Posted by: GeekHiker | September 29, 2007

Oregon Trip Day 11: Starting the Journey Home

Once you’re used to the idea waking up to the banging of steam pipes isn’t so bad.

Waking up because someone has decided to, at 2:00 AM, play classical music on the lobby piano is an entirely different thing.

JaG, frustrated, actually headed out to the lobby to say something to the person (I was far too comfy to leave the bed). She returned, describing the scene of a woman playing the piano as a man stood next to the fireplace and glared back at JaG. JaG made a hasty retreat.

In this old hotel the floors creak as well, especially on our side of the hotel, which was nearly washed away by a mudslide in 1964. So when someone decided to pace back and forth at 3:00 am, to say the creaking was annoying is something of an understatement.

The mudslide itself is interesting history. Three days before Christmas that year, a late season snow followed by warm rain triggered a mudslide in the canyon above the Chateau. The mud rushed down the canyon and through the archway at the Chalet, then cascaded down into the trout pool. It crashed through the coffee shop and dining room. To save the building, the windows of the dining room were broken out. Even still, the building was almost pushed off its foundation and very nearly lost. Thankfully the building was saved, but the wing of our building was shifted: none of the doors hang straight and the hallway outside our room is not quite square.

Day 11 - Oregon Caves Chateau Hallway

A not-quite-square hallway in the Chateau

If you’re ever at the Chateau, be sure to have a chat with the maintenance guy. He knows all the cool details.

By the time we were in the coffee shop enjoying breakfast, JaG and I had agreed: staying in old hotels is fun, but we had a whole new respect for modern, non-creaky architecture.

After a large breakfast (traditional: pancakes, waffles, hash browns, bacon and the like), I headed out with the first load of stuff to start packing the truck. Although the morning was clear and cold, there had been freezing rain the night before and both our cars were covered in a layer of ice.

Cars packed, a bit of dallying about was in order: buying postcards, checking out, taking pictures in the morning sunshine and, of course, one last stop in front of the fireplace.

Day 11 - Oregon Caves Chalet

The Oregon Caves Chalet in the morning sunshine. The caves tour starts from the archway.

Day 11 - Oregon Caves Chateau Side

The back of the Chateau. The entrance to the Coffee Shop is on the lower right, the main staircase can be seen through the picture window in the center.

Day 11 - Oregon Caves Chateau Swing & Trout Pond

The Trout pond & waterfall below our room. The waterfall is the creek that emerges from the cave entrance and is ducted through the dining room.

About 11:00, JaG and I hopped in our cars and started down the twisty road to Cave Junction.

Swinging north on Highway 199 again, an hour later we found ourselves in Grant’s Pass looking for lunch. Parking in downtown, decorated with multiple artwork covered painted bears, we wandered into the visitor’s center looking for lunch recommendations.

If you ever visit Grant’s Pass, be sure to stop at the visitor center. To say the woman who works there is a little lonely and loves visitors is an understatement.

After a quick couple of sandwiches, JaG and I wandered back to our cars to trade CD’s and part ways.

Having JaG on this trip has been a wonderful boon. I’m sure the trip would have been fun solo, but having a new friend along has made the trip exponentially better. Plus, she makes damn good snacks.

And I’ll admit, I rather missed seeing her behind me or chatting with her at rest stops all the way back south.

Heading back on to I-5 south, I drove through the Shakespeare town of Ashland, which was nice, if a bit touristy, but I would love to come back and watch some plays, do some hiking, etc.

Crossing back into California, my companion from the beginning of the trip, Mt. Shasta, came back into view.

Day 11 - Mt Shasta

A familiar face: Mt. Shasta on the way home

Cruising south, I made a quick stop in Redding. I’d last been through Redding about 5 years ago on a trip to Mt. Lassen. At that time the Turtle Bay Museum had just opened, and the parkland surrounding it were still under construction. Now, the museum and park around it are completed and very nice. It was just in the planning stages when I was there, but the beautiful Sundial Bridge now spans the Sacramento River:

Day 11 - Redding Sundial Bridge

The Sundial Bridge in Redding

As the miles passed by, the sun set behind the coastal range. A little after sundown, I saw a cloud of smoke about a half mile in front of me. I few seconds later I saw it: a passenger van on it’s side. I immediately pulled over to help, as did several other cars. Turned out the guy had blew a tire, panicked, struck the back of a semi’s rig, and rolled the van.

CHP started arriving a few minutes later, and one of the cars that had pulled over fortunately had two EMT’s. Since I had been too far behind to actually witness the accident, I decided to head on, not wanting to be in the way.

Still, a bit of a scare, considering the guy was less than a mile in front of me.

I finally arrived in Sacramento late at night and spent the rest of evening chatting with The Parentage and sharing pictures. For the first time in, well, forever I can actually say that I’ve stayed some place they haven’t (The Chateau). Not that I’m in competition or anything (they’re retired, so they have the advantage), but it’s still fun.

Tomorrow, the long drive home…



  1. And so it ended.

    A very good trip indeed. Thank you very much for trusting your instinct. 🙂

  2. just a girl – So it did. Thanks for trusting your instincts as well! 😀

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