Craters of the Moon and Arco, Idaho

One more FULL day of driving through flat plains and finally some distant mountains.

Emmerson spent his day making pillow forts in the back bedroom while Breighton read more books on his Kindle. B also experimented with taking panoramic photos at 65mph and selfies…

We arrived at the Craters of the Moon KOA in Arco, Idaho. We set up camp and scurried over to the Craters of the moon Visitors Center. We arrived in time to catch a patio talk about bats and White Nose Syndrome. We got our ranger books, cave permit and maps and took a quick loop through the park to get our bearings for the morning. We hiked a little trail and learned about different lava types, Pahoehoe and ‘A’A. We hit the grocery store and found out they sell soft serve Dole Whip! Some more evening bug hunting  and an ice cream social at the campground while mom cleaned off the front window of Luna.


In the morning we were up early and towards the park. We opted to take a Ranger Guided Hike of the Buffalo Caves. We saw lots of yellow grasshoppers all over the trails. We learned about the history of the caves and how they are really just lava tubes. The Ranger was awesome and really gave great information about the geology of the area. We learned that the Yellowstone hot spot was once here and it is what caused a lot of the activity. We learned about shield and splatter cone volcanos. The trees looked weird. We learned it was from a dwarf mistletoe that grew in the trees causing the trees to develop witches broom. We saw different types of lava and the blue dragon. We also got to hold a lava bomb! We learned about lichen and how it is beneficial to the rocks and an indicator of air quality. We saw bread crust lava too. Up next was DOWN into the caves. Quite a difficult wiggle to get through the sharp lava to the caves but worth the effort. Up and out and our hike back to the parking lot. We spotted many wildflowers that amazingly find a way to live here in the cracks of the rocks. The boys took lots of photos for 4-H. These adventures always produce many great photos! The boys earned their Junior Ranger badges and took another oath to protect the parks.


Dad had to go back at the campground and work after the hike so we all took our own paths. Mom, B and E opted for another guided hike and more cave exploring. Breighton was selected to be a SEED in the rocks (a special treat to walk off trail a little as well) during the program. Ranger Maura was funny and informative. He is working at the parks as part of the Mosaics in Science program to bring more diversity to the parks. He safely led us to the caves and educated everyone about the caves. The boys had all the answers! We hiked down into the caves and then took the long hard way out over all the rock scree. The boys loved that! Emmerson’s shoelace was grabbed by a piece of A’A’ and he went crashing tot he ground, thankfully just a few minor scratches easily bandaged up on the trail. We then transverse the top of the lava tubes and followed pole to pole to get back to the main path. SUCCESS! Of course we had to go into every cave we were allowed to enter. Mom wasn’t thrilled but grinned and made it through.

Back at the campground the boys went swimming while mom worked on laundry.

The next day we tackled the snow cone to see the snow still inside! Then joined a junior ranger hike to earn the kids their park patches. Emmerson turned pyromaniac when using a magnifying glass to look at little volcanic rocks.

After lunch we headed to the EBR-1 reactor. Arco was the first town ever powered by atomic power! We learned about the SCRAM button and how it would shut down the reactor. The boys had a lot of fun playing with the mock control panel.

back at the campground the boys rented banana bikes and had a blast until a tire popped on Breighton’s.

Which is more scary? Radiation to HANTAVIRUS?
E spotted this baby bird at the campground.

On the road again in the morning towards Diamond Lake near Crater Lake, Oregon!

Through Texas and Colorado

Two LONG days of driving. We were on the road for nearly 12 hours one day and 14 the next.  A quick look out the front window at the wide open nothingness and the back window at our tail-gunner! Oh wait the photo below is of US! Thanks Grandma Jo!

We tried making chicken in the Joule. It was a bit wiggly and bouncy but the meal turned out great and was a welcome delight after the long driving. The first stop was north of Dallas, Tx. It was a nice a nice place to park at Wichita Bend RV Park for the night. An unexpected surprise, dear sweet Zoe and Dawn just HAPPENED to be in Dallas! They came over to visit at the campground for a few hours. The boys were extremely excited for this surprise!

More driving in wide open nothingness of our Great Plains of the US. We arrived in Fort Collins, Colorado for a one night stop. We left really early and pushed hard on the drive since the Fort Collins KOA campground had lots of activities included with the overnight stay.

Caterpillars are hanging in there with all the wiggly motion.

The boys enjoyed a massive playground, a huge slide (they both chickened out!), the bouncy pad, roping Mom into a peddle car ride, tooling around the lake in a paddle boat (a dragon of course), and some fighting bumper boat action! We were all EXHAUSTED and hit the pillows hard.

New Orleans

Another 5 hours of driving and we arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana. We stayed at the French Quarter RV park. We unhitched faster than lightning and then headed across town to Hansen’s Sno-Bliz. They have THE best snow cones. We have been here several times on previous trips. We arrived a little bit before they opened and watched the line grow insanely long after us. Emmerson watched the sno-bliz machine with excitement. Sno-cones aren’t really his thing. He is holding out for beignets.

After snow-bliz we dropped the cars at the campground and walked to the French Quarter in search of beignets. The walk wasn’t too far, about a mile. We opted to walk up and look at the mighty Mississippi. Unfortunately, we got caught in a massive rain storm. We caught cover and stayed mostly dry. Except for Breighton who found it entertaining to run around and try to catch the rain in his mouth.

We finally made it to beignets. The place Emmerson really liked was out of business. We opted for a few servings from Cafe Du Monde, not our favorite. Mom snagged a table quickly and our orders were up quickly.

We wandered around the quarter when we were done snacking. Dad took us all to a place called M.S. Rau Antiques. Boy was this place AWESOME! They has a $1.4 million chess set! We really loves this $300,000 cabinet that was played violins! The staff member even played it for us! WOWZERS!  

We had a nice seafood dinner out and then hit the swimming pool at the campground. B and E got into a larger disagreement over the pool toys so swimming ended earlier than planned.

In the morning David and Emmerson got up early and walked to the French Quarter for beignets from a different place. Success! Mom and Breighton headed to Lowe’s to purchase a few hibiscus plants for the caterpillars.

We all magically met up at the Audubon Insectarium about 5 minutes before they opened. We loved looking at all the fun insects in their collections. They had some neat old collecting equipment as well. We all loved the frog beetle. We popped out heads up in the cockroach room. Then on to the best part. They have a bug kitchen! You can try all different items withe bugs in them. Breighton stuck to the sweet items. Emmerson avoided this experience with gusto! Somehow Grandma and Grandpa even got suckered in to trying the bugs! The result…not too bad! Even going back to try a few more samples! Dad snuck away as there was NO WAY he was eating any of them! Mom enjoyed the classic board game area display. Remember Tickle Bee? The butterfly garden was also a treat but it is nothing compared to the one back in Gainesville!


One more evening trip to get beignets and a leaky faucet in the motorhome bathroom and we bring a wrap to New Orleans. Don’t worry we had to run out and buy a new faucet and install it! What a chore!

We say goodbye to new Orleans, we never know how the hurricanes will spare you. Hopefully you are here for our next voyage!

Random Emmerson selfie…


Off We Go…


Off we go on our adventure. We have 8 stowaways in the form on io moth caterpillars in tow. We are hoping that the cocoon soon so we can not worry about finding proper food for them. We brought a huge bad of hibiscus clippings from the yard. We are keeping them moist and in the fridge to last a while.

The first days drive was long. We spent the day reading on our kindles and settling in for the long journey across the entire country.

We made it to the panhandle of Florida to a town called Holt. Grandma and Grandpa arrived a little after us with their motorhome. It will be a fun adventure traveling with them.

We stayed at a really nice wooded campground called River’s Edge. It was nothing fancy but a place to rest for the night. We headed off with our bug gear in search of some new specimens for our collection. We caught a few new critters and then spent the evening before bed getting everything pinned.




Feeling Crafty

A and W came over to hang out and to get W’s insect collection finished. We made sure he had enough insects, which he did, and helped him get them mounted and labeled.

Then we played some video games while A and Emmerson played Egyptian Rat Slap (card game).

I was eager to knock another project off my list for 4-H. In January there is an insect art competition. I made insects from construction paper and then counted them in a shadow box to look like an insect collection. I thought it was a cute idea.

Then I had fun with scissors when the glue dried.

My final project. Now to keep it safe until January!

Up next was a new stuffed animal called Big Mouth. I learned to pin the pattern on for cutting. It was so much easier this way.

I worked for hours cutting pieces and getting everything pinned. Mom helped a little with the sewing since I was using faux fur and it was difficult with the sewing machine.

We all worked hard all day and Dad wanted Culver’s. We all went along and had a nice ice cream treat as a family.