Having scouted it by motorcycle with my brother Joel, we decided our first Jeep camping trip would be near the historic Birch Creek homesteads along the Owyhee River.
Camping began with a lunch stop in Marsing where the kids enjoyed a little food and a lot of swinging.
“I can go higher than you!” they wagered.
We almost missed the turn onto this shortcut. Such an obvious road, I don’t know why. As the navigator, Jess had the opportunity to get out and learn about different stretched wire gate technologies.
This was by special request. It isn’t so obvious in this image yet but Hunter was really suffering from allergies compounded by thick dust that, unhindered by doors, could roll through the Jeep.
These ponds and lakes (the nearby Cow Lakes) are renown for their waterfowl. I saw a pelican last time through and this time a big crane. I think I’d like just to sit here in a camp chair someday and watch.
The world has room for everyone.
I was curious to see this “lake” in the lava, Batch Lake, since Joel and I passed nearby on our motorcycles in early April.
Something began tickling my foot as I stood to frame this particular picture. I guess ants don’t like their houses smashed. We continued walking after my screaming stopped.
The expansive Jordan Craters lava field is an adventure for the eyes. It looks homogenous from a distance but up close is anything but.
Reeds made a happy home in soupy water contained by collapsed lava tubes. No doubt there’s a metaphor here but it hasn’t come to me yet.
Another reed soup bowl with Batch Lake and Mahogany Mountain in the distance. Hunter wanted to climb down but we urged him onward.
Joel and I paused to look at this briefly but being on our way to well deserved burgers and fries in Jordan Valley, we didn’t look closely. It’s certainly not where I’d think to make a home.
That explains why the roof has been replaced. The house seems to have historic significance but I haven’t found anything that says how.
A brave smile, there. We learned the tube doors were more about fun appearance than experience, at least off-road. They rattled and let dust billow around us. I think they’re best suited for trips to the mall.
We followed what in places looked like no more than a cow trail around the south side of the lava field. There are a couple smooth places, like here, where you can drive out onto the lava.
Descending along (and back-and-forth across) Birch Creek into the Owyhee River canyon helped make up for our thorough dusting. It’s an impressive place.
Jess setup our domicile for the night, Brenna and I filtered a basin of water from the river and Hunter worked on getting his and Brenna’s new poles ready.
Then the most important part: fire.
When Hunter wasn’t looking, Brenna used his stick.
The next morning, she looked for shells and I looked for pictures while the others slept.
P in the pool? Maybe not but it is disappointing that so many of the tributary creeks are overrun by cattle.
This is the look of finding four shells.
The Pizza Hut jug lives on! Hunter explained to Brenna how to fish while I made some coffee and oat meal.
I scouted some of the cliffs when I was here with Joel. I knew the kids would love the dangers and discoveries up here.
We were looking for special rocks on the ledges above the river. We watched a couple rafters float by from our perch.
We saw several antelope and a lizard. Here’s the lizard.
This was a treasure trove of small crystals. These rocks have been thoroughly picked over for the bigger stuff but you wouldn’t know it from how excited the kids were about their finds.
“Do you want to walk farther or stay here?” I asked.
“Stay here!” they insisted in unison.
I went a bit higher on my own to see if there might be anything else the kids would like.
I saw the Indian Paintbrush from afar and knew fate would have me here.
This was the second treasure area complete with another lizard whose rock home the kids destroyed.
They found places that surely nobody had been able to reach before.
The cool river felt wonderful after climbing on the rocks.