Sunday, September 18, 2011

Between Seattle and Crater Lake

Crater Lake is just shocking deep blue and so serenly still, the first time I saw it and every time after. This National Park is a good 8 hours drive from Seattle. We reached there at about 3 in the afternoon. The sun was high in the sky, and the sight of the deepest blue lake was surely worth all the drive so far to just see a lake. We drove eastwards from the North entrance along the Rim to reach the Mazama store. We camped in the Mazama campground. We had booked a trailer camp spot, and it was enough space for our 2 cars and two tents. There were tents nearby everywhere , but the trees in our campsite helped to set up a secluded feeling (not all campsites were same). we were in the D loop. Even when we had booked earlier online, we were given a color on our arrival. We had to drive through all the loops to choose a campsite of our color and choice. It was a little waste of time. But otherwise, the experience was very nice, there were clean toilets, and no bugs and there were plenty of dry wood to use for the fire.
Wizard Island in Crater Lake

It was a starry night, but something I had eaten at a truck stop earlier that day was bothering my stomach too much too enjoy it. The only thing I felt like doing was lying flat on my stomach. So I retired early into the tent. The next morning, after a hearty campy-breakfast, we packed up. We had to drive through the rest of the rim drive and leave for Canby,OR. There were some ten view-pullovers along the way, and we stopped at 4 of them. Everywhere we looked from, the water was equally calm blue.Spotting the Phantom ship in the crater was an added bonus.

Phantom Ship in Crater Lake
It was September, and the weather was really comfortable.The Cleetwood trail leading to the lake was open and we decided to DO IT! it was fun going down, touching the blue waters and dip our feet in the clean cold water, but climbing back was too painful and dusty; well for an out-of-shape and not so fit person like me on a partly sandy trail.It had a 25 feet elevation and straight upwards, only relief was that most of it was shaded by the trees naturally.But after the hike back, I felt a sense of achievement.

The phlock on the Rim Drive in the park

The Crater Lake at the bottom of the Cleetwood trail
From there we left for our drive back northwards.If we had a little more time on our hands,may be a day longer, I would have loved to drive up northwards from the Crater lake NP via Bend,OR through the Mt Hood area.We followed the route shown in the map.All the same, our next destination in the plan was the Columbia Gorge area in the border of the Washington and Oregon.But it was a little long drive of 5 hours, and we decided to slice it up, with an overnight stop in Eugene,OR.There are many budget hotels in the Eugene area with clean and satisfying accommodation. 
The OR countryside near Eugene
From there, on our way to the gorge, we took a little detour in Canby,OR for the Swan Valley annual Dahlia festival. They are the largest dahlia growers in the States.There was free admission , free parking and vast stretches of so many colorful flowers in different shapes.

I had not known dahlia came in so many forms before that day. There were snack stalls, and indoor displays too. It was all so informative and pleasing to the eyes.

Swan Island dahlias

Multnomah Falls
From there the Multnomah falls in the Columbia Gorge area was about 1.5 hours drive.The falls is a tall and thin one. 

There is heavy commercialization growing around the area; that helps in attracting tourists and the state makes money, but it also eats into the natural beauty of the area, to a certain extent.Albeit, it was a nice respite in the cool of the waterfall lapping the shade of the gorge.From there it was 3 hours drive back to Seattle.

Map of the Route

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