Wilderness and Civilization in Oregon
Trip Start Aug 07, 2012
7Trip End Aug 25, 2012
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Where I stayed
Rolling Hills RV Park
We got up early... about 6:30 to drive the one hour into Crater Lake Park in hopes of catching the morning shadows. It turned out to be a bit hazy due to the smoke of distant fires. Nice views still, but nothing special to get up for.
So we wandered around the overlooks near the Crater Lake Lodge, and coffee’d up at the bar there for a couple of hours. Then a little stop for the 20 minute movie at the info centre which described the geological and cultural history of the lake. For those who haven’t been here, it is a huge volcanic caldera, essentially a small and craggy mountain range completely encircling a very clear and blue lake. There is no break in the rim, so the lake does not fill or drain anywhere other than from precipitation and evaporation, hence its purity.
Our next stop along the rim road was the phantom ship overlook
In the afternoon we joined a Ranger guided 2 hour walking tour up the newly created Plaikni Falls trail. It was a very interesting overview of the flora and fauna of the hardy and resilient old growth forest on the outer slopes of the crater rim. The hot and dry trail ends up at a brisk waterfall with a refreshing spray for us tourists, and for an array of wildflowers, birds and butterflies which gather at its foot.
We then hauled up into a nearby campground for the night. It is marked as “tents only”, but we are stretching that concept a bit as we do have a tent on the roof after all! As it is, we are one of the smaller vehicles in the site anyway, what with the huge pickup trucks and vans parked around. Only $10, and it still has flush toilets!
Day 10: West Cascades Drive
It was Pat’s turn to suggest we get up early to watch the sunrise over Crater Lake
From there we made our way to the West Cascades Driving tour, which essentially means driving up the west side of the “spine” of Oregon, the Cascade mountains. The first leg was the Aufderheide National Forest Drive, a narrow two lane road through some old logging country. We read that the local Ranger Station supplied a cd tour for the drive, and it was an excellent little guide for this 30 mile stretch of historic countryside.
The next section of highway was the Mackenzie River section... the road was a bit bigger, but still paralleling a swift flowing river, with campsites and recreation spots along the way. Interestingly, camping is allowed just about anywhere one pleases in US National Forests, which was fortunate for us because the designated campgrounds were full, being a summer weekend night. We ended up driving way the heck up a side road and pulled off into a little spot all to ourselves, miles from anywhere. Pat was a little nervous about being so isolated, but that did not keep her from sleeping soundly at 4 am when Bill was wakened by some significant shuffling in the bush alongside the van. It was definite heavy steps in the brush which can only have been made by something as large as a bear or a human. It went away after 45 minutes or so, so there was nothing to be done but return to sleep for a couple of more hours
Day 11: Portland
Continuing the forest drive and into a pretty agricultural valley, we approached Portland from the southeast by about noon. Being a Saturday, parking right downtown was simple, so we stashed the van and bicycled around this very bike friendly city, along the riverfront and into the old town. We did encounter a couple of our famous “serendipities”. The first was a large “Saturday Market”... about three city blocks of the typical food booths, art and crafts, jewellery and handmade clothes as can be found in such markets, with some rather good music tents and buskers to add to the spirit.
We retreated to an outdoor deck at a tavern in the old town for an hour or so, for some famed Oregon microbrewed ale.
On the way out of the old town we encountered some road barriers and detours, and with a couple of enquiries, discovered that it was a bicycle road race circuit, and the women’s race was about to start. So we dawdled about for a while, and watched the first 10 laps or so of the kilometre long circuit. Great fun, and free!
Tonight we are camped in a private campground, as different from the previous rough camping as can be imagined. This campground to the north of Portland is like a little village, with row upon row of well established, neatly groomed RV sites... the majority apparently being semi-permanent encampments. It is still a reasonable $30, and we have electricity, water, showers and wifi... speaking of which, I will now post this entry.