Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 21

Friday, October 7, 2011

Oddly, the power was out for much of the night in our hotel.  No idea why.  Good thing we had Wyatt's battery-operated lantern to use in the bathroom.  Oh well.

As is all too common along the coast, we woke to fog.  Looked for the Trinidad Lighthouse, but couldn't find it in the mist.  Fortunately, we were in and out of it - more "out" as the day went on.  Here's a happy sight :D

Though our hearts were set on exploring the Redwoods today, we couldn't pass the beach without stopping for a little while.

Armed with maps and brochures and recommendations from the rangers, we headed...
          ...  back into the mist.

Yes.  For real.  It looked like that.

First stop - Lady Bird Johnson grove / trail.  Though we live among large evergreens ourselves, and are familiar with forests, the trees here are on an overwhelming scale.  We were dwarfed.  It's like being in a fairy tale.  But better.  Real.

Our whole family stood in this struck-by-lightning, burned out trunk and looked up, up, up...
at a living tree.

I know everyone's computer screen will 'read' the colors differently, but the sun coming down, all green and yellow, through the branches - way better than stained glass.

Don't the trees look huge, next to Kerry and the boys?

Look again.  And you still can't see the top.

Herds of Roosevelt Elk live in the park, and they're not hard to find.  The cows, that is.  We saw groups of them right along the road.

The bulls were more elusive.  This guy kept his distance, and the telephoto can only do so much.

I love the turquoise blue of the water.  That's my happy color.

Of course, we couldn't pass by Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, I mean, that's kitschy American folklore at its finest.  (And who knew the bull was *ahem* anatomically correct?)

The Trees of Mystery definitely have a different flavor than the national park ;D

But still, the same sense of awe and wonder that such enormous things are living.

Of course, the main attraction for the boys was getting to ride another gondola, this time up through the trees - gorgeous.

For the most part, the boys got along well and were very good travelers.  By the grace of God.

From the top, looking over the forest at the Pacific.  Happy sigh :D

And looking the other way, (that would be east), back over the coast range.

Can.  Not.  Resist.  The.  Dimple.

And Gene, have you given up on me?  Are you still hurt that we didn't stop in Superior?  Well, c'mon... forgive me, brother.  We were thinking of you in California :D

Crescent City... one last look at the coast before we headed inland.

We had reservations that night at the Oregon Caves Chateau.  See, one of Kerry's dreams for the trip was to stay in a historic lodge in one of the national parks.  Great idea, yah?  Except that we kind of threw this trip together over the summer, and everything was already booked.  You want to stay at the Old Faithful Inn (Yellowstone) or El Tovar (Grand Canyon) you make your reservation a year or two ahead.  But, the Oregon Caves Chateau isn't quite as heavily traveled and still had space.  We also wanted to tour the cave.  Kind of gave the trip "bookends" - Lewis and Clark Caverns and now the Oregon Caves.

So at this point we had a choice.  We could take our sweet time getting there, stay the night, and do the cave tour the next morning, or try to fit in the cave tour this same day.  We made a quick call to check their schedule - last tour at 5pm.  Let me tell you, on this day - Day 21 - Cow-Headed-For-The-Barn Syndrome was beginning to take hold, and as quickly as we could, we headed for the hills.  The Siskiyous.

They (the infamous "they") will tell you that it's 17 miles from Cave Junction up to the cave and the chateau.  But I'll tell you the truth.  That was the longest 17 miles I've ever seen, and it's narrow and twisty.  By the time we reached the top - at 4:58 - I think we were all feeling queasy, and Kerry practically threw us out of the van at the Visitors Center (he had to park a ways away) to go buy the tickets.

But it all turned out good.  Their five o'clock tour only had three spaces left, but they were expecting another group momentarily.  They asked us if we would be willing to split the family - sending three with the first group.  Gunnar was feeling the worst (from the drive), so I volunteered to wait with him and sent Kerry, Wyatt and Tate off first, so none of them appear in the pictures.

Well, the other group never showed up, so our guide, Heather,  gave Gunnar and me a private tour!

Though we all agreed that Lewis and Clark Caverns were more impressive (and fun!), you just can't beat a private tour.  She gave Gunnar his own flashlight to carry, and we had way more time to look and listen.  She pointed out things to us that the other group didn't get to see.

On a side note, you're not allowed to bring any personal belongings but a camera into the cave.  No food, no water, not even a flashlight (they find too many batteries get dropped, along with everything else you can imagine.)  Remember this for later...

Here we are, in the belly of the whale!  Doesn't it look very like a rib cage?

These caves are unusual because they are marble, rather than the more commonly found limestone.  They have a constant temperature of about 44F (or about 6.6C, for you metric folks), because that is the average temperature of the outside air.  Just some factoids for you.

Gunnar can be a little squeamish about heights, and steep places, but did wonderfully :D

He also had all the time in the world to ask every question that came into his head.  Fortunately, they were relevant ;D  He's interested and curious, and he notices things.

Like this.  What do you think that is?  The 'base' (the dark object, not the rock) is about as big as my pinky fingernail.

That delicate structure is...

                                        fungus growing on a rat dropping.  Kind of interesting, though, yah?

This cave did not have the big, open chambers we saw at Lewis and Clark.

Up the long, steep stairs to....

... Paradise Lost.

Some of the rocks in the cave flouresce under black light... pretty cool!

At that point our guide offered to let us finish the tour by flashlight, if we liked.  Gunnar very much liked :D  So she pulled out another flashlight for me, switched off the power, and we continued the tour.  What she didn't realize was that Kerry, Wyatt, and Tate's group, ahead of us, had not finished their tour, and were still in the cave.  And their guide - her husband - did not have enough flashlights for everyone in their group!  Sounds like everyone was a good sport about it, and they managed fine.

We saw (but did not photograph) bats.  Obviously rats live in the cave.  We also saw cave crickets and these.  They look like spiders (eight legs) but have only one body part.  They're harvestmen.

Gunnar asked a lot of good questions, like, "What do they eat?"  Moths, we learned.

That prompted several funny stories about dumb questions other people have asked.  She had a school group up a week or so before, and about half way through the tour one kid asked, "Are we going to go underground?"  Are you kidding?

By the time we finished the tour it was raining outside and getting dark. 

Good thing we were just in time for the seven o'clock dinner seating at the chateau.  I should've taken pictures of the dining room.  When they built the lodge they diverted part of the stream coming out of the cave right through the dining room.  I'm not sure what the implications might be in the cold winter, but we enjoyed it!  And the delicious and abundantly generous meal.  Ahhhhh :D

Dy 21 Miles : 175          Total Miles : 4531


The Squirrel said...

We're good. I'll get over it.




Q said...

Dimples - yes, mine each pack a set as well, so I hear ya. Love the photo of the boys in the tree roots. Looks like the Ent that about swallow up Merry and Pippen!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Squirrel... thank you. Now I can sleep nights, again ;D

Q - funny about the Ents and the tree roots - YES!

Felicity said...

Gorgeous photos!! Those trees are amazing.

melanie said...

...turquoise blue water...
{happy sigh}

The dB family said...

I like seeing you! Dimples are the best. I have two kiddos with them. Those caves are incredible. Love the florescence!


leah said...

WOW - what a day! California giant redwoods and then a cave! The fungus on the rat dropping sort of looks like fiber optic fibers.. very strange! We have a lot of harvestmen out here - I had no idea what they were until a local told me. They are strange looking critters!

That color blue is my favorite, too... just like the "Cerulean" crayon out of the Crayola box. Just gorgeous!