Thursday, July 25, 2013


Oregon has got every kind of scenery you can imagine

Sara on our first evening walk

A young horse  takes a late-in-the-day meal

Cattle graze in the vast shadows the far-off Cascades

The last rays of sunshine turn the clouds a gorgeous salmon color

One of the ranchers brings his cattle up from California in the summer to graze on the 
endless pastures of the ranch

I've now seen Crater Lake. This was possible because Carol and Sara, my old music friends from New York who moved to Portland in the early 90s, proposed we take a road trip. Carol found a cabin located about 20 miles from Crater Lake, and last Monday, we loaded up Sara's Prius with clothing, food, mosquito repellent, hats, water, music, my iPad (the cabin promised wi-fi), and Archie, and off we went. The six-hour-+ drive to southern Oregon on I-5 is very pleasant with Cascade Mountains to view, and lots of attractive scenery. But it's one helluva long drive, even if the conversation is sparkling. We arrived at the cabin site just in time for cocktails. Unpacked, and organized, we declared the cabin ideal for our purposes. I had my own room and bathroom. Carol and Sara shared another room. Archie bunked with me, though the owner didn't want him in my room. The cabin had a cool, spacious living room, a dining room, and a kitchen, which was surprisingly well equipped. We had loaded up on groceries in Roseburg on the way down. We settled in very quickly. Our first night, we dined on a rotisserie chicken, salad, rice and washed it all down with red and rose wines.

Sara and I put Archie on a leash, and went out for a walk in the neighborhood. Right across the street is a road that seem to go on forever. On one side is vast cattle ranch. On the other side, is another vast cattle ranch. I caught some of the beauty of this area at dusk. Oregon is a fantastically beautiful state. I had been up to the Columbia Gorge the week before and saw falls, and the massive Columbia River in all its magnificence. I've visited Bend, which is dry and arid and has beautiful mountains. We have a stunning shoreline. I truly think this is the most beautiful state, and I've certainly been all through the South, the East, the North, the center of the country and the West Coast.

It wasn't a late night. We wanted an early start to the lake the next morning. How to describe this scenic wonder?  You can't. Basically it's a mountain with its top blown off when it erupted about 7700 years ago. It's six miles across and it's pristine waters are rain and snow only. There are no tributaries running in an out of the lake, which is replenished by more rain and more snow. The color of the water is a spectacular sapphire.  You can drive around its circumference, stopping along the way for better views from thirty-three advantageous stops.

No matter what part of the lake you're looking at, you eye is awed by the results of this natural wonder. A national park, Crater Lake is well-taken care of. All dogs had to be on leashes and were not allowed in certain hiking areas. Everything is well-marked and while busy, it never seemed cramped and over-populated which can happen at more popular national parks such as Yosemite or The Grand Canyon. We spent a good portion of the day just looking at as much spectacular scenery as we could take in. Archie loved it because it meant he could spend all day with me, including lunch on the patio of a concession stand which sold sandwiches, cold drinks and had a gift shop. I bought a beautiful book of photos and history of the lake. I thought the Columbia Gorge was awesome, but Crater Lake has to be seen to be believed.

Archie at one of the scenic stops at Crater Lake

Sara and Carol, modeling the latest in hiking haute couture

The town we stayed in has seen more prospersous days. It's mostly a town for small motels, inns, and cabins for the Crater Lake crowd. The rest of the town beyond the two huge ranches is in pretty bad shape. The timber industry has fallen on hard times and there's not much in the way of industry here. The hotel was closed decades ago, and looks very dilapidated and the gas station across the street looks even worse. People are very poor here. It's rustic and rural and isolated. The winters are harsh with as much as 20 feet of snow. Summers are hot and Crater Lake is about the only sight generating revenue. Out days started early and ended early. We checked out Klamath Falls, which is more populated, and there is some business there, but it too has had a difficult time particularly during this recession. 

We came home via Route 97 which is very scenic and took us through the prosperous Bend community and slipped back into Portland having driven around the magnificent sight of Mt. Hood, surely the handsomest mountain I've ever seen. The photos below are Carol's, and they are more fun than mine are. 

Sara take a good photo

There's that deep sapphire color 

Carol's panorama shot is wider and prettier than mine

Archie's hiding below the retainer wall. Me with Sara

Finally, who can resist a chipmunk. You're not supposed to feed them, Sara!

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