This week we continued our journey North from Arcata, CA and officially crossed our first state border into Oregon. We had originally planned to continue up the coast but all of the sites were full so we changed course and diverted inland. We took the US Route 199 from Crescent City, CA towards Grants Pass, OR. While There were definitely a few tight turns in Jedediah Smith State Park and through most of the canyon, but we were able to navigate it successfully with our 42-foot fifth wheel in tow.
Cave Junction, OR
We stopped halfway through the 199 at Mountain Man RV Resort in Cave Junction, OR. The park is nothing to write home about but is a standard mom and pop run campground with great customer service. We stayed in the “residents” section which was full of run-down RV's that clearly haven't moved in years it but gave an amazing view out our back window of a river. We stopped by Wild River Brewing & Pizza Co for, you guessed it, pizza and beer. There was live music that kept us entertained all night too!
West Fork Illinois River
The river we could see out our back window was the West Fork Illinois River. The water was warm-ish so we spent a few days just lounging on the river bank and going for quick swims. This was Carmen's first river experience and she loved every minute of it. Sometimes she would just swim out in the water in big figure 8's. We were joined from time to time by other campers but mostly had the river to ourselves. One camper had us watch his grandson in exchange for a set of Eclipse glasses. Since the kid was around 9 we didn't really need to do anything so I would say we got the better end of the bargain.
Total Solar Eclipse
We weren't planning on watching the eclipse but thanks to the kind gentleman I mentioned earlier, we were ready to go with our new glasses. We weren't in the zone of totality but Cave Junction landed in the 93% coverage area. Even though we didn't get 100% coverage it was still a fun experience. We sat out front of the trailer in our camping chairs and watched in awe as the moon made its way in front of the sun. At peak coverage, it became very cold and eerily quiet. This took place when there were extremely bad fires happening in the Pacific North West so the smoke from the fires added to the eerie vibe. We let Carmen sit outside with us to see how she would react, but she didn't give a damn; she was more interested in getting back to the river.
Oregon Caves and the Historic Chateau
We took a day to explore the Oregon Caves National Monument as it was highlighted as the best thing to do in Cave Junction, OR. Since you are not allowed to be in the caves alone, the only way to see them is to book a tour. Unfortunately, when we looked online they were all sold out for the next two weeks. We called to see if there was a waiting list and they advised we could actually show up when they open in the morning as they hold a certain number of tickets to be sold in person on a first come-first serve basis. We took their advice and headed out there the next morning. We were able to get on the 10 am tour, and really thankful they sold some tickets like this! The tour was about 90 minutes and very informative. Not only do you learn the scientific explanation of how the caves were formed but you learn the history of the area, how the caves were discovered, and how people have set the caves back a few hundred years due to stupidity (writing on the walls, breaking stalactites/stalagmites, and creating man-made tunnels that ruined the ecosystem). It was a great tour and we highly recommend it if you're ever in the area. Afterwards, we walked through the Historic Chateau that is on the same property and admired the architecture. It is still an active hotel and even has a real stream running through the restaurant portion on the 1st floor.
Overall, we enjoyed our fairly lazy week in Cave Junction, OR. It was one of those towns where a week is enough time though. We packed up on Sunday and were ready for a more adventurous week in Eugene, OR.