We pack up and depart from our vacation rental cottage in Crescent City this morning, heading north into Oregon. Nice weather. We stop for gas just across the state border in the town of O'Brien OR, which has a giant fly on top of the restrooms (to our amusement!) However the lucky find of the morning is when we stop for breakfast at a nondescript-looking yellow building on the edge of Gold Hill OR. Patti's Kitchen featured the world's best French toast (according to Katie) and we saw a delicious monster-sized breakfast burrito carried past our table on its way to another diner. Personally I went with the I-don't-care-if-it's-not-really-breakfast option of peach pie. YUMMM.
The main attraction of the day is Crater Lake National Park, and we meander our way into the interior of Oregon towards it. For a lot of the way we're following the Rogue River, and also encounter a lot of highway construction. For miles on end, the pavement has been stripped away and we ride along on a groomed gravel roadbed. It's disconcerting at first -- none of us love gravel very much -- but it turns out to be firm footing and not much trouble at all.
Hwy 62 soon climbs up into pines, then there's snowdrifts beside the road and suddenly it's chilly enough to put on more clothes! We enter the park via the South Entrace and start at the Steel Visitor Center, watching the film and talking to the rangers, picking up NPS Passport stamps as well. Then we take the winding road up to the Rim Village, which is the awesomely spectacular overview of the lake.
Like the Grand Canyon, Crater Lake is one of the places that pictures just can't describe. The deep uncanny blue of the water reflects the sky above, serenity of eons. There's no hint of the volcanic violence that created the caldera; nothing steams or bubbles now. I hadn't realized that the event happened within memory of the people who originally lived here. Oral tribal legends remember it dimly.
|An amazing, amazing place.|
Snow still lies around the edge of the crater (we succumb to a little snowball fight, of course) and our luck is good! The West Rim Road had recently been reopened after the previous winter's record snow levels. We'll be able to drive through the park and exit via the North Entrance, which was the best we could hope for! It's a lovely, snowy, chilly trip around the rim, and I snap some pictures from the road, one-handed, with my little camera.
After Crater Lake it's just an easy lope up the road to Bend OR, our destination for the night. I've researched a likely place for dinner, the Pilot Butte Drive-In (next to Pilot Butte State Park) which is reputed to have the Best Burger In Bend. Dinner doesn't disappoint, the burgers and onion rings and shakes are indeed mighty fine. We decide it's likely the sort of place that would have a good breakfast too so we'll be hitting it again on the way out of town tomorrow.