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【谁主沉浮】亿万年的晶莹

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发表于 2014-8-8 13:39:36 |显示全部楼层
本帖最后由 RidgeWalker 于 2014-8-9 22:49 编辑

从旧金山湾区去奥勒冈溶洞(Oregon Caves)单程四百英哩,部分路段弯曲狭窄,这一路开去需要八小时左右,当然包括中间加油,休息,吃饭。到那儿去搭帐篷只住一晚,听起来就有些头脑发热之嫌,两天开个来回可真是够累的。可还是去了,因为此行原本有约。去年夏天我带儿子远足奥勒冈和华盛顿两州交界的哥伦比亚大河谷(Columbia River Gorge),连续开车三天,长途劳顿,归途已是人困马乏,只剩下玩性不减。路过奥勒冈的格染茨山口镇(Grants Pass)看了一下地图决定改变路线,抛开宽阔的五号州际高速公路,转走通往加州弯月市(Crescent City)199公路,那是迷人风景专线呢。快开出奥勒冈州时看到临洞镇(Cave Junction),路边树立一标牌,上书奥勒冈溶洞国家保护遗迹(Oregon Caves National Monument)。儿子那年十一岁,见到标牌欢呼跳跃,摩拳擦掌要去一探梦幻般的地貌。只是当时已经是下午两点,离家还有大约四百英哩的路程。作为折衷之法,约定日后专程来游。

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奥勒冈溶洞地处思思客游国家森林(Siskiyou National Forest)深处,幽幽古林覆盖奥勒冈和加州交界几千倾土地。尽管溶洞是这次郊游的目的地,过去的一年里时常听到的是来自那无边无际的红杉树林,众多的大河小溪,崇山峻岭,还有大海和许多沙滩与礁石的呼唤。这中间有丁点儿处世哲学也说不定。那年去加州北部的蕩寺米尔(Dunsmuir)就有过一些错鄂的情节。地处思思客游国家森林的东南部,那儿风景秀丽比起奥勒冈溶洞这边还略胜一筹。有海拔12000英呎的珊思塔火山(Mount Shasta),顶天立地;飘逸的三可门图河(Sacramento River) 发源于那里众多的山谷溪流;山山叠嶂,瀑布跌迭,谷谷叠翠,令人流连忘返。只是当地居民对门口的景色早已视而不见了,我们听到的是他们滔滔不绝地回忆去巴黎或CANCUN 的旅行轶事,有人对我们的居住区旧金山也露出羡慕之情。是啊,对自家的前门后院熟视无睹也属人之常情。只是我不能理解为什么人们愿意长途跋涉到外地去走马观花,却对眼前的胜景眼皮一翻不屑一顾呢?我不曾去过欧洲,但我不相信那里的任何一个小国会拥有比地大物博的加里福尼亚州更多更美的景观。也许这一切是人的属性,移民他乡不分肤色,白也罢,黑也罢,黄也是,棕也好,都时刻怀念甚或崇拜故土的山山水水,从而很少自我反省罢了。只是我深信爱我脚踏的土地本该是人的一种崇高品质。唉,也可能我这人太吝啬,不愿花大钱出远门游玩呢;可每当我只身涉足人迹罕见的地域,感觉比挤身游人如潮的名胜要舒心达意许多。如此情怀是否可称为中国特色?我想不会吧。大自然恢宏壮丽不容亵渎,如此感受可能仅属个人的情怀。


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时值八月下旬,厚重的海雾将旧金山湾区包裹得严严实实;星期五的清晨看似郁闷,焉知其中的偏爱,因为阳光过于明媚带给驾车人和乘客只有晃眼暴晒只苦,况且我们前面的路还长着呢。摆脱了城市交通纠缠,101号公路带我们走出湾区,直到湾区北端的优凱崖(Ukiah)镇的一路上浓雾遮去了八月的骄阳。眼前突然间一片明媚,那些此起彼伏的金黄色的小丘,平整的农田,信步的奶牛,和一座座叫不上名的村庄,典型的加州地貌,一目了然。


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纬力兹(Willits)是一座中小型镇子,著名的木材集散地。一大横幅高悬高速公路之上,上书“红杉林之门”,自傲之情溢于言表。高大伟岸的红杉树真可谓树中王者,是地球上现存的最古老的生物,两千年的大树依然洒洒脱脱,枝繁叶茂。成年树高350英呎(百米)开外,可谓至高无上。听上去象神话,红杉树只生长在北加州海岸线边一块狭长地带,别处绝无仅有,比生长在加州内陆更为粗壮庞大的水杉(Sequoia)树还要挺拔伟岸。这里的狭长地带不能从字面上理解。一旦驾车驶入“北加州国州合营红杉林公园”(the National and State Redwood Parks in Northern California),那车甚或百余车厢的载重火车也会一下子变成小鱼儿一条在林海里任君畅游。遮天蔽地的大森林啊,不仅使人和车变得微不足道,连一座座山也变矮了。矗天的大树个个端庄优雅,给这里的红土裸石海雾凉风凭添了无限的温文尔雅和勃勃生机。一个人如果对这些巨大的生命敞开心怀,就会体验到这里的庄严肃穆,才能体会真正意义上的心旷神怡。太平洋常年送来凉爽的风,植物因此生长缓慢,那红杉树便从容不迫,慢条斯理地用千年的时间来完成宇间的佳作。多少年了,眼看着王朝一个个走向灭亡,不可一世的发现者船来船往,原住部落被逐个屠城洗劫,哭喊呻吟已暂时沉默,有些动物灭绝了,有人发明了塑料,一代文明也蜕化成肥胖和慵懒…唉,千年一叹,几声叹息里,大树依然高矗,优雅安娴,任阳光时强时弱,迎偶尔风雷闪电,在时间的长廊里信步,默默无语却又气定神闲。双道高速横插而过,昔日的单道公路如今被改成风景专线,取名巨人大道(Avenue of the Giants),令人如双雷灌耳。在我眼里,那风景专线是一座大教堂,是崇拜者的长廊。假如允许的话,我选择崇拜优雅,镇静,谦逊,当然还有爱。只有爱才能使生命感受真正意义上的自由自在。这当然不包括猎奇者的占有欲。在这里爱比想象中更是触手可摸,那些参天大树就是这样告诉游客的。要感觉这些,一个人必须到那里并向巨人们敞开心怀。


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一望无际的红衫林令人肃然起敬,高速公路在林海里向海边游弋,不知不觉里便看到了景色秀丽的航泊特海岸(Humbolt Coast)。过了优瑞珈(Eureka)101号公路依太平洋边蜿蜒;眼前便有了偌大的黑沙滩,在海雾里蒸腾起伏,面向大海翻腾着的巨浪。海鸥,鹈鹕和众多珍奇的海鸟,时而俯冲入海,时而摇身上岸,笨拙与幽雅兼备,煞是好看。公路边上有一大群麋鹿在雾汽腾腾若隐若现的阳光里卧地咀嚼,神情专注似在悉心倾听大海的倾诉。此时此地,这世界分明是一张巨幅油画。回头看,在接天连地的山水画里我们的车似乎变成了一粒沙砾。那感觉其实是美好的,多高兴能汇如大自然这神奇的彩图里呀!这世界多么安静!感谢生活给予我们如此令人心旷神怡的时光。


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油价太不可思议了,离开湾区时记得是$2.98一加仑,到了北边山区竟能看到$3.75一加仑的标价。我们在优瑞珈加足了油,还为$3.21的价格沾沾自喜。人真是不可思议,一年前我曾为$1.65心中懊恼不已。


商业化的世界在这美丽无边的森林里也使人十分无奈。印地安人的树雕艺术在这里有批量生产,各式的熊,巨脚野人,松鼠,林间生物,用珍贵的红衫木雕成,标价令人咂舌。快到半月城的公路边上有一家旅游点,起名“神秘的树”,专门兜售伐木巨人保罗·班扬之荒诞不经的故事和其它民间传说。勿需烦恼,红衫林的优美将所有一切都掩饰了抚平了。即使在这家思路欠深邃的企业,那缆车也会将一个真情的游人带到一个崭新的高度,放眼百万公傾客来漫思国营森林(Klamath National Forest)那片山林合一的罕世景观。大自然的抚慰功能来自其内在的美和爱。


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我们还要赶路,没有时间与浅薄的商家多纠缠。

穿山越岭的路大多靠水来开道。101号公路就是顺着几条河道穿越红衫林覆盖的众多山川,在优凯崖一带我们与俄罗斯河(Russian River)盘亘了一通;然后蟮鱼溪(Eel River)不知何时冒了出来,与101公路交错缠绕了好长一段;客来漫思河(Klamath River)还有好几个名不见经传的小溪急流从高速公路下面奔向太平洋去了。上善若水。几千年的智者之言仍然闪闪发光。水在给了人畜,树木,花草,生命和形体的同时,也赐予这个星球无尽的幽雅和美丽。


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过了新月城, 我们换上通往内陆的199公路,那条令人为之砰然心跳了整整一年的风景线啊!起初的景色与刚过去101好公路还没有太大差别,都是“红衫林风景线” (Redwood Highway),一样的地貌,一样的浩瀚。只是太平洋岸边的凉爽缓慢地退缩着,那只温柔的手有些把持不住了,只有那些参天大树依然努力遮去仲夏的骄阳。


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车过史密斯河(Smith River),沟沟壑壑之后,看见山峰巨石,内陆的热浪便洪水般袭来,一下子淹没了所有的人和世界,告诉人们酷暑未尽。已经是下午4点多了,我们忙着赶往临洞镇(Cave Junction)的溶洞游客接待中心,星期五的门一般关得比较早。这样我们不得不将部分景观,海滩,小湖,推到明天的日程上。好在我们没有迟到,4点15分便到了游客接待中心。夏天是旅游旺季,游客接待中心和溶洞参观下午7点才关门。俄勒冈州溶洞旅游局下协有两处游客帐篷露营场,空有许多帐蓬点。黑头鸦(Grayback)和溶洞溪(Cave Creek)两个露营场,古松参天,溪流成河,景色怡人,洗手间配有抽水马桶。情况如此优越,令人不敢相信。这两个露营场都不接受电话预约,帐篷点按先来后到领取,令人一路忧心忡忡。好在我本人偶尔有一点冒险的倾向,硬着头皮赶来了。





往前开11英哩便是黑头鸦露营场,公路弯曲狭窄却名曰溶洞高速。面对一排排空着的帐篷点,我们受宠若惊地选择了溪旁一地,那里离洗手间远近适中。我们经常帐篷露营,一般来说赶到时空着的帐篷点所剩无几,没有多大选择余地。



卸车是顾不上了,因为离溶洞关门还有一个半小时,入洞游览的时间应该够了。再往前开8英哩便进入了思思客游国家森林的腹地,就看到了俄勒冈溶洞。抬眼望去巨石漫山遍野;巨石丛里山高谷深。六层的俄勒冈溶洞城堡客栈(Oregon Caves Chateau)建在谷底,游客从路边也只能看见楼顶,谷深难测。我眼花体乏,加上大树参天,看那幽谷更是深不见底。从溶洞里涌出一泉,一下子落入峡谷不见了;可山下那小河分明水流湍急?


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此地早在十九世纪便被坦佛政府(Taft Administration)认定为国家级景点。从那时起,联邦政府和俄勒冈州政府出钱出力,修缮,维护,装修,十足的北美风格:与远东中国和日本的佛教圣地相比,结实得有些夸张,但看上去又似乎不修边幅。


城堡客栈上方,路的另一边是溶洞售票处。我们是游客离散的时间到的,却没有赶上六点钟的导游。每个导游只能带十二个游客,每队隔半小时入洞。我们只有跟六点半那一班了。这是当天最后一班普通游览;七点钟是烛光发现之旅,专门留给胆大冒险者。


因为在其它地方下过溶洞感觉木然,我谢绝了下洞游览。本人可能有一点儿幽闭恐怖症,一听说洞内有几段游人必须腰弯45度方可走下爬上更是举步不前了。


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只身一人顺着洞旁的山道漫行是最绝妙的自导自游。我向来对苍山大树情有独钟。此时斜阳穿过树林绿叶将林间染得色彩斑斓,使人耳目一新。苍山如海,美景无边,近处翠绿,远处湛蓝,直铺地平线。人行小路铺了沥青,扶手栏杆用圆木做成,结实,悦目,易行。我没有理由不舞步轻踩,快门频摁。小道蜿蜒,离洞口愈来愈远了。再后来沥青没有了,地面土石混杂,凹凸不平,却更名副其实,山间小道本该如此模样。方才泊车时,我就注意到许多纯白色的大石外凸,只是那些巨石尽管嶙峋外向却因为苔藓覆盖而不惹眼。苔藓在夕阳里呈金黄色,确属罕见,令人眼花缭乱。沿山道而上,看见大块纯白的岩石赤裸,方感这山非同一般。突然间一方硕大的纯白大理石壁挡住去路,似要大声宣告什么。夕阳涂辉,更显得那石的贵重。我孑身而立,与世界同敬畏。一个响亮的声音从我躯体穿过;不,那分明是惊天地泣鬼神的雄姿啊!有时候一个雄姿不见得非得是人。这里的大理石分明是活着的啊。在洁白如玉的石壁面前,人和其它生物反而显得过于平常,甚或苍白。


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据说远古时太平洋板块与美洲板块相撞,地下岩石在不可思喻的温度和压力下熔化了,也净化了。上升的熔岩与强大的水压铸造了大理石,宝石般的模样啊,与前身的石灰岩大相径庭。在地壳的造山运动中,大理石板块缓缓升上地面。千万年里,朽木腐草所释放的二氧化碳在水中变成酸,溶化了部分岩石和疏松物,从而有了溶洞。近代有人发现了洞和洞的消遣娱乐的价值;我们这才来了,搭帐篷,入溶洞,惊讶感叹。


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大理石的铸造过程让人叹为观止,不禁让人想起地球上所有的稀有元素包括生命本身来自超越人类想象力的超级新星天体爆炸(supernova)。集亿万个雷霆于一击,将所有的一切包括自身(那可是百万甚或千万个地球加在一起的星体哦)砸的粉碎,化作烟尘,使之湮没;其结果是给了宇宙不曾有过的物质和形状。那震撼环宇似要毁灭一切的爆炸在尘埃落定时却给宇宙凭添了几维空间和想象,从而有了高级生物。如此壮观的演绎进化至今还在我们眼皮底下进行着,还将延续到生命湮灭之后。生命是大千宇宙的意外产物,却赋予人们看穿这个世界的能力。


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天然大理石不仅罕见而且经千万年风雨在众多石头里依然独领风骚,的确是大自然神奇的一笔。只有本质优异者才能创造奇迹,毋须外力相助。一切都碎了,破了,炸了,化作尘埃,在抖瑟在哭泣。毕竟那火太过于无情那水太深太浊。生存是不可能的了,蜕变是唯一的出路。新生是不可抗争的命运,别无选择。为数不多的再生者以更结实更缜密的形体再现;其余的被淘汰了,永不复生。人世间也有类似的情景。生活中一次划时代的事件,比如一场可怕的革命,一些无聊的政治运动,突如其来的自然灾害,甚至父母离婚,都会导致兄弟姐妹各奔东西。其结果有人成了救世菩萨观音;也有人因为仇恨和报复成了人间的恶魔…


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洞内游客出来了,笑容满面,手舞足蹈。他们哪知大理石的高度啊。


天色向晚,帐篷依河撑开,烧烤炉里火旺,野餐桌上肉香。饭后我们淌水入河洗去一天的尘土和闷热。可惜天黑了,不能去河上游的深水洼游泳。那可是天仙般的境遇啊!尽管如此,耳听潺潺河水睡觉也算是有福气了,今晚没必要打开收录机播放模仿自然催眠之声了。


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头天游过了溶洞,第二天的日程表就好排多了。一路走去有充裕的时间观赏任何一个景点,在所有宽阔的海滩撒欢。航泊特海岸(Humbolt Coast)梦境般浪漫朦胧,海充满了神奇,美景令人流连忘返。没有了时间的压力,我们仔细游览了一番令人神往的巨人大道(Avenue of the Giants),林荫道顺河,河中有一深水洼,淌水而入,河水清凉,洗去长途跋涉的尘土,暮气和疲倦。路边广告说有一红杉树,硕大无比,依地锯开空隙,任车穿行,依然生长得枝繁叶茂,车穿巨树便是今天最后一景了。一天在欢乐里度过,又开了400英哩的车,八点半左右到家,天还未黑净。人是乏了,但这一程足够回味一辈子两辈子的了。


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An overnight camping trip to Oregon Caves was a crazy idea. Driving over 400 miles each day on consecutive days was nutty simply because the drive would consume almost eight hours as parts of the freeway were narrow and winding. However, the trip was promised last summer. When my son and I came back from our even more grueling trip to Columbia River Gorge, we took the side way from Grants Pass, Oregon, to Crescent City, California, via the fantastic scenic drive, Route 199. Midway to Crescent City we passed by Cave Junction. That was where we noticed the preeminent sign of Oregon Caves National Monument. Being an 11 year old my son jumped at the idea of going underground of fantastic forms and shapes. As a matter of fact, he wanted to go right away. Only it was late in the afternoon and a long drive of over 400 miles was still ahead of us. As a compromise we promised ourselves to come back later.


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Oregon Caves nestles in the Siskiyou National Forest that covers a large territory across the border of Oregon and California. The Caves may have been the main attraction of this year's trip; in the past year I have been fielding the call from the magnificent country of the expansive redwood forests, numerous rivers and creeks, mountains big and small, the ocean and its many beaches and rocks. Maybe there was also a philosophical angle here. I once felt bamboozled when I visited Dunsmuir, California. Also part of the Siskiyou National Forest, the scenery there was even more extravagant than that around the Oregon Caves area as Mount Shasta a volcano rose more than 12,000 feet above the sea. The fulsome Sacramento River came into form from many of its forks there amidst myriad waterfalls, and spectacular mountain peaks and wooded gorges. Yet, folks at Dunsmair seemed to have grown blind to wondrous sights around them. When we were there, they couldn't stop marveling about their trips to Paris and Cancun, and even San Francisco where we came from. I understood that one's backyard can become old and lose its charm over time. But why do folks go such a length to just skim through some overly hyped places afar while equally, if not more so, tantalizing spots nearby are grossly ignored or even looked down upon? I don't know for sure but I doubted that a small country in Europe had more spectacular scenic spots than the fabulous State of California. Maybe it's damn genetic that immigrants all alike, white, black, yellow, or brown, fantasize and secretly worship their ancestral land. It's not in our habit to take inventory of our own genetic codes. Only I am convinced that somewhere love for the land one lives on now has to be an immense virtue. Perhaps I am cheap, a low budget traveler; but, I seem to get more joy trekking in the less traveled areas than the typical touristy spots. I wonder if it's too far-fetched to call such mentality an idiosyncrasy with Chinese characteristics. Of course not, I can only speak for myself that nature is too grand to be disrespected in whatever way.


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Anyway, it was late in August. The fog along the coast in this particular Friday morning was heavy and all-enshrouding. It was actually a blessing in the disguise because too much sunlight could make driving and riding a bit strenuous. We had too long to go. After fighting through some urban traffic congestions, the US101 took us out of the San Francisco Bay Area, all the while the coastal fog didn't yield an inch to robust August sunshine until somewhere past Ukiah, the northern tip of the Bay Area. All of a sudden, brilliant sunlight highlighted the dry grasses of rolling hills, farm land and cows and towns of less known names, typical of California landscape in the summer.


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Willits, a mid-sized lumber town, came into view hanging a huge sign over the freeway claiming itself as the Gateway to the Redwoods with audacious pride. Redwoods the magnificent trees are the royalty among trees, the oldest living things on earth as they say, simply because some 2000 years old trees keep going with grace. Those are the tallest trees on the surface of the earth, reaching over 350 feet. It is magical that the redwoods only thrive on a narrow strip along the coast of Northern California. Redwoods are more graceful in my eyes than the massive but slightly shorter and stouter sequoias in the inland of California. Do not take narrow strip literally here. Once you drive into the National and State Redwood Parks in Northern California, the car or even a freight train becomes a miniature fish swimming in a vast sea of redwood forests. The ever-expansive forest dwarfs people, automobiles and even mountains. Yet, the giant trees of wonderful balance and posture exhibit a grace of gentleness to the land of rock, red earth, fog and sea breezes. The sight can be both solemn and exhilarating if one could make the connection with such a great life. The cool temperature along the Pacific slows the down the growth of the giants so the trees could build itself up deliberately and masterfully on a solid foundation through the millennia. Dynasties may have fallen; pompous discoverers may have come and gone; native tribes may have been slaughtered; human cries and moans may have been temporarily silenced nearby; species may have become extinct; plastic may have been invented; civilization may have deteriorated into obesity and laziness ... but through them all the graceful giants stand its ground to greet the daily dim or fierce sunlight, occasional thunder and lightning, and marching through the long corridor of time with calm and confidence. Yes, they call the long stretches of the old single lane highway or the scenic bypass the Avenue of the Giants. To me this avenue was a cathedral, the corridor of worship. If I am allowed my choices, I choose to worship grace, calm, humility, and of course love. Only love can put a living thing at ease. I don't mean false love for things grotesque. Love is more palpable than one thinks it's possible, a reminder by the gigantic and also silent redwoods, if one cares to travel there and opens one's heart to those trees.


It was so awesome that the redwood forest was endless; for before our notice the freeway veered toward the sea and led us to the splendid Humboldt Coast. After Eureka, US 101 traced the edge of the Pacific, as mammoth black sand beaches simmered in the fog to greet waves crashing onshore from the Ocean. Seagulls, pelicans, and other exotic birds dove into the water and walked ashore in their awkward and graceful ways. By the freeway we spot a sizeable horde of giant elks resting and chewing away in the coolness of the misty sunlight as if to savor the spirit of the ocean. The world there was a spectacular oil painting. Our car became a dot or a grain of sand in the large scheme of landscape. But I felt great and willing to be blended in and become lost into the wholeness of such extravaganza in absolute silence. Life, indeed, has its moments of glory.


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The gas price was horrendous. When we left the Bay Area, the lowest grade of gas cost $2.98 per gallon. Up north some stations had $3.75 over their pumps. We gassed up at Eureka for a measly $3.21 and actually felt good. It was silly because we felt depressed a year ago when the gas price reached $1.65 per gallon.


The commercialization of the world was definitely an eyesore in the beautiful expansion of the woods. Indian folk art of tree carving had been taken into mass production as bears, big-foot, small squirrels, and other things were carved from precious redwood for ridiculous amounts. Just before Crescent City, there was this ghastly joint, the Trees of Mystery, an establishment that paddles the tall tales of Paul Bunyan and other folklores. Still, the beauty of the redwoods irons them all out. I was absolutely convinced that the skytrail at this semi-serious commercial adventure could take a person with true heart to a magnificent height to overlook the sweeping view of the out-of-this-worldly Klamath National Forest and its million acres of giant redwoods. Nature heals because of its innate love and grace. Time was short; we had to move on without too much a bother with the superficial.


When the road wound around the mountains, it was often the rivers that paved the way. So many rivers helped the US 101 cut through the mountains of giant redwoods. We tangled a little while with the Russian River around Ukiah; soon the Eel River came up from nowhere to crisscross the freeway for many miles. The Klamath River and many other little creeks and streams rush towards the Pacific under the freeway. Water contains the highest virtue in the world. Those thousand years old wisdom remains true today. Water has all of us, people, trees, plants and flowers, and animals, made. It's water that brings this planet endless supply of beauty and grace.


A couple of miles north of Crescent City, we switched to Route 199 the scenic drive that made the heart pump with joy for the past year. The scenery remained similar to that of US 101 as both are dubbed as Redwood Highways with almost identical scales and surroundings. Slowly the coolness of the Pacific Coast was losing its gentle grasp, though the tall redwoods still provided soothing shades in late summer. Soon after the Smith River and its many valleys, peaks and rocks burst into the scene, the hot inland temperature started to flood in and envelope everything and everyone in, to remind us that summer was still sizzling in our world. It was past 4 in the afternoon. We were in a hurry to make it to the Oregon Caves Visitor's Center at Cave Junction before the center was closed for Friday thus left quite a few vista points and beaches and lagoons for the day after. We made it in time, arriving at the Visitor's Center at 4:15. We were told that both the Visitor's Center and the Caves all opened until 7 in the afternoon. There were plenty of camping sites available, too, at a couple of campgrounds run by the Oregon Caves Outfitters. Grayback and Cave Creek were both gorgeous campgrounds with flush toilets and tall pine trees and a river-like creek. But until then we had no idea of such a favorable situation because both campgrounds don't take reservations and run on first come and first serve basis. Maybe I have the inclination to take risks sometimes.


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Another 11 miles of narrow roads which they call the Caves Highway, we arrived at the Grayback Campground. Because there were so many sites available, we could afford the luxury to choose one by the creek, not too far or too close to the restrooms, either. In many other campgrounds we had no choice but to take what was left. We paid and filled up the form to mark our territory. Unpacking had to wait as there was still a little bit over one hour and a half to take a tour of the Caves.


Another 8 miles of winding around the hills, we were up in the depth of the Siskiyou National Forest where the Oregon Caves resided. The first impression was the massiveness of the rocks. Rocks made mountains tall and gorges deep. The six story Oregon Caves Chateau in this deep gorge only had its roof shown to visitors from the roadside. The Cave Creek Gorge was so deep and the trees so tall that it appeared bottomless in the tired eyes of a traveler. A little stream trickling out of the Caves simply disappeared into the gorge to grow into a full-blown creek in the size of a healthy river.


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The office was a little above the Chateau on the other side of the driveway. This place was declared a National Monument by the Taft Administration in the late 1800s. The State of Oregon and the federal government had put in a lot of effort and money through the years as the place appeared well built and maintained in an American way, sturdy and a little extravagant but not overly decorative, in comparison to those Buddhist or Taoist establishments in China and Japan.





The crowd of the visitors was just beginning to thin out at this hour. Yet we didn't catch the 6 o'clock guided tour because it was booked out as each tour could only take 12 visitors. They put us on the 6:30 group, the last guided tour of the day before the 7 o'clock candlelight exploration for the brave and adventurous.


I decided not to go into the caves. I have been to caves and caverns in other parts of the world. There was nothing that interested me, except exposing the mild claustrophobia in me. Underground caves make me feel uneasy thus flatten the sense of excitement. I didn't welcome the news that some stretches of the caves here required visitors to bend their backs 45 degrees forward in order to climb up and down.





Left alone, I started to follow the trails uphill above the caves. It was a superlative self-guided tour because of my passion for tall trees and bulky mountains. The evening light penetrating through leaves and forest brought out exceptional colors and delight. A sea of mountain peaks expanded the view from green into blue towards the horizon. The trail was paved with asphalt for quite some distance. A neatly constructed log railing made the trail very pleasant to look at and walk on. So, I danced on and clicked away with my camera here and there. When the trail zigzagged its way out of the Caves area, the asphalt ended and dirt and rocks made it rougher. But it was more real this way. A trail thus became a trail. I had noticed massive rocks in pure white when we first parked the car. But the rocks though protuberant were not prominent at the gorge area because large patches of moss, in their golden color, covered most of the rock surfaces. The trail led up to more and more of the marvelous whiteness and purity of the rocks that was the unique feature of this particular mountain. At one point a huge wall of large chunks of pure white marble stood in front of me as if to make a loud pronouncement. With the reflection of the evening sunlight, the rock made its case of preciousness. I was alone and the entire world was in awe. There I was penetrated by a resounding voice. A presence it was, rather, so special. Sometimes a presence doesn't have to be a person. The marble here is alive. In such a presence, living things can be so ordinary.


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It was said that the plate of the ocean (the Pacific Plate) and the plate of land clashed with each other eons ago. Humanly inconceivable pressure and heat melted and purified the rocks beneath. The rising of lava and molten rocks together with water had created a few chunks of marble, diamond-like rocks different from their previous state of existence, ordinary limestone. Chunks of marble in the sizes of mountains rose up in the process of mountain making. Then rotten woods and plants released carbon dioxide. CO2 and water created acidified solutions that dissolved some of the rocks and other less steady materials. Thus the caves were created and later discovered by people for recreational values. Thus we came, to camp here, to visit and to marvel.


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Marble making is an awe-inspiring process. It reminds me of all the rare elements and possibly life itself on Earth were all cooked up in the phantasmagorical celestial explosion called supernova. Colossal events in our universe smash everything and itself (in the size of a few millions of Planet Earth) apart and blow many things into smoke, into oblivion; in the process it also meshed certain things into mind-boggling forms and shapes. At the end the world gained extra dimensions and complex species were made. Such evolution is still unfolding in front of our eyes and will go on beyond our own existence. Life is an accident in this universe and yet we have the ability to perceive.


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Marble is rare. Chunks of marble stand out amidst many other types of rock after millions of years. They bear nature's demarcation. I suppose only true substance with excellence could become great marvel, naturally so. Everything else fell apart, cracked, darkened, blown up, evaporated, trembling and crying. After all, the heat was too cruel and the water was too deep. Survival was impossible as only transformation was allowed. Metamorphosis was imposed, not chosen. Only a few are allowed to come through, in more solid form than before. The rest is eliminated and discarded. There is definitely a human parallel of such process. A watershed event, be it a damn revolution, a stupid political movement, a natural disaster, or even a parental divorce, had sisters and brothers scattered to all directions. At the end, not only Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were made but monsters of society were also born out of hate and revenge ...


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The Caves visitors came out happy and excited. But I doubted they reached the height I just did above a mountain of marbles.


Anyway, it was late. The tent was pitched by the Creek. The grill was going, food tasted delicious. We splashed up a few ripples in the creek water to wash off some of the dust and heat. It was too dark to swim in the waterhole upstream. That would be heaven on earth. But sleeping by the gurgling creek was definitely soothing to the body as no audio tapes of recorded natural sounds were needed for this particular night.


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Since the tour of the Caves was out of our way, the next day was much easier in terms of scheduling. There was time to stop at any vista point we liked along the way. We could run any beach that was appealing. One could only find the Humboldt Coast in one's dreams, so romantic and so misty. The ocean was magic. We even had time to take a grand tour of the Avenues of the Giants and stopped by a water hole to soak in and wash off the heat and dust gathered along the incredibly long drive. Driving through a tree, a redwood tree of course, was the last highlight of the day. Through all the fun, another 400 plus miles, we still got back home around 8:30, before the total nightfall. The body may be fatigued but the memory was worth a life time or two.

August 25-26, 2006

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发表于 2014-8-14 14:58:19 |显示全部楼层
美!
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发表于 2014-8-15 00:30:25 |显示全部楼层
VANO 发表于 2014-8-13 22:58
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2006年,很古老了。
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