Greetings from Northern California. Among the area's other endearing qualities is a solid 4G data connection, so we are back blogging and making up for a lost day. Can't say that I hated the down day with limited connection to the outside world.
When your intrepid travelers last blogged, we had finshed up a great Wednesday in Portland. We jumped in the car and continued our trek south. Initial plans were to get to Crater Lake National Park ASAP, but we found out that Kim's Aunt and Uncle, Joanne and George, were camping in Oregon just a little ways off our original route, so we took the non-Interstate route through the Oregon Cascade Mountains to meet up with them.
Interesting stop #1 on the way was lunch at the Timberline Lodge at the base of Mt. Hood. The lodge is at 6000' and the summit behind it is over 11,000', so it is an unbelievable sight. Snow in July, so much so that a youth skiing camp was going on. Hard core young skiers were everywhere, obviously an odd sight for summer vacation. We had a buffet lunch that was out of this world, looked around some at the amazing lodge. The lodge is so cool that, 1)It's a National Monument all on its own and, 2) It was used for some of the filming of The Shining. We took some pictures and hopped back in the car.
Next stop was Redmond where we met up with George and Joanne. Nice little pit stop to see some great relatives from Kim's family, including meeting her cousin Jon's wife, Lisa, for the first time. We had some ice cream at a nice little shop in Redmond, caught up with a nice chat and once again continued on south. Great to see you all!
We got a tip from George and Joanne to stop by the lava fields just south of Bend, Oregon which are part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. It was right on our way, so we made a brief stop, and wow! One of those pieces of landscape that made you feel like you were immediately transported to another planet. The field was geologically new, about 7,000 years old, but looks like it happened almost yesterday. Big fields of open black rock, just a few plants growing here and there. Very cool.
We finished the ride to Crater Lake N.P., arriving just around sundown. We only had time to take a quick ride to one scenic overlook. (Jim's grabs his thesaurus...breathtaking, see also - stunning, awe inspiring, amazing, magnificent, heart-stopping, overwhelming). You can insert any superlative you want. It's just unbelievable. Rain started, though, so we headed to our cute little National Park cabin for the night. As with Yellowstone, it wasn't AAA accommodations, but certainly nice, and all you really need for a good night's sleep.
And here's an aside I don't think I had mentioned. We have obviously been sharing things pretty publicly on our trip. We figured if you were going to put it out there for family and friends, why not tell the world for fun. One of the things we did was to have some cheapo business cards made that have our Facebook and blog page on them. We chat up just about anyone who asks what we are up to, and if they seem at all interested in the trip, we flip them a card. The folks next door to us in the cabin last night were perfect examples - two super nice couples from the East Coast that were on a trip that largely followed ours for a week or so. They got cards and I think they followed the Facebook page. We're normally pretty open folks, but one of the many things we are learning is how much more enjoyable a day is when you are in the frame of mind to be open to everyone around you. Yeah, yeah - its hokey stuff, but it's true. So, hey to the folks that were next door to us at Crater Lake! You seemed cool. Hope I didn't snore too loud.
This morning I set the alarm for 5:00 and headed out alone with my camera to try and catch some sunrise pics. Another quick aside - the rim road around Crate Lake is absolutely hair-raising, even for those without any hair. You know the kind of road - about two feet of shoulder and then 500' of drop, nary a guard rail in sight. Anyways, I twisted my way to a lookout point when light was just hitting. No dramatic sunrise, but fog was rolling in. Me, by myself, with my camera, isolated 1000' about the most beautiful lake on earth with no human within miles, watching fog roll up and over the rim of an ancient volcano caldera. It's burned in my brain forever.
I went to get the girls up and about, we packed up and started up to the highest lookout point. The lake is about 6,200' in elevation and after driving up to a high turnoff, we hiked up to the fire lookout point at over 8,000'. We had just a few minutes of good viewing, then really heavy fog rolled in, and then rain started. After checking weather, we saw a long morning of rain ahead of us, so we decided to get our Zepplin on and started Going to California. Crater Lake National Park, it was a short visit, but you are among the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
A decent ride through west-central Oregon and into Northern California. When you hit Hwy 101, you know it's California - ocean views, surf, huge rocks coming up through the water and Redwoods. We stopped at the first beach we saw, took off our shoes and walked in the surf for a little bit before heading to our hotel.
And that's a long blog post. Thanks for reading. Off to walk around really big trees and head for the Bay Area tomorrow. Cheers, have a good start to your weekend!