_3 October 2010 Stepping out of the coach this morning with my first cup of coffee I could see we were in a very special place. Part of it was the play of light as the morning sun crosses the lava. Our plans were to stay a couple of days and see and do as much as we could. I hate to say it, but the elevation of 5,900 feet showed me that it’s been awhile since I’ve been hiking at this altitude. Fortunately the effects of 5,900 feet didn’t last long but I know that it’s going to take a while for me to bet used to it. Soon Louise joined me and we drove off into the lava fields. Seeing as how there are over 400 square miles of lava fields to see we opted to see and enjoy the closest 1/3rd, but that also entailed driving a little closer to some of the locations we wanted to see and explore. The Monument contains some outstanding examples of spatter cones so that was one of our first stops. A spatter cone
_is the later stages of an eruption that pushes lava streams out through the side or top which usually ends the life of the flow. Throughout the Monument there are over 25 such cones, but we only closely explored 3 of them. One hike that we took was to the top of the largest cones in the “near” park. It was over 180 feet deep…
_We also hiked out through the lava flows to find 4 or 5 tubes (caves) that we could explore up close and personal. One of the caves we explored left us with a small opening to climb out of that would have been real tough if we were but just another 4 to 6 inches in diameter larger.
_It was also very interesting to see the twisted, wavy sea of the now hardened lava flow. In the moonlight its glazed surface has a silvery sheen that comes across as a fine piece of artwork.
_Now speaking of “moonlight and artwork”, you should see the stars that we enjoyed on our first night during a perfectly clear night, amazing...