Synchronicity, Snow and Water

Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
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Trip End Sep 01, 2012


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Where I stayed
Joseph H. Stewart State Park
What I did
Roosevelt Elk

Flag of United States  , Oregon
Thursday, June 21, 2012

We had set the alarm this morning as we were determined to get up and going at a reasonable time in order to make it to Crater Lake National Park with enough time to explore the park as we were only going to be able to stay in the area for one night. So we duly popped up and out of the tent (well Jess and Tim did) when the alarm went off at 6:30 and we had breakfast going, tea and coffee poured and had eaten by the time the kids had packed up their Lego from the night before and had emerged from their sleeping bag dens. So, with the tent coming down around them and breakfast being packed up as quickly as they cleaned their dishes, we loaded up and were on our way before 8am. Tim was feeling a bit sad that we had only seen one Roosevelt Elk the day before despite all of the signs telling us how common they were…..but only 2 miles down Route 101, we zoomed past a group of 5 mature stags lying in the early morning light on the side of the road. Tim quickly (and safely mind you) pulled a u-turn up the road, whizzed past a second time, made a u-turn again (poor Bob was really struggling to 'recalculate' and keep up) and then drove slowly past in order to get some pictures and stare at these, obviously well-fed, contented and mature animals. It was a great start to the drive and certainly continued our streak of good animal sightings. 
After a quick stop at Crescent City Starbucks for the routine coffees, hot chocolates and blog posting session, we basically drove straight to our campsite at the Joseph H. Stewart State park which is perched on the bluffs overlooking a man-made lake of the same name. This had been, overall, a pleasant drive and very scenic in places as we paralleled for much of the drive the wide, clear and blue Rogue River. We enjoyed watching the road wind through the Oregon mountains and in many places the dense pine forests reminded us of Maine (Tim's favorite part of the USA). We rolled into our campsite around 12:30 and by 1:00 we had pitched the tent, had lunch and were heading further up the road (about 40 more miles) to get into Crater Lake National Park.
This was a slightly deceiving drive as we were, as we later discerned, steadily climbing up a mountain, but it was so gradual we weren't aware of how much altitude we were gaining. The first hints came from the flashes of snow we saw under the pine trees that surrounded the road and appeared to spread in all directions. Tim, being Tim and the kids, being the kids, just had to stop at the first decent patch they saw in order to lie down in it, make a couple snowballs and have our pictures taken. Later on, we realized how silly this was as the closer we got to the lake, the deeper and more prolific the snow got, in places it was still several feet thick along the side of the road. We finally made it to Crater Lake and within seconds, we realized how amazing this place was, and we would have gladly driven several more hours for just a glimpse of it. Crater Lake was formed several hundred years ago when the top of a volcano erupted and blew off, leaving a nearly perfect circular crater (duh) at the top. Over the subsequent years it gradually filled due to rain and snow melt and it is now the deepest lake in North America and the 7th deepest in the world. It has no outlets and the annual rainfall and snowfall nearly equal the amount of water lost to evaporation, etc… so its level is very constant. The rich blue of the lake with the snowcapped ridge tips and the snow laden flanks of the crater were absolutely mesmerizing and we could have stayed staring at it for hours.
 It was at this point that we realized the absolute synchronicity of the day. Today marked the halfway point of our road trip around the USA, it was the first day of Summer in the USA and the longest day of the year, while at home in NZ, it was the shortest day of the year, the middle of Winter and us Kiwis were standing in the snow with our t-shirts, shorts and sandals on, despite being parked in the middle of the Northern Hemisphere in Summer! Cool eh?
After this we drove around the lake on the parts of the Crater Rim drive that were open, large sections of the road were still closed due to snow, and we stopped at several places for different photos and perspectives of the lake. Sadly, none of the photos can do complete justice to the place, but this did not stop us from trying. Our visit culminated with a bit of a snowball fight between Tim and the kids, and then it was time to drive back an hour to our campsite. It is tea and bedtime soon and then up early once more in order to make the drive to Portland, Oregon and a couple of nights back in our favorite luxury destination; Extended Stay America.
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