We have already seen some amazing things in this great country we live in. I always knew that America was a big country, but after driving through a portion of it I realize that it is huge. Montana is on of the bigger states and we didn’t get to see nearly enough of it, but what we saw was beautiful. Journey was allowed to choose what she did for her birthday and out of all the choices she picked to mine sapphires in Phillipsburg Montana. A man we had met on the road had suggested it to us and I thought no more of it at the time because we are always getting suggestions on where to go and what to do. We take them into consideration and try to see some of the things, but there is simply too much to see and do in this great country to do it all. She apparently liked the idea of sapphire mining because it is her birth stone. So our first order of business in Montana was to mine some sapphires. I bought two buckets of gravel and we picked through them about five times. When I buy dirt, I make sure I get everything from it! All joking aside though, the whole family had a blast and the sapphire mine was a very nice area. Journey got her blue sapphire and Miles found a garnet, which is rare and what he wanted. After mining we went into town and visited the candy store. I let Journey get a bag of candy for the family to enjoy while on the road and everyone was happy. I would recommend going to the sapphire mine if you are in the area.
There is a very large section of this country that is covered with evidence of many different volcanic eruptions, including lava tubes, caves, and miles of volcanic rocks. Luckily many of these areas are also federally protected lands. It is important to keep these areas protected as they help geologists to reveal so much about the history of the Earth as well as it’s formation and how it has changed over time. Some of these areas include Northern California, Southern Oregon, Eastern Oregon, Central Idaho, and into South West Montana, and North West Wyoming. We unintentionally happened upon this trail without really knowing that it even existed.
Our first national park visit was to Crater Lake. This huge lake was created by a volcanic explosion that left it inactive. It was amazing to see how big and clear it is, and it is also the deepest lake in the United States. The island that is clearly visible on the western side of the lake still looks like a small volcano rising up from the depths. There is only one place around the entire lake that you can hike down to the water because the sides are so steep. We would have liked to take this hike, but did not want to have to carry a four year old all the way back up to the top, so we had to forgo this particular hike. Fortunately, there are many other hikes within the park that are more kid friendly that we enjoyed. The kids really enjoyed the Castle Crest Trail which took us through a meadow and over a stream where we walked along rocks through the water. This was the first stop on the volcanic tour we still did realize we were embarking on. Continue reading