Thursday, May 25, 2017

Emeralds, Diamonds and Sapphires - Crater Lake, Oregon

May 20-23, 2017
Prospect, Oregon

Our quick Saturday drive takes us through more beautiful forests, along the Rogue River, to the little burg of Prospect, Oregon. 

There are very few RV parks in the area, and with an abundance of snow still on the ground in higher elevations, there are even fewer available right now. 

Crater Lake RV Park is in the trees, across Hwy 62 from Prospect. Our site in the back of the park is nicely level with FHUs, fire ring and picnic table. Our satellite connects but the park WiFi doesn't. The staff are super friendly, and provide information and maps for the area.


From on the lake, to IN the trees.

Crater Lake RV Park
In fact, there is little Internet, and no cell service, anywhere here. Being off the grid for three days feels very weird :-), but it's not a big deal, we have plenty to keep us busy!

Prospect, Oregon, is a post office, a gas station/"grocery" store, and pizza place. Everything else is closed. The gas station attendant provides way more information than we need on the troubles of the two "pending" cafes down the street - be careful what you ask for :-)

Sunday we head north in Piper. The emerald forests here are lush and thick, and driving the straight, thin highway is like the maze scene in Harry Potter where the sides of the tall green hedge get narrower and narrower....cool, but kind of eerie. 



Our destination today is Diamond Lake. This rare natural body of water sits between Mt Thielsen and Mt Bailey.

We take the east entrance just a few yards and find it blocked by snow. No closed signs are posted, but It. Is. Blocked. By. Snow. I wish I had taken a photo of the motorhome stuck in that snow about thirty yards in. People never cease to amaze me. It was gone when we left later in the day.

The west entrance is open, but only as far as the boat launch. Campground and resort are still closed. A fishing tournament is under way so there are a lot of boats on the water. Additionally, the small dock has a handful of people with their poles in the water.

Bill finds a spot along the shore for a couple hours of fishing while Tessa and I take the trail around the lake. It is a perfect-weather day, and although there are lots of fishermen on the lake, it is very quiet and peaceful.


Mt Thielsen

Mt Bailey

I swear the water smells cold.

And yet this visitor from Europe thinks a quick swim is a good idea - he even talks his girlfriend into joining him. There was quite a bit of screaming involved...
"Fishing"
Plenty of room for the tournament boats to spread out.
Several of the fishermen complain about all the bugs on the water, a couple even have mosquito-net hats on when they dock, but we thankfully have no bugs on shore.


Happy man.
We make a couple stops along the river on our way home. The Rogue is running strong and loud - it is a powerful force in this otherwise quiet forest.





We save our drive to Crater Lake for Monday as the temps are supposed to reach the low 90's. It's my 61st birthday, and the whole day is a gift.

Before we head north again, we drive into Prospect to check out more falls on the Rogue. They are deafening, and spectacular.



Note the deck to the right of the falls. It is attached to a small house we could definitely call home!

The mighty Rogue.
We could both stay and watch the water for hours, but we have a special lake to see.

Bill says "There will likely be some snow up there."


Little bit....
When we enter the national park we have already been driving for miles through forest floor that is completely covered in snow. Before we get to the Visitor's Center it is taller than Piper on both sides. Still, we're surprised to learn that all of Rim Drive is closed past the first eight miles that lead to Rim Lodge. 


Relief map of the lake in the VC.

These signs are all the way around......at least we didn't "just miss" the opening.
I don't know why I'm surprised the road is closed, we have to enter the VC from the side door.
Snow banks fill the parking spots, leaving just the middle near the lodge. The lake is over the bank on the left.

With all the avalanche warning signs, we think Piper is the perfect color!
I grab a trekking pole to navigate through the snow and ice to reach a spot where we can see the lake.

I've seen photos of this amazing place. I know the color is intense. I expect it to be beautiful.

I am completely blown away. Nothing prepares you for the reality of this view of sapphire blue - it is the definition of breathtaking.


The light color in the water is the reflection of clouds above. It is all naturally pure water from direct rain and snow melt. No streams enter or leave the lake. The blue is from the clarity and great depth (over 1900', and the deepest in the US). 

The remaining cinder cone is called Wizard Island.
A flat-lander all my life, I'm sure this is the deepest snow I've ever seen.

The snow bunny wears herself out.

The surrounding mountains are beautiful, although the steep slopes of snow above the highway are intimidating. I'm happier when the road moves away from them.
For me, it is the reflections that make it so unique.
After we finally pull ourselves away from the break in the walls of snow along the lake, we return to the VC to watch the 24 minute video about the lake's formation and history. It is worth seeing. What it doesn't speak to is how the lake is "used" today. I look it up when we have Internet again.

Seeing it in person I can't believe that any human has ever touched it - it is so pristine. But in addition to regular testing by park personnel and environmentalists, and boat tours - swimming and fishing are also allowed. 

In fact, fishing is encouraged and does not require a license. Only artificial bait is allowed. There is no limit on the number of fish you can catch from the shore (no boats) - and no releasing. Why?

Because there aren't "supposed to be" any fish here. Fish don't come from the rain or snow. Two species survive of the six that were introduced between 1888 and 1941. Now "we" know that fish are harmful and unnatural to this unique environment.

I would love to make the full loop around the lake someday, but I can't imagine it being anymore beautiful than it is surrounded in snow. What a special gift.

On our way home we stop for a very late lunch at Beckie's Cafe in Union Creek. Their food is delicious, and the staff very friendly. My birthday pie is perfect.


Coconut cream - my favorite!
Our Tuesday drive to Eugene is 160 miles with 50 miles through the mountains, so we're up and out of the park by 10:30. We loved our time here.






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

50 Shades of Green

May 16-20, 2017
Ashland, Oregon


You've decided to paint the bedroom. You want green. You got to Lowes to find that perfect green. And find there are dozens of options. Where did the paint-color people come up with all these different greens?



They came to Ashland, Oregon, in the Spring!

Our drive north on I-5 Tuesday is under cloudy skies, but we don't get much rain, and there's no snow going over the Siskiyou Range. Other than missing Mt. Shasta, it is a beautiful trip.

Wonderful to see Lake Shasta so full after the last visit in 2014 when it was half empty!

Not long after crossing into Oregon (yay!) we drop down the steep hill into Ashland. And there are all those greens, magically displayed from lush meadows to tree-covered mountains.




Several weeks ago I found out we were going to miss meeting up with Laurel and Eric, as they would be leaving their hometown of Ashland to return to the road the week before we arrived - bummer :-(

Then a few days ago I heard from Laurel, and not only were they still going to be here - they are our neighbors at Emigrant Lake Recreation Area!! What wonderful serendipity.

We have the best neighbors, and we have a perfect view of the lake from our spacious site. We also have FHUs with 50 amp on a nice, level asphalt pad. This is high on the list of our favorite parks.


Part of our sweet view - we can see a lot of the lake.

Plenty of room.
Before the afternoon is over we see Laurel and Eric - can't believe it's been 19 months since the last time - and make plans for breakfast on Wednesday morning.

Bill and Eric enjoying the lake.
The Brick Room is delightful with yummy offerings. After a leisurely meal and lots of catching up, we venture to nearby Lithia Park.

Nearly a hundred acres, this city park is spectacular. Not only lots of those greens, but pink and red and white Rhododendrons and Azaleas, deep orange Japanese Maples, bright Dogwoods, and lots of other surprises. Before retiring a few years ago, Eric was a "mucky-muck" who did a lot of work at Lithia Park - so we are especially lucky to have him as tour guide in this magical place.

Ashland Creek rushes through the park, its powerful roar providing a special background to our personal tour. Several people are enjoying the natural beauty here, but there are many places where it's just the five of us (Tessa is impressed too).











Thanks for the special tour Laurel and Eric!
We go our separate ways for the afternoon, and soon Bill and I find ourselves heading back into the mountains.

The weather is perfect and the views are wonderful. We visit a couple mountain lakes, play among the tall trees, and marvel at the lush meadows. 


More mountains.

Another beautiful drive.

Exploring Hyatt Reservoir

Piper at Hyatt.

Howard Prairie Lake - a nice marina here too.

Some more of that stuff.

Howard Prairie - one of the prettiest spots we've seen.
Thursday Tessa is finally getting groomed! Can't believe I waited so long. It's always stressful to leave her with strangers, but the folks at Land of Paws all feel really good.  

We make a short drive to Medford for the Thursday Farmers' Market where I find some huge organic tomatoes and tiny broccoli sprouts - delish!

Back at the park I vacuum and wipe down Piper - waited to long for this grooming too!

We retrieve Tessa and meet Laurel and Eric at the Co-op where we pick up yummy lunches for a picnic in the park. In Lithia, they lead us to a secluded spot beside the creek, along one of the many wooden bridges. Such a special place! 

All spiffy again!
After lunch we drive up to Mt Ashland, as far as the roads are open. Closed for skiing today, there are only a handful of people here. It's worth the quick drive just to see Mt Shasta which we missed on Tuesday.

Mt Ashland

A mountain stroll.

The greens become blues.....

Mt Shasta
Although we're seeing a lot in this gorgeous area, we have also slept a lot! I think we needed to refuel after all our socializing over the last two months. Friday is a lazy day. A visit to the cute downtown, sitting beside the lake reading, and watching the birds. A quick visit with our special neighbors wraps up a quiet day.

We know that summers can be very hot, and winters very cold, but Ashland checks a lot of boxes for us. Besides the incredible natural beauty all around, the town is the perfect size, there is a wonderful hippie-vibe with lots of art, music and theater, the LGBT community is open and proud (always a good sign of tolerance that we appreciate), and there's several places to fish :-))))

Saturday morning we take our time getting ready as we only have a 60 mile drive. Hugs and good-byes for now with Laurel and Eric - we'll see them the end of July - and we head north.

For those of you who know Laurel, it's not a surprise that the green is accented with a lot of purple!