Crater Lake/Redwoods Trip

August 1
We started out early on the first day and headed down I-5 to Roseburg where we would catch 138 and head across to the North entrance to Crater Lake. On the way there, we drove by several cut-throughs that revealed some amazing geology. We were still about 40 miles away from Crater Lake, but the layers we were seeing were created entirely from the ash that dropped when Mt. Mazama exploded.

After entering the park, and paying our $10 entrance fee, we crossed a wide valley called the Pumice Desert. It was created when tons of pumice rock spewed forth from the erupting Mt. Mazama. To this day, very few trees or plants have been able to grow on this inhospitable stretch of land.

Despite all of this, and it being the first of August, there was still little patches of snow here and there along the roads. Keep in mind when I say "little", it's really in comparison to the area around that is not snow covered. Some of those snow banks that remained were at least 3-6 feet deep and covered about 100-500 square feet.

We wound our way around the roads that led to the North Junction of the rim drive. When we got there, we rushed up to take our first views from the overlook. We were amazed...for the first few minutes, all I could say was, "It's so blue..." over and over again. =) It took a while for us to recover from seeing the sheer enormity of the lake, and we decided to head on around the rim to the lodge and see some other viewpoints. We stopped at several points along the way before we made it to the Rim Village that houses a restaurant, gift shop and the lodge.

We stopped in the gift shop to get some postcards and souvenirs and generally look at all the stuff. We ended up getting several postcards and a hiking medallion for Stick (my hiking stick). I was in line to pay for my purchases when I noticed some people walking through the gift shop. Talk about a small world...it was Bill Mallory and his daughter Lena, who had been on the KY 4-H State Teen Council right before me. Melissa also knew them both from when she had worked at Ag. Distribution as a student at UK. We didn't get a chance to flag them down to say hello, but I hope they enjoyed themselves on their trip.

After we left the Rim Village, we headed toward Sun Notch, on the southeastern side of the crater. We were looking for the Phantom Ship letterbox, which had been planted there in August of 2001 by Amanda from Seattle. Amazingly enough, there were also two hitchhikers in it! We picked up Hammerin' Hank and RIP Ewing Young. Both had come from the eastern half of the United States. While we were there, we got some beautiful views of the Phantom Ship. What a great place for a letterbox.

It was getting later in the afternoon, and we wanted to get to a campground near Grant's Pass before dark, so we reluctantly left the rim of Crater Lake and headed down to the Steel Information Center. While we were there, we got more information on the formation of Crater Lake, and went out to see the Lady of the Woods, a sculpture created by an Army surgeon before he left the Army encampent there in 1917. A short history can be found here. After a few more pictures were taken, including one of this yellow-bellied marmot, we headed down the mountain and over the Grant's Pass.

We camped that night at Valley of the Rogue State Park near the banks of the Rogue River. It was located near I-5, and even thought we found the campsite that was possibly the farthest away from the interstate, it still felt like we had our heads caught in traffic. Well, until we fell asleep anyway. After that, we were out cold until about 6 am the next morning.

August 2
We got up, grabbed a shower and some breakfast and packed up our campsite. There were several letterboxes in Grant's Pass, and we wanted to find them! Our first box took us to a little park near an elementary school, and we got a major surprise. There was a soccer clinic being held nearby, and from their accents, we guessed that the coaches were from Australia. By being rather stealthy, we were able to stamp into the box without anyone noticing us, and we got to listen to the coaches. Apparently, they had been teaching in Grant's Pass for a while because the entry 2 weeks before ours mentioned listening to the "crocodile hunter" =)

We got another letterbox and headed out of town on US 199 toward California. On the way to Cave Junction we passed by a "Daniel Boone's Trading Post", something we haven't seen since leaving the Red River Gorge area in Kentucky. A little research later, I found out that some of the Boone Family actually settled out here in Oregon. Even more amazing is that they are all over the place... world gets smaller every day.

When we got to Cave Junction, we found several women and their friends lined up in front of city hall. Their sign proclaimed them as "Women in Black (and friends) for Peace -- Silent Protest from 12:00 to 1:00" It was interesting to see who showed up for the protest, and even harder on the participants, because it was almost 95 degrees that day and no shade in front of city hall. I wish we had gotten a picture of that.

About 25 miles after Cave Junction, we hit the California border. Melissa made me get out and take our photo with the state sign. We were definitely looking the starlet part, eh? ;) Then we got back into the truck and no more than a mile down the road, we had to stop at the agricultural inspection station. Fortunately for us, the attendant waved us on through and we didn't have to give up any of our fruit! =) We did get a picture of the welcome sign at the edge of the pavement, though.

Near Gasquet, CA we stopped to view the Darlingtonia plants (a type of pitcher plant that traps and digests insects) because there were 2 caches and a letterbox nearby. The plants were amazing, and we found the letterbox, but no caches. It started to sprinkle on us as we were searching, so we decided to give up the hunt and head for Crescent City.

About 10 miles before we hit Crescent City, we drove through parts of the northern end of the Redwoods near Jedediah Smith State Park. We wanted to make it about 30 miles on down the coast to Gold Bluff Beach Campground, but when we got there the campsites were already full. We did stop at the Elk Meadow to see the roaming herds of Roosevelt Elk that range from the coast to deep into the redwood forest. When we went in to check on campsites, there were only a couple of females in the meadow, but by the time we got back, there weremore! I guess we counted about 20, half females and half younger bucks with small racks.

So, we headed back up 101 to Del Norte State Park and the Mill Creek Campground. On our way, we passed by the Klamath Trees of Mystery and saw a 40 foot tall Paul Bunyan and an equally sized Babe the Blue Ox. When we got to the campground, there were few sites left, so we quickly selected one and settled in for the night. Ours was ADA approved, which meant a larger parking area, a metal bear box to store all of our food and cooking supplies in, and close proximity to the bathrooms. We set up our tent and made garlic shrimp and roasted corn for dinner. It was great. Melissa crawled inside the bear box to show off how roomy it was. It held our cooler, food crate, and our grill.

The campground was packed that night and the only drawback was our neighbors. We lovingly referred to them as "The Crazy Asians" I think there were about 3 different families camping together, because they arrived in 2 passenger vans. The kids were screaming about seeing a slug for the first time in their lives. To be honest, I don't know why on earth they even came camping, because it was obvious that many of them had never slept outside before in their lives. Anyhoo, they were so loud that night, that someone a few campsites down yelled for them to shut up at 11:00.

Our biggest surprise was to come the next morning...

August 3
We had to pay for a shower!!! We had never seen a pay shower before in a campground, and were amazed when we saw it. No other campground had charged for that particular amenity, but we were in California now, so I guess they don't really encourage you to be clean. It was 75 cents for 5 minutes, but you could put in up to 15 quarters. i think we ended up using 10, so we had to pay $1.25 each for a shower. The insanity!

We got over the shock of pay showers, and packed up the campsite again. Now we were headed out to find the visitors center in Crescent City and do a little caching and letterboxing. When we got to the visitors center, I found this cute little statue. You will never guess in a million years what it said on the little case on top of it... nope, never, never, never... Okay, guess... I bet it wasn't this. What a weird place for that message...

We went out to the Battery Point Lighthouse after loading ourselves up with informational brochures. We had to walk across the tidepool, because the lighthouse is only accessible at low tide. We walked over and saw the plaque where we were to gather answers for a virtual cache. The lighthouse was a cute little cottage with a light on top. Here's another view of the light. There was a driftwood sculpture of a blue whale in front, with some blue whale bones nearby for people to touch. At the back of the lighthouse were some beautiful rock cliffs just covered with colorful succulents. And to the side of the lighthouse were some gorgeous Sitka spruce that had been shaped by the wind over time. Walking back to the parking lot, we took some time to explore the tidepools and saw many kinds of sea life. Our favorites were the little darting sculpins that make their home in the shallow water. They blend in very well and are sort of hard to see.

After we saw the lighhouse, we went to Ocean World. Always ready for the nearest photo op, Melissa and I made friends with the sea lion, she surfed the California shore, and she didn't realize that there was a shark right behind her. Before we left, she was even making friends with pirates! The most ironic thing about this place was what we found in the bookshelves in the back of the gift shop... Go Big Blue! I think that you can find most anything in Crescent City.

On our way back into the Redwoods, we passed by a doloand several tetrapods, which are used to buffer large waves on the coast and prevent the jetty from washing away when used in multiples. you can sort of see them sticking up near the right hand side of the photo on top of the jetty. Each of them weighs about 40 tons, so you can see how they might not move very easily.

We said goodbye to the beach and headed inland into the Redwoods following Howland Hill Road, which is the major road running through Jedediah Smith State Park. It is a one lane and sometimes wide enough for two cars, which is nice becasue you often meet people headed the other way. Of all the State and National Parks, Jed Smith is the most visitor accessible on the route. The road takes you through some stunning forests with prime examples of why these trees should be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Most of the trees were as wide as our truck, if not wider. This image is of the ecosystem (my word="treecosystem") that forms on the upper branches in the forest canopy. Soils generate and other plants root in the soils to form little habitats 150-300 feet in the air. Most literature that we read also claimed that earthworm and other animals normally found on the ground could be found in these "treecoystems" too. We were amazed...how did those little worm climb 200 feet up into the canopies, and more importantly, why would they?

We stopped at the Stout Grove, named not for its burly trees, but a man named Stout. We had a tailgate luncheon of PB& J and tea, then headed down the mile trail through some magnificent trees. We could not believe our eyes! These trees were much larger than any that we had seen on the road in here, and most were at least 40 feet in circumference and had diameters of 8-12 feet across. These are trees worth hugging! We took one last picture to impress the size of these trees on ourselvses, and then we headed north again for Oregon.

We were almost to the border when we saw something that made us stop right in our tracks. It was a 1925 luxury ship (in 1925) that had obviuosly seen better days, and was now serving as a tourist attraction and gift shop. It was called Ship Ashore, and we knew that we had to go in. Now, the gift shop was just too kitcshy, but we headed downstairs into the musty hold to view the museum that was reported to be below decks. Also, there was the promise of pirates to be seen. We just couldn't pass that up!

What beheld us when we reached the first room of the museum was something straigh out of a science fiction novel, or Dr. Frankensteins freaky lab. There were labeled specimen jars filled with the bounties of the ocean... a whale fetus, jellyfish, octopi, and many other undersea creatures suspended in formaldehyde for a lifetime, theirs and mine. On the other side were taxidermied specimens and seashells from around the world. It was at this point of slight revulsion that I wished I had a camera, just to have evidence that what I saw was not a bad dream.

This place had everything... wax dummies of famous, and not so famous pirates (Harland would have run if he saw these gruesome folks), old movie posters about ocean voyages, more taxidermied animals, and even relics from both the European and South Pacific fighting theaters of WWII. It was an amalgam of human and natural history, that's for sure. I would have to say that my favorite part was the stuffed animals. No...not the taxidermied animals, the displays that were created with plush toys that were intended to show animals in their natural environments. I was overjoyed to see them! Imagine the plush rabbit just peeping out of a log, with a plush raven sitting overhead on a tree, and the easter lilies blooming nearby, and all of it is label like in a museum, but htey are all just stuffed toys and silk flowers. Just crazy...we knew at that point we had to leave...or risk becoming part of the display.... =) So we went upstairs and bought some postcards, and ran to the vehicle to get back on the road.

We got across the CA/OR border just fine and went to Brookings to stay the night at Loeb State Park up the Chetcoo River. This was a fabulous little campground in a grove of myrtle trees, so the wind kept the entire area perfumed all the time. It was heavenly and a quiet campground too. It wasn't near sunset yet, so we loaded back up and headed into Brookings to mail some postcards and find a beach to explore. We did both and settled on Harris Beach. We walked for more than a mile and a half roundtrip, and saw more than 100 seastars (starfish). Then the sun set and we headed back to camp for the night.

August 4
Our last day of the trip was mostly driving and doing a little bit of caching and letterboxing.

Just outside of Port Orford was another tourist destination, The Prehistoric Gardens. There were dinosaurs everywhere. Some were awe inspiring, but most were just rather...ummm..cheesy. But it was good to stretch our legs and take some photos, so here they are. (If I get any of these names wrong, well...I'm not too worried about it....)

Triceratops babies
Some jungle plants that were at least 5 feet high...
Other Dinos I Don't Have Names For... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
And the ever ubiquitous Banana Slug was present. This speciamen had to be at least 6 inches long with the possiblity of achieving even greater length if presented with a bit of rotten vegetation to entice him. =)

And so our story ends withus returning safely to Eugene, and doing a lot of laundry and spending lots of time creating this account for your entertainment and information. Sort of boring really... ;)


Blogger M. D. Vaden of Oregon said...

On Howland Hill Road in Jed Smith Redwoods, you were probably within a mile of this grove...

Grove of Titans & Atlas Grove Redwoods

Nice park - isn't it !!

8:08 AM  

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