Talk about being “wiped out”… After today I can write a book about it. Like I told you yesterday we are at Lava Beds National Monument and what do they have here, lots of lava “tubes”, cinder cones, shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes, and spatter cones. Yesterday afternoon we did see a number of spatter cones, cinder cones and chimneys before taking our hike up to see the fire lookout and taking in the Petroglyph Interpretive area. Well today we set out to explore as many lava tubes as we could. There have been over 500 caves discovered so far and every year the total climbs even higher. The tubes are the result of very hot fluid lava “issuing” from a cracks or fissures. As the lava flowed it began to cool and solidify on the sides and eventually on the top. The confining crust insulated the molten lava as it continued to flow. When the eruption ceased, the remaining lava drained away leaving the “lava tubes”. Somewhere along the way a portion of the tube would fall in and leave some kind of entry into the interior of the tube. The entry into these caves ran from walking into a huge cavern to those that you had to get down on all four and squeeze in. I could lead you around the block with the thought that we had what it takes to “squeeze into a very dark hole in the earth”, but we opted out on those. We did however visit and explore 9 different lava tubes today after borrowing 2 flashlights from the visitor center. We duck-walked, slid on our butt, stooped, and walked on some very rough floors. Fortunately we bought ourselves hardhats that kept us from loosing our scalps as we came in contact with the tops of these tubes. As you can imagine, with the coal black interiors of these caves, it was so dark that if you were to shut off your flashlight you couldn’t see your hand in front of you face. A couple of these tubes were open at both ends, although you couldn’t see one from the other. Another seemed to be large enough to hold a 747 inside of if while another was so small it was like walking into a huge mouth that didn’t have a throat. The longest cave we walked through was over 2900 feet and the shortest…just 300. Now back to being “wiped out”. We climbed over and under so many rocks, walked on uneven ground, and stooped so much that I thought I had a new way of walking straight. We came home T-I-R-E-D.