Mt Hood lies in northern Oregon, and is one of many Cascade Arc Volcanoes.  Like Mt Shasta and Mt Jefferson, Mt Hood juts up from the surrounding landscape like no other mountains in the Rockies, or certainly the Appalachians, do.  Mt. Hood is more heavily glaciated than Shasta as well.  The first thing we did in the area was the Mirror Lake hike.

This popular trail leads right from the noisy highway.  When you wait around to go in the parking lot all you can smell are diesel fumes and burned up brakes.  But the hike quickly juts up into the forest.  Hoggle went without a pack this time and did pretty well considering it was nearly 800 feet of elevation gain in a 1.5 mile (one way) hike.

Em at mirror lake-1When we made it to the top we were greeted by the small lake.  We quickly walked around to the fall shore to see Mt. Hood reflecting in the lake’s surface, no surprise given its name.  It was quite a sight to see.

Em and Hoggle decided to go back down for some lunch, but Jay went on for another 1.7 miles to the top of Tom, Dick, and Harry mountain. He huffed it up the trail, and just as his body had consumed all available sugars from his breakfast, with blood sugar dropping, legs tiring, he made it.  The view from the top of the mountain was pretty awesome.  You could of course see Mt Hood, but also Mt. Jefferson to the south, and the full arc of snow-capped volcanoes of Hood, Adams, Rainer, and St Helens to the north.  Mt Rainier, the farthest, is about 107 miles away.

Mt Hood from Tom Dick and Harry Mtn-2

Stitched Panorama

After that Jay headed back down.  On the way, as he passed numerous switchbacks and all the cuts people have made, he also passed numerous groups of hikers.  One of these groups he saw ahead of him as they descended down one of the switchback cuts. He felt he had to say something.  Tamanawas Falls Oregon - jon and em-1So he told them about how hard it is to do trail work and how cutting switchbacks destroys the trails and makes people have to redo all that hard work.

After Jay got back and ate his lunch, we headed off to another hike called the Tamanawas Falls. We hung around the parking lot for awhile taking a break, and then started down the trail. This was a 4 mile round trip hike, so Em was anticipating having to turn back early with Hoggle. He had already done the 3 mile trek that morning, and doesn’t have the stamina he once had as a young stallion. But we greatly underestimated him – he climbed right up that hike no problem. Before Em knew it they were at their destination. The little wiener who could! .

Tamanawas Falls Oregon-3

Tamanawas Falls Oregon-5Em and Hoggle headed back down while Jay took some more photos of the falls. To take some he had to whack through sticker bushes and wade into thigh deep cold water, soaking his new boots.  To Em’s complete shock, Hoggle began running turbo speed down the trail. She had never seen him with so much energy! He would sprint down way ahead of Em, wait for her to catch back up into eye sight, and then sprint back off again as fast as his little wiener legs would take him. He did this the entire way back down the trail. When Jay got back down, he couldn’t believe Em’s story either.

We ate dinner under the Mt Hood Sunset:


IMG_20140709_153122669We spent a couple of nights in Detroit, OR at the Detroit Lodge for Em’s birthday.  We hung around IMG_20140709_111659638the room a lot, enjoying the climate control, clean toilet, shower, jet tub, and a bed we didn’t have to fold up into benches during the day. There was a corner grocery for all our needs, and Em made a batch of white wine sangria. On her birthday she had her first glass at 11am – why not? We went to a lakeshore beach on Detroit Lake for an afternoon, enjoying the sun andIMG_20140709_153057939_HDR warm water. Em got her dream of relaxing on a beach shore with a book and shade and no mosquitos on a lovely warm day!  Jay got out there and said, “Now what are we supposed to do here again? Just sit here?” He doesn’t really get why relaxing on a beach shore is fun. He didn’t even bring himself a towel to lay on. But he seemed to have an okay time as well. Hoggle even behaved himself and slept in the shade of a tree most of the time.

We ate dinner both nights at the local establishments in Detroit. The lodge food the first night wasn’t very good, but Em really enjoyed her birthday meal from the restaurant across the street the second night. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but it had good homemade food.  Each time we had to get to go orders because of Hoggle (no outdoor seating, and he’d have howled and disturbed all the neighbors if we left him in the room). But it was kind of nice to sit and eat in our little air conditioned room. We noticed everyone else outside enjoying the lovely weather, but we spent as much time enjoying the indoors and air conditioning as possible. Em took a two long baths and four or five showers in two days, just because she could. The tub was awesome, and had an endless supply of “on demand” hot water. It was an ideal way to spend her birthday.

We got a late check-out from the lodge and stayed up until the very last minute, and then we begrudgingly went back into the “comforts” of the van and headed north toward Mt Hood.  On our way we stopped at Silver Falls State Park.  There are a lot of waterfalls here, the main features of them are that they are tall (100+ feet for most) and the trails go behind the falls. 

em and jay, lower south falls-1Our first destination was to fill up our water tanks in the campground.  Then we headed to North Falls.  Pets weren’t allowed so we took turns.  This time of year the creeks and rivers are running a little low, so the falls are a little subdued, but North Falls was still pretty cool.  The short trail goes down way underneath the falls, so far you can’t even feel the spray. 



silver falls, lower south falls HDR processed-1When we both got done taking turns we headed to South Falls and this time we put Hoggle in the pack and went on the two mile trail to see the main and lower south falls.  You walk underneath both of them.  The main one is a small ribbon of water that plummets directly into a large pool.  The lower falls is not as tall and cascades a little into its pool.  We found the lower one to be prettier.  The trail underneath it goes so close the falls you can almost touch it; and can certainly feel the spray. 


silver falls, south falls HDR processed-1

After all that we headed north out of the park toward Mt. Hood.  After a stop at the grocery, and to cook dinner, we found a forest service road and camped. 

During Jay’s internet research before the trip, a place called Opal Creek and Jawbone Flats promised nice hiking and pretty blue/green waters.  It delivered that and much more.  The trailhead is at the end of a long pot-holed dirt road, though Joy did just fine.  It was lunchtime when we arrived and hot.  The sun is so hot here in Oregon.  And we are so much hotter in Oregon than we expected.  Maybe the coast will provide some relief.

little north santiam river falls-2Anyways, we ate lunch, and decided we could use a little breather from 24/7 togetherness, so Jay went on ahead to hike to the main destination of the Opal Creek Trail – Opal Pool (about 7 miles round trip) – while Em stayed back with Hoggle to do a shorter hike.  The trail starts on a dirt road for about two miles, crossing various streams.  You then run into some remnants of the mining activity here in the past – machinery, heat exchangers, cabins, rail, etc…  At this point Jay found a nice small waterfall and a swimming hole. It was too hot not to get in so Jay waded around in his boots and eventually jumped into the clear blue/green waters.

rock slide little north santiam river-2After drying off he hiked a little ways to where the road is closed due to a bridge wash-out.  There you cross the river and hit a trail the rest of the way.  This makes the hike a little more enjoyable.  About a mile further in wet boots Jay spotted a bunch of folks playing in the river.  What they had found is a small rock slide into a large swimming hole.  It wasn’t a large flat rock slide like those back east, but more of a skinny channel.  Jay had to try it of course. Seeing as small children were doing it, how could he not?  Well it was pretty fun. The picture here is some other guy doing it, but you get the idea.

opal pool falls-2After that he continued on to Opal Pool and falls, where he met a man and his son and they talked about the pool but mostly about Cedar Flats, a destination another mile up the trail where some ancient cedars lived.  Jay decided to hoof it up, thus making the round trip mileage about nine.  He made it there but didn’t see any giant ancient cedars. Oh well, the trail along the way was pretty as it followed Opal Creek along the way.

jon diving into opal pool (from video)On the way back Jay stopped at Opal Pool for a longer visit and found a deep (maybe 20+ feet in some places)  pool, of deep green hue in the shade of the sun and cliffs, which you could see all the way to the bottom.  So clear.  All round the pool were cliffs where people were jumping.  Jay found some and jumped and dove, timidly at first, into the pool.  Even though the water was clear it was hard at first to judge its depths.

opal creek-5opal creek-6

As he was leaving he saw where people were jumping from even higher, but since it was getting dark and he was alone he decided just to leave.  After taking some pictures along the way he got back to the van where Em and Hoggle were just getting back from their walk…

Em and Hoggle hadn’t gone very far because Hoggle, for some reason, hated the trail and was being a huge butt about walking on it. But Em coaxed and half-dragged and carried him along far enough to find a really awesome swimming spot off the beaten path that was totally deserted. It featured the same blue/green water as the other pools – and upon finding it Em immediately understood why the creek was called Opal Creek. With the water that deep (maybe 15ft or so at the deepest spots at this pool) the color was very similar to an opal with blue/green fire. Absolutely beautiful! And so clear and inviting. It basically begs you to swim in it. Em went for a refreshingly chilly swim while Hoggle waited impatiently on the rocks fussing at her to hurry up. She ignored him and took her time enjoying this beautiful spot. The cold water felt amazing after being out in the heat all day.

jon jumping and diving into l n santiam river swimming hole-15The next morning we all headed back to the swimming hole that Em had found with Hoggle the previous day. We went for a swim, and Jay practiced his diving off the main rock there in the photo to the left. We were able to make a fairly comfortable spot for Hoggle to lie on with all of our clothes so he was a little better behaved this time.

em in the swimming hole-6

dude jumps from up high-2After a while these two boys showed up and without getting in first immediately climbed to the tallest cliffs above the falls/swimming hole. This cliff was so high that Em would never have even considered it as a possible jumping spot. But the first kid leapt off with no hesitation and did a flip from probably 30 to 40 feet into the water. It was clearly not his first time. The landing spot was a pretty small patch of water at the base of the falls. If you didn’t land in it, you’d hit shallower waters and likely break some bones or worse. When it was the second kid’s turn, he was too scared and climbed back down. Jay was intrigued and climbed the cliff.  Upon seeing the small landing zone among the rocks from that height, his 31 year old brain almost said yes, but ultimately decided no, and he climbed back down too. The kid’s mom showed up and took some video footage of her daredevil son. Em asked her if it was hard for her to watch him jump the first time, and she said, “Yes, the first time he tried I told him no, but he had gotten here before me and told me he had already done it three times so I figured it must be okay.” She said he was a swimmer. It showed. We wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a high diver in the Olympics someday.

After a while we left the pool and went for the van.

So the conclusion of our visit was that Opal Creek is a great spot in Oregon, especially on a hot summer day. Pretty streams, waterfalls, lush forests – and then swimming, jumping, and sliding to boot!

Upon departing Jay saw on the map there was a dirt road that went straight for Detroit – our destination, so we decided to take that.  It was only about 8 miles a sign said.  The alternative was to drive about 20 miles the wrong way and then double back.  While the road was longer than 8 miles, it was scenic.  We stopped at a small little waterfall and got in the water, em and jon at small waterfall-2again.  Then the road went higher along the tops of the hills where you could really see the Oregon forests – they look almost all logged. Finally the road began dropping on its descent to Detroit.  First gear was not enough to slow Joy down enough for the narrow steep logging road.  Jay had to use the brakes a lot.  Worrying that they would overheat and fail we stopped and rested them a few times.  It made Jay wonder whether he put the brake pads and shoes on correctly.  Failed brakes would lead to our demise pretty quickly.  As would one wrong turn of the wheel. We did see a few pretty views of Mt Jefferson in the distance though.

Well we made it down finally and into Detroit.  We had reserved a room at a local lodge to stay for two nights for Em’s birthday!  She couldn’t wait. Having our own private flush toilet would be nice luxury for a change. Air conditioned – oh yea. And did somebody say jetted tub?? Hell yes they did!!!

Em and Jon at Lava Fields-1Joy at McKenzie Pass-1

We left our campsite and headed East toward Bend, OR.  On the way we took scenic Oregon 242 over McKenzie pass.  The road passes through a giant lava field only about 3,000 years old.  There wasn’t much growing there so it looked really new.  At the top of the pass was an observatory and nature trail.  From there you could see two of the Thee Sisters (a trio of volcanoes in the cascades west of Bend), Mt Jefferson (a volcano like Mt Shasta), and Mt Washington (the core of an older volcano).  Neat place.

IMG_20140705_165323233_HDRWe then headed down and arrived in Bend, OR. Em had identified this place as somewhere we might possibly like to live in the future.  It’s sunny (unlike the rest of Oregon) most of the year, small, etc…. Not unlike Fort Collins.  We found a place to park and walked around the downtown.  We tried a walking history tour but it ended up being kind of boring. We did learn that Bend was an old logging town filled with bars and brothels in its early days. We walked down that street that used to be full of brothels, and now it has cute little shops.

After walking around we grabbed our books and read under the shade of a big tree in the park by the Deschutes River (well, technically MIrror Pond where the river is dammed).  After reading some we walked in the park and pass some drug addicts with sores all over themselves and twitching.  Maybe meth?  Heroin?  Hard to say.  The park was a mixture of those sorts of people, hippie drifters, and middle class white families.

IMG_20140705_183551817_HDRWe ate dinner at a sushi place.  The server seemed pretty snooty towards us the whole time. We couldn’t figure out why. Maybe we offended her somehow? Maybe she didn’t like us? Or maybe she was just snooty in general? She acted like Em was crazy when she asked if they had a side salad with ginger dressing (pretty much a staple at most Japanese restaurants, right?) And then she hassled us about liking sushi with cream cheese in it. That seemed to really bother her. She didn’t get a very good tip. Afterwards we went and got some overpriced ice cream and reminisced about just how good the Bi Rite ice cream in San Francisco is in comparison. On the way we saw some really cute children playing a guitar and fiddle.  What talented children Bend has!

Bend didn’t have any good places for city camping either, but Jay had previously noticed how close the National Forest is from the town.  So we drove about ten minutes there and drove around and found a place to camp.

IMG_20140706_154444048We hit the town the next day and went to Deschutes Brewery and Pub for some lunch.  We had to wait about 45 minutes for an outdoor table, but we found a little nook in an alley in the shade to wait. It was hot! Hoggle was laying on the ground on his blanket, when a group of people walked by. A man in the group spouted off, “Hey there Hoggle!!” Jay and Em were quite surprised to hear Hoggle’s name called out by a stranger, but then Em recognized them as the family she and Hoggle had met outside the ice cream shop the night before. Hoggle was already getting recognized on the street by the people of Bend. His wife crooned, “Aww, he’s just as cute as he was last night!!” Hoggle must have the “It” factor for dogs. If they only knew how neurotic and high maintenance he can be. No, he’s still the best, even when he’s being the worst. Another little girl walked by with her mom. Her mom pointed out Hoggle to her, and the little girl whispered, “Shhhhh, he’s taking a nap,” so as not to wake him. It was adorable.

Once we finally got a table, Jay had the Black Butte Porter suggested by his buddy who used to live in Bend, and Em had some very tasty home made ginger ale.  Hoggle got his own seat as well, and cuddled up in his blanket. Spoiled little dog. It was hot in Bend, really hot, so we decided to leave for the cool of the mountains instead of seeing Smith Rock, which was recommended by a few different sources.

We rode past the enormous Mt. Jefferson, another Cascade volcano, and into the national forest.  We found a spot on a forest service road, ending our trip in Bend.

We awoke in the Oregon forest more fitting of our idea of Oregon: overcast, cool, and drizzly. Em kept hearing some critters at day break, and asked jay to check them out by nudging him with her knee.  He didn’t see anything.  Maybe they were the same thing that kept Jay up the previous night.  They sound like they dig in the gravel, strange. 

Susan Creek Falls-3We headed on toward Eugene, but Jay wanted to stop at Susan Creek Falls, for no particular reason other than why not.  The short 0.8 mile trail to the falls was easy for us and good for Hoggle in the morning.  We arrived at the nice falls and just about immediately realized we had to go in.  The main falls may be 60 or so feet, which empties into a pool in the pocket of the mountain.  That pool then empties out a small drainage about 5 feet into the creek bed into another smaller pool.  The volcanic rocks around are all moss covered.  It was quite a pretty falls.

Em in Susan Creek Falls-4As we were getting in a family arrived so we had to wait.  But once they left Em got in to the lower pools.  She tried to climb to the upper pools but she just didn’t have the arm or leg length to make the holds.  When Jay got in he remarked at how cold the water was.  Em said just jump in so that’s what he did.  After swimming around he tried to climb into the upper pool and was able to purchase just enough grip on the slippery volcanic rock to climb up into the upper pool.  There the waterfall mists and blows warm air in the pocket of the rock.  It was pretty awesome.

Jon in Susan Creek Falls-3

cavitt creek covered bridge-3After he was done with that we got back on our dry clothes and headed back. We made some lunch and jumped in the van and headed toward Eugene.  On the way we stopped at the Cavitt Creek Covered Bridge for a quick look.  Apparently covered bridges were popular in Oregon for a time.  Then it was full bore on to Eugene. 

IMG_20140703_163839467_HDRWe went to the Rogue Public House to drink some of Rogue Brewing Company beer and eat some early dinner.  We sampled all different styles of their beer and had duck and beef sandwiches for dinner.  The staff liked Hoggle and gave him some treats. We chatted about Eugene with the random dude who hangs out there but when Em asked if he worked there answered, “Sort of.”  We had a nice time enjoying having Hoggle off leash and eating some good food and drinking good beer.  Em also ordered a root beer float for desert. 












After that we ran some errands – replacing the head lamp Jay lost, getting dog food, some food for us, and then found a place to sleep near an apartment complex.  We had difficulty deciding were to sleep as Eugene doesn’t allow camping in cars.  A sign at Walmart told us so.  Jay looked up the state code the sign cited and didn’t see where the law specifically forbade us from camping there, but Em found info on the web stating that there is a city rule against it (and a petition against this rule). The west coast must be so strict on this because there are so many people in campers around. That’s what we figure anyway.

After much searching, we eventually settled on a street next to some apartment complexes with a lot of cars already there. It was fine until Jay had to go to the bathroom at around 11pm.  There was a 7-11 about a quarter mile away so he went there. The clerk was busy ringing up customers so Jay saw the restroom in the back and made himself at home.  Shortly there after the clerk banged loudly on the door and screamed “no public restrooms!”  Well, that put a damper on things so Jay left as quickly as he could. 

We had a fine night, but in the morning Jay heard some people asking “who’s van is that?”   So we got out of there and went to the grocery store.  We picked up some things and then went and did laundry and then left Eugene.

We found a forest service road near an old growth hiking trail and stayed there for the night.  Jay spent some time on that trail, but mostly exploring the creek at the bottom.  The old growth forest definitely has a different feel than the ones we’re used to seeing – logged and replanted forests. 

We took sponge baths in the very cold creek.  Hoggle played in the field full of flowers.  We cooked dinner.  We went to bed. 

rogue river gorge-4From our Benchmark Atlas of Oregon we saw that there were a few interesting natural features on the Rogue River south of Crater Lake NP.  Going to these would be on our way back to see some more redwoods in California and some of the southern Oregon Coast, but we both agreed that we could skip going back down south for those things.  So our Rogue River adventures would be an in and out kind of thing.

The first stop was the Rogue Gorge, where the river cuts a deep canyon into the volcanic rock.  There was a nice paved trail to see the pretty gorge but not much else.  It reminded us of some of the river gorges in Glacier NP and in New Zealand. 

The next road side adventure was the Natural Bridges of the Rogue River.  In this area the river enters and exits a lava tube and thus for a brief time disappears from sight.  It may not be the most picturesque thing to see, but it was interesting to see a river of water flowing where a river of lava once flowed. 

jon horsing around in rogue river-7The final Rogue River adventure was Mill Creek Falls and Avenue of the Boulders.  This was a little more of a trail than the others.  We ate lunch at the parking lot before heading out.  We first went to Avenue of the Boulders.  The Rogue River enters a section where it flows through, under, and past a lot of large boulders. In the process it makes some nice small swimming holes.  Since we hadn’t showered in a day or more we felt the need to jump in.  The water was cold but bearable. 

em in rogue river-2We played around for a while.  Hoggle took shelter in the shade where he could.  The sun was really hot.  That was the only thing that made the water temperature withstandable.  Jay climbed around on some of the boulders and we both took turns dunking our heads in one of the small cascades.




em and jay mill crek falls-2When enough was enough we packed up and headed toward the waterfalls.  The first was Mills falls, where Mills Creek falls over 160 feet into the Rogue River.  The viewpoints are from the other side of the steep canyon of the Rogue.  It was pretty awesome.  We went a short distance and saw the second falls too.  It might have been even higher, but the flow rate wasn’t quite as high as Mills.  Nevertheless it was still awesome. 

After all that we hiked back up to the parking lot.  Hoggle did a good job of keeping up.  We got back to the van and backtracked north.  Eventually we headed about 75 miles north of crater lake until Jay realized one of the waterfalls he wanted to see, and a hot spring, were back the way we came.  So we decided to turn around and go back the way we come.  Oh well. But we were able to pay the health insurance bill when we had cell service on our detour, so it was not all for naught.

toketee falls HDR processed (aperture mode)-3We finally got to Toketee Falls of of Oregon State Road 138.  It was about six in the evening and the sun was beginning to fall out of the sky as we started our short three quarter mile trek to the falls.  We were now in the lush Oregon forest, like what you think of when you think of Oregon.  Here the North fork of the  Umpqua River carves a gorge in the volcanic rock before plunging into a small pool situated 80 feet above an even larger pool.  The pools are separated by columnar basalt rock, like at Devil’s Postpile.  The columnar basalt forms a great gateway for the river, made even better by the evening sun illuminating it all.  It’s one of Oregon’s most photographed falls and for good reason, it was beautiful.

Hoggle was not impressed as you can only see the falls (without going off trail down the steep canyon walls) from a viewing platform perched on the cliffside.  Hoggle is more into places where he can roam in the bushes.  As it was, he was bored while we looked at the falls and Jay took some pictures. 

We finally left and headed back toward the parking lot.  We were originally going to make dinner there and wait for the sun to fall a little more so Jay could take some different pictures of the falls, but the giant group of Oregon Hillbillies changed our minds.  They arrived in a red Toyota pickup and a Jeep.  They got out, along with a pack of dogs and a million kiddos and hung out in the parking lot smoking pot, cigarettes and drinking while the little kids and dogs ran amuck.  They looked like something right out of Appalachian stereotypes. The patriarch of the group waltzed around with a big beer belly. 

So we headed on to our final destination of the day: Umpqua Hot Springs.  It’s a few miles up a dirt road from the falls.  We made our way there to the well marked trailhead.  There we found a dumpster overflowing with garbage and a toilet that reeked of poop.  Not enticing.

So Jay headed up the steep quarter mile trail to check it out.  He found a picturesque series of pools formed into the hillside overlooking the Umpqua River. When Jay got back we made some soup for dinner and then headed up.  We passed the sign saying nudity was common and if uncomfortable with it, you shouldn’t go. We weren’t, so we went.

When we arrived we found an empty pool and got in.  The water was really hot.  Too hot to stay in for too long without a break.  The warm humid air didn’t do anything to help.  Despite that, it was relaxing to be there in the warm pools.  It was pretty quiet even though there were six or so people there already.  There were a lot of pools to choose from of different temperatures.

After about an hour the sun was well past down and a large group of kids arrived with guitars and beer. Jay was expecting this. Being as we are now old to these kids we decided it was time to leave.  We were ready to go anyway, it was hot and we were running out of water.  And Hoggle was tired of being tied to a root getting bitten by mosquitos.

So we made our way down the trail to the parking lot, showered off quickly with some of our fresh water, and headed up the dirt road to find a camping spot.  The Oregon forest service roads are lacking in good sites to camp. We found a spot that looked unoccupied. There was one tent a little ways up in the woods, but it seemed to have it’s own parking spot further up the road.  We decided to camp there.

So we bedded down and around midnight a truck showed up.  A big group of folks spilled out. It must have been that group of kids that ran us out of the hot springs. As they got out Jay could hear “white van” among their conversation, along with “this looks like the beginning of some serial killer movie and I don’t want to be in it!”  Then their flashlights started peering in through our windows on all sides. It was a bit disconcerting.

When the lights persisted Em called out,  “Can we help you?” And a young girl spoke up and said they were there to party and were going to be loud.  Em was confused, “Can you party somewhere else?” “No, we’ve got our camp set up here already. You can stay if you want, but just wanted to let you know we are going to be loud.”  Ohhh, we were parked in their spot. Whoops! We thanked her for letting us know – she was the only one with the guts to talk to the people in the scary white van, and then we headed on our way after a few minutes, leaving them to their party. We backed the van out and after another ten minutes found another totally unoccupied site for the night.  We got to bed late and slept poorly.

The next day we didn’t do a whole lot. We woke up late after going to bed so late.  We agreed that since Jay hurt his leg the previous evening climbing around the hot tubs we would take it easy.  The first thing we did was find some breakfast to eat because Em wanted a hot breakfast. We happened upon this small inn in the middle of the forest.  They serve breakfast all day, which is good because it was noon by the time we got there.  Jay thought it looked crappy, but Em insisted. Turned out they had delicious French toast, and rhubarb pancake roll-ups, and other great stuff. We feasted while sitting in their nice landscaped garden patio area.  Hoggle even got his own seat from which to watch the kitties that live there roam around the yard.

After eating we drove to a random campground and took showers and cleaned up the van.  Jay cut his hair, which was badly needed, with the clippers we brought along.  Then we hit the road again.

jay in umqua river-4As we were driving down the road Jay remarked how fun it would be to get back in the water.  Since the hair cut wasn’t complete, Em saw something else she wanted to trim, we stopped at a boat launch, trimmed hair, and Jay got in the river.  It was a little chilly, but the hot sun made it fine.  It was warm enough that Em decided she wanted in on the action so when Jay got out she got in too.

Since we had so much fun at the boat launch, but it wasn’t exactly a swimming hole, we decided to drive back up the road and look for one of those.  After much trial and error Em finally found a good spot IMG_20140703_111929842for us.  Still deep water forming a nice pool alongside the river.  As we walked down everyone else cleared out so we had the spot to ourselves. 

We took turns walking up stream and floating down the channel of swift moving water.  Jay even crossed the river once.  After a while we were getting cold and tired so we left to find a place to camp.  This time, a completely empty place.

We found a dirt road and on the way up Jay almost ran over some people’s puppy who decided to run out in the middle of the road.  We kept driving for miles and miles before finally finding a place way up on in the hills. 

Once done in the Mt Shasta area we headed north to Oregon and our first destination there Crater Lake National Park.  On the way up we stopped in a town called Weed, CA where Jay got some nasty overpriced fast food from Burger King.  We also saw a T-shirt shop with shirts adorned with slogans that befitting of a town named after a popular recreational drug.

DSC_3751After Weed we drove north on US Hwy 97 and hit the Oregon border.  Em has been to Oregon once before but Jay never has.  For Jay this is the only US state on our trip he’s never been to. This part of Oregon, and really the majority of Oregon is dry, and this time of year hot. The lush Pacific wonderland Oregon is known for is probably only 1/4 of the state. We have no plans to visit that other 3/4. 


DSC_3754Crater Lake was formed when the Volcano Mt Mazama erupted and the center of the volcano collapsed on itself.  Over a period of hundreds of years the caldera filled with water to what is now known as crater lake.  As it was filling another small volcano formed and is now Wizard Island in the lake.  The lake is the deepest in the US at 1,943 deep. 

We drove up to the rim road and peered into the deep blue waters from the rim of the mountain.  What you don’t get a sense of in pictures is that the lake is really high: 6,173 feet, much higher than the surrounding land.  And the lake is truly in a great crater.  Because the lake has no tributaries it is only filled with direct rain and snowmelt from the rim.  Because of this the water is extremely clear and from above a brilliant blue color. 


But as it turns out there wasn’t a whole lot to do in Crater Lake National Park except look at the lake.  If we were here later in the season when more of the road and trails were open we could hike.  So we drove to the Watchman Overlook where Wizard Island is distinct from the rim of the canyon by a shallow straight of water.  We looked again at the blue lake.

Jay wanted to hike to the top of this small point to the north, so he did that while Em and Hoggle walked around the lookout.  The climb up involved walking up snow banks, but was Jay found out when trying to slide down later, the snow is so soft it’s really impossible to get going except on the steepest slopes. At the top he could see the entire island and the whole rim of the lake.  Then he came down.

IMG_20140630_194941668He found Em sheltered in the van escaping the horrendous swarms of mosquitos. Despite the mosquitos we decided to stick around the viewpoint to watch the sunset and then the stars.  When it was dinner time Em wanted to find a spot that may not be so mosquito heavy for cooking, so we drove down the road, stopped, cooked some couscous, and drove back.  But not before Jay took Hoggle out to enjoy a quick run in the snow.  As you can see.

Jay at this point had some DEET on so he decided to go outside and eat in a cloud of mosquitos. The only problem was every now and then he’d have to pick one out of the food. And swat one from his face. Em took this video of him:


Jay Eating With Mosquitos


Em had wished she kept the camera rolling for a just couple more seconds, because right after she turned it off, Jay came back inside the van. She asked him why he was eating outside with all the bugs, and without skipping a beat he replied, “Because I wanted to show you how tough I am.” Em IMG_20140630_201810984was very very impressed by Jay’s toughness. 

After dinner Jay went back out, but this time with his trusty mosquito head mask. It was the first time using it this trip.

Sunset came and went; the sun set behind the lake.  We waited a few hours until about ten when the stars were fully out, and bugs had gone to bed.  From the viewpoint you could see the great arc of the milky way above the lake, from north shore to south shore.  It was quite a sight. 

crater lake sunset pano (4)

It was late so we left the park and got to a small forest service road to camp for the night.  We had to share it with another truck  though.  Em wondered if they were axe murderers. Fortunately it turned out that they were not. Or they were taking a break from it at least. 


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 33 other followers