Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vacation Report

We're back from a visit to the Stout Redwood Grove, near Crescent City, and the Oregon Caves.

We camped for two nights in the Patrick Creek campground.  One of the attractions was that there was no electricity, so that meant there weren't a whole lot of RV's with stereos and satellite TV surrounding us.  We were right on the river, and surprisingly, I didn't have dreams about waterfalls or tidal waves.  

The first night, Thursday night, was stormy.  I'd just gotten the tent set up when it started to rain in earnest.  There was thunder and lightning, which was cool.  We managed to start a fire -- I liked the grills there:  they had a corkscrew for raising or lowering the grill over the fire.

That night I did have a very long serial dream that was part Pokemon  and part Voltron, with extra vivid colors.  Mark is blaming some chocolate cake we had just before bedtime on that one.  There was a lot of flying in that dream, and I managed to remember enough of it to try to draw some of it.  The second night I slept poorly; I was looking forward to a repeat of the technicolor dreaming, but instead I hung in a kind of flat, dark awareness that didn't feel restful.

Friday we visited the Stout Redwood Grove.  The trees usually remind me of the stars because some time in the 1980's someone used the analogy of the life cycle of trees to illustrate the life cycle of a star.  I'm always inspired by the girth and height of the redwoods, and the old fallen trunks are always fun to scamper on.  It amazes me that some of the trees are 2000 years old -- I can barely believe I have memories ranging thirty years or more and I get lost in the imagining when I wonder what it could be like to be twenty centuries old.  

We stopped for milkshakes at a place called She-She's.  Somewhere Mark has a picture of us sitting in plastic chairs shaped like hands.  

Saturday, after a breakfast at the Patrick Creek Lodge (Food, Booze and Snooze), we left for the Oregon Caves.  Mark made reservations at the Chateau there.  Visiting the Chateau is a little like going back to the 1950's -- or at least the Cafe there is (OK, and our room's bathroom had a 1950's feel, as well).  We ate more hamburgers and milkshakes there in two days than I normally have in about three weeks.  The Chateau was like a smaller version of the Inn at Old Faithful. And... staying there one night was on the spendy side -- but I appreciated being able to get a comfortable night's sleep right (except when a guest was coughing her lungs out at 4AM) next to the caves. 

I took an architectural tour of the chateau, which turned out to be more historical than architectural.  

And then there were the caves.  I remember visiting them sometime around 2002, only I had mixed some of the vaults up in my memory.  I think my favorite features are the creek coming out of the caves, the soda-straw stalactites hanging in the Ghost Gallery, and the feature called Paradise Lost.  

We were lucky enough to take more than one tour (Mark took the candlelight tour).  What was interesting to us was how each ranger told different versions of the same story.  It was like the folk-process meets the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.  In some stories, the bear featured in the cave's discovery is a brown bear, in others its a grizzly.  In some stories, a devastating mudslide happens in 1964, in others 1954.  In some versions of the ghost story, the hapless groom brings a pistol; in others, a riffle.  The first tour of the caves I took, the focus was on the people who had interactions with the cave during the Taft presidency.  The second tour of the caves I took was focused more on the spleliogenesis of the caves.  

Sunday, I was prowling the chateau's top floor and I managed to get some ghost stories out of the maid.  She was cleaning "Elizabeth's Room."  Elizabeth was a bride who in some stories hung herself and in others jumped out her window (roughly sixty feet up).  I heard the story about the guest who kept finding his clothes repacked in his suitcase and who was woken up by a ball of light at 2AM (he checked out right then).  I heard about the four ghost children, who alternately giggle in the night, or cry in the cleaning closet, or who tuck in other children (or maybe Elizabeth does the tucking...).  There wasn't a story about the maintenance man who apparently liked working at the chateau so much he decided to stay.

I asked the maid if she had ever seen any of the ghosts (she'd been working there for ten years) but she said that she hadn't.

And then it was time to come home.  Mark did all the driving, for which I was grateful.  
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