Geoff and Jenn's 1998 California Trip
Day 1 and 2: Oregon Caves NP
and the Redwoods

Sunday, September 27th, 1998

Jenn and I began our 1998 Summer (actually Fall) vacation yesterday, complete with anxiousness about travelling with our new addition to the family, and with excitedness about crossing the barrier of Oregon and partaking in an Oddysey of our own.

The first day was spent mainly driving, considering we did not leave until nearly 2:00 in the afternoon (we had to have our final farewell toast to Portland at the Widmer Brewery). Along the way, we listened to America's "You see, I've been through the desert on a horse with no name, it's good to be out of the rain" as we talked about how different 188 miles seems in distance when you are vacation as opposed to when you are just out for a weekend trip. 188 miles: that's just 3 hours! That's easy!

We arrived into Grants Pass from the north as dusk approached from the east, and we decided to make a showdown with the darkness of night in the bed of a Motel 6 room. We had dinner at the "Laughing Clam", a suprisingly cool spot in this rural town with a granola twist. (I had crab stuffed shitake mushrooms!) We were even granted a live musician playing everything from Carly Simon, to the Beatles, to Paul Simon's "Slip Slidin Away" -- the latter of which has been frequent in my mind of late.

This morning, we awoke to begin the trek to the Oregon Caves National Monument -- one of the few large marble (as apposed to limestone) caves in the world. After making much of the 15 MPH winding road there, we read that children under 6 were not allowed in the caves. So after debating for several minutes, we tried to decide who would go first, and who would stay and make the decision whether it would be worth staying longer for a second tour. I tried chivalry, but motherhood won. Thus, I took the first leg and plunge into the bowels of the earth (unfortunately along with a tour guide and fellow troglozine visitors).

The cave was quite impressive. Of note, a doug fir root that had gone 70 feet down to reach the cave's trickling stream (The River Styx). Also of historic interest was a signing of one of the calcite formations by a University of Oregon geology professor from 1885. After more than a 100 years, only one millimeter of calcite had been formed on top of it -- granting me appreciation for the huge structures I saw around me. This, and the man made tunnel out of the cave that sparked my curiousity, reminded me of a friend's recent comment that men seem to marvel at their own work more than nature's. I felt guilty for falling into that trap. Of also note was "Paradise Lost", a tall cavern that must be seen to be appreciated.

After coming out, I made a dash back to the starting point, albeit the longer "scenic" way and arrived in time to see the next tour group lining up to go. This sprint back set my heart afire, literally, as I had heart trembles the rest of the day, limiting my ability to spritely jump over the redwoods we would see later in the day. Upon getting back to the Cave's entrance center and not seeing Jenn, I wondered if I was too late -- in the end, though, she had decided just to forgo her chance to tour the caves and to head out in search of distant pastures (er.. tent sites) to graze (er.. to settle down in).

We drove on to Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park just over the border. (We did, incidentally, stop at a garage sale along the way that had a huge statue of Rodin's The Thinker. Unfortunately, it was kind of cheap in quality and expensive in price (80$). We elected to think with the sculptue (although, it still would look pretty cool in my office).

Our place beneath the redwoods
Our tent in the woods


River in between Stout Grove and the campsite
At the state park, we settled down at camp site 51 -- we had the park seemingly to ourselves this late in the season. We took a walk over into the "Stout Grove" (no Intel inferences allowed), where we beheld a most beautiful collection of redwoods. I commented "Go silently beneath the lumbering beasts and envy their thunderous skywards reaches" as I strolled beneath their sway. We took several 30 second exposures in the fading light, I am doubtful any will actually come out.


Lumbering beasts in silence
Jenn feeds Emerson beneath the Giants

We followed up with Dinty Moore for dinner (the can was at least 3 years old -- and you couldn't tell at all -- that is the beauty and mystery of Dinty Moore). Now, with the eldest and the youngest asleep, I write these words under the artificial light of a Coleman propane lantern, with redwoods towering over me unseen, and my celestial constellation friend Delphinius gazing upon my words. At last, I can begin some of my own writings...



Skip to the Next Day (Day 3) or the California '98 Table of Contents.

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