer and rabbit.

Next up was the Cave Area, where four caves formed by the lava flow are open to the adventurous. This was the section I had been most excited about — actual, explorable caves — and I had made sure to bring a flashlight so that we could spelunk into the furthest reaches. But these thrilling plans were dashed on discovering that our flashlight was out of batteries. Grrr!

Mike On The Moon

So, we weren’t able to get far into the first three caves (Dewdrop, Boy Scout and Beauty Cave) but flashlights weren’t required to appreciate Indian Tunnel, which has abundant light from holes in its ceiling. The tunnel was formed during a geological event known as the Blue Dragon Flow, when a river of lava hollowed out the earth before receding into fissures opened in the crust. A very cool walk.

Our final stop of the day was at the Devil’s Orchard, where a short paved path winds through a field of cinder cones. Interpretive signs along the way detail the irreversible environmental damage done to the park by humankind. I get it, but such a tsk-tsking felt superfluous in a place like Craters of the Moon, which is almost completely inaccessible to even the most determined vandal.

Craters of the Moon was named before people made it into space, and it must have been a disappointment when it turned out that the moon’s surface doesn’t resemble this lava-scorched landscape much at all. But the name stuck. Accuracy aside, the area does look otherworldly, and is a must-see for any fan of nature’s bizarre side.

Location of the Visitor’s Center

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Fog On The Moon
Snow Hike
Snow Art
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Frosty Rock
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Traces-Of-Lava-Flow
Tree Hole
Lava ICE
Lava Brush
Lava Wave
Rocking Lava
Lava Bubble
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Craters Of The Moon
Ice Land
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Lava Loaf
Lost-In-Idaho
Cave Of Idaho
Lava Star
Stairs To Hell
Stuck In Cave
Craters-Of-The-Moon-Caves
Light IN The Tunnel
Lava Hole

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December 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm Comment (1)

The Craziest House in Idaho

Random Things For Only 1 Dollar

We enjoyed our self-guided walking tour of historic Idaho City immensely, but our favorite house didn’t appear anywhere in the brochure. We decided to just call it the Crazy House, because it’s among the most eccentric structures we’ve seen anywhere in the States.

Strangest House In Idaho

It looks as though someone coated a normal two-story house in super glue, then dumped the contents of a well-stocked second-hand store on top of it. And then left it to rust and age for twenty years. It’s all been shuttered up, and peering through the windows, it’s clear that nobody has been inside for quite awhile. What did this building used to be? A crazy person’s home? An antique store? Who knows? The only thing not in doubt, is that this was the strangest and coolest house we had yet seen in Idaho, and we spent a long time admiring it from every angle. Enjoy our pics of this Idahoan curiosity — and if you know anything about it, please share!

Idaho City on our Idaho Map

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Strange-Things-Idaho
Standard-California-Products
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Ford Oldtimer Idaho
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Idaho Gas Station
Drugs Idaho
Fat Free Idaho
Rail Crossing Idaho
Rusty Wheel
Idaho-Barrel
Idaho Tools
Hidden Engine
Western Stove
Idaho-Shoes
Old-Coca-Cola-Bottles
Magical Potion
Dracula is Watching

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September 12, 2012 at 2:32 am Comments (2)