May 3rd ~ Southern Oregon
We parted ways with my sister and her husband after breakfast this morning where they joined us for a sampling of a morel mushroom frittata I had fixed. We did not manage to find many mushrooms this year, but there were at least enough for everyone to have a taste.
Today was broken up into three sections as we drove on Interstate 5 from Central Point to Grants Pass, and then south on US Route 199 toward our final camping destination at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
Quirky, fun, artistic, clever, imaginative carvings and sculptures are what you will find here.
The items are all hand crafted by about ten different artisans and range from functional pieces of furniture to odd, one of a kind pieces of art. It is definitely worth a stop if you are passing this way.
There are several tours available. We took the discovery cave tour that lasted about one and a half hours.
As we waited for our departure time, Laura captured this beauty in a group of six.
I can’t say that this is the most beautiful, nor grandest, nor colorful, nor interesting cave we have been in. It is however unique that it is one of only three in the USA that is made primarily from marble.
Please note: (per their website)
Children: For their safety, children must be at least 42 inches (107 cm) tall to take a tour. The cave route is not safe for small children. Children cannot be carried through the cave.
Physical Considerations: Please be aware that the cave tour is physically demanding. It requires the ability to walk and stoop through narrow, twisting passages, including an 88-foot (27m) passageway with ceilings as low as 45 inches (114 cm), and the ability to ascend and descend over 500 steps, many of them steep, uneven and/or without handrails.
I found the tour interesting, but not a wow. Two things really stood out – the lighting throughout was poor and many stairways did not have any handrails. For anyone with any physical limitations or balance issues this would be quite dangerous.
The last time I was here was twenty-six years ago and I was much more fit. I probably would not do this tour again.
We did however enjoy seeing the historic château lodge right next to the cave entrance. Rates are not cheap, but reasonably lower than many of the other National Park lodges we have visited. With its huge fireplace, old-fashioned style cafe, and a dining room that has a small creek passing through it, the charm was not lost on me.
The park consists of 9,500 acres of redwood trees, including several groves of old growth trees, and is situated right on the Smith River.
“The park was named after explorer Jedediah Smith, who was the first American to travel, by land, from the Mississippi River to California in 1826, passing through the area of the future park.” – Wikipedia
This is the northern edge of Redwood National Park, home of the Giant Sequoias. From our campsite (#57), we had a view of the river and a short path that took us down to the water. Right across from us was a beautiful strand of enormous redwoods. Truly a delightful setting.
Took about 1/2 an hour to explore around the campgrounds and found this growth.
Animals spotted so far: Black tail deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, coyote, Llama, sheep, goats, cows, horses, Canada geese, chipmunks, daddy long-leg spiders, banana slug, two bald eagles.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we were able to get a great camping site right on the Smith River. I have wanted to camp at Jedediah Smith Park for years and have never been able to make it happen – until now. I’m also thankful for the delicious salted caramel milkshake that I devoured with great glee and gusto at the Oregon Caves Cafe.