San Jose to Grants Pass
July 23, 2016
Miles Driven: 584
Parks Visited: 1
The first rays of light from the sunrise glinted off of the turning blades of the wind turbines as I crested Altamont Pass. The grass in the hills, long dried, even looked like sparkling gold in the morning breeze. And then I realized I left my makeup bag at home. The moment was lost in a frenzy of logic; my brain puzzling out the feasibility of returning home, the cost of replacing the items along the road, and the possibility of daring to go without for several weeks. I had only been gone for 40 minutes and already someone had played a Lost Highway Hazard on me! So, I stopped at some nameless Walmart along I-5 and blearily pickup the basics. Clearly, the 3:15am wake-up call was taking its toll.
That small incident aside however, I have had a wonderful, if not exceeding long, first day. I have learned that it is in fact possible to drive from San Jose all the way north to Oregon Caves with enough time to spare for a cave tour. However, I neglected to read the fine print on the website, which warns one to make reservations or get their early in the day and hope. The tours are all ranger-led. No ticket. No tour. So, instead I opted to wander around the small site (small up top, not small in the caves). I stamped my notepad (yes, I also forgot to bring my NPS passport). I picked up a couple minor things-I-could-not-do-without (the Oregon Caves Destination postcard activity does, in fact, cost $1 for 1 Souvenir). I listened to the muddy spelunkers from the professional tour talk about how such tight quarters builds confidence (mud – no problem; cramped cave space – problem). And I played a game of Roadtrip! in the famous Oregon Caves Chateau (aka lodge). Yes, that’s right, I actually played a game sitting there in the miniature version of the Ahwahnee.
Now, I’m resting comfortably in this ‘luxurious’ motel, marveling at the fact that I cannot hear the thirty or so young teen children I saw earlier screaming in the tiny pool. Somehow I doubt they all are asleep already. Perhaps choosing Whiskers as one of my in-game passengers was a wise move. Whiskers, after all, is famous and so negates any Accommodations Highway Hazards.
Until tomorrow… from Lava Beds National Monument…
PS A big shout-out to my friend Bart, who not only reminded me that I was passing within a half a mile from his house, but who was kind enough to donate a diet Mountain Dew to my tired cause. Thank you, Bart, it was great to see you!
Board Location: Oregon
Happiness: Content (5)
Energy: Peppy (5)
Hittin' the road at last! Luckily, I drew the Theft card before I actually got the souvenir at Oregon Caves. I took a brief detour to a pleistocene cliff dwellings attraction (just to get rid of it since my Highway card draw was less than optimal), none of us in the car found it particularly enjoyable. After a visit to Oregon caves, I ended my day staying in the lodge.