Thursday, July 19, 2012

family WEEK OF FUN! -- day 3

It was this trip that was kind of the instigator for our plan of the week of fun. . . we'd heard of the Lava Tubes in Flagstaff a couple of years ago and always wanted to daytrip up there, so Wednesday, we did!

It was amazing, let me just say that.  Seriously one of the coolest (and hardest) things we've ever done.  But it was so extremely awesome and so natural and so neat. . . we all kept marveling that all this was going on just (hundreds of) feet under the earth, and the power that had created these lava caves.  And only 3 hours from home.  Amazing, seriously.

So yes, 3 hours there (a little less), 3 hours back, and we stayed for a picnic and the hike.  We had planned on doing a scavenger hunt, but by the time we got back to the van, we were BEAT, I tell you.  The kids instantly wanted to go back and do it again.

This trip is not for the claustrophobic.  Or those with weak ankles  Or those who can not hike/climb/balance on rocky terrain, etc.  It is dark, and cold, about 40 degrees.  But you are quickly warmed up by the fact that you are literally hiking underground.  It was hard work!

Amazing.  I'll never forget this experience, ever!

IMG_8856 IMG_8857 IMG_8859 IMG_8861 IMG_8866 IMG_8868 IMG_8870 There were these white butterflies that must have thought Ethan's shirt was a flower, because they kept coming over and landing on him.  You can just barely see it in this picture here, on his forearm.

IMG_8871 IMG_8872 IMG_8877 We saw a lot of little critters, chipmunks and squirrels, but none got so close or stayed still long enough other than these butterflies.

IMG_8882 IMG_8884Auto setting on the camera!  :)

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Outside the cave.


Getting ready to go in.


Yep, that's where we're going, underground.

Crazy, right?!

Now let me just preface the next dozen pics by saying it is PITCH BLACK inside the tubes, as you can understand.  We each had a flashlight, and even then, it was hard to see.  So the camera did not work well.  None of us look good in these pics.  Our eyes are weird (and my children look homeless, because they're dressed in their grubbies) and the lighting is awful, but I took them to document the experience and give ya'll an idea of what the caves are about in case you decide to take your own familia there some day.


So yes, we are hiking in caves made by flowing lava, millions of years ago.

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The entrance is really rocky and you have to hike your way down into the depths.

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Eventually, it levels out a bit.


It took us multiple times to get even these awful shots because again, it was stinkin' dark down there!  The camera did not like it!!


IMG_8926   IMG_8912 My least favorite parts were where the ceiling got really shallow and narrow and you nearly had to crawl on your knees to get through.  (Didn't get any pictures of that).  But other spots were so vast and cavernous, it was as if it had been purposefully designed, as if for a road or something!

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One thing we noticed is that there was no litter down there!  For whatever reason, visitors really take care of this place.  We found one water bottle at the entrance, which we disposed of, but that was it. 

IMG_8924 IMG_8927  IMG_8930IMG_8929 We made it all the way to the end (which was maybe 3/4 mile?) and were so pleased with ourselves.  Then hiked back out.  We were exhausted!

The weather in Flag was really nice. . . not cool, per se, but maybe 85ish?  Our picnic in the shade was perfect. And it was funny as you walked up to the cave, you could feel the cool coming out at you, like someone had turned on the AC.  All naturally amazing!

We came back home for BLTs, Sean's Sean's Young Men/Young Women pool party, and then we celebrated the end of the long day with homemade ice cream.  We just made vanilla, and then the kids added whatever mix-ins they had picked out at the store the day before.

 IMG_8933 IMG_8934Nice busy day!


laurie said...

i had no idea these lava tubes existed here in arizona! your family week of fun sounds better than some canned vacation could ever be.

tif-do said...

How Fun! That looks like a wonderful adventure!

Dahlene said...

I didn't know those lava tubes were in Arizona. You are brave! I'm so claustrophobic I don't think I could have crawled into that entrance, let alone deep into the cave. The photos in the cave actually turned out pretty well for as dark as it was.

Anonymous said...

Dang, I didn't know that was up there.