Sunday, July 05, 2009

Driving Journey: Day 3: Oregon Caves

30 miles down Hwy 199 from Grants Pass is a small community called Cave Junction. 20 miles east of that, much of it on a winding mountainous road is the Oregon Caves National Monument. I had visited here 25 years ago and was eager to see it again.

About a mile off of Hwy 199 I came across the oddest sight, a series of small fires burning in the grass right beside the road.

The underground (U/G) tour itself started off with an introduction from our tour guide, Jonathan. He was a good fellow and added a lot to the tour by talking about the legends of the Native people in the area. Apparently they viewed the underground as the place inhabited by the spirits of those who have left the world that we inhabit topside.
Considering that I use to work 6600' U/G going just 200' below surface is nothing but these caves were much more interesting than the tunnels in a production mine!

Tripods were not allowed on the tour so one could only take photos by using a flash or by holding the camera super still. Either approach does not effectively replicate what it really looks like to the human eye during the tour. But hopefully these photos will give you an approximation.

Just a rock structure and not a big bug!

About a century ago a professor took a bunch of students U/G and they recorded their visit on one of the rocks. Then over time dripping water with minerals covered over top of it, leaving what you see here.

These structures were both beautiful and spooky. Ain't nature amazing?!

These bear bones were found exactly in this spot and preserved for eternity.
Over an hour later, we returned to the surface. Note: I was the only one who didn't think to wear a jacket so the warm air was especially welcomed by me!

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