Free Painting Cave Storage Idea and Allergic to Sage (Idaho Road Trip)

I’m painting today in the cave area.  The cave area is where the fast moving lava cooled in this 750-thousand acre flow.  Here, the lava has a ropey texture and is called Pahoehoe lava. Because the magma was flowing fast here at 10mph, the outer crust cooled and hardened first–making lava tube caves.  One needs a cave permit to enter caves (which I have) because bats are endangered due to the white nose syndrome (a fungus infection) spreading from the east.  I don’t enter caves in which there is evidence of bats.  I am looking for a lava tube cave in which to store my paintings in like a time capsule.

I can’t let on to why I am researching cave ecosystems.  I am not sure if it is legal for me to move into a cave.  I’ve been interviewing the rangers about animals who live in caves-predominantly “packrats”, (of which I am one).  I’m asking questions about what sort of objects have they found stored in caves, what is the largest packrat they have come across, (which will be me), how dry caves are and what temperatures are like in the winter and where bigger caves are found?

It turns out that lava caves are found far away from the volcanoes. They are where the fast-flowing magma was. Lava is what magma is called when it has cooled. The magma’s outside layer hardens first and forms a crust.  The inside remains molten and continues to flow in a magma river. There are tube-like caves of all sizes here. In the surrounding BLM land, sagebrush has covered the Pahoehoe flows because eruptions were thousands of years earlier than those found inside the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

I have an idea for free storage for artists in the BLM land part of the lava flow.  The general public is allowed to use BLM land.  Our tax dollars pay for it. Ranchers graze their livestock and sheep on it, hunters and fishermen use it, loggers use it—why not artists?  These lava tubes have produced many caves in an almost 3 million-acre-area.  Finding one close to a road within carrying distance is the hard part.

I am having enough trouble carrying canvases short distances in this constant wind. I have to take several trips to a painting site because I need both hands to carry even a pallet because the wind is so fierce. I need both hands for a canvas alone. When painting, I can’t even use an easel in the wind or the surface will beat like a drum or take off like a kite. I have to keep the canvas flat on the ground to avoid the wind.  Sometimes I anchor the canvas down with stones, or block the wind with boulders surrounding the painting as if it is in a fire pit. When carrying paintings, I often have to stop, sit and wait out large gusts of wind. I block canvases from the wind with my body and backpack.  I walk backwards to do so sometimes.

I spent a whole day hiking in the BLM land and looking for a cave to seal my work up in.  I had no idea the sage was in full bloom and that I was allergic to it.  I had to go to the hospital the next day to get antibiotics for a sinus infection.  I found several possible caves, however, so all was not lost.  I need to use an inhaler to finish the paintings now that millions of acres of sage pollen are airborne, though.  Some tourists kindly send me some photos of painting.

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