Twenty-six years (and counting) of teaching has given me more than a little bit of experience in planning. It has also taught me that plans don’t mean jack-diddly-squat.
In my previous post I laid out my litany of woes about our multiple failed attempts to get to the top of Mt. Lassen in Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California. Three times. Three times that plans were thwarted, with this last one resulting in not even making it to the park at all. Heavy sigh.
Smoke from California’s current, record setting wildfire set us on a VERY last minute course correction. As in, the morning we were supposed to finish packing the car, we trashed almost every part of our plan for our trip, including the day we were planning to leave, and making hotel reservations for the very next day.
We were still going to head north out of necessity. The medium boy, Michael, was going to a summer camp where he was going to be a counselor, so there was no flexibility there. We were also still aiming to go camping, because all the equipment was packed and ready to go and there was NO WAY I was going to let all that work get scrapped. So off to the internet I went to search for suitable places to camp out of both the range of smoke and our intense summer heat.
That’s how I stumbled across the little known place called Oregon Caves. It’s a small National Monument not too far away from the Oregon coast, nestled among tall conifers, mountain peaks, and scenic valleys. And as the name implies, there are cave systems tucked below ground that can be explored.
When we arrived at the campground, we quickly realized how very “hidden” this little gem of a place is. We were the only ones there. We got to have first pick of all of the camp spots, and found one right next to the little creek that flowed through. The campsite sat a little lower than the road so it was also nice and secluded. The only drawback was the distance to the restrooms, but it also meant that we wouldn’t have to worry about extra foot traffic going by if other people showed up (which eventually some did).
The campground itself was tucked away from the main part of the monument and from the road, and pretty much anything else. This meant we were the only humans for miles around. This is a bad realization to come to when you watch too many horror movies and murder mysteries. It’s like space… no one can hear you scream. Add to it the loud rushing of the creek we were by and we also realized that we wouldn’t be able to hear anyone or anything else coming. Hmmm… too many late night shows…
Obviously, we weren’t hacked into pieces by some serial killer or chewed up by wild animals, so clearly all went well. Eh, well enough. Our second day we got rained on almost the whole day. We had to do a lot more driving than anticipated due to the distance of the campground from the actual park, as well as where we had to go to get tickets to get into the cave system (they weren’t sold in the park due to that nasty “C” word). We even had to drive back into the nearest town to get internet connection to make more late hotel reservations. A message from the medium boy regarding the time and location to pick him up at the end of his camp forced us to pivot at the very last minute, yet again. The driving wouldn’t have been so much of an issue if it weren’t for the fact that the roads were incredibly twisty and the littlest one is a victim of intense car sickness (and yes, sadly he succumbed at one point).
Regardless, the trip was still nice. We got to take several hikes through peaceful forests, flower-filled meadows, and of course, the caves with all their beautiful formations. We were often the only people on the trails, the weather was pleasant (aside from the rain), the air was clear, and there were no murderous rampages or rabid animals chasing us. I consider it a win.