Spent Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon in Oregon, checking out some of the sights that have eluded me thus far. I’ve been through Oregon a few times, yet never had a chance to stop at anything it’s noted for and this was the opportunity to change that.
Friday was almost a non-event due to traffic on the way. We arrived at the Cascade Locks just as the Sun went down, which made for a hastened drive to get to the camp ground. Approaching and going through I84 and highway 30 next to the locks, is an amazing drive, one that you can almost envisage stepping through the valley to the lost world. Of course the caveat was that night was upon us, so we didn’t get to witness the true majesty of the scenery.
Arriving at the camp ground, I’m surprised to find out (for a Friday even) that the local eating establishments all close at 9, so I gave Nick the option of jumping in the pool for an hour, or grabbing a burger in the next town. Thankfully he opted for the pool (I was done driving for the day at this point) and I got to sit around reading while he splashed about. We picked up a couple of little snacks from the camp site store, just before they closed and opted out of a fire for the night, considering the time. As it was also a bit wet and dark, we decided against putting the tent up and slept in the back of the SUV instead. I must say that despite being a little hard, it was roomy and quiet but having an 11 year old who can’t sleep, tossing and turning for an hour, really doesn’t help.
The next morning, we got off to a later start then anticipated (8am) but the roads were clear and we made some good time. It still took longer than I hoped to get to Crater Lake but we still had a few hours to explore, which turned out to be enough this time around. That place is just incredibly beautiful (and big!). The water is so deep in colour and the crater rim, so full of character and history. It turned out that the boats to Wizard Island were booked up for the day but this was a small blessing, as we would not have had the time to drive the rim, had we been on the boat. I managed to get many shots, that I hope will turn out good enough and also plenty of rock and a stick. When we got out to explore, Nick was running all over the place and loved it. Despite the fact he doesn’t get the whole concept of the vista, he fortunately found other ways to take something in of the landscape.
With the drive of the whole crater complete, we headed out and back up 97 toward the next camp site. A detour before this, came in the form of Newberry National Volcanic Monument, or, more precisely for our destination, the Big Obsidian Flow. The place was thankfully deserted (I hate having to navigate agitated tourists) and we took a brisk walk around the flattened trail. This is another of those pieces of nature that is difficult to put into words. I could easily visualise the flow as it was being created, just slowly rolling forward.
Limited for time, we hopped back on the road, skipped any food stops and rolled into the camp site a little earlier than the previous night but only just in time to get the tent up with the Sun on the horizon. A quick camp fire later and we were cooking hot dogs and marshmallows on sticks, with a simply amazing view of the Milky Way above us. These are those camping moments that just come together and despite the limits of the camp ground, we ended up in perfect position for a memorable last evening.
Sunday morning I was gently woken by nature at 5:30, so decided that rather than waste time sleeping on hard ground, we’d break camp and hit the road before any traffic. This plan worked a treat as the whole stretch to Portland was quiet, mostly empty and perfect weather. Portland itself was a little disappointing but then I really don’t know what I was expecting. I guess after seeing it while driving past, it looked interesting and I’ve heard a few stories that it’s quite the party place at times. The brief stop down town we made for coffee and a quick walk didn’t show us too much, apart from a mostly dirty and depressive place, where the people seemed quietly content, albeit slightly vacant. I’m hopeful that we didn’t see the ‘best’ of Portland and something will warrant me seeing a better side to it one day.
After Portland, it was a straight-shot back to Seattle, where our weekend ended. It was over too quick and I didn’t cover any new states but it was a ton of fun. No travelling now until the end of next month, when I fly out to Arizona.